The United States and Inter-American Security, 1889-1960

By J. Lloyd Mecham | Go to book overview
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I Regionalism and Regional Arrangements

No one in the Americas has given up hope for a world community of nations. We have merely thought the transition from nationalism to universalism could best be accomplished by strengthening first the regional agencies.


S INCE ANCIENT TIMES states within limited geographical areas have banded together to better attain commonly-desired objectives. The characteristics, purposes, and successes of such regional groupings have varied widely; but the validity of the principle that similar aims in international affairs may be more fully realized through joint action by a group of states comprising or having an interest in some geographical areas has fostered the idea of regionalism throughout the ages. It is very much alive today, for the present trend is toward, rather than away from, such groupings.

Within the last forty years, however, a new concept of international collective security based on the principle of universality of interest among all nations has found acceptance and practical application in the League of Nations and the United Nations. These world organizations for collective security sprang from the strong desire of states to find peace following costly global wars.

The universalists say that political, economic, and strategic interests cannot be divided into regions, but, like peace itself, are indivisible. Geographical association, they say, does not necessarily correspond to the actual interests of neighbors, for neighboring nations are not always logical and actual cooperators, whereas distant nations often are, since the seas no longer separate them. While reasonable universalists do not argue the impossible--that is, the abolition of regionalism-- they do point out that regional association without the possibility of resort to strong universal control would hold grave danger of internal friction and little hope of security. A quite possible result of any


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