Speed Reads

a brief history

John Bolton says the Monroe Doctrine is 'alive and well.' History shows us why that's a controversial statement

National Security Adviser John Bolton "proudly" proclaimed on Wednesday that the Monroe Doctrine is "alive and well" while announcing the Trump administration's limits on the amount of money Cuban-Americans can send to their relatives on the island and restricting U.S. travel to the country.

The proclamation wasn't taken lightly by critics — many view it as an imperial tool. But this isn't the first time the 1823 doctrine has been revived. The doctrine was originally written by the eponymous President James Monroe and his Secretary of State John Quincy Adams, who had the intention of keeping European influence out of the Western Hemisphere. But since then, no one has every really settled on its proper function. Here's a brief rundown of the doctrine's flip-flopping.

Roosevelt Corollary — In 1904, after a century of mostly isolationist foreign policy, President Theodore Roosevelt, a gung-ho imperialist, decided to turn the "passive" Monroe Doctrine into an active one by tacking on a corollary that said United States would intervene to ensure stability in the Western Hemisphere. He said the U.S. could operate as an "international police power" as it saw fit.

Cold War — During World War II, the the Monroe Doctrine was again mostly used as a defensive mechanism should hostile powers invade. But the Cold War changed that — multiple administrations sought to keep Soviet influence out of Latin America, often by supporting right-wing coups in the region. Former CIA Director Robert Gates cited the doctrine in his defense of the Iran-Contra Affair in 1984.

Kerry Doctrine — In 2013, Secretary of State John Kerry declared the Monroe Doctrine dead once and for all. Instead, the Obama administration gradually opened relations between the U.S. and Cuba, which the Trump administration is determined to undo, per The Washington Post.