The United States and the Republic of Panama

The United States and the Republic of Panama

The United States and the Republic of Panama

The United States and the Republic of Panama

Excerpt

Writers have often dealt with the relations of the United States and the countries of the Mexican Gulf and the Caribbean without adequate concentration on fundamentals. The careful student of the subject will observe that our policy with reference to this area has been characterized by one outstanding objective: namely, that of dominating it to the extent required (or deemed necessary) to prevent its domination by any other first-rate Power. This has been the keynote of the policy of the United States for more than a century, and the national interest which has been envisaged as being at stake is that of security. The region has been most vital in our defense strategy.

At least four other motives have influenced our policy at times: land hunger; the desire to promote commerce and investments; the desire to protect the lives and property of our citizens; and something of an eagerness to help the people of the region along the road to progress. But the desire to safeguard our security, supposed to be menaced immediately or remotely by other strong Powers, has been the most constant motive--or at any rate the one most often asserted.

In its broad outlines, the history of our Gulf and Caribbean policy is well known. Its keynote was first sounded by Thomas Jefferson with reference to Louisiana and East and West Florida, when he insisted that these areas bordering on the Gulf of Mexico and so vital to our national security must either be retained by weak Spain or transferred to the United States, and that they must not be permitted to fall into the hands of a stronger Power. And Louisiana and the Floridas were eventually acquired by the United States largely for the purpose of preventing their acquisition by France or England, although the desire to give the complaining citizens of the Old Southwest access to the rivers of the region furnished another motive.

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