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Reva Craine

World Politics

(19 March 1945)

From Labor Action, Vol. IX No. 12, 19 March 1945, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Chapultepec and Oaks

The recently concluded Inter-American Conference was correctly described in last week’s Labor Action as a diplomatic attempt to bring the Latin and South American countries more securely under the economic domination of the most powerful of the Western Hemisphere nations, the United States. The problems which the conference decision raised, more than anything else, reveal that this is true.

By the Act of Chapultepec, now hailed as the modern Monroe Doctrine, the twenty republics pledged to take united military action against any American nation which resorted to force in settling inter-American disputes. Since the United States is the only country which can supply the necessary materials for such action, it was generally understood that this country’s vote would be the decisive one in declaring war.

At the same time, the United States is partner to the Yalta decisions on the Dumbarton Oaks proposals for the world security organization by which any one of the seven permanent council, members of the future world organization may veto any proposed action against an aggressor. This means, for example, that if the United States wished to take military action against one of the South American countries, Argentina, for example, England, through the world organisation, could veto such action.


Argentine Sidedish

It is generally agreed that the threats made in the Act of Chapultepec are aimed primarily at Argentina, the only South American country absent from the Mexico City gathering. The criticisms and charges leveled at Argentina by the others had nothing to do with the fact that that country is run by a dictator, that there is no political freedom in that country. The conditions put to Argentina were primarily that she join the Allies in declaring war on the Axis and endorse the economic decisions arrived at by the conference. Of the latter, the most important sections are those which guarantee that the Latin and South American countries continue to supply the basic products and strategic materials, needed by the Allies in the conduct of the war; that the United States would supply these countries, after the war with needed machinery and equipment. In other words, the Latin and South American countries will serve as the sources of vital raw materials which the United States will purchase and also serve as a market for the sale of machinery and for investments for the United States.

The proposed condition to Argentina that she hold free elections and guarantee other political liberties was dropped, because, as it was explained in the press, “some delegates felt that this would be interfering in Argentina’s internal affairs.” Free elections are certainly the last thing the other South American dictators would consider a fair condition. Even the United States does not put such a condition to them as a basis for recognition, but on the contrary manages to remain on very friendly terms despite, the absence of that condition (Brazil, Bolivia, etc.).

The real reason for Argentina’s peculiar position lies not in the fact that she is a totalitarian state, but rather in the fact that she is the only country in South America not completely, under the economic heel of the United States. Argentina is the last economic foothold of England in the Western Hemisphere; Argentina also considers herself as a potential rival to the United States in South America. Her agricultural products compete with those of the United States. In addition, she is more interested in becoming the leading industrial country of her continent than in being a mere supplier of raw materials to the United States. She seeks to become the leading power in South America.

Argentina is not at war with the Axis because she does not see any immediate economic benefits that she could obtain from such participation and does not wish to enter merely as an appendage of the United States.


An American Dilemma

It is precisely over Argentina that the contradiction between Chapultepec and Dumbarton Oaks becomes real. What if England should veto any action that the United States should propose to undertake against the recalcitrant?

At first the American delegation was divided on this question. Some thought the United States must have the right to deal with inter-American affairs without any interference by any European power. But this did not look so good for the build-up that was being made for the San Francisco confab to be held next month, at which the Yalta decisions on world organization were to be presented for adoption. And yet the United States does want this free hand in the Western Hemisphere. And Chapultepec meant the Monroe Doctrine accepted and agreed to by all the countries from which the United States wants to exclude her imperialist rivals.

How to overcome the dilemma? The Inter-American Conference discussed this problem and approved a resolution which called for such changes in the Dumbarton Oaks proposals as would permit the American republics to solve their own disputes – that is, inter-American disputes would remain the exclusive province of the Americas and the United States would be free from any restraining influence by England and Russia. This, of course, was presented as an “original” idea which came from the Latin and South American countries themselves, for the next day it was announced that the United States would not take responsibility for the Latin-American criticisms of the Dumbarton Oaks proposals.


Bargaining Point?

Of course, the United States officials hastened to assure the world that this did not necessarily mean “that they would oppose settlement of purely regional disputes by regional machinery. They merely made clear that they wanted to go to San Francisco with a free hand and without any, obligations to support the other American republics there.”

In short, the United States will appear at San Francisco ready to strike a bargain. She will feel herself free to choose between various aspects of Chapultepec and Dumbarton Oaks, depending upon what concessions she can wring from the big United Nations. In the meantime, she holds as a club over England’s head the threat to exclude her from any say in South America, and the Act of Chapultepec remains a club over the head of Argentina which will be used to saving her into the orbit of the United States.

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