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Past & Present: What Trump's Response To Venezuela Says About The Kremlin


One of the hallmarks of historic American foreign policy is the Monroe Doctrine.

In his annual message to Congress on December 2, 1823, President James Monroe declared that any attempt by a European power to control any nation in the Western Hemisphere would be viewed as a hostile act against the United States.

In 1904, Theodore Roosevelt expanded the Monroe Doctrine by articulating what came to be known as the Roosevelt Corollary. If the United States suspected the occurrence of flagrant and chronic wrongdoing in a Caribbean, Central, or South American nation, America had the right to intervene in that country’s internal affairs.

This is the backdrop to the current crisis in Venezuela. Apparently using the Roosevelt Corollary as a reference point, the Trump administration has engaged in long-standing efforts to destabilize, if not overthrow, the presidency of Nicolas Maduro. The most recent manifestation of this is America’s official recognition of opposition leader Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s true head-of-state.

The situation in Venezuela has become complicated by the presence of Russian troops there. Maduro had established economic ties with both Russia and China. Putin’s sending of troops to Venezuela clearly indicates his intent to protect Russia’s interests. How Donald Trump ultimately responds to this scenario should help verify whether he is or isn’t under the control of the Kremlin.

Robert E. Weems Jr. is the Willard W. Garvey Distinguished Professor of Business History at Wichita State University.