7 MARCH 1896, Page 9


WE wonder if sensible Americans, who, we suppose, in, the last resort rule the United States, as sensible Englishmen rule Great Britain, have any idea of the pace at which their country is rushing towards a new policy_ Their settled idea up to the present time has been to avoid. mixing themselves up in European politics, and to confine- their activity, if possible, to North America, but at all events to the two continents in the Western hemisphere_ In theory they still adhere to this idea, which they regard, as sacred because it was Washington's, but in practice they show a strong, though as yet an unacknowledged, dis- position to depart from it. They have become enormously, numerous, being the second white State, in point of numbers, in the world ; their wealth has, for national purposes, practically no limit ; and they feel in their prosperity and their pride an impulse to activity in all directions. As the New York Outlook recently observed, they are faced in their own hemisphere by States which. are not their equals ; they have never experienced any. necessity for caution in foreign relations ; and they are- inclined to believe, not only that their own view as to. foreign affairs is correct, but that whenever it is fully presented to foreign nations the latter will agree, and cheerfully resign any pretensions of their own. The only condition by which the Americans limit this view is. apparently that the particular cause of quarrel in each case shall have some relation to a State in America or a ship sailing under an American flag. They think, naturally enough perhaps with their training, that this condition limits at once the sphere of their energies and the number of their foes, but they will speedily find themselves. mistaken. When they threaten a State like Chili, as they did a few years ago, the affair may be a sort of due), because no other State has any direct interest in it ;. but when they threaten a European nation they disturb arrangements of the most complicated kind, and rouse up. enmities in quarters of which they never think. Europe chuckled. a little when they threatened Great Britain the other day, because Europe is at once out of temper with this country, and confident that she can take care of herself ; but Europe was dead against the Union all the same, and had the struggle gone on to the bitter end, the wind& might have witnessed some very singular combinations.. Napoleon III. conquered Mexico during the great American Civil War, and because that war was raging ; and if the Union were exhausted, or even occupied, by a great war with England, prizes would lie open for seizure in South' America which would excite in many nations a fury of' greed. Imagine how open the ear of the German Emperor would be, under such circumstances, to the grievances, real and imaginary, of the great body of German settlers in South Brazil, and how the Colonial party in Paris would lecture on the anarchy revealed by the method of the recent Brazilian invasion of French Guiana. With Brazil par- titioned between Germany and France, it might not be so- easy to turn them out as it was to turn out Napoleon who left Maximilian to bo shot without risking a battle. Similarly, in this Cuban affair the Americans imagine they are only dealing with Spain ; but in reality they are- risking an alteration in the relations of all Europe.

