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Teddy Roosevelt and His Big Stick | Campaign for Liberty

Teddy Roosevelt and His Big Stick | Campaign for Liberty | Jon's Big stick diplomacy | Scoop.it

 

 

President Theodore Roosevelt’s interventionist foreign policy subverted the Constitution and helped transform America into the most powerful nation on Earth.

Describing his foreign policy, Roosevelt quoted a West African proverb: "Speak softly and carry a big stick." As president, Roosevelt used "big stick diplomacy" to seize unprecedented executive power in handling international affairs.

This notion of spreading American values and ideals throughout the world helped make the U.S. a world power, but it also greatly weakened constitutional government by making the executive branch supreme in foreign policy. This set a precedent that still exists today.

Roosevelt adhered to the Progressive concept that government should be used to help the needy and combat societal injustice. This, combined with an underlying American sense of manifest destiny, influenced Roosevelt’s attitude toward foreign relations. This attitude led to the perception that any foreign country that did not embrace American views on freedom and democracy was a potential threat to U.S. national security.

As European nations began expanding their spheres of influence, many attempted to infiltrate Latin America. Roosevelt responded by declaring that only the U.S. had authority to intervene in Latin America for the “best interests” of the Western Hemisphere. He stated that “the Monroe Doctrine may force the United States, however reluctantly, to the exercise of an international police power.” This "Roosevelt Corollary" to the Monroe Doctrine was used to justify future U.S. military interventions, not only in Latin American countries but throughout the world.

The Roosevelt Corollary's first test came when the Dominican Republic defaulted on its debts to Belgium, Italy, and Germany. When these nations threatened to seize the Dominican customs houses, President Roosevelt sent the U.S.S. Detroit to intervene. The Dominicans agreed to allow the U.S. to take over their customs houses and enforce revenue collection, and even though the Senate never ratified the treaty legalizing this agreement, Roosevelt enforced its terms nonetheless.

Cuba had gained independence when the U.S. defeated Spain in the Spanish-American War. When Cubans rebelled against election results in 1906, Roosevelt sent in the military to restore order. He stated, "I should not dream of asking the permission of Congress…" This set a precedent in which future U.S. presidents committed the military to foreign countries for “nation building” purposes without congressional approval.

U.S. officials had long sought to build a canal through Central America so that ships could travel from ocean to ocean without having to go all the way around South America. When Panama revolted against ruling Colombia, President Roosevelt sent warships without congressional consent to support the Panamanians. Roosevelt quickly recognized the hastily created Republic of Panama, and a treaty was negotiated giving the U.S. the right to build the Panama Canal.

Securing the Panama Canal was Roosevelt’s greatest foreign policy achievement and the most vivid example of Roosevelt’s “big stick” diplomacy. But the way it was done was most likely unconstitutional. Roosevelt defended his actions by later stating: “I took the Canal Zone and let Congress debate; and while the debate goes on the Canal does also.”

In 1907, Roosevelt sent the “Great White Fleet” of 16 U.S. warships on the first world naval tour in history to demonstrate military strength. The voyage was especially meant to intimidate Japan, which was expanding into a world power. While the voyage was initially viewed as a great international success for both Roosevelt and the U.S., it encouraged Japan to accelerate naval and arms production to match America. In this way, the fleet’s voyage indirectly played a role in paving the way toward World War II.

While Theodore Roosevelt did much to make the U.S. a world power, he did so by showing contempt not only for Congress but for the constitutional form of government established by the framers. This is partly why America today is so different than what the framers had envisioned. By using unprecedented executive power in international affairs, Theodore Roosevelt was the first modern U.S. president.

 

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Theodore Roosevelt and Big Stick Diplomacy

Theodore Roosevelt and Big Stick Diplomacy | Jon's Big stick diplomacy | Scoop.it
Roosevelt's interventionist foreign policy violated the concept of constitutional government, but it also helped make America the world power it is today.

 

 

Describing his foreign policy, Theodore Roosevelt quoted a West African proverb: "Speak softly and carry a big stick." As president, Roosevelt used "big stick diplomacy" to seize the initiative in handling foreign relations, which helped transform the United States into one of the most powerful nations in the world.

However, Roosevelt also disregarded the Constitution’s limitations on federal power by making the executive branch supreme in foreign policy matters. This set a precedent that still exists today. Examples of Roosevelt’s disregard included:

Converting the U.S. military into the "policeman of the world" Committing the U.S. military to foreign countries without congressional consent Negotiating agreements with foreign dignitaries without Senate ratification

The Roosevelt Corollary

As European nations began expanding their spheres of influence, many attempted to interfere in Latin America. Germany had threatened to force Venezuela to pay its debts, and other European nations were pressuring the Dominican Republic to do the same.

Roosevelt responded to European pressure by declaring that only the U.S. had the authority to intervene in Latin America, effectively becoming "an international police power." This declaration stemmed from Roosevelt’s belief that the U.S. should protect weaker nations in the Western Hemisphere. This became known as the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine.

Latin America

Under Roosevelt, U.S. military personnel occupied the Dominican Republic and seized its customs houses. Future military interventions in Nicaragua, Honduras and Mexico were also undertaken, and all were justified by the Roosevelt Corollary.

Cuba had gained independence from Spain in the Spanish-American War. When Cubans rebelled against election results in 1906, Roosevelt deployed military personnel to restore order and organize a new government without the consent of Congress. This set a precedent in which future U.S. presidents committed the military to foreign countries for "nation building" purposes without congressional approval.

When Panama revolted against ruling Colombia, Roosevelt sent warships without Congress's consent to support the Panamanians. Roosevelt recognized the hastily created Republic of Panama and a treaty was negotiated giving the U.S. the right to build the Panama Canal.

Securing the Panama Canal was Roosevelt’s greatest foreign policy achievement, but the way it was done was most likely unconstitutional. Roosevelt defended his actions by later stating: "I took the Canal Zone and let Congress debate; and while the debate goes on the Canal does also."

The Philippines

The Philippine-American War was conducted partly under Roosevelt’s leadership and almost completely without congressional consent. The U.S. had acquired the Philippines in the Spanish-American War, but when the U.S. refused to grant the islands their independence after the war, the Filipinos rebelled. This sparked a conflict that lasted over four years without Congress declaring war. Over 7,000 U.S. troops were either killed or wounded, while Filipino civilian and military deaths numbered anywhere from 250,000 to one million.

This war began a U.S. policy of intervening in countries to impose freedom upon supposedly barbaric peoples for their own good. The war also demonstrated Roosevelt’s disregard for other branches of government.

Japan

Another way in which Roosevelt disregarded the Constitution’s separation of powers was to enter into "executive agreements" with foreign countries. Unlike treaties, these agreements would not require approval from two-thirds of the Senate to go into effect. Roosevelt made many of these agreements with Japan, including allowing Japan to control Korea, to restrict Japanese immigration into the U.S., and to recognize Japan’s "special interests" in China. None of these agreements were approved by the Senate or Congress.

In 1907, Roosevelt sent the "Great White Fleet" of U.S. warships on a round-the-world voyage to demonstrate military strength. The voyage was especially meant to intimidate Japan, which was expanding into a world power. While the voyage was initially viewed as a great international success for both Roosevelt and the U.S., it encouraged Japan to accelerate naval and arms production to match America. In this way, the fleet’s voyage indirectly played a role in paving the way toward World War II.

Legacy

While Theodore Roosevelt did much to make the U.S. a world power, he did so by showing contempt not only for Congress but for the constitutional form of government established by the framers. This is partly why America today is so different than what the framers had envisioned. By using unprecedented executive power in international affairs, Theodore Roosevelt was the first modern U.S. president.

Sources

Schweikart, Larry and Allen, Michael: A Patriot’s History of the United States (New York, NY: Penguin Group, Inc., 2004)

Wallechinsky, David and Wallace Irving: The People’s Almanac (Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Co., Inc., 1975)

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Jon's big sick diplomacy definitons

Jon's big sick diplomacy definitons | Jon's Big stick diplomacy | Scoop.it

Subverted: Teenagers are always trying to subvert their parents' authority.


Manifest:The evidence manifests the guilt of the defendant.


Receivership:Receivership order may be made in respect of one or more cells.


Monroe doctrine:"The Monroe Doctrine helped expand the borders of the United States."


Corollary:looking forward is the obvious corollary to looking back.


Interventionist:To achieve the government's goal, tribunals will have to become more interventionist.


Dignitaries:Dignitarynt was well supported by civic dignitaries over the course of the weekend.


Unprecedented:"The mayor noted an unprecedented increase in traffic on the town's streets."

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HistoryWiz: Big Stick Diplomacy

HistoryWiz: Big Stick Diplomacy | Jon's Big stick diplomacy | Scoop.it

 

 

Later, the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine declared that the United States would exercise "international police power" to get Latin American nations to honor their financial commitments. 

Americans began to be concerned when British, German, and Italian gunboats blockaded Venezuela’s ports in 1902 because the Venezuelan government defaulted on its debts to foreign bondholders. European intervention in Latin America would undermine America's dominance in the region.

As part of his annual address to Congress in 1904, President Theodore Roosevelt 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. This came to be called the Roosevelt Corollary. Ironically, the Monroe Doctrine's purpose had been to prevent intervention in the internal affairs of Latin American countries. The Roosevelt Corollary sought to justify such intervention whenever the American government thought it was necessary.

It wasn't long before the corollary was put into action. The Dominican Republic could not pay its debts and to protect American interests the United States took over the customs houses and established a customs receivership.

Roosevelt was fond of the African proverb, "Speak softly and carry a big stick, you will go far." His foreign policy style has come to be called Big Stick diplomacy.

 

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