THE effect which the victorious war with Spain, and the acquirement of colonial territory outside the western hemisphere, will have upon the long-established “Monroe doctrine,” is one of the questions which now demands consideration by the people of this country, and of the world. The United States having set foot upon the confines of the Old World, with the intention of staying there, shall the powers of the Old World still be prohibited from setting foot upon the territory of the New? Or has the United States, by the conquest of foreign territory, abandoned the position it has maintained respecting the conquest of American territory by foreign powers?
It is not difficult to understand what view of the question will be taken by the powers of Europe. The United States has been saying to Europe, You keep on your side of the world, and I’ll keep on mine. If not explicitly stated, the promise of the United States to refrain from any aggression upon Old World territory is so plainly implied in this doctrine, and so plainly necessary to give it a reasonable meaning, that there can be no question that it is an essential part of the doctrine, in the eyes of European powers at least.
Now, the United States has deliberately stepped over the line which it established by this doctrine, and notice has been served upon the powers of the Old World that the flag of this country is to remain flying where the fortunes of war have placed it. If Europe is given the like privilege of stepping over the line, the powers might be willing to accept the situation as offering a fair field to all parties. But—strange as it may seem—it is proposed here that Europe shall be denied the privilege which this country claims and has now exercised in acquiring foreign territory; it is proposed that the Monroe Doctrine shall be maintained against Europe just as strongly as ever. This is the sentiment of a portion at least—and it is to be feared a large portion—of the American people. It is boldly expressed in one of the most popular dailies of this city, thus:—
“The Monroe Doctrine stands more firmly to day than ever before.
“Because we are better able to uphold it than ever before.”
To this language, of course, there can be but one meaning, and that is that this nation will do as it pleases simply because it has the power to do so.
By this sentiment the Monroe Doctrine becomes reduced to a mere boast of power. The question of right is eliminated from it, and the one element of might remains. It becomes another repetition of the old assertion that “might makes right.”
That Europe will acquiesce in any such arrangement is, of course, an unthinkable supposition. The powers will not be slow to insist upon their rights; and if this country, in the flush of victory and the dream of empire, shall advance to the bold position outlined in the above quotation, there will be plenty of need ere long for the great army and navy which is being called for as a proper outlay of the national resources. But peace and prosperity for the common people do not wait upon imperial ambition.
IF the legislatures of earth could pronounce against sin with all the force of the thunders of Sinai, it would but drive the people, as those thunders did, further from the Lord.