Teddy Roosevelt: Brandishing The Big Stick Over Speaking Softly

1227 words - 5 pages

To what extesnt did Teddy Roosevelt use the “big stick” more often than he “spoke softly” in foreign policy?

Teddy Roosevelt was no less than an eccentric personality and a tenacious president. As assistant Secretary to the Navy and leader of the Rough Riders during the Spanish-American War, Roosevelt first expressed the ambitious ideals and cowboy-like attitude that would make him well known and likable. After ascending into position of president his bold energy and bullishness helped dictate his policy in foreign affairs that involved both the “big stick” of military prowess as well as “speaking softly” for the sake of reserved diplomacy. Although Roosevelt practiced both of these methods, he largely favored flourishing the “big stick” rather than he “spoke softly” as exemplified in his assertive actions in securing the Panama Canal, extending U.S influence in Latin America and in deliberately showcasing the U.S’s upon the world stage.

Teddy Roosevelt’s approach in the development of the Panama Canal exemplified his willingness to use the threatening power of the military rather than back down and honor the wishes of a foreign country. When the U.S’s goal of creating a canal through Latin American first presented itself, Teddy Roosevelt at least somewhat demonstrated a desire to speak softly. The American offer of $10 million plus an annual payment of $250,000 was evident of a diplomatic approach that Roosevelt felt would be sufficient to acquire land that had already been worked on by French Engineers. Columbia’s refusal however to even negotiate the terms of a canal in Panama greatly frustrated Roosevelt and encouraged the president to take on a much a more aggressive approach that he would later continually look to. When French agents in Panama got word of Roosevelt’s anger over the issue and his likeliness to act belligerently a rebellion was staged against the Columbian government. Roosevelt, now eager to brandish the “big stick” of the military for the sake of U.S interests saw this uprising as the perfect opportunity for U.S intervention. Naval forces were stationed at Columbia’s coast to ensure the success of Panamanians as their rebellion tore the new nation of Panama from Columbia’s side. Roosevelt’s latter more aggressive decision clearly proved to be the decisive act that secured the Panama Canal from Columbia. Although neither Panamanian independence nor military intervention were initially intended by the president, Roosevelt clearly seized his opportunity to secure the canal especially if it meant using naval strength as leverage. In securing the Panama Canal the U.S’s policy of speaking softly clearly gave way to the “big stick” which was the only method that effectively guarantee that the U.S would triumph in confrontation against a foreign nation. This indiscrete hostility against Columbia would in the future make South American countries weary that the U.S would gladly turn to its powerful military...

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