Trump, Putin and the capitulation of Monroe Doctrine

The Monroe Doctrine is the foreign policy proclamation of President James Monroe, the fifth American President. It was made in 1823 and stated that any efforts by European nations to start new colonies in North or South America or to intervene in the affairs of any independent state in the region, would be viewed as the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition toward the United States, necessitating intervention. The doctrine affected the United States also as in 1821, Russia claimed control of the entire Pacific coast from Alaska to modern day Oregon. The policy was accepted by Europe which allowed for the stability and stupendous growth of the U.S. ensuring its status as a world power. President Theodore Roosevelt’s 1904 corollary to the Doctrine stated that the United States of America would mediate any contentious issues between European nations and Latin American nations, thereby protecting the U.S. from any form of external aggression or redress and defining its role as the region’s police force.

The Monroe Doctrine has guided American Foreign Policy since its inception in 1823, although portions relating to the Spanish and Portuguese empires are obsolete. An epic and historic adoption of the Monroe Doctrine was its 1962 application by President John F. Kennedy, who in his Presidential inaugural address said the following; “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.” His administration viewed the placement of Soviet nuclear missile bases on Cuban soil, in close proximity to the U.S., as a credible and immediate threat to national security, provoking President Kennedy to declare the highest nuclear alert short of launch. The standoff between the two nuclear powers came to be known as the “Cuban Missile Crisis.”

The doctrine underscored the isolationist nature of the prevailing political outlook, espoused by the U.S. but as the country became increasingly involved in world affairs, the integrity of the Doctrine was defended by several Presidents. Indeed global adventures and misadventures undertook by the U.S. were not considered to vitiate the doctrine, since these actions were viewed as protecting national interests and also preventing the rise of a regional global power that could mount a challenge to the status quo.

The fifty year cold war between the Soviet Union and the United States of America in alliance with Western European countries started after the Second World War and ended in 1991. The predominant reason for the cold war was to curb Soviet expansionism. A series of successful revolutionary events in Eastern Europe resulted in the independence of the affected nation states and the collapse of Soviet hegemony in 1991. Thus, by default the U.S. became the world’s only global super power. Some of the former Soviet states would forge close economic and security ties with Russia, whilst others joined NATO and the European Union. These circumstances were the lead up to the pursuance of “friendly and harmonious relations” between the former bitter and long standing adversarial rivals.

The ambit of the Monroe Doctrine relating to further European colonisation in the America’s is obsolete. Moreover, in 2013, former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, stated that the era of U.S. intervention in the affairs of other American states is over and that the emphasis going forward would be relationships based on equality, mutual respect and partnership. Notwithstanding the foregoing the fact that Putin was able to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election in favour of presidential candidate, Donald Trump and when found out bask in his unwavering support as President-elect, could not have been scripted by the most original, dynamic and gifted screen writer.

To add insult to injury inflicted on U.S. democratic institutions and processes by Russia, the President-elect preferred to belittle and cast aspersions on the intelligence community of the U.S., when confronted with their unassailable assertions. There was no respite in Trump’s strange and public ardent admiration of Putin. When asked he was hard pressed to say who he trusted more, long standing U.S. ally German Chancellor, Angela Merkel or President Vladimir Putin. He eventually confessed to having an equal level of trust for both of them. As President, his latest pro-Russia stance was a public refusal to condemn Putin as a killer, choosing to castigate and denounce the U.S. instead.

Putin the ‘‘strong man” has played Trump like a fiddle, feeding his ego and holding out “the carrot” of respect and approbation which Trump demonstrably and pathetically craves. By intervening in the domestic affairs of the U.S., so as to sway a presidential election, he has struck at the heart of its national sovereignty. Putin has delivered a masterful “coup de grace” to the remaining and most important bed rock portion of the two hundred year old Monroe Doctrine. Lest we ascribe all the devilry and malevolence to Putin, it behooves us to recollect the open invitation and challenge issued by Presidential candidate Trump to Russia in the heat of the 2016 election.

He stated, “Russia if you are listening, I hope you’ll be able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you’ll probably be rewarded mightily by our press.” The emails of course he was referring to belonged to his political opponent, Hillary Clinton. Trump expressly and unequivocally solicited Russian assistance to tilt the election through acts of cyber espionage. What this means for the U.S. and the rest of the world remains to be seen.

Ms Irene Fowler is a Harvard-trained international lawyer.

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