Sunday, January 17, 2010

Why The Corollary? An Introduction.

If you know a little of the history of the relationship between The United States and Latin America you may be familiar with The Monroe Doctrine.

The Doctrine, introduced in 1823, has been the context of hemispheric political and economic relationships for the last 2 centuries. In those halcyon days of the 19th century—when Monroe and Adams (who was actually the individual most responsible for the crafting of this foreign policy) tentatively ventured into global affairs—their goals were perhaps grandiose given the relative power of the United States at the time. But they were certainly modest by future standards and seen with a friendly eye by the former Spanish colonies to the South. The US not only recognized the independence of these newly created Republics, it went further in supporting them, warning the European powers not to meddle or attempt to regain control over them. As is usual with institutions and policies—little could the involved players guess that The Doctrine would become the reason for much American meddling and interventionism in the region, whatever the intent of the United States at the time and the assumptions of their Latin American counterparts.

The Doctrine would only become the much-used-and-abused rational for American policy towards Latin America after the Spanish-American War. And in fact The Doctrine became important mostly because of an expansion of its stated strategic and diplomatic goals. This expansion was introduced by Teddy Roosevelt in 1904, in an amendment to the The Doctrine known as The Roosevelt Corollary.

Any critical examination of the relationship between the United States and Latin America leads back to the Roosevelt Corollary. The Corollary is the foundation on which all the fateful decisions by the US—from the occupation of Haiti in 1915 to the invasion of Granada in 1983—are built on. Except for a few periods, for example the FDR-initiated and very successful but short-lived Good Neighbor Policy, The Corollary has been the strategy that has most shaped our hemisphere. And yet it is the least acknowledged. To this day the US is still working out and living with the consequences of it.

As a Latin American obsessively preoccupied with regional politics and even more obsessively intent on clarifying and updating how these politics are understood in the United States I could not think of a better name for this blog. It is a swan song of sorts to the The Roosevelt Corollary, but also a recognition that our history has greatly determined where we are today. My goal is that through a better understanding of what Latin American politics is today we will be able to move, together Gringos and Latinos, beyond the outdated Corollary.

Welcome to the blog!

No comments:

Post a Comment