Monroe Doctrine Propaganda — And the Remedy

October 4th, 2023 - by David Swanson / World BEYOND War


Monroe Doctrine Propaganda — And the Remedy
David Swanson / World BEYOND War

(October 3, 2023) — David Swanson is the author of the new book The Monroe Doctrine at 200 and What to Replace It With. Here’s a new response to a 1930s propaganda movie about the glories of the Monroe Doctrine.

How the Monroe Doctrine
Shaped the History of North America
David Swanson / World BEYOND War

We’re often taught that the Monroe Doctrine wasn’t acted on until decades after its articulation, or that it wasn’t acted on as a license for imperialism until it was altered or reinterpreted by later generations.

This is not false, but it is overstated. One of the reasons that it is overstated is the same reason that we’re sometimes taught that US imperialism didn’t begin until 1898, and the same reason that the war on Vietnam, and later the war on Afghanistan, were referred to as “the longest lasting US war.”

The reason is that Native Americans are still not treated as being and having been real people, with real nations, with the wars against them being real wars. The portion of North America that ended up in the United States is treated as having been gained through non-imperial expansion, or even as not having involved expansion at all, even though the actual conquest was extremely deadly, and even though some of those behind this massive imperial expansion intended it to include all of Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America.

The conquest of much (but not all) of North America was the most dramatic implementation of the Monroe Doctrine, even if rarely thought of as being related to it at all. The first sentence of the Doctrine itself was opposing Russian colonialism in North America. The US conquest of (much of) North America, while it was being done, was frequently justified as opposition to European colonialism.

Much of the credit or blame for drafting the Monroe Doctrine is given to President James Monroe’s Secretary of State John Quincy Adams. But there is hardly any particular personal artistry to the phrasing. The question of what policy to articulate was debated by Adams, Monroe, and others, with the ultimate decision, as well as the selection of Adams to be secretary of state, falling to Monroe. He and his fellow “founding fathers” had created a single presidency precisely in order to be able to place responsibility on someone.

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