Monroe Doctrine Research Paper

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The Monroe Doctrine is a principle of American foreign policy in the Western Hemisphere that was announced by President James Monroe (1758–1831) on December 2, 1823, in his annual message to Congress. The Monroe Doctrine was intended to discourage and prevent further colonialism and military intervention by European powers, especially Britain and Russia, in the Western Hemisphere and any attempts by European powers to exploit or endanger the growing independence of Latin American countries from the Spanish empire. The major tenets of the Monroe Doctrine are that, first, the Western Hemisphere has a political existence that is separate from Europe. Second, the United States would regard further European efforts to colonize or extend political and military influence in the Western Hemisphere as hostile actions against American national security. Third, the United States would not interfere with existing European colonies or political matters.

The Monroe Doctrine was particularly influential in American foreign policy toward Latin America during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In 1895, the United States cited the Monroe Doctrine in a boundary dispute between Venezuela and Britain. In 1898, the United States relied on the Monroe Doctrine to justify its war against Spain in Cuba and its later intervention in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. The application of the Monroe Doctrine to Cuba was strengthened by the Platt Amendment of 1902. This amendment to the Cuban constitution specified that the United States retained the right to intervene militarily and politically in Cuba. In 1904, President Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919) announced the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine. The Roosevelt Corollary stated that the United States has an obligation to prevent political and economic instability in Caribbean nations.

Until 1934, the Monroe Doctrine was used to justify American military intervention in Haiti, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic. In 1934, however, President Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882–1945) rejected the Roosevelt Corollary in announcing his Good Neighbor policy toward Latin America. The principles of this policy included that the United States would respect Latin American governments as diplomatic equals, that the Platt Amendment would be repealed, and that the United States would refrain from intervening in Latin American domestic affairs. The Good Neighbor policy improved cooperation and diplomatic understanding between the United States and most Latin American governments during the 1930s and 1940s, but American economic domination and exploitation of Latin America continued.

During the cold war, the United States revived the use of the Monroe Doctrine to legitimize military intervention because of its concern that communism would develop and expand in Latin America, especially after Cuba became a Soviet ally. American presidents made public or private references to the Monroe Doctrine to justify the U.S. naval blockade of Cuba in 1962 and the American invasions of the Dominican Republic in 1965 and Grenada in 1983. The end of the cold war and greater economic development and democratization in Latin America made it less likely that the United States would invoke the Monroe Doctrine.

Bibliography:

  1. Dallek, Rober 1983. The American Style of Foreign Policy: Cultural Politics and Foreign Affairs. New York: Oxford University Press.
  2. Smith, G 1994. The Last Years of the Monroe Doctrine, 1945–1993. New York: Hill and Wang.

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