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The Roosevelt Corollary

Serge Ricard
Presidential Studies Quarterly
Vol. 36, No. 1, Presidential Doctrines (Mar., 2006), pp. 17-26
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/27552743
Page Count: 10
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The Roosevelt Corollary
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Abstract

This article argues that in his annual message of December 6, 1904, Theodore Roosevelt enunciated not a corollary to the Monroe Doctrine but an entirely new principle which epitomized his "big stick" view of foreign relations: the United States was to act as sole policeman of the Western Hemisphere and deny the European powers any right of interference in what it regarded as its rightful "zone of influence," given Washington's obvious supremacy in that part of the world at the dawn of the twentieth century. An initially defensive dictum had therefore been turned into an aggressive policy by a man who had long pondered over America's standing and role in the world. Strictly speaking, it was a "perversion" of Monroe's original intent, but fundamentally it reflected a new, innovative conception of security and defense, as well as changing geopolitical conditions. The catalysts of that drastic mutation were the necessary protection of the projected isthmian canal and Germany's aggressiveness in the Caribbean. In time the United States would tighten its grip on some of its "sister republics" and incur the charge of imperialism by developing a "protectorate policy" that belied its oft-proclaimed commitment to self-determination. Repeated interventions in the name of law and order would leave an enduring legacy of anti-Americanism in South America. The Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine would guide hemispheric diplomacy throughout World War II and during the Cold War, assurances to the contrary notwithstanding.

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