Latin America is seen as such a good investment by the Chinese government that Beijing plans to sink $250 billion in the continent over the next 10 decade as it steadily increases government loans and expands Chinese exports. Learning from the successes and failures of the United States, China has embraced the Monroe Doctrine when it comes to foreign interference in Asia, yet seized upon Manifest Destiny to rationalize its need for global influence. In contrast, the United States has accentuated declining investment and trade in Latin America with continued political disengagement. The US has gone so far as to praise the death of the Monroe Doctrine instead of reviving it.
The Monroe Doctrine, as a governing philosophy, compelled the US to protect itself from European intrusion by regarding new efforts to colonize the Americas and interference in the politics of the hemisphere as acts of aggression. When the Roosevelt Corollary was embraced, it allowed the US to avoid conflict with Europe and block European interference. Although Teddy Roosevelt’s willingness to intervene on behalf of Europeans was practical and balanced US-European interests, it thoroughly undercut the interests of Latin America. Regrettably, it also paved the path for some of America’s most destructive foreign policies while setting the stage for interventions across the globe.
The Monroe Doctrine started to falter, because it failed to address European interests in the Americas. This guaranteed escalating tensions and conflict with Europe. The Roosevelt Corollary failed, because it did not address the interests of the Latin American Peoples. Instead of balancing the interests of all parties, the Roosevelt Corollary pushed the US to enforce the wrongs of European colonization. Where the Monroe Doctrine was intended to safeguard the democratic ideals of the United States and export the principles of the US Constitution, the Roosevelt Corollary and its legacy made intervention, including tyrannical intervention, a mainstay of American foreign policy.
After a century of the Roosevelt Corollary’s legacy, many Latin Americans welcome China’s expressed refusal to interfere in the internal politics of other nations. Unfortunately for Latin Americans, the oppressive reach of the Communist Party does extend beyond China’s borders. This is self-evident in the South China Sea Crisis as well as in the kidnappings of Chinese critics in foreign lands. Whenever Chinese interests are threatened by foreign interests or Beijing is able to legitimize Chinese claims over a “territory,” the Chinese government seeks to dominate that property. Buying into Latin America, Beijing is buying the right to oppress, thus repeating the mistakes of the Roosevelt Corollary.
The world needs to revive the Monroe Doctrine for the modern world, which means recommitting the United States and its allies to the protection of the American hemisphere from domineering powers. It also means extending that protection to other regions where US and international interests are threatened by such powers. Where Europe was once the source of such threats, it is now in need of protection while the Middle East, Africa, and Asia require the same. If the Monroe Doctrine is to function in the modern world, however, the governing philosophy must address the need for intervention and interference in the internal affairs of other nations.
The Ukraine Crisis and the South China Sea Crisis both demonstrate how the International Community is already acting on a modernized Monroe Doctrine to push back against the domineering influences of Russia and China. The reliance on regional partners in these situations demonstrates a willingness to balance the interests of others instead of simply focusing on US interests. To ensure balance is always a top priority, the US must confine itself to the role of partner and/or supporter of its allies. Instead of launching a massive ground war in Syria to fight the Islamic State, for example, the US needs to help ensure viable efforts of committed regional allies can succeed by providing proper support.
Furthermore, a modernized Monroe Doctrine must embody the democratic ideals and the principles of the US Constitution. In other words, the United States must adhere to its principles on the global stage. US support of tyrannical leaders in the Middle East was a betrayal of US principles that helped create, sustain, and exacerbate numerous problems across the region. By largely abstaining from intervention in the Arab Spring Revolutions, the US reversed course to re-embrace the Monroe Doctrine. In the case of Libya and Syria, however, US inference in the domestic affairs of these nations was done to protect the interests of their Peoples, which reflects US principles.
Finally, the Roosevelt Corollary shifted the United States away from the protective nature of the Monroe Doctrine. As the world grew increasingly interconnected, the Monroe Doctrine needed updated, but the Roosevelt Corollary pushed the US to embrace the wrongs of Europe that the Monroe Doctrine was created to defend against. That said, the US, Europe, Russia, China, and most other powers have failed to embrace the protections of the Monroe Doctrine. Today, Russia’s support of the oppressive Assad regime repeats the wrongs of the US in the Middle East while China will do the same in Latin America. All nations must embrace a modernized Monroe Doctrine.
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