Because the United States is one of the most powerful nations in the world, its foreign policy has always attracted much attention of world community and evoked controversial assessments. Following certain historical period the American foreign policy tended to become that of ruling nation. To support this statement I’ll outline major issues of American foreign policy under President Theodore Roosevelt in this paper.
Roosevelt’s presidency was distinguished by an active position in regard to foreign policy. President Theodore Roosevelt adhered to the idea that the “civilized” nations, to which he included the U.S., should actively participate in keeping world peace and order and taking patronage over developing nations. (Chessman, 32) For Roosevelt making the Philippines an American colony was the beginning of American active international power politics. In foreign affairs one of Roosevelt’s major concerns was the development of U.S. army and navy. Roosevelt conspicuously presided over the expansion of American naval power, sending the Great White Fleet on a tour around the world from 1907 to 1909 to demonstrate the power of the United States to other nations. (Burton, 59) He insisted that the United States be the dominant naval power in the Pacific.
When the government of Colombia refused to ratify an agreement that would allow the United States to begin construction of a canal across the Isthmus of Panama, then a Colombian province, Roosevelt encouraged revolutionists to declare Panama independent and used the navy to prevent Colombian warships from quelling the revolt. Soon, he concluded an agreement with the new nation, granting the United States a zone in which to construct a canal. Roosevelt regarded the construction of the canal to be “a symbol of the triumph of American determination and technological know-how, his greatest accomplishment as president.” (Collin, 75) In 1904 the President announced the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine, which formulated U.S. attitude towards European interventions in Latin America.
According to this Corollary the USA took responsibility for ensuring that Latin American countries met their international obligations, thus this document, in effect, made the United States the “policeman” in the Western Hemisphere. (Beale, 211) That was one of the first instances of U.S. endeavor to spread its control over the political affairs of other countries. In this way the U.S. made it clear that Latin America is U.S. sphere of interest. Thus Roosevelt took full control of the finances of the Dominican Republic in 1905 in order to pay its debts to U.S. and European creditors. When the Senate balked at consenting to a commercial treaty with the Dominican Republic because Southern senators considered it harmful to Southern sugar growers, Roosevelt implemented its terms by calling it an executive agreement, which did not require Senate consent.
In dealing with major powers of the Eastern Hemisphere Roosevelt excellently exhibited his sophisticated diplomatic skills. He acted as a mediator in bringing Russo-Japanese War to end at the Portsmouth Conference and received the 1906 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts. Nevertheless his goal was not just to bring peace; his prime aim was to equalize Russian and Japanese powers in Asia that in turn might have assisted American interests. Again through implementing the informal executive agreement Roosevelt exchanged Japan’s approbation of the American presence in the Philippine Islands for recognition by the U.S. of the fact that Japan conquered Korea. His diplomacy facilitated the Algeciras Conference of 1906 that quieted differences between France and Germany over Morocco.
Theodore Roosevelt’s influence on the America of his day and in the years thereafter was palpable in numerous ways and the foreign policy was not exception. The nature of presidential office and power, the place of the United States in world affairs identify the principal categories where Roosevelt made an enormous difference in national life and its history. Today it is arguable that Theodore Roosevelt’s actions in foreign affairs gave rise to the modern presidency.
Beale, Howard K. (1956) Theodore Roosevelt and the Rise of America to World Power Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press
Burton, David H. (1997) Theodore Roosevelt, American Politician: An Assessment. Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press
Chessman, G. Wallace (1969) Theodore Roosevelