Courtesy Reuters

Bringing the Monroe Doctrine Up to Date

IN the foreign policy of the United States two principles are deeply rooted and conveniently labelled -- the principle of no entangling alliances, and the principle of the Monroe Doctrine. Both have a long and interesting past. The first goes back to the early days of our national history, to say the least; the second to the famous message of December 2, 1823. Yet neither the one nor the other of these principles has remained static. In particular, both have inevitably felt the impact of the events of the last quarter of a century.

In the literal sense of the term, the entangling alliance is still anathema; yet Americans have realized, and were bound to realize, the ineluctable necessity of a wider measure of international coöperation and of association with other Powers in the pursuit of their own national interests, and have acted accordingly. The participation of the United States in the last war, and in the peace negotiations which followed it; the constant interest shown by the American Government during the twenties in the question of reparations; the conferences of 1921-2, 1927, and 1930 for the reduction of armaments; the growth of the movement of Pan-Americanism in the last decade; the passage of the lease-lend bill last March; the inexorable course of events today--all demonstrate that while, formally speaking, the principle of no entangling alliances maintains itself, and perhaps ought to maintain itself, our national action in 1941 is based upon very different premises from those of an earlier epoch.

In the same way the principle of the Monroe Doctrine has undergone, and is undergoing, an important development. In order to study this evolution it is necessary briefly to reëxamine the postulates of the original message of President Monroe. Speaking of the controversy with Russia over the northwest coast of America, the President asserted that "the American continents [note well the plural form], by the free and independent condition which they have assumed and maintain, are henceforth not to be considered as subjects

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