Small Wars Journal

What is the Monroe Doctrine? John Bolton’s Justification for Trump’s Push Against Maduro.

What is the Monroe Doctrine? John Bolton’s Justification for Trump’s Push Against Maduro. By Adam Taylor – Washington Post

White House national security adviser John Bolton was detailing the U.S. government’s hard line against the government of “dictator” Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela on Sunday morning when CNN’s Jake Tapper posed a tough question: How can President Trump oppose Maduro when he has close ties to authoritarian governments in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates?


Bolton’s response was simple: The situation is different because Venezuela is in the Western Hemisphere.


“In this administration, we’re not afraid to use the phrase ‘Monroe Doctrine,’ ” Bolton said. “This is a country in our hemisphere; it’s been the objective of presidents going back to Ronald Reagan to have a completely democratic hemisphere.”…

Read on.


As to why the Trump Administration opposes "dictator" Maduro but does not oppose other dictators, the following additional explanation was recently given; this, by "a senior administration official:"


A senior administration official was asked today why the administration opposed Maduro, but not dictators in Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia or the Philippines. He answered that 33 of the 34 countries in the Western Hemisphere had signed a declaration committing themselves to democracy on Sept. 11, 2001, in Lima, Peru. (Then-Secretary of State Colin Powell signed for the U.S.)


Thus should we consider, accordingly, that Trump now sees the world in much the same way that Putin and Xi see the world, to wit: 

a.  Less in an "I am confident and, thus, I can embrace 'freedom' " point of view?  And:

b.  More in an "I am scared and, thus, I must reject 'freedom' terms?  

My arguement here possibly stated another way: 

Re: such things as "spheres of influence" (and, thus, re: the Monroe Doctrine?) while: 

a.  The Trump Administration sees these matters more from a "defensive" perspective.  (Viewed in this light, "spheres of influence" are absolutely necessary?)     

b.  The Obama Administration saw these matters (much like the Bush Jr. Administration before it) more from an "offensive"/"expansionist"/"advance market-democracy" point of view?  (From this perspective, "spheres of influence" only tend to stand in the way of "progress?")  


"We will not agree with Russia on everything," Biden said. "For example, the United States will not recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states. We will not recognize a sphere of influence. It will remain our view that sovereign states have the right to make their own decisions and choose their own alliances."




Bill C.

Tue, 03/05/2019 - 11:38am

Here is the source of the quote from the 2016 "Journal of Strategic Intellegence" article -- that I provide in my comment immediately below -- an article whose title is "The Demise of the Monroe Doctrine: Foreign Influence in Latin America:" 

Bill C.

Tue, 03/05/2019 - 11:32am

The article below may provide us with some information/some insight into why then-Secretary of State John Kerry, in 2013, declared "the era of the Monroe Doctrine is over."   (In this regard, see my initial comment below):

Herein, the answer as to why this such decision was made by the Obama Administration; this seems to fall under the category of the embrace of such things as globalism, globalization, and the global economy?

Whereas, the answer as to why this Obama era decision has now been reversed by the Trump Administration; this seems fall under the heading of rejecting this/these such "global"/"everybody wins" contexts/paradigms?   


Although the United States was militarily weak in its formative years and hence often unable to back up its foreign policy with practical action, this was not the case in the 20th century. President Harry Truman said in 1947, “There has been a Marshall Plan for the Western [H]emisphere for a century and a half. [It is] known as the Monroe Doctrine.” The Doctrine was often used as justification for U.S. intervention in its hemispheric partners’ affairs, whether it was sending Marines into Mexico, Central America, or the Caribbean; enforcing a quarantine against the Soviet Union as it was deploying intercontinental ballistic missiles to Cuba; or dropping paratroopers into the Dominican Republic and Grenada to protect U.S. interests. The Western Hemisphere has been seen traditionally as America’s “backyard,” to use an admittedly paternalistic analogy, or at least a region exclusively within the U.S. sphere of influence, with outsiders patently unwelcome.

Whatever one’s view of the validity of the Monroe Doctrine—and there are scholars on both sides of the issue, some insisting it was critical for unfettered U.S. development in its formative years, some lamenting that it turned the United States into a patronizing monster—it has certainly been controversial for nearly two centuries.

This situation of essential U.S. hegemony in the Western Hemisphere is now being questioned, not only by those outsiders seeking a piece of the pie and some of those hemispheric states considered part of the pie but also by some U.S. policymakers themselves. The Obama administration, in particular, has decided it is time to close the books on the Monroe Doctrine, asserting that times have changed, the Cold War is over, and the economic and political success of the Hemisphere should not be viewed as a zero-sum game in which the rules of the game are unilaterally written by leaders in Washington.



Bill C.

Tue, 03/05/2019 - 10:51am

In 2013, then-Secretary of State John Kerry said that the "era of the Monroe Doctrine was over:"


"The era of the Monroe Doctrine is over," Kerry told the Organization of American States in Washington after explaining the longstanding interventionist tenet of U.S. foreign policy in the Americas -- invoked by presidents from James Monroe to Theodore Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy to Ronald Reagan -- was now obsolete. ...

"Many Latin American leaders have said the Monroe Doctrine amounted to a license for the United States to intervene whenever it wanted in their countries' internal affairs," Maria Elena Ferrer, a Venezuelan national and political author who runs the Humanamente consulting firm in New York, told United Press International Monday. ...

"The relationship that we seek and that we have worked hard to foster is not about a United States declaration about how and when it will intervene in the affairs of other American states. It's about all of our countries viewing one another as equals, sharing responsibilities, cooperating on security issues, and adhering not to doctrine, but to the decisions that we make as partners to advance the values and the interests that we share," he said.