Economic Foreign Policy of the United States

By Benjamin H. Williams | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VIII
ANTI-REVOLUTIONISM AND MANIPULATION

REVOLUTIONS BECOME A THREAT TO AMERICAN INVESTMENTS AND FINANCIAL CONTROL

Until the end of the nineteenth century, the United States maintained an attitude of neutrality with regard to the lightning- like upheavals which took place in the governments of the smaller Latin-American countries. Guided by the principles of international law and remembering the non-interference which had been so insistently demanded from other governments during the American Civil War, this country took the position that internal conflicts in other lands were not a matter of our concern. Nothing less sacred than the tradition of the American Revolution, reviewed with acclaim on each succeeding Independence Day, justified the use of violence on proper occasions in the overthrow of governments. Accordingly, the United States assumed a neutral status as between factions in foreign revolutions. Neutrality laws were applied, although the laxness of their enforcement was evidenced by the numerous armed expeditions which set forth from American soil to carry assistance to disturbers of Latin-American peace. The shipment of arms to the forces of both the beleaguered government and the insurrectionists was permitted. Recognition was duly extended to successful revolutionary factions after they were clearly and firmly established in power. In recent years, however, the time-honored policy of neutrality and non-intervention has been forced to give way before changing conditions and ideals. Today, excepting in rare instances, the United States frowns upon revolutions in Latin-American countries and is often willing to take a positive stand in support of the government against which the revolution is aimed. This new doctrine marks a striking reversal in the diplomacy of a state which owes its own origin to revolution.

Numerous explanations have been advanced for the change. The notion that the use of force is immoral, which seems to have

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