Rules for thee but not for me. That has been the motto of US foreign and national security policies.

The main points of the Monroe Doctrine ( 1823 ):

  • The USA won't interfere in European affairs.
  • The USA won't interfere with European colonies in the Western Hemisphere.
  • The Western Hemisphere was closed to colonization.
  • Any European interference in the Western Hemisphere was viewed as hostile to the USA.
  • The USA is the dominant power in the Western Hemisphere (primarily North and South America)

Replace "USA" with Russia and you'll see why Putin is attacking Ukraine. The USA (mostly through NATO) has interfered with Russian affairs by proxy in Georgia (2005), Ukraine (2014), and Ukraine (2022). Each time, Putin has responded with overwhelming military power. The USA wasn't the one who suffered, but the citizens of its client states: Georgians and Ukrainians.

The Monroe doctrine created resentment with some countries that viewed the USA as an overbearing, overprotective big brother.

The Monroe Doctrine ( 1823 )

The Monroe Doctrine was articulated in President James Monroe's seventh annual message to Congress on December 2, 1823. The European powers, according to Monroe, were obligated to respect the Western Hemisphere as the United States' sphere of interest.

President James Monroe’s 1823 annual message to Congress contained the Monroe Doctrine, which warned European powers not to interfere in the affairs of the Western Hemisphere.

Understandably, the United States has always taken a particular interest in its closest neighbors–the nations of the Western Hemisphere. Equally understandably, expressions of this concern have not always been favorably regarded by other American nations.

The Monroe Doctrine is the best known U.S. policy toward the Western Hemisphere. Buried in a routine annual message delivered to Congress by President James Monroe in December 1823, the doctrine warns European nations that the United States would not tolerate further colonization or puppet monarchs. The doctrine was conceived to meet major concerns of the moment, but it soon became a watchword of U.S. policy in the Western Hemisphere.

The Monroe Doctrine was invoked in 1865 when the U.S. government exerted diplomatic and military pressure in support of the Mexican President Benito Juárez. This support enabled Juárez to lead a successful revolt against the Emperor Maximilian, who had been placed on the throne by the French government.

Almost 40 years later, in 1904, European creditors of a number of Latin American countries threatened armed intervention to collect debts. President Theodore Roosevelt promptly proclaimed the right of the United States to exercise an “international police power” to curb such “chronic wrongdoing.” As a result, U. S. Marines were sent into Santo Domingo in 1904, Nicaragua in 1911, and Haiti in 1915, ostensibly to keep the Europeans out. Other Latin American nations viewed these interventions with misgiving, and relations between the “great Colossus of the North” and its southern neighbors remained strained for many years.

In 1962, the Monroe Doctrine was invoked symbolically when the Soviet Union began to build missile-launching sites in Cuba. With the support of the Organization of American States, President John F. Kennedy threw a naval and air quarantine around the island. After several tense days, the Soviet Union agreed to withdraw the missiles and dismantle the sites. Subsequently, the United States dismantled several of its obsolete air and missile bases in Turkey.

23 April 2020, 21 months before Russia attacked Ukraine.

(Information excerpted from Milestone Documents [Washington, DC: The National Archives and Records Administration, 1995] pp. 26–29.)

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