The Monroe Doctrine: A Case Study Of The Evolution Of The American Foreign Policy

2344 words - 10 pages

The Monroe Doctrine:
A Case study of the Evolution of the American Foreign Policy

By the early 1800s, America was becoming its own country and trying to separate itself from Europe. In 1823, to discourage European nations from colonization that would threaten America, President James Monroe issued his Monroe doctrine, which became a lasting cornerstone of American foreign policy, guiding and shaping both America’s role in international affairs, and her role in the affairs of the Western Hemisphere. By examining the implementation of this doctrine by different Presidents, one can observe the evolution of American foreign policy from a relatively self-contained stance, uninterested ...view middle of the document...

In short, the doctrine enforced a policy of self-protection and non-intervention unless provoked.[2] The New World and the Old World were to remain distinctly separate spheres of influence, composed of entirely separate and independent nations. The Western Hemisphere was never to be colonized again, and any attempt by a European power to oppress or control any nation in the Western Hemisphere would be perceived as a direct threat to the U.S[3]. These efforts were all geared toward establishing the independence of the fledgling nation. Hence its original purpose focused on insuring protection of the nation from powerful European influences as opposed to any attempt at establishing a prominent international presence.
Originally, this doctrine could not possibly have been used as anything more than a feeble assertion of independence. The United States lacked the military power needed to enforce any grandiose demands. At the time of the announcement of the Doctrine in 1823, the United States Armed Forces had a total of a mere 9,863 men[4]. With a weak army and navy, lacking in both manpower and equipment, there was no plausible way to enforce the Doctrine against European superpowers like Spain and France, let alone attempt to establish international supremacy through this policy. Only through support from the impressive British Navy was the doctrine able to garner a sliver of respect.
France was at the moment occupying Spain in order to protect and support a weak Spanish monarchy from domestic rebellion. This occupation posed a threat to the stability of the Americas: Monroe and Adams feared that France would return the Latin American colonies to colonial rule. Since Great Britain also feared French intervention, the British government had originally proposed a joint United States-British declaration against foreign interventions in the Western Hemisphere.[5] Adams rejected the alliance in compliance with President Washington’s wish to avoid foreign entanglements, along with Washington’s desire that the United States act independently[6]. Though disregarded internationally, due to America’s weak army and navy, the Doctrine met with tacit British approval in line with the developing British policy of laissez-faire free trade against mercantilism. The Monroe doctrine aided the fast-growing British industry by ensuring the neutrality of Latin American countries. Included in the “Western Hemisphere” that Monroe claimed to be within the exclusive sphere of influence of the United States was Latin America, a territory incredibly significant to the trade aspirations of Great Britain. Continually seeking outlets for its manufactured goods, the British, in the middle of their industrial revolution, turned toward the newly independent Latin American states to protect them from foreign intervention, especially from Spain and France. If any Latin American states were reclaimed by Spain, the British access to these markets would have been cut off...

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