American Diplomacy in a New Era

By Stephen D. Kertesz | Go to book overview

5: UNITED STATES POLICY IN THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE

Arthur P. Whitaker

The policy of the United States in relation to the Western Hemisphere at the present time is little more than the sum of its policies towards the three political entities that share the New World with it: Latin America, Canada, and the remaining European possessions. Only one important policy, that of Hemisphere defense, is addressed to the Western Hemisphere as a whole, and in operation even this repeats the threefold pattern, for it is implemented by separate arrangements with Latin America and Canada, with the European possessions in America occupying a special status apart from both arrangements. This threefold division is therefore the basis of the organization of the present essay.

The policy of the United States is still marked by some survivals from the long period before the Second World War when it was powerfully influenced by a concept of the Western Hemisphere as a whole. These survivals are most numerous in its Latin-American policy, for it was in relation to that area that the concept first took shape and had its fullest development. It emerged early in the 19th century at the beginning of Latin-American independence in the form of what the present writer has called the Western Hemisphere idea, that is, the idea that the peoples of the New World formed a distinct and coherent group, united with one another by geographical propinquity, history, and common ideals and interests, and set apart from the wicked Old World (i.e., Europe) by superior virtues as well as by the wide Atlantic. Shared by many Latin Americans, this idea enjoyed a long vogue in the United States, where it found policy expression in a variety of ways that included both the unilateral Monroe Doctrine and multilateral Pan Americanism. Its influence on policy alternately waxed and waned with the vicissitudes of American and world affairs for more than a century until in the 1930s it was

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