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From The Nineteenth Century. THE OLNEY DOCTRINE. That the settlement of the Venezuela question, so far as it is in the power of Creat Britain and the United States to settle it, should be received with general satisfaction in this country, is extremely natural; thatit should be treated as a matter scarcely important enough to rouse interest, or require other than hasty and perfunctory comment, is rather curious. Not ten months ago it was viewed with passionate emotion on one side of the Atlantic, with perturbed and painful anxiety on the other; now it drifts quietly away in a mist of halfunderstood detail, and we scarcely turn our heads to look at it as it disappears below the political horizon. The experts will have a good deal to do with it before it is quite disposed of; but it may now reasonably be hoped that it will be left in the condition in which it will concern the diplomatists and the lawyers alone, and will not again run any risk of interesting the general public.

The precise effect and meaning of the settlement not very many Englishmen have been at the pains to ascertain, nor are they likely to do so. The common sentiment echoes the prudent and wellcalculated levity with which Lord Salisbury treated the subject in his Guildhall speech. Most of us are much inclined to agree with the prime minister that after all the whole affair was one of no great moment to the people of this country. A trumpery dispute, about some leagues of swamp and forest, with a fifth-rate republic, on one of the odd corners of the empire! Surely the wearied Titan has other things to think about. Even if there is "auriferous territory" involved, there are plenty of gold mines elsewhere.

With all the careful "coaching" he got from laborious journalists who had worked up the maps and the blue-books, it is probable that the man in the street and the man in the club, on either side of the Atlantic, never quite made out where the Cuyuni River ran or what the Schomburgk line was. He became excited over the question when he heard, if he was an American, that the Britisher was trying to violate the

sacred doctrine of Monroe; if an Englishman, when he was told that the United States was attempting to bully us out of something which a British colony might justly claim as its own. Now that his political guides and leaders have informed him that a compromise has been arranged which is satisfactory to the honor of both parties, he is quite content to forget the whole affair. In this country there is assuredly no disposition to look narrowly at the terms of settlement, or weigh too strictly the gains and losses in the diplomatic bargain. It is assumed-for the exact details are not yet known, and when they are known they probably will not be generally understood-that while we have given way to the United States, by admitting its right to intervene in the dispute, we have secured the substantial securities for which, as the guardians of British Guiana, we were mainly contending. An equitable arrangement has been made by which the long-established prescriptive occupation of the inhabitants of the older colonial territories is recognized; subject to this we are to arbitrate on the whole debatable district, as the United States government has all along demanded. If there are some who feel that, supposing this arrangement to be prudent and just, it might have been most suitably made before instead of after Mr. Cleveland's message; if they find a certain humiliation in the fact that this solution, so long refused to diplomatic pressure, has been somewhat precipitately granted when diplomacy was backed by a threat of war, they are in the minority. There is no denying the fact that in concluding the Arbitration Treaty, Lord Salisbury has satisfied the great body of his countrymen. The prevalent sentiment is one of impatient relief. We are glad to be done with a vexatious business; we are only somewhat annoyed to think that, trivial as we are now led to believe it really was, it should have given us some months of occasional anxiety and some moments of genuine alarm.

But though the boundary question is in itself of no very great importance, the same cannot be said of the episode of

American intervention, or of the process those suggested have been developed in

by which it has been terminated. On the contrary. It would not be surprising if the future historian of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries should come to consider this series of occurrences as the beginning of a new epoch in international relations; and he even may see cause to regard it as the most significant and pregnant event of all this annus mirabilis 1896. It is true its importance and interest are much more for the people of the United States than for Englishmen, though the latter too are very closely concerned in it. For Americans the assertion, and the partial recognition, of the new version of the Monroe Doctrine, laid down by Mr. Olney last summer, may have consequences that will be felt for generations. It is strange that this aspect of the matter has received very little attention in America and next to none in this country. Both nations are content to welcome the fact-which indeed is gratifying enough in itself—that their rulers, after getting to high words, and after hesitating as it seemed on the very brink of a serious quarrel, have contrived to adjust all differences by an arbitration arrangement, and have even made the incident the occasion of settling the draft of a General Treaty of Arbitration. In the exultation or the relief with which this comfortable escape from a most awkward embarrassment is hailed, it is forgotten that, before the solution had been reached, principles had been asserted, and precedents laid down, which must become part, if not of International Law, at any rate of public policy. A novel attempt has been made to define the attitude of the United States towards the other governments of the two Americas. fresh article has been added to the code which regulates the relations of the civilized powers to one another. How far the new system extends, and what its precise meaning and validity may be, are questions which the recent transactions have left in much uncertainty. They are at least worth some consideration.


There are, I know, observers who deny that any such striking results as

the course of the Anglo-American negotiations. Nothing, they would say, is changed; there is only a treaty the more. There is a tendency among some American journalists, who have specially supported the action of Mr. Cleveland and Mr. Olney, to minimize the importance of the state secretary's famous despatch. They refuse to admit that there has been any change in the policy of the United States, or that anything said or done in connection with the Venezuela frontier dispute has seriously modified international relations. Times correspondent at Washington has asserted this opinion with a good deal of emphasis; and it seems to have been adopted, after some hesitation, by his employers in London. We have been told the new Monroe Doctrine does not seem very materially to differ from the old one.1 These, however, are the second thoughts of the Times. A day or two previously that journal had committed itself to a much more serious and more logical opinion on the meaning of the Washington compact:


From the point of view of the United States the arrangement is a concession by Great Britain of the most far-reaching kind. It admits a principle that in respect of South American Republics the Unica States may not only intervene in disputes, but may entirely supersede the original disputant and assume exclusive control of the negotiations. Great Britain canher action in this matter, but she has set not, of course, bind any other nation by up a precedent which may in future be quoted with great effect against herself, and she has greatly strengthened the hands of the United States government in any dispute that may arise in the future between a South American republic and a European power in which the United States may desire to intervene.

If we choose to turn back to a time before this "far-reaching" concession had been made, and when it was believed that it would not be made, we shall find the same conviction asserted in stil more emphatic language "It must be observed that the Monroe Doctrine on

1 See the Times November 16, 1896.


which Mr. Olney relies has received an entirely new development in his despatch and in Mr. Cleveland's message. .. Lord Salisbury expresses his full concurrence in the view "that any disturbance of the existing territorial distribution in the Western Hemisphere by any fresh acquisition on the part of any European States would be a highly inexpedient change." But the recognition of this expediency does not cover the deductions from the Monroe Doctrine which Mr. Olney's despatch puts forward, and which President Cleveland makes the basis of the most astounding proposal, perhaps, that has ever been advanced by any government, in time of peace, since the days of Napoleon. . . . It is impossible to admit that the interests of the United States are affected by every frontier dispute between our colonies and their neighbors, and that therefore the right of imposing arbitration in every case of the kind must be conceded." I quote from the Times of the 18th of December, the day after the publication of President Cleveland's message; I might quote from almost any other English newspaper of that date. The universal opinion in this country at the time was that the claims advanced by Mr. Olney And what were a great innovation. Lord Salisbury said last autumn, what nine out of ten intelligent Englishmen said last winter, what a number of the authoritative of most learned and American jurists urged as soon as they were made acquainted with the text of the secretary of state's note, competent foreign observers continue to maintain still. The best informed French and German journalists-seldom inclined to view the aspirations and pretensions of Great Britain with indulgence-declared that Lord Salisbury had the better of the argumentative duel; and, though they acknowledge the equity and prudence of the compromise which has been reached, they think it necessary to point out that it involves possibilities of considerable gravity, not merely to England and the United States, but also to the civilized world in general. The Cologne Gazette-echoing what is said to be the view of the Ger

