39 No 3 Autumn online at BI The Monroe

39 no 3 autumn online at bi the monroe

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Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs, Vol. 39, No. 3, Autumn 1997,pp. 49-75, online at )//BI The Monroe Doctrine is often presented as a statement in the tradition of Realpolitik, whereby the United States sought to deter European reconquest in the Americas beyond the colonies the European powers still held. That reading is, literally, a half-truth. The operative sentence of President James Monroe's Message to Congress (December 2, 1823) features an ideological policy: We owe it, therefore, to candor and to the amicable relations existing between the United States and those powers to declare that we should consider any attempt on their part to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety. (Perkins, 1963: 56-57) It was not just their power but also their system, which was "essentially different," that Monroe sought to keep away from the Americas . Monroe's ideological intent was instantly understood by Austrian chancellor Klemens von Metternich. The United States, he wrote to his Russian counterpart, had "distinctly and clearly announced their intention to set not only power against power, but, to express it more exactly, altar against altar." If the United States were to prevail, Metternich continued, "what would become of our religious and political institutions, of the moral force of our governments...?" (Perkins, 1963: 392). Ideological goals have been integral to US policy toward Latin America ever since. President Theodore Roosevelt amended the Monroe Doctrine in his Message to Congress of 1905. "There are, of course, limits to the wrongs which any self-respecting nation can endure," he wrote. Such wrongs include "some State unable to keep order among its own people...and unwilling to do justice to those outsiders who treat it well." Those circumstances "may result in our having to take action to protect our rights," though "such action will not be taken with a view to territorial aggression" (Perkins, 1963: 223). The US government thus claimed the right to intervene in the affairs of its near neighbors to stop internal disorder, as it defined it, or to redress perceived injustices done to foreigners . From the outset of the formulation of what came to be known as the Roosevelt Corollary, economic "injustices" committed against foreigners-that is, nonpayment of debts-would warrant US intervention. Under these and related policies, the United States occupied Cuba militarily from 1906 to 1909. From the 1930s to the 1980s, the U.S. propensity to intervene in Latin American countries for these reasons was tempered by the structure of the international system and, in particular, by competition with Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. Cold War interventions, for example, characteristically featured a strong "anti-Soviet" component; the United States rarely intervened in the internal affairs of its near- neighbors unless it perceived a superpower threat.4 With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the transformation of the international system, the United States was liberated to pursue once again ideological interests in the Monrovian tradition. US interventions in Panama in December 1989 and Haiti in September 1994
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