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Dec. 8, 2023

The Monroe Doctrine, Then and Now

By R. Evan Ellis

R. Evan Ellis | 

In November 2013, then-Secretary of State John Kerry declared, to thunderous applause, that “the era of the Monroe Doctrine is over.” Flash forward to 2019 and John Bolton, the national security adviser at the time, proclaimed that the Monroe Doctrine was alive and well. Within six years, high-level administration officials had shown the range of views toward the 200-year-old proclamation and U.S. policy in Latin America more broadly: While the left tends to treat the Monroe Doctrine as a symbol of the imposition of U.S. hegemony, the right regards it as a defense of U.S. strategic interests in the hemisphere. 

Despite those divergent views, the Monroe Doctrine—first proclaimed on this day in 1823 by President James Monroe—deserves renewed attention. Revisiting it should lead us to ask anew how to appropriately engage with our neighbors in Latin America, a task made all the more imperative today by the troubling and often unnoticed activities of China, Russia, and Iran in the hemisphere we share. 

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