man Foreign Office- insists that a precedent has been established by the joint action of the two Anglo-Saxon powers, the effects of which are likely to be felt long after the British Guiana boundary question has been forgotten. "We wish to take the first opportunity of declaring," said the Rhenish newspaper, in an article which was reproduced with approval by the semiofficial Norddeutsche Zeitung, "that the precedent in question is at most an English, and in no way a European, precedent." Nevertheless the German writer admits that the United States has entered upon a line of policy from which it cannot easily withdraw, and that in the future, and in the light of this Venezuela transaction, American public opinion will unhesitatingly demand the intervention of the Federal government in any dispute between an American State and a European power, whether territorial questions be involved or not. The Temps, which is the best instructed of French newspapers where foreign affairs are involved, writes in a What similar strain. specially concerns Frenchmen, it is argues, the Great countenance Britain has given to a novel and extreme deduction from the Monroe Doctrine:

Ainsi, du consentement exprès du Royaume-Uni, le gouvernement de Washington se verra investi du droit de s'immiscer dans toute querelle territoriale entre une puissance européenne et un Etat du nouveau monde. Il obtiendra le droit de se porter fort, même sans mandat exprès, pour l'un de ses clients. Il pourra, d'accord avec la puissance européenne engagée dans le litige, mais sans l'intervention de l'Etat américain pue représente l'autre partie, régler souverainement le mode, les conditions, la forme et le fonds de la solution destinée à mettre fin au


Ce sont là de bien grosses innovations en matière de droit international. Elles consacrent la suprématie absolue des EtatsUnis dans leur hémisphère.

There can be no doubt that these French and German publicists are right. Great changes in the relations of

the European powers towards the States of the American continent, and in the relations of those States to one another, have been produced by the assertion on one side, and the admission, at least in part, on the other, of that new and enlarged version of the Monroe principle, which may be conveniently known as the Olney Doctrine.

This doctrine is embodied in the despatch, so often referred to, of the 20th of July, 1895, emphasized and clinched in Mr. Cleveland's famous message to Congress. The despatch is a very verbose, voluminous, and elaborate document, couched in a rhetorical style such as is not commonly employed in formal state papers. But though its argument is loose and its phraseology singularly wanting in scientific precision, its general meaning is clear enough. To put it briefly Mr. Olney's main propositions are that "American questions are for American decision;" that no European power has the right to intervene forcibly in the affairs of the continent, or to seek territorial extension at the expense of any existing American state; that the United States, owing to its superior size and power, is the protector and champion of all other American nations; and that it has the right and duty to intervene in all territorial disputes in the Western Hemisphere, whether such disputes directly affect its interests or not. These propositions are deduced from a variety of general statements of principle, some of which are of a very remarkable and original character, such for instance as the axiom that "permanent political union between a European and an American State is unnatural and inexpedient" Lord Salisbury, as the representative of an empire which includes Canada, thought it necessary to place on record his "emphatic denial" of this extraordinary proposition, and of many other statements of fact and theories of politics which Mr. Olney's despatch contained; nor did he assent to the state secretary's view that "American questions are for American decision," or concede that general right of intervention in the affairs of the continent which the United States government claimed.

