CHAPTER XVII. World Relationships
It became increasingly evident that the foreign policy of the United States could not consist solely of a Caribbean policy, a Pan-American policy, and a Far Eastern policy, but that it must necessarily involve a world policy. During the years after the Spanish War the world was actively discussing peace; but all the while war was in the air. The peace devices of 1815, the Holy and the Quadruple Alliances, had vanished. The world had ceased to regard buffer states as preventives of wars between the great nations, although at the time few believed that any nation would ever dare to treat them as Germany since then has treated Belgium. The balance of power still existed, but statesmen were ever uncertain as to whether such a relation of states was really conducive to peace or to war. A concert of the Great Powers resembling the Quadruple Alliance sought to regulate such vexing problems as were presented by the Balkans and China, but their concord was not loud enough to drown the notes of discord.
The outspoken word of governments was still all for peace; their proposals for preserving. it were of two kinds. First, there was the time-honored argument that the best preservative of peace was preparation for war. Foremost in the avowed policies of the day, this was urged by some who really believed it, by some who hoped for war and intended to be ready for it, and by the cynical who did not wish for war but thought it inevitable. The other proposal was that war could and should be prevented by agreements to submit all differences between nations to international tribunals for judgment. In the United States, which had always rejected the idea of balance of power, and which only in Asia, and to a limited degree, assented to the concert of powers, one or the other of these two views was urged by all those who saw that the United States had actually become a world power, that isolation no longer existed, and that a policy of nonintervention could not keep us permanently detached from the current of world politics.
The foremost advocates of preparedness were Theodore Roosevelt and Admiral Mahan. It was little enough that they were able to accomplish, but it was more than most Americans realize. The doubling of the regular army which the Spanish War had brought about was maintained but was less important than its improvement in organization. Elihu Root and William H. Taft, as Secretaries of War, profiting by the lessons learned in Cuba, established a general staff, provided for the advanced professional training of officers, and became sufficiently acquainted with the personnel to bring into positions of responsibility those who deserved to hold them. The navy grew with less resistance on the part of the public, which now was interested in observing the advance in the rank of its fleet among the navies of the world. When in 1907 Roosevelt sent the American battleship squadron on a voyage around the world, the expedition not only caused a pleased self-consciousness at home but perhaps impressed foreign nations with the fact that the United States now counted not only as a potential but as an actual factor in world affairs.
Greater popular interest, if one may judge from relative achievement, was aroused by the proposal to substitute legal for military battles. The United States had always been disposed to submit to arbitration questions which seemed deadlocked. The making of general arrangements for the arbitration of cases that might arise in the future was now advocated. The first important proposal of this character was made to the United States by Great Britain at the time of the Venezuela affair. This proposal was rejected, for it was regarded as a device of Great Britain to cover her retreat in that particular case by suggesting a general provision. The next suggestion was that made by the Czar, in 1899, for a peace conference at The Hague. This invitation the United States accepted with hearty good will and she concurred in the establishment of a permanent court of arbitration to meet in that city. Andrew Carnegie built a home for it, and President Roosevelt sent to it as its first case that of the "Pious Fund," concerning which the United States had long been in dispute with Mexico.
The establishment of a world court promoted the formation of treaties between nations by which they agreed to submit their differences to The Hague or to similar courts especially formed. A model, or as it was called a "mondial" treaty was drawn up by the conference for this purpose. Secretary Hay proceeded to draw up treaties on such general lines with a number of nations, and President Roosevelt referred them to the Senate with his warm approval. That body, however, exceedingly jealous of the share in the treaty-making power given it by the Constitution, disliked the treaties, because it feared that under such general agreements cases would be submitted to The Hague Court without its special approval.* Yet, as popular sentiment was strongly behind the movement, the Senate ventured only to amend the procedure in such a way as to make every "agreement" a treaty which would require its concurrence. President Roosevelt, however, was so much incensed at this important change that he refused to continue the negotiations.
* The second article in these treaties read: "In each individual case the high contracting parties, before appealing to the Permanent Court of Arbitration, shall conclude a special agreement defining clearly the matter in dispute."