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

By J. Lloyd Mecham | Go to book overview

XV Conclusion

The OAS past is ennobled by ideals of peace, union, and friendship among our peoples. Its present is an international order that respects the juridical equality, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of nations united to face any threat and to seek peaceful solutions to controversies. Its future is a challenge to the men of today, to our ability to respond to the heroic mission of America.

JOSÉ A. MORA, 1956

T HE ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN STATES is the oldest, the largest, the best integrated, and in many respects the most successful of the regional arrangements attached to the United Nations. Unlike other regional arrangements in the UN, the OAS did not come into being recently and overnight; its evolution parallels that of the American nations themselves since the winning of their independence. Hence the strength of the inter-American system is to be found in a long historical experience which has peculiarly fitted it to the hemisphere where it has developed.

Evolving Pan Americanism. The Western Hemisphere idea of a community of neighbors sharing common interests and ideals had disparate and independent beginnings in Anglo America and Latin America. In the United States Thomas Jefferson was one of the first to call attention to the identity of hemispheric interest and the need of excluding all European influence from the Americas. Henry Clay became the greatest propagandist of the idea and advocated, in opposing European tyranny, an "American system" of which the United States would be the center and in which all of Latin America would act with it. A belated convert to the Western Hemisphere idea, Secretary of State John Quincy Adams, joined President Monroe in making it the basis of national policy in 1823. Although the Monroe Doctrine was originally defined as a unilateral policy of the United States and therefore not an appropriate subject for inter-American action, this does not negate the

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