But in that strangely confused and indefinite system which is called International Law, acts go for more than words. If the jurist will be able to turn to the cogent piece of argument in which Lord Salisbury dismissed the new interpretation of the Monroe Doctrine, the statesman will point to the fact that the government over which Lord Salisbury presided did eventually comply with the cardinal demand this new interpretation embodied. Whatever we may think of Mr. Olney's historical and juristical generalizations, we cannot deny that her Majesty's government has admitted his two main assertions of practical policy. His long despatch "boils down" to this: the general right of the United States to intervene in American disputes in order to secure that they shall be solved by methods which the government of the Union considers just and equitable. When the two secretaries of state come to close quarters in their despatches, the argument really turns on this point. You have only the right to intervene on any question which affects your interests, said Lord Salisbury, whether the question be in America or elsewhere. You may interfere between Venezuela and British Guiana it is true, but merely on the same grounds as you might have interfered, if you had thought proper, between China and Japan. Not at all, said Mr. Olney; we are not bound to consider whether we have special interests in the matter. The United States may intervene because it is the United States-"not simply by reason of its high character as a civilized State, nor because wisdom and justice and equity are the invariable characteristics of the dealings of the United States;" but also because, "in addition to all other grounds, its infinite resources, combined with its isolated position, render it master of the situation." In other words, the United States being by far the largest and the strongest of American powers, definitely asserts its right to a paramount control of the states-system of the continent. And this claim, it must be repeated, Lord Salisbury has conceded. No one has been able to show that any

special interests of the United States have been involved, or that the republic is more directly affected by the Guiana boundary question than Mexico or Peru, or any other American State. If we have recognized the American claim to determine this dispute, without the invitation of one disputant, and over the head of the other, it is an admission of the political hegemony of the United States in the two Americas. The precedent has been established which it is the chief object of the Olney Doctrine to set up.

It may be said that this precedent is not binding in the tribunal of diplomacy. As I have just shown French and German protests have already been issued, and it will be open to any foreign government, if the occasion should arise, to declare that the general system of international law cannot be modified by a private arrangement between two powers. But if the civilized world is not committed to the fundamental article of the new doctrine, the United States is; and that is the true importance of the matter. We have seen how President Monroe's message which was in fact a purely academic commentary on events, not followed, or intended to be followed, by definite action-has become an inseparable part of the public policy of the United States, and has assumed in the eyes of American citizens a sanctity almost equal to that of the Constitution itself. Probably the same weight of authority will not attach to the policy laid down by President Cleveland and Mr. Olney. But authority it will have; the authority of an accomplished fact, and the authority of a successful vindication of a principle which could not be consequently abandoned without some appearance of humiliation. America is a democratic country, in which the sovereign is an electorate keenly alive to the national dignity and impulsively quick to resent any sacrifice of the national honor. Nothing helps a party in difficulties more than a show of spirit in foreign affairs, nor injures it worse than any suspicion of weakness or pusillanimity. What has been gained by the assertion of the Olney Doctrine

cannot be lost. Successive secretaries and presidents must take care that this high-water mark is not obliterated, if indeed it is not pushed further outwards. One would not give much for the political fortunes of an American statesman, who let it be known that he thought the precedent of 1896 was a mistake, and that he saw no reason why American questions should be reserved for American decision, or why a dispute between two powers, neither of which approached to within many hundreds of miles of the United States, could not be left to settle itself without calling for the intervention of Washington. No politician could now say that; no party could afford to support him if he did. The United States is practically bound to intervene as protector, champion, and judge in equity whenever territorial changes on the American continent are contemplated, or the rights of an American state are menaced; to intervene by diplomacy if that will suffice, by fleets and armies if it will not.

It is not the object of these few pages to discuss the wisdom or justice of this new policy, but merely to point out that new it is and that it must carry with it new, and weighty, consequences. Many Englishmen will feel a good deal of sympathy with the spirit that animates it. The violent language of Mr. Olney's note, its fulsome and excessive laudation of the United States, its contemptuous disregard of the susceptibilities of other great nations, and its glaring misrepresentations of fact and history, caused natural offence in this country. Behind, however, its extravagances and perversities there lies a sentiment for which, even in its audacity, Englishmen must feel a certain respect. "We are the 'biggest' and also the best power in America, and we mean not merely to 'boss the show,' but to see that the show is run upon the lines we approve. We are Republicans, and we think everybody else ought to be Republicans, because that is the best form of government, and makes people more virtuous than any other.1 We

1 "The people of the United States have a vital interest in the cause of popular self-government.

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