Friday, February 11, 2011

Teddy Roosevelt and "Protective Interventionism"

In 1904 when Theodore Roosevelt announced the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine, declaring in a message to Congress that:

“If a nation shows that it knows how to act with reasonable efficiency and decency in social and political matters; if it keeps order and pays its obligations, it need fear no interference from the United States. Chronic wrongdoing, or an impotence which results in a general loosening of the ties of civilized society, may in America as elsewhere ultimately require intervention by some civilized nation and in the Western Hemisphere the adherence of the United States to the Monroe Doctrine may force the United States, however reluctantly, in flagrant cases of such wrongdoing or impotence, exercise an international police power.”

Ostensibly invoked to forestall European interventions for debt collections in the Hemisphere, Roosevelt’s “protective interventionism”, in fact, laid the basis for frequent U.S. military intervention in the Caribbean, and the final incorporation of the area into the U.S. sphere of influence. With the advent of the Roosevelt Corollary it was no longer necessary for a European or Latin American government to do any thing concrete to trigger a U.S. intervention. All that was required was the unilateral decision of the United States that intervention was appropriate. With the construction of key naval installations and the adoption of Theodore Roosevelt’s ideology of the “Big Stick”, the United States established a strategic hegemony in the Caribbean and nominated itself to the position of international police power for the area.

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