26 JULY 1940, Page 2


111HE importance of the Pan-American Conference which 1 opened at Havana on Monday may be very great or very small. If the United States has its way it will be the former; if Germany—which is of course not represented but is pulling strings with characteristic diligence—the latter. Mr. Cordell Hull is sponsoring two proposals, one for a joint Pan-American trusteeship for any European possession in the Western hemisphere in the event of any change of ownership being threatened, the other for the formation of a cartel which should buy up the vast surplus production of the Latin-American States—a project which will obviously be greatly facilitated if the Congress of the United States accedes to President Roosevelt's request for the increase of the capital of the Federal Import and Export Bank by $600,000,000. The chief purpose of such a scheme is to keep the surplus out of the hands of Germany, and German influence in the background may be sufficient to defeat it. Opposition is threatened mainly from Argentina, a State of sufficient importance to be disposed to challenge any undue domination of the Conference by the United States. But the defence of the Monroe Doctrine, which means in effect the defence of the American Continent, has become a matter of urgency, and thenin the United States Navy must play a preponderant, though not an exclusive, role. Recognition of that is likely, before the Conference closes, to work powerfully for the acceptance of compromise decisions substantially acceptable to the United States delegation.