conclusion
the remainsofthe doctrine
I am proposing, as it were, that the nations should with one accord adopt
the doctrine of President Monroe as the doctrine of the world: that no
nation should seek to extend its polity over any other nation or people,
but that every people should be left free to determine its own polity, its
own way of development, unhindered, unthreatened, unafraid, the little
along with the great and powerful.
—President Woodrow Wilson in a January 1917 speech to the Senate,
proposing the creation of the League of Nations; Wilson, 353
If we are to abandon the Monroe Doctrine, this is one way of doing it.
The Monroe Doctrine is strictly local in its application; it applies only to
the American Hemisphere and is based in the theory that there are two
spheres in the world which are entirely separate in their political interests.
—Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, arguing against Wilson’s proposal;
quoted in Perkins, A History of the Monroe Doctrine, 285
This book has described the productive slippages that made the Monroe
Doctrine a useful and highly adaptable referent for U.S. foreign policy
in the nineteenth century: a statement of protection and of control, the
Doctrine both unified the United States with Latin America and aligned
it with Europe as that continent’s imperial successor in the Western
Hemisphere; it isolated the United States at home in ‘‘its’’ hemisphereyet
justified a national responsibility to promote democracy abroad. These
slippages continued to function in the twentieth century, as the Doc-
trine was adapted to interpret and justify new situations where the idea
of separate hemispheres seemed increasingly obsolete.
After World War I, for example, the vision of a League of Nations
called into question again the Doctrine’s model of hemispheric politi-
cal division. The senators who prevented the United States from joining
the League of Nations appealed to the Doctrine in their arguments. For
them and for Woodrow Wilson, the architect of the League, the essential
question in this matter was one repeated over and over in the history of
the Doctrine: what is the relationship of the United States to the world?
Wilson anticipated his opposition’s appeal to the Doctrine in his fa-
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