John Kerry Declares the Monroe Doctrine Over

How It Works
Nov. 19 2013 4:16 PM

Kerry: "The Monroe Doctrine Is Over”

450376117
Secretary of State John Kerry tells the Organization of American States that the Monroe Doctrine is over, on Nov. 18, 2013, in Washington, D.C.

Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

 After a 190-year run, Secretary of State John Kerry confirmed yesterday in a speech at the Organization of American States that the Monroe Doctrine is a thing of the past:

When people speak of the Western Hemisphere, they often talk about transformations that have taken place, but the truth is one of the biggest transformations has happened right here in the United States of America. In the early days of our republic, the United States made a choice about its relationship with Latin America. President James Monroe, who was also a former Secretary of State, declared that the United States would unilaterally, and as a matter of fact, act as the protector of the region. The doctrine that bears his name asserted our authority to step in and oppose the influence of European powers in Latin America. And throughout our nation’s history, successive presidents have reinforced that doctrine and made a similar choice.
Today, however, we have made a different choice. The era of the Monroe Doctrine is over. (Applause.) The relationship – that’s worth applauding. That’s not a bad thing. (Applause.) 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.
Advertisement

The remarks got a lot of attention in the Latin American press, though it seems like Kerry wasn’t really trying to make news and was in fact stating the obvious: The U.S. is much less influential in Latin American politics than it used to be and with the emergence of China and regional player Brazil, is no longer the only major power with significant economic and political interests in the region. And in fact, Latin America has been somewhat on the backburner of U.S. foreign policy since the end of the Cold War.

This is a good thing! Latin American affairs don’t get that much attention in the U.S. because by global standards, it’s relatively stable and increasingly prosperous—drug violence in Mexico, Venezuela’s erratic leadership, and Haiti’s humanitarian catastrophe notwithstanding. Given the track record of American interventions in the region, it not be the worst thing that U.S. attention is focused elsewhere.  

Of course, certain recent revelations have made Kerry’s case a bit more difficult to make

Joshua Keating is a staff writer at Slate focusing on international affairs and writes the World blog. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Foreigners

More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

What Charles Barkley Gets Wrong About Corporal Punishment and Black Culture

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

The Best Way to Organize Your Fridge

Politics

The GOP’s Focus on Fake Problems

Why candidates like Scott Walker are building campaigns on drug tests for the poor and voter ID laws.

Sports Nut

Giving Up on Goodell

How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.

Is It Worth Paying Full Price for the iPhone 6 to Keep Your Unlimited Data Plan? We Crunch the Numbers.

Farewell! Emily Bazelon on What She Will Miss About Slate.

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 16 2014 7:03 PM Kansas Secretary of State Loses Battle to Protect Senator From Tough Race
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 16 2014 4:16 PM The iPhone 6 Marks a Fresh Chance for Wireless Carriers to Kill Your Unlimited Data
  Life
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus Video
Sept. 16 2014 2:06 PM A Farewell From Emily Bazelon The former senior editor talks about her very first Slate pitch and says goodbye to the magazine.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 16 2014 8:43 PM This 17-Minute Tribute to David Fincher Is the Perfect Preparation for Gone Girl
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 6:40 PM This iPhone 6 Feature Will Change Weather Forecasting
  Health & Science
Science
Sept. 16 2014 4:09 PM It’s All Connected What links creativity, conspiracy theories, and delusions? A phenomenon called apophenia.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.