Second Thoughts on Havana

Courtesy Reuters


IN looking back upon the Sixth Pan American Conference it is easy to see why it has been described both as a great diplomatic triumph and as a great disappointment. What happened was that except on minor matters the Conference did nothing. Those who wanted it to do nothing about the major matters which were in everybody's mind came back from Havana happily and triumphantly disappointed. Those who had hoped that the Conference would at least begin to clarify the Monroe Doctrine and our Caribbean policy came back cynically disappointed. Everybody was disappointed, but some were glad they were disappointed, and some were sorry.

The Conference had opened after many warnings that at Havana the United States would face a bloc of Latin-American nations determined at least to censure, and perhaps to put a curb upon, our extensive and self-assumed obligations in the Caribbean region. Our delegation seems to have assumed as a matter of course that if it could avoid a scolding, and deflect any proposal to limit our obligation, it would have fulfilled its mission. If this was its mission, it fulfilled it. Mr. Hughes described our policy in very noble terms. Nobody from Latin America arose to contradict Mr. Hughes and to say that it was not a very noble policy. On the other hand nobody said that it was a very noble policy. We emerged from the Conference having endorsed our own solitary obligation with our own solitary praise. We indulged ourselves in a unilateral vote of confidence in our unilateral policy. We had to do it. Nobody else was prepared to endorse our policy, or praise it, or give us a vote of confidence. The utmost we were able to obtain from our neighbors was their willingness to sit still and let us talk.

This, in the opinion of many, was a great victory. We had all somehow come to believe that "Latin-America" had one heart, one mind, and one soul, and that it was

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