478-479

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Reports of Committee on Foreign Relations 1789-1901 Volume 6 pp478-479 300dpi scan (VERY LARGE!)

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intermediate links; nor is there any good reason why she should not have them, except the superior, more urgent, more vital necessities of another people—our own. Of these links the Hawaiian group possesses unique importance, not from its intrinsic commercial value, but from its favorable posi ;on for maratime and military control.

The military or strategic value of a naval position depends upon its situation, upon its strength, and upon its resources. Of the three, the first is of most consequence, because it results from the nature of things; whereas the two latter, when deficient, can be artificially supplied, in whole or in part. Fortifications remedy the weakness of a position, foresight accumulates beforehand the resources which nature does not yield on the spot; but it is not within the power of man to change the geographical situation of a point which lies outside the limit of strategic effect. It is instructive, and yet apparent to the most superficial reading, to notice how the first Napoleon, in commenting upon a region likely to be the scene of war, begins by considering the most conspicuous natural features, and then enumerates the commanding positions, their distances from each other, the relative directions, or, as the sea phrase is, their "bearings," and the particular facilities each offers for operations of war. This furnishes the ground plan, the skeleton, detached from confusing secondary considerations, and from which a clear estimate of the decisive points can be made. The number of such points varies greatly, according to the character of the region. In a mountainous, broken country they may be very many; whereas in a plain devoid of natural obstacles there may be few or more save those created by man. If few, the value of each is necessarily greater than if many, and if there be but one its importance is not only unique, but extreme, measured only by the size of the field over which its unshared influence extends.

The sea, until it approaches the land, realizes the ideal of a vast plain, unbroken by obstacles. On the sea, says an eminent French tactician, there is no field of battle; meaning that there is none of the natural conditions which determine, and often fetter, the movements of the general. But upon a plain, however flat and monotonous, causes, possibly slight, determine the concentration of population into town and villages, and the necessary communications between the centers create roads. Where the latter converge, or cross, tenure confers command, depending for importance upon the number of routes thus meeting and upon their individual value. It is just so at sea. While in itself the ocean opposes no obstacle to a vessel taking any one of the numerous routes that can be traced upon the surface of the globe between two points, conditions of distance or convenience, of traffic or of wind, do prescribe certain usual courses. Where these pass near an ocean position, still more where they use it, it has an influence over them, and where several routes cross near by that influence becomes very great—is commanding.

Let us now apply these considerations to the Hawaiian group. To anyone viewing a map that shows the full extent of the Pacific Ocean, with its shores on either side, two circumstances will be strikingly and immediately apparent. He will see at a glance that the Sandwich Islands stand by themselves, in a state of comparative isolation, amid a vast expanse of sea; and, again, that they form the center of a large circle whose radius is approximately, and very closely, the distance from Honolulu to San Francisco. The circumference of this circle, if the trouble is taken to describe it with compass upon the map, will be seen, on the west and south, to pass through the outer fringe of the

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system of archipelagoes which, from Australia and New Zealand, extend to the northeast toward the American continent. Within the circle a few scattered islets, bare and unimportant, seem only to emphasize the failure of nature to bridge the interval separating Hawaii from her peers of the Southern Pacific. Of these, however, it may be noted that some, like Fanning and Christmas islands, have within a few years been taken into British possession. The distance from San Francisco to Honolulu, 2,100 miles, easy steaming distance, is substantially the same as that from Honolulu to the Gilbert, Marshall, Samoan, Society, and Marquesas groups, all under European control, except Samoa, in which we have a part influence.

To have a central position such as this, and to be alone, having no rival and admitting no alternative throughout an extensive tract, are conditions that at once fix the attention of the strategist—it may be added, of the statesmen of commerce likewise. But to this striking combination is to be added the remarkable relations borne by these singularly placed islands to the greater commercial routes traversing this vast expanse known to us as the Pacific, not only, however, to those now actually in use, important as they are, but also to those that must necessarily be called into being by that future to which the Hawaiian incident compels our too unwilling attention. Circumstances, as was before tritely remarked, create centers, between which communication necessarily follows, and in the vista of the future all, however dimly, discern a new and great center that must greatly modify existing sea routes, as well as bring new ones into existence. Whether the canal of the Central American isthmus be eventually at Panama or at Nicaragua matters little to the question now in hand, although, in common with most Americans who have thought upon the subject, I believe it will surely be at the latter point. Whichever it be, the convergence there of so many ships from the Atlantic and the Pacific will constitute a center of commerce, interoceanic and inferior to few, if to any, in the world; one whose approaches will be jealously watched and whose relations to the other centers of the Pacific by the lines joining it to them must be carefully examined. Such study of the commercial routes and their relations to the Hawaiian Islands, taken together with the other strategic considerations previously set forth, completes the synopsis of facts which determine the value of the group for conferring either commercial or naval control.

Referring again to the map, it will be seen that while the shortest routes from the isthmus to Australia and New Zealand, as well as those to South America, go well clear of any probable connection with or interference from Hawaii, those directed toward China and Japan pass either through the group or in close proximity to it. Vessels from Central America bound to the ports of Northern America come, of course, within the influence of our own coast. These circumstances and the existing recognized distribution of political power in the Pacific point naturally to an international acquiescence in certain defined spheres of influence for our own country and for others, such as has already been reached between Great Britain, Germany, and Holland in the Southwestern Pacific, to avoid conflict there between their respective claims. Though artificial in form, such a recognition would, in the case here suggested, depend upon perfectly natural as well as indisputable conditions. The United States is by far the greatest in numbers, interests, and power of the communities bordering upon the North Pacific; and the relations of the Hawaiian Islands to her naturally would be, and actually are, more numerous and more


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