« PreviousContinue »
on the question, that she could not help being intensely apprehensive of the ultimate position in which the canal would be placed. Any one can see that it would have been utter ruin for her even to consider the possibility of the construction of the canal across her territory, if she did not feel assured that the route would be clothed with the privileges of neutrality. How could she escape the dangers of a great war, to which she was not a party, if hostilities could be carried on in the canal or its approaches?
The simple truth is, that when she entered into the necessary stipulations, it was understood that the canal would be free from hostilities even in the case of a war to which the United States was a party. For "the land on which the canal is being built," in the words of an American writer, "was conveyed to the United States for a special purpose, and is held in trust to secure the execution of that purpose."
1 Col. Peter C. Hains, op. cit. and loc. cit. p. 373.
THE SUEZ AND PANAMA CANALS COMPARED.1
THE Suez Canal affords the only precedent that exists in International Law in relation to the neutralisation of artificial waterways. For this reason, and also because the Hay-Pauncefote treaty avowedly adopts the Convention of Constantinople as its model, it would seem advisable to inquire into the relative positions of the two canals, so as to ascertain in a clear manner whether a real analogy exists between them, and, if that is the case, to proceed to strengthen the conclusions which have already been hinted at as the result of our arguments from general principles and from the provisions contained in the treaty that regulates the status of the Panama Canal. It will be seen, therefore, that it is not absolutely essential for our purpose to draw out the possible parallelism that may exist between the positions of the Suez and Panama Canals. But the inquiry would be, nevertheless, interesting and profitable.
Let us then proceed with those points in which the two canals have a well-marked similarity
1 An interesting account on this subject can be obtained in Woolsey, "Suez and Panama-A Parallel," in Annual Report of the American Historical Association, 1902. Cp. also Bustamante, op. cit. and loc. cit.
I. Either of them is in the nature of an artificial strait connecting two seas, their geographical conditions having been identical.
II. Each canal lies wholly within the territory of a single power. III. The
powers under whose sovereignty the canals are placed are both too poor to finance the enterprise and too weak to protect the works when terminated.
IV. They equally resemble one another in the fact that in each case foreign capital has been sought and obtained in order to bring the undertaking to a successful issue.
V. If an inquiry is made into the respective histories of these waterways, facts of striking similarity will be discovered. There we shall find that the various endeavours to save time in navigation are not different in any essential points. In the same manner, the territorial powers have felt exactly corresponding fears as to the future position of their canals; thus the Sublime Porte by firmans of 1856 and 1866, and New Granada by her laws of 1866 and 1875, proclaimed their respective zones of land through which the canals were to pass to be neutral in perpetuity.
VI. Both waterways are undoubtedly of supreme importance to international trade, for certain routes are shortened by thousands of miles.
VII. These artificial routes may be constituted into strategic positions of great value. There is, on the one hand, the Suez Canal, of vital importance to Great Britain as a passage through which she can maintain a safe and rapid communication with
India, Australia, and all her possessions in the East. On the other hand, the Panama Canal is in a somewhat similar position to the United States, for by means of it the voyage from her Pacific shores to those on the Atlantic, and vice versa, would be considerably diminished. Other Other powers undoubtedly have interests of this nature both at Panama and at Suez, but the matter would by no means be of such transcendent importance as it is to the United States and to Great Britain respectively.
VIII. As regards the political importance that each canal may be made to assume, they are again strikingly alike. The United States, by holding the key to the interoceanic transit, would assert thereby her moral supremacy over the Latin American Republics, thus giving bent to her policy of hegemony, which is nothing else than the amplification of the Monroe Doctrine. That Great Britain in the same manner has similar interests in Suez is undeniable.
IX. In each case foreign guarantees and protection have been sought, and, as a result, conventions have been entered into that purport to regulate the transit.
X. Finally, it may be added that in order to reconcile the various and opposing interests dependent on the question of passage, the notion of neutralisation is said to apply to these routes.
There are other points of similarity as well as of difference between the positions of the two canals. But they will be better dealt with in connection with the discussion of the treaties that establish their international status,
It is to be noticed at once, however, that the works at Panama are carried on as the national enterprise of a great state, while the Suez Canal is made and owned by a company composed of shareholders, all of whom originally were private individuals—Great Britain being now by far the largest shareholder and the only state that has a financial interest in the enterprise. But the possible bearing that this point may have on the position of an artificial waterway of this kind has already been discussed.1
Another point that would seem to call for notice is the fact that the international act that established the neutralisation of the Suez Canal is subscribed by the Great European Powers, the Netherlands, Spain, and Turkey; while the position of the Panama Canal is provided for by the Hay-Pauncefote treaty, entered into by Great Britain and the United States, and the Hay-Bunau-Varilla treaty, signed by the latter power and the Republic of Panama. This fact resolves itself into the question of the effectiveness or validity of neutralisation in accordance with the number of states that form part to the agreement. How far this point may affect the position of the region that is sought to be neutralised has already been dealt with.2
With regard to the Suez Canal, the high contracting parties "agree not to interfere" with the free use of the transit or the security of the canal, "and to respect" its plant, establishments, and buildings. It would seem, prima facie, that the signatory powers are not bound to oppose any
1 See supra, pp. 100, 101,
See supra, p. 89.