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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/457

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take action in protection of our citizens in China and Armenia? If Africa is opened up to commerce, do we mean to hold aloof from a share in it? Are we not already deeply interested in it so far as it has advanced? We have interests in Madagascar which have already drawn us into the proceedings there, and which promise to involve us still further. We accepted a role in the war between China and Japan which was by no means that of an uninterested stranger. Will any one maintain that we could carry out the policy of abstention in respect to that part of the world?

On the other hand, so long as European nations own colonies in America, how can we rule the Western continent without coming in collision with them? Even if we should dispossess them of those colonies, how would it be possible to rule the Western continent, and to deny them any right to meddle in its affairs, so long as their citizens may visit the same for business or pleasure? The notion that the world can be so divided that we can rule one part and Europe the other, and thus never be brought in collision with each other, is evidently a silly whim. We may talk about "Western civilization" or "American ideas," but these are only grandiloquent phrases. Everybody knows that there is no civilization common to all America and different from that of Europe; there are no ideas common to all America and different from European ideas. There has never been any sympathy between North and South America, and there are only few and comparatively feeble bonds of interest based on commerce or investments. Either North or South America has far stronger bonds to Europe than they both have to each other. As far as the external resemblance of "republics" is concerned, the South American states have hitherto only made republican government ridiculous. The geographical neighborhood, on which stress is often laid, can be seen by a glance at the map to be nonexistent. If it existed it would be of little importance compared with economic distance, which is reckoned by cost, time, and facility of transportation. The Western continents are divided from each other by race, religion, language, real political institutions, manners and customs, and, above all, by tastes and habits. They entertain a strong dislike of each other. The United States could never establish a hegemony over the Western world until after long years of conquest. In their quarrels with European states, it suits the South American states very well that the United States should act the cat's paw for them, but it can not be that their statesmen will be so short-sighted as to accept a protection which would turn into domination without a moment's warning; neither can it be possible that our statesmen will ever seriously commit us to a responsibility for the proceedings of South American states.