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UNDERSTANDING THE MONROE DOCUMENT


INTRODUCTION

The Monroe Document is an important part of the United States history. It is a personification of how the United States of America have always been interested with the affairs of its neighbouring countries which they openly declare, not in the form of colonization. This Monroe Document became the basis of the legality of US interventions and its actions in some critical world events such as those in Nicaragua, Haiti and Cuba in the early years of the twentieth century.

BACKGROUND

An excerpt from Milestone Documents has provided information that in 1823, then America’s Fifth President James Monroe delivered his annual message to congress and this contained the famous ‘Monroe Doctrine’, which was a warning to Europe not to intervene in the Western Hemisphere affairs. But as researched by McNamara (n.d.), it was actually then secretary John Quincy Adams who crafted the Monroe Document and strongly pushed for its declaration. The United States History webpage (n.d.) explained that President Monroe’s lengthy speech has laid deeply hidden the four basic principles which was said to be the foundation of the Monroe Doctrine:

  • The Western Hemisphere cannot be colonized
  • America and Europe have different political systems
  • Western hemisphere intervention was considered a threat to security
  • The US will not interfere with wars and internal affairs in the European nations

ANALYSIS

The US government’s non-intervention policy at that time was clearly stated in the four basic principles but historically, it could be seen that, indirectly, US has been trying to stop other emerging powers from gaining foothold in American territories like when it warned Russia who was then showing signs of colonizing Alaska or when Great Britain showed interest in Hawaii. The doctrine strengthened US prominence as a world super power and a warning to European nations that the Americas is not for present nor future colonization. The doctrine has evolved over time but the four underlying principles still remain. It can be noted even in today’s world events, US intervention is still very much around in spite of the country’s economic slump and slow recovery. Other nations have been very open and critical with the US’ interventions since it is viewed to be selective, self-serving and because of geo-political interests. A classic example would be the US’ lukewarm reception of the seriousness of the Rwandan crisis in 1994 which resulted to the genocide of around 800,00 people.

CONCLUSION

McNamara (n.d.) explained that through the Monroe Doctrine, there was no intervention made in South American matters by Europe and when President Roosevelt enforced it in 1900, it helped Cuba achieve independence from Spain’s rule as well as secure the Venezuelan borders during a dispute with Great Britain. McNamara also cited that the Monroe Doctrine expressed US’ dominance in the Western hemisphere, as the said doctrine became an internationally recognized US foreign policy that is both legal and enforceable. This demonstrated the strong influence the US had over international affairs. The Monroe Doctrine also gave the image of US as a world defender. The world has accepted US as a world power but at its current state, the country has to struggle hard to maintain that historical image because other ‘powers’ are starting to emerge, like China for instance. This is a challenge for the present and future presidents of the US, in which they should be able to uphold and continue this dominance for as long as they can.



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