This excerpt from Teddy Roosevelt's autobiography demonstrates the former president's expansive view of American hegemony in the Western Hemisphere, often referred to as the "Roosevelt Corollary," because of the way he reinterpreted and expanded on the tenets of Monroe Doctrine. The Roosevelt Corollary, of which this excerpt is an example,...
This excerpt from Teddy Roosevelt's autobiography demonstrates the former president's expansive view of American hegemony in the Western Hemisphere, often referred to as the "Roosevelt Corollary," because of the way he reinterpreted and expanded on the tenets of Monroe Doctrine. The Roosevelt Corollary, of which this excerpt is an example, justifies American intervention in any country in the Western Hemisphere by casting the United States as a benevolent "police power." Rather than simply assert that America’s military and economic dominance entitled it to act in any way that furthered its own interests, Roosevelt argued that the interests of the United States were virtually indistinguishable from the interests of its less powerful client states, such as Cuba, whose foreign policy the United States guided directly.
Just as the United States used this justification of its police power to install an American-born president in Nicaragua, and annexed Panama from Columbia in order to build the Panama Canal, the United States also imposed a quasi-colonial rule on Cuba, forcing that country to adopt the Platt Amendment into its constitution. The Platt Amendment gave the United States the power to veto any foreign policy decisions made by the Cuban government if the United States deemed those decisions to run counter to America’s national interest. Roosevelt's sentiment, namely, that the United States could preserve a country’s sovereignty (in this case, Columbia’s) only by encroaching on that country’s sovereignty, may seem absurd today, but at the time, this was a common refrain from the United States. The United States essentially told Cuba, Columbia, and other neighbors, “We know better than you do, and we will protect you from yourselves.”
This is what Roosevelt argues in this excerpt from his autobiography with regard to Columbia, and this is a very similar argument to the one that lawmakers made with regard to Cuba: “Do as we tell you, for your own good.” The fact that the United States later helped prop up the Cuban dictator Batista demonstrated the continued influence that the United States wielded in defense of its economic and strategic interests in Cuba and its global power. The establishment of the United States naval base at Guantanamo Bay, which American forces control to this day, highlights the enduring impact of the Roosevelt Corollary on our relations with Cuba.