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Roosevelt's Corollary To The Monroe Doctrine

961 words - 4 pages

Before considering Professor X’s assertion that the Roosevelt Corollary actually corrupted the Monroe Doctrine’s “benevolent intent,” it is worth considering whether or not the Monroe Docterine was as benevolent as the unnamed professor seems to suggest. Professor X considers Monroe’s 1823 Doctrine an act of benevolence, in which an increasingly dominant world power generously extends protection over its continental neighbors. Yet the Professor ignores the inherently imperialistic subtext that is contained within the Doctrine, and thus his comparison of the Monroe Doctrine to the Roosevelt Corollary omits a fundamental aspect of America’s colonialist history.
Monroe wrote that Spain and Portugal’s efforts "to improve the condition of the people of [colonized countries in the Americas]” yielded disappointing results, and suggests that the United States was better positioned to take on the role of colonial overseer given the nation’s unique geographical, social, and political connection to the Americas. Monroe justified this right to benevolent imperialism largely around the idea that America’s government, “has been achieved by the loss of so much blood and treasure, and matured by the wisdom of their most enlightened citizens, [which has produced] unexampled felicity [throughout America].” Yet contained within this utopian treatment of the American political system is the inherent suggestion that the American definition of “unexampled felicity” was universally applicable throughout the Americas. Here, the issue of textuality is raised; while politically, the protection of American countries by the United States suggests a benevolent intention, the idea that America had indirect authority over its neighbors indicates an imperialistic social context that Professor X ignores.
Monroe explains that, “only when our rights are invaded or seriously menaced [do] we resent injuries or make preparation for our defense,” and if this holds true, then the basic foreign policy decisions stipulated throughout the Doctrine suggest that maintaining and preserving the Americas from colonialism was an inherent American political “right.” Similarly, if America held this power to be an inherent right, then the inhabitants of these potentially colonized nations received little agency within this international equation. They become, as Deborah Poole claims, an “imperial subject,” the focus of the “anxious and interested spectators” whose “racial discourses, administrative habits, historical narratives, and spatial configurations… form and legitimate imperial power”. With the public political protection of these nations assured in the eyes of other international “spectators” as a result of the Monroe Doctrine, the citizens of these nations felt an increased sense of protection that resonated throughout the region. Yet as the century progressed and America began using the Doctrine as the basis of militaristic action, these countries struggled to reconcile...

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