Remember back in 8th grade U.S. History with Mr. O’Neil, the alcoholic football coach who had to teach at least one class to stay on the payroll? He taught you about the Monroe Doctrine (go ahead and check Wikipedia if you have to, but this is gonna be on the test people I kid you not. Bueller, are you paying attention?!?)
The Monroe Doctrine was an early spasm of empire by the U.S., declaring, just ’cause it could, that Europeans could no longer create colonies in Central and South America. Those areas, as of 1823, would be exclusively America’s turf to conquer, control, exploit. The U.S. did this conquering, controlling and exploiting with great gusto, from essentially annexing all of Central America using Marines, to overthrowing various South American governments and installing U.S. puppets who maintained control by torturing and repressing their own people. It was all a rich tapestry of murder and slime, kind of like what happened to the Native Americans but with a Doctrine.
Nobody in America but 8th grade U.S. History teachers has given a crap about the Monroe Doctrine for the last 100 years. Down south, however, they do remember how sick it was that the U.S. just announced it was conquering Central and South America. It’s in their history classes too, with a different spin.
FYI: The Europeans have not recently been doing much colonizing in Central and South America.
A Genuine Capacity for Mediocrity
None of that mattered, as “America’s Own,” Secretary of State John Kerry, strained to make headlines recently by declaring “that the Monroe Doctrine, a nearly 200-year-old policy which had governed Washington’s relations with Latin America, was finally dead.”
In a previous piece we noted that in his nine months as secretary of state, Kerry, the man, has shown a genuine capacity for mediocrity and an almost tragicomic haplessness. Why would he do something as pointless as pronounce a self-proclaimed imperialistic doctrine that has not been relevant for like 100 years now dead? Kerry might as well be talking about the Stamp Act, or the Whiskey Rebellion (dammit, if you need to look those up too, do it yourself. Jeez, they were on the SAT.)
To understand Kerry, you need to understand the State Department he works for.
State is a wholly insular organization. State has devolved into nothing more than America’s increasingly irrelevant concierge abroad as foreign policy moves into the NSC and/or the Pentagon. State continues to turn inward. When no one in Washington really gives a rat’s behind about what State “reports” from “the field” via its “cables,” State just doubles-down and spends its time praising itself. “Nice think-piece cable on widows in Morocco Smithers– I heard the Deputy Assistant Secretary scanned the summary. Kudos my good man!” Yes, State still uses words like kudos. Go look that up too.
Viva Senor Kerry!
So in the minds at State, it worked like this. Between the long legacy of evil actions by the U.S., the Snowden revelations that the NSA spies on everyone everywhere in Central and South America, U.S. bullying of tiny Ecuador over Julian Assange, U.S. bullying of Bolivia over Snowden, U.S. bullying of Venezuela over whatever it is that bugs the U.S. so much about Venezuela, and the fifty year hissy fit over Cuba, someone at State glanced up from perusing his morning dispatches to realize the U.S. just isn’t well-thought of down there. Since inside State bull is just another reality, why not do something swell like announce the end of the Monroe Doctrine, and then, by golly, South Americans will like the U.S. once again! Our United States– still believing empty symbolism is a replacement for action. Might as well be giving beads and blankets to the Native Americans in return for Montana.
And who knows what is next. Perhaps to calm the Germans, Kerry will repudiate the Treaty of Versailles?
That’s really how they think. That’s how it came to be that the secretary of state went out of his way to proclaim an irrelevant doctrine dead one hundred years after it no longer mattered. That’s really what America’s representatives abroad do with your tax dollars.
Viva la Doctrine de el Presidente Monroe! Viva Senor Kerry!
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