We do not profess a final opinion as to the merits of the struggle in Cuba. The history of Spain gives us a strong prejudice against her methods of colonial govern- ment, which are always selfish and sometimes cruel ; but, on the other hand, we are unable to feel attracted to Spanish-American independence. Those States might have flourished as Principalities, as one of them, etali,. has flourished under an oligarchy, but under Re- publican institutions the mixture of colours in the populations appears to produce a tendency towards. anarchy which has continued to manifest itself for seventy years. As regards the special case of Cuba,. it is even more difficult to form an opinion, owing to the excessive care with which the Spaniards conceal informa- tion, and the excessive carelessness of the Cubans as to. any relation between their accounts and actual occur- rences. That the Spaniards have a right to put down a. rebellion is clear, if only from that greatest of precedents,. the American subjugation of the South ; but if, as one- Senator alleged, the officials in Cuba are "hideously' cruel," the sympathy of Americans with the sufferers in as much justified as our own sympathy with Armenians.. We do not know for ourselves whether the Spanish accounts or the American stories are correct—though we -do know that the rebellion of 1868-76 was put down with shocking cruelty—and it is therefore as impartial -observers that we point out to our American friends the consequences of recent incidents. The Senate and the House of Representatives have passed resolutions calling on the President to accord to the insurgents belligerent rights, and the Senate, besides denouncing all Spaniards in furious language, has asked Mr. Cleveland to advise Spain to grant independence to the island. What is the result ? Not only does Spain immediately declare her readiness for war and call out her maritime Reserves, but she immediately shifts her place in Europe, and, having previously displayed a slight bias towards the Triple Alliance, makes overtures to France of a most serious kind. If France will lend her "diplomatic" assistance in her American dispute, she will open all her ports to France in the event of war, and will help her to obtain all she wants in the Hinterland of Morocco. These terms have, it is said, been informally accepted ; while it is certain that the French Government has encouraged great bankers to offer large financial assistance to Spain, which, as it is based ‘upon the revenues of Cuba, must have been preceded by at least a moral guarantee that Spain should retain the island. In other words, the American Senate, by rashly threatening Spain, has run the ultimate risk of a war not only with Spain, but with France, besides endangering, as we have pointed out above, the independence of South America. That may be perfectly right and wise—we are not discussing that point, and in fact, in the absence of trustworthy information, we have no opinion—but it is quite certain that if the United States are to pursue that line of policy, they must give up their resolution not to (interfere in Europe. They must, in fact, study European politics, and on occasion defer to European necessities, or -their acts will some day bring down a storm which they have not the least intention of producing. Take, for example, a case which might easily occur, though in all human probability it will not happen. Imagine a resolu- tion of the Senate solemnly condemning as infamous a Trench attempt to obtain by menace common justice from Brazil, which has actually and technically in- vaded French territory in Guiana. It is quite pos- sible that the French, who are a duelling people, would feel that insult very keenly, and quite possible also that, being an ambitious people, they might offer to join Germany in a partition of Brazil. That would not be nice for the United States, which, though beyond risk of invasion, would have to fight two great military and maritime Powers at a distance of more than a thousand miles from its base. The two Powers would not dream of invading the Union, but would destroy its Fleet, and then Zeal with Brazil as they pleased. The United States, in short, would be drawn by its own acts within the circle of European politics, and would be compelled, whether it liked it or not, to form European alliances, to watch European affairs, and in the end to throw its weight occasionally on the side which it deemed most favourable to its own interests. It would probably go on pleading the Monroe doctrine all the same, for nations are never quite logical ; but it would nevertheless be intervening in Europe in a way which would make that doctrine seem, in the eyes of international jurists, just a little absurd.

We are not writing with any idea that our words may influence American opinion against intervention in Europe. On the contrary, our impression is that such intervention is in the near future very nearly inevitable. The American Union is growing too great in the world for a policy of isolation. It claims a Protectorate over the whole of Central and South America, while it refuses to acknow- 4edge any responsibility for the petty States occupying that vast area. Collisions are sure to arise from that attitude, and collisions with Powers not held in as we are by a secret conviction that firing on Americans is firing on ourselves. Moreover, we believe that the same impulse which sends every wealthy American to Europe, the same attraction of an old civilisation for a new one, will at list drag the American Republic within the vortex of European politics. Americans will want to rival Europe, or to convince Europe, or to be great in Europe. "I -ant," General Grant is reported to have said when the ultimatum about Mexico NVO,f3 presented to Napoleon III., ." to see whether we cannot beat a European army ;" and that desire to test themselves against the old Powers, to be great among the old Powers, and to influence the policy of the old Powers, will before long become a national one. A rich man does not feel his wealth while he stays away from general society. There is no reason that we know of why the process which has already begun should not go on to the end, or why this country, at all events, should not welcome the arrival of a new Power which, if it is occasionally jealous of us, at least shares our humanitarian sentiments ; but we are not sure that Americans anticipate any such issue. They still not only wish to keep out of European politics, but, what is much stranger, they think that they are keeping out of them. They are not ; for the world grows too small for any one but the insignificant to remain wholly alone. "I," says the big gosling in the hen's nest, displacing a chicken at every flap of his wings, "am content to remain outside the complications of this nest ;" but he will find as he steps over the side that the cocks, whom he has sorely affronted, are not quite sure he is outside them. They will be apt to argue that as he is so big, and so little conscious of the commotion he makes, he must come under the rules of the farmyard, or be regarded as a general enemy. And the gosling, who is longing for place and position and deference, rather than for general dislike, will acknowledge at once that the former alterna- tive is by far the pleasanter of the two. America has to be admitted into the great comity, and in our judgment is even now, though unconsciously, seeking for admission.