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

By J. Lloyd Mecham | Go to book overview

IV The "New" Pan Americanism: II (1914-1928)

Pan Americanism implies the equality of all sovereignties, large and small, the assurance that no country will attempt to diminish the territory of others. . . . It is, in short, an exponent of deep brotherly sentiment, and a just aspiration for material and moral aggrandizement of all the peoples of America.

BALTASAR BRUM, 1920

T HE OUTBREAK OF WORLD WAR I not only forced a postponement of the Fifth International Conference of American States, scheduled to meet at Santiago, Chile, in 1914, but also posed for the American republics problems which tested as never before the validity of their protestations of unity and solidarity. These were the problems of neutrality ( 1914-17) and belligerency ( 1917/18). Since the four preceding Pan American conferences had given no consideration to the advantages of collaboration to preserve neutrality in the event of a foreign war, or to defend against possible belligerent aggression, the outbreak of war in 1914 found the nations of America without any agreed-upon plan of action. Consequently the measures of cooperation that were undertaken were on a completely ad hoc basis.

The problems of neutrality. The eruption of war in Europe was viewed in the Americas as a strictly non-American affair, and so the republics individually and independently declared their neutrality. Their only joint actions during the first two and one-half years (i.e., prior to April 1917) were confined to proposals to safeguard neutrality, and measures to meet the economic problems created by the war.

The Governing Board of the Pan American Union, acting on the initiative of Peru, created early in the war the Special Neutrality Commission, with the secretary of state of the United States as ex officio

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