Mary Baldwin College, Staunton VA 24401
by Prof. Gordon L. Bowen, Ph.D.
I. The Monroe Doctrine of 1823 is a unilateral statement of a foreign policy objective of the U.S. It stated, in part:
"With the existing colonies or dependencies of any European power we have not interfered and shall not interfere. But with the Governments who have declared their independence and maintained it, and whose independence we have, on great consideration and on just principles acknowledged, we could not view any interposition for the purpose of oppressing them, or controlling in any other manner their destiny, by any European power in any other light than as the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition toward the United States." cited in Francis D. Wormuth and Edwin B. Firmage, To Chain the Dog of War: The War Power of Congress in History and law (Dallas TX: Southern Methodist University Press, 1986): p. 81.
II. The (Theodore) Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine.
"All that this country desires is to see the neighboring countries stable, orderly and prosperous. Any country whose people conduct themselves well can count upon our hearty friendship. If a nation shows that it knows how to act with reasonable efficiency and decency in social and political matters, if it keeps order and pays its obligations, it need fear no interference from the United States. Chronic wrongdoing, or an impotence which results in a general loosening of the ties of civilized society, may in America, as elsewhere, ultimately require intervention by some civilized nation, and in the Western Hemisphere the adherence of the United States to the Monroe Doctrine may force the United States, however reluctantly, in flagrant cases of such wrongdoing or impotence, to exercise the international police power." Messages and Papers of the Presidents, v. XVI, pp. 7053-7054, as cited in Gaston Nerval, Autopsy of the Monroe Doctrine (New York: MacMillan, 1934): p. 232.
III. The original Constitution of the Republic of Panama included the following language:
"The United States guarantees and will maintain the independence of the Republic of Panama." (Article I) and "The territory of the Republic is established subject to the jurisdictional limitations stipulated or that are to be stipulated in the public treaties celebrated with the United States of North America, for the construction, maintenance or sanitation of any means of interoceanic transit." (Article III). quoted in Nerval, Autopsy of the Monroe Doctrine (New York: MacMillan, 1934): p. 225. Federico G. Gil, Latin American-United States Relations (New York, Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1971): p. 133 cites the same language, but lists it as Article 136 of the 1904 Panama Constitution.
IV. Charter of the United Nations, June 26, 1945.
Chapter 1, Article 1: "The purposes of the United Nations are: 1. To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression...
Chapter 7, Article 51: "Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self defense if an armed attack occurs against a member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to maintain international peace and security..."
V. Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (aka, "Rio Treaty") of September 2, 1947.
During World War II, the U.S. and its Latin American neighbors met at Chapultepec Castle, Mexico City. The governments meeting there in 1945 passed the "Act of Chapultepec," which stated in part: "every attack of a State against the integrity or the inviolability of the territory, or against the sovereignty or political independence of an American state, shall... be considered an act of aggression against the other states." According to resolutions passed there, the sole purpose of the 1947 Inter-American Conference for the Maintenance of Continental Peace and Security, or "Rio Conference" as it commonly is known, was "to give permanent form to the principles embodied in the Act of Chapultepec." Consistent with Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations (which permits states attacked to respond individually or collectively in self-defense), the Rio Treaty permits collective response to attack on any or all member states. Upon consultation with member governments, and upon a two-thirds vote of ratification by the member governments in the Organization of American States (1948), the Rio Treaty permits member states to undertake collective military measures in self-defense of any and all members. No form of military cooperation or joint command of hemispheric military forces is contained in this treaty, however. Quotes from J. Lloyd Mecham, A Survey of United States - Latin American Relations (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1965): pp. 161, 165-167.
VI. Action taken at the Tenth Inter-American Conference (1954; at Caracas, Venezuela) included passage (17 to 1) of a "Declaration of Solidarity for the Preservation of the Political Integrity of the American States against the Intervention of International Communism." In part, it stated:
"...domination or control of the political institutions of an American state by the international Communist movement constitutes a threat to the sovereignty and independence of the American states, endangers the peace, and calls for the adoption of appropriate action in accordance with existing treaties." (cited in J. Lloyd Mecham, A Survey of United States-Latin American Relations (Boston: Houghlin-Mifflin, 1965): p. 217.