Political cartoon

The Monroe Doctrine was a United States policy issued by President James Monroe in 1823, stating that the U.S. would no longer tolerate European interference in the Western Hemisphere. The Doctrine was issued at a time when many Latin American countries were on the verge of becoming independent from the Spanish Empire and the United States. Its primary objective was to free the newly independent colonies of Latin America from European intervention and control. The consequences of ignoring this policy would be military force, although as a young nation that had just faced a civil war, the United States had little power to back the threat up. It was created during a time when Latin America was suffering from particularly unstable governments, demonstrating how eager the US -- a new force in industrialization -- was to take economic advantage of the situation. If the European colonies were out of the way, the US would be able to trade more freely with Latin American nations. As Meade claims, "Its use over the centuries has been to promote US dominance more than exclude European intervention" (Meade 128). The Monroe Doctrine is one of the clearest examples of US imperialism because of its attempts to spread the nation's influence over different territories.

James Manroe

During the Cold War, the Monroe Doctrine held an important role. It was applied to Latin America by the framers of U.S. foreign policy. When the Cuban Revolution established a socialist government with ties to the Soviet Union, after trying to establish good relations with the U.S., it was argued that the spirit of the Monroe Doctrine should be again invoked, this time to prevent the further spreading of Soviet-backed Communism in Latin America. During the Cold War, the United States often provided intelligence and military aid to Latin and South American governments that claimed or appeared to be threatened by Communist subversion. This, in turn, led to some domestic controversy within the United States, especially among some members of the left who argued that the Communist threat and Soviet influence in Latin America was greatly exaggerated.

The "Big Sister Policy" was an extension of the Monroe Doctrine that was drawn up by James G Blaine. It aimed to rally Latin American nations behind US leadership and to allow their markets to be opened to US traders. As part of the policy Blaine organized the first International Conference of American States.