US Troops Take 19th-Century

'Monroe Doctrine' Global

by Jim Lobe

Dissident Voice
February 23, 2003

U.S. troops appear suddenly to be deploying everywhere, and with very little notice.


Perhaps it was a coincidence, but in the same week that one of the country's leading neo-conservative writers called explicitly for Washington to serve as ”Globocop'', the Pentagon announced it was sending 3,000 troops to the Philippines for joint operations against a minor Muslim guerrilla group.


On the same day, U.S. congressmen visiting Colombia hinted that hundreds of U.S. Special Forces training soldiers in the Colombian Army might soon take a much more direct role in the civil war there as a result of last week's apparent abduction by left-wing rebels of three U.S. military contractors, after their plane crashed in a rebel-held area.


Meanwhile, thousands more U.S. troops are cruising in the Mediterranean, waiting to hear whether they will be invading Iraq next month from Turkey or with the main invasion force of some 150,000 soldiers, who have already deployed in or near Kuwait.


German commanders of the international force in Kabul warned that the United States might have to beef up its 7,000 troops continuing operations in Afghanistan in order to cope with possible new fighting if Washington invades Iraq.


Thousands more U.S. military personnel are on stand-by in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa, ready to snatch suspected Islamic terrorists from Yemen to Somalia, while 4,000 more reservists remain in Bosnia and Kosovo to help keep the peace in the Balkans.


The Pentagon has put 24 long-range bombers on alert for possible use in the ongoing nuclear crisis on the Korean peninsula, where many of the 37,000 U.S. troops already deployed there are scheduled to take part in joint manoeuvres with the South Korean Army next month. The military also plans to move one aircraft carrier battle group off the U.S. west coast to the waters off of northeast Asia so that another battle group can deploy to the Gulf.


Welcome to Pax Americana. U.S. armed forces are on the move around the world in ways that have not been seen since at least World War Two, in what is a dramatic illustration of the Bush administration's National Security Strategy that was publicly released last September.


''The United States must and will maintain the capability to defeat any attempt by any enemy - whether a state or non-state actor - to impose its will on the United States, our allies, or our friends,” that document stated, in what has since been called the ''Bush Doctrine''.


But as pointed out by Max Boot, a prominent neo-conservative writer based at the Council on Foreign Relations, it is really the globalisation of the Monroe Doctrine, or, more precisely, the Roosevelt Corollary issued by Theodore Roosevelt in 1904. It came two years after the end of the Spanish-American War and the defeat of the bloody Filipino insurgency against U.S. annexation and one year after Washington's own sponsorship of the Panamanian secession from Colombia, which laid the groundwork for the Panama Canal.


The 1823 Monroe Doctrine was designed to assert Washington's exclusive sphere of influence over the Americas. Unenforceable due to U.S. military weakness until the eve of the Spanish-American War in 1898, the Doctrine warned European powers in particular that any intervention in the hemisphere's affairs would be presumed to threaten ''our peace and happiness''.


Based on the Doctrine, Roosevelt's Corollary asserted the additional right of the United States to intervene against not only against European intervention, but against anything in the Americas that Washington deemed a threat.


''Chronic wrongdoing, or an impotence which results in a general loosening of the ties of civilised society, may ultimately require intervention by some civilised 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 the exercise of an international police power,'' Roosevelt declared.


As pointed out by Boot, who is very close to the neo-conservatives - such as Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz - who surround Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney, his doctrine is now being applied on a much grander scale than it was in Roosevelt's day.


''Today, America exercises almost as much power everywhere around the world as it once had only in the Caribbean,'' he wrote this week in a 'Financial Times' column, entitled 'America's Destiny is to Police the World'. ''Thus, by Roosevelt's logic, the U.S. is obliged to stop 'chronic wrongdoing', for the simple reason that nobody else will do the job.''


Such a view appears perfectly consistent not only with what U.S. forces are doing today, but also with the Pentagon's plans, which amount to a major geo-strategic shift in the way that U.S. forces are deployed around the world.


Much like the Marines, who used bases in Puerto Rico, Cuba and Panama as launching pads for their frequent invasions of Caribbean Basin nations, so the Pentagon wants to scale down its huge European army bases in favour of smaller ''hubs'' on land and even at sea. Pre-positioned close to likely hotspots, particularly in East and Central Asia and the Gulf, they would feature fast deployment of troops using lighter, but much deadlier, weapons.


Such a configuration, it is believed, would not only save money by greatly reducing the number of big, expensive army bases abroad and even at home, but would also extend Washington's military reach to just about every strategic point in the world, to the equivalent of its military reach in the Caribbean almost a century ago.


Earlier this month, a group of hawks called on the White House to immediately boost the defence budget, now almost 400 billion dollars annually, by at least 100 billion dollars in order to finance the Bush Doctrine.


The transformation to this strategy is ever more urgent, according to its proponents, who note that the country's military infrastructure - particularly its manpower of only 1.4 million soldiers, sailors, and fliers - is already straining under existing demands.


With administration officials ruling out a return to the military draft, many military analysts believe the United States simply lacks the numbers that will be needed to transform the entire world into the equivalent of the Caribbean Basin. That is perhaps why a prominent analyst at the right-wing Hoover Institution, Peter Schweizer, proposed creating an ''American Foreign Legion''.


Jim Lobe is a political analyst Foreign Policy In Focus (, and a regular contributor to Inter Press Service ( Email: Posted with author’s permission.


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