Bolton’s Statement: Hypocrisy or Ignorance?
USA – March 26, 2019
American politicians tend to tweet whatever they’re thinking, which helps them get closer to the electorate, but, unfortunately, at times they tweet rather silly things, making the electorate laugh. For instance, the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs (NSA) John Bolton recently tweeted:
The United States will not tolerate hostile foreign military powers meddling with the Western Hemisphere’s shared goals of democracy, security, and the rule of law. The Venezuelan military must stand with the people of Venezuela.
If we substitute “the United States” with some other country of the Western Hemisphere, for example, Nicaragua or Cuba, and at the same time substitute “the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs” with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of another country, that would sound fair. Neither Nicaragua nor Cuba (as well as the vast majority of other countries of the Western Hemisphere) is an aggressor threatening the world order and “bringing democracy” to “backward” nations in exchange for their rich oil resources. But, this was tweeted on behalf of the U.S. – the country most associated with actual hostile military power all over the world in general and in the Western Hemisphere in particular.
Was it hypocrisy? It’s possible, as the U.S. has played the role of the aggressor towards Latin American countries numerous times. Perhaps Bolton simply closed his eyes to the history of international relations between Washington and other capitals of the region on purpose.
Was it ignorance? That could also be, and if so, we just have to remind Mr. Bolton of some key doctrines and events that framed mutual U.S.-Latin American relations. And for this purpose we are going back to the year of 1823.
Why are we going there? The reason is pretty simple — this was the year the Monroe Doctrine was implemented. It was initially a United States policy of opposing European colonialism in the Americas, stating that further efforts by European nations to take control of any independent state in North or South America would be viewed as "the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition toward the United States." The Doctrine was issued on December 2, 1823, just as nearly all Latin American colonies of Spain and Portugal had achieved independence or were just about to. Thus, having claimed an “anti-imperialist” doctrine, the U.S. has become the true imperialist, for the first time in its history.
The Spanish-American War of 1898 was a milestone in American history, as this was the victory that made the U.S. an empire. As for the Latin American (and some other) nations, the main result of the war was that Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippine Islands were ceded to the United States for $20 million. However, even this wasn’t enough for such a “peaceful” country as the U.S., so six years after there emerged the so-called Roosevelt Corollary, which was an addition to the Monroe Doctrine articulated by President Theodore Roosevelt in his State of the Union address in 1904 after the Venezuela Crisis of 1902–1903. The corollary stated that the United States would intervene in any conflicts between European countries and Latin American countries to enforce the legitimate claims of the European powers, rather than having the Europeans press their claims directly.
In fact, Roosevelt tied his policy to the Monroe Doctrine, and it was also consistent with his foreign policy included in his Big Stick Diplomacy. He stated that in keeping with the Monroe Doctrine, the United States was justified in exercising "international police power" to put an end to chronic unrest or wrongdoing in the Western Hemisphere. While the Monroe Doctrine had sought to prevent European intervention, the Roosevelt Corollary was used to justify U.S. intervention throughout the hemisphere.
And even Franklin Roosevelt’s doctrine of being a “good neighbor” to the Latin American countries implemented back in the 1930’s didn’t work for too long, ending right when the Cold War started
But back to the statement of John Bolton who basically said that no foreign powers could meddle in the affairs of the Western Hemisphere. But wasn’t the U.S. that kind of a foreign power back in the days of President Theodore Roosevelt? Indeed it was.
During the Cold War, the U.S. intervened in sovereign Latin American states many times, including the military suppression of disloyal regimes and the support of their own economic and political interests, as occurred in Guatemala in 1954 (the United Fruit Company run by the Dulles brothers lobbied the intervention), Grenada in 1983 (since America didn’t like that the country would turn socialist) and Panama in 1989 (Manuel Noriega wanted to be independent, against the U.S.’s wishes).
It happened to many other countries in the region as well, though some of them (like Cuba) managed to escape from the hands of the U.S. The cases of American political interference in sovereign Latin American states’ affairs are too many to be counted — such interference occurs there daily.
We don’t know if Bolton’s statement was hypocrisy or ignorance, but what we know for sure is that the U.S. is the foreign military power meddling with the Western Hemisphere’s shared goals of democracy, security, and the rule of law.