Just when you were getting used to U.S. withdrawal from the Middle East, here comes our formal withdrawal from the Western Hemisphere. Yesterday, November 18, Secretary of State Kerry repudiated the Monroe Doctrine in a speech to the Inter-American Dialogue. Here's what he said:
"When people speak of the Western Hemisphere, they often talk about transformations that have taken place, but the truth is one of the biggest transformations has happened right here in the United States of America. In the early days of our republic, the United States made a choice about its relationship with Latin America. President James Monroe, who was also a former Secretary of State, declared that the United States would unilaterally, and as a matter of fact, act as the protector of the region. The doctrine that bears his name asserted our authority to step in and oppose the influence of European powers in Latin America. And throughout our nation’s history, successive presidents have reinforced that doctrine and made a similar choice.
"Today, however, we have made a different choice. The era of the Monroe Doctrine is over. (Applause.) The relationship – that’s worth applauding. That’s not a bad thing. (Applause.) The relationship that we seek and that we have worked hard to foster is not about a United States declaration about how and when it will intervene in the affairs of other American states. It’s about all of our countries viewing one another as equals, sharing responsibilities, cooperating on security issues, and adhering not to doctrine, but to the decisions that we make as partners to advance the values and the interests that we share."
Ah, ha! So that explains why the Obama administration pays little attention to Latin America. Why Iran and Hezbollah are permitted to run amok from Argentina to Mexico, why Latin drug cartels are allowed to make common cause with anti-U.S. Islamist groups in North Africa and the Middle East.
Next thing you know, the Iranians or the North Koreans or maybe even the Russians will give Fidel those missiles he's always wanted and the whole world will truly be that partnership of equal vulnerability Obama and Kerry so cherish.
Ken Jensen is associate director of the American Center for Democracy for its Economic Warfare Institute.