John Arquilla’s interpretation of Obama’s foreign policy goes awry early on:
The other side of the debate articulates a view about the crucial need to remain fully engaged in international affairs and has a similarly deep lineage, most notably going back to the Monroe doctrine (1823), which aimed to carve out a de facto hemispheric no-go zone for European colonial powers. President John F. Kennedy’s call to in 1961 to “pay any price, bear any burden” in the cause of protecting liberty is also in sync with this perspective [bold mine-DL].
This is a completely misleading interpretation of the Monroe Doctrine‘s place in the history of U.S. foreign policy. Arquilla contrasts the Monroe Doctrine with Adams’ famous statement against going abroad in search of monsters to destroy, but these are not competing or clashing positions. Adams served as Monroe’s Secretary of State, and the Monroe Doctrine was a more formal expression of the same position that Adams had taken two years earlier. President Monroe’s statement was an endorsement of American neutrality and non-intervention in the affairs of other states: existing colonial possessions would be left alone, the U.S. would not take sides in ongoing European conflicts, and the sovereignty of newly independent republics in the Western Hemisphere would likewise be respected.
The U.S. would act to support the new republics in their independence if there was an attempt to subvert their form of government and replace it with monarchy, but this was no more than a warning against European governments not to try to return the former Spanish colonies to the status quo ante. Had the U.S. wanted to carve out a “hemispheric no-go zone” for European states, our government never could have enforced it, but that wasn’t what Monroe was trying to do. The Monroe Doctrine and Kennedy’s Inaugural Address are just about as far apart from and opposed to one another as any two presidential statements could be. The views contained in them are not “in sync.” They have almost nothing in common.