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

By J. Lloyd Mecham | Go to book overview

II
The "Old" Pan Americanism (1826-1888)

It is time the interests and relations uniting the American Republics, formerly Spanish colonies, should have a fundamental basis that shall perpetuate, if possible, those Governments.

SIMÓN BOLÍVAR, 1824

OF THE SEVERAL CONTEMPORARY "regional arrangements" which have been gathered under the accommodating canopy of the United Nations, the one superior to all others in maturity and in elaborateness of organizational and functional features is the Organization of American States--the OAS. In fact it was primarily because of the existence and importance of the inter-American system that it was necessary, when the Charter of the United Nations was drafted, to contrive a reconciliation between regionalism and global-security organization. By recourse to statesmanship, this difficult task of reconciling the seemingly irreconcilable was accomplished. There will be more about this later at a logical juncture of the discussion.1 At the outset it seems appropriate to recount the evolving nature of the Pan American association of nations, with particular emphasis, of course, on its security 2 aspects. It is only by such historical background that the unique, but substantial, components of the inter-American security system can be properly understood.

The inter-American cooperative movement, once known as Pan Americanism, has evolved through three chronological phases, and is

____________________
1
See Chap. IX.
2
The term "security," in international usage, cannot be reduced to precise definition. Some would restrict it to the political and military guarantees of safety and adequate protection. But there are others who would include also juridical and economic guarantees. The present discussion inclines to the broader interpretation, particularly as applicable to the more recent periods of inter-American cooperation.

-28-

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