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What were the significant issues of American foreign policy under President Theodore Roosevelt Explain - Essay Example

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President Theodore Roosevelt turned American foreign policy away from its stance of non-intervention towards a proactive role in international affairs. His establishment of the Panama Canal, active intervention in Latin America and the Russo-Japanese War, and his expansion of…
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What were the significant issues of American foreign policy under President Theodore Roosevelt Explain
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Running head: AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY UNDER THEODORE ROOSEVELT. American Foreign Policy under Theodore Roosevelt.Name:
Institution:

Abstract.
President Theodore Roosevelt turned American foreign policy away from its stance of non-intervention towards a proactive role in international affairs. His establishment of the Panama Canal, active intervention in Latin America and the Russo-Japanese War, and his expansion of the U.S. naval fleet may be considered the significant issues of American foreign policy under his Presidentship.
American Foreign Policy under Theodore Roosevelt.
American foreign policy, as laid down by the Founding Fathers, was based on free trade and non-intervention in global affairs. The Monroe Doctrine of 1823 insisted on a reciprocal non-interference by the European powers in the Western Hemisphere. This policy of non-intervention continued until the end of the nineteenth century, when a call for America to pursue a more proactive role in world affairs, in keeping with her position as a great power, began to gain popularity. Its chief adherents were in the Republican Party, and consisted of Theodore Roosevelt, Admiral Alfred Mahan, John Hay and Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, who advocated America’s adoption of “the large policy” committed to the expansion of U.S. influence and territory overseas (Raico, 1995). President Theodore Roosevelt may be considered the chief architect of America’s new foreign policy of active intervention in global affairs.
Theodore Roosevelt was born on 27 October, 1858, in New York City. He graduated from Harvard and went on to study Law at Columbia University, dropping out in pursuit of interest in politics, and winning a seat in the New York Assembly in 1882. He subsequently served as Civil Service Commissioner, President of the New York City Police Board and Assistant Secretary of the Navy. As the commandant of the ‘Rough Riders’ regiment, he was a hero in the Spanish-American War. He became the Governor of New York State in 1898 and then the Vice-President under President McKinley in 1900. On McKinley’s assassination in 1901, Theodore Roosevelt became the President of the United States and remained in that office until 1909. Roosevelt extended the influence and stature of the executive, introduced conservation and progressive reforms through welfare measures, government regulation of big business and his ‘Square Deal’ approach to domestic economy and social justice. Roosevelt died on 6 January, 1919. (Miller Center of Public Affairs website).
President Theodore Roosevelt embarked on an aggressive foreign policy geared to make America the most influential force in global affairs. In keeping with his diplomatic motto to “speak softly and carry a big stick” (qtd. in Miller Center web page), he used persuasion, backed by the threat of force, to make America the preeminent global power. Roosevelt consolidated American control over the Philippines by appointing William Howard Taft as the Civil Governor in 1901. The construction of the Panama Canal was one of Roosevelt’s greatest contributions to American foreign policy. After securing British support, Roosevelt strong-armed Columbia (by financing and supporting a Panamian revolution) into ceding perpetual control of the canal to America for $10 million and an annual payment of $250,000. Roosevelt’s visit to Panama was the first foreign visit by a serving U.S. President. The Canal advanced American technology and engineering, linked the West and East coasts of America and established America’s undisputed military supremacy in Central America. In the context of Latin America, the ‘Roosevelt Corollary’ to the Monroe Doctrine defined America’s role as the “policeman” of the Western Hemisphere, assuming the sole right to intervene in the affairs of any Latin American nation. This was to preempt any European nation from territorial expansion in this region, under the guise of debt-recovery and was followed in the cases of Venezuela and the Dominican Republic. Roosevelt actively pursued the role of mediator in international disputes. He negotiated peace between Japan and Russia in the Russo-Japanese War by the Treaty of Portsmouth in 1905. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts. Roosevelt also arbitrated the dispute over Morocco between Germany and France, in the process strengthening U.S. ties with France and Britain. In order to buttress the military strength of the U.S., Roosevelt “built the U.S. Navy into one of the largest in the world” (Miller Center website), and sent this “Great White Fleet” on a world tour to showcase U.S. naval power.
Theodore Roosevelt unabashedly followed a ‘Big Power Policy,’ which pointed American foreign policy towards a new direction and decisively closed the door to non-intervention. While it is indisputable that American prestige and influence in global affairs has grown, it is worthwhile to ponder the costs. From non-intervention to active intervention, and finally, to the present doctrine of ‘preventive war,’ American foreign policy has come a long way. The costs in terms of economy, global hostility to the U.S. role of the international policeman (or bully!) wielding the big stick of military supremacy and, above all, the human costs of entanglement in distant conflicts, cast a doubt on the sagacity of Theodore Roosevelt’s vision for America.
References.
Miller Center of Public Affairs. University of Virginia. American President. An Online
Reference Resource. Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919). Retrieved 26 April 2008
http://millercenter.org/academic/americanpresident/roosevelt
Raico, Ralph (1995). The Independent Institute. Newsroom. American Foreign Policy: The
Turning Point, 1898-1919. Retrieved on 26 April 2008 from
http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=1345 Read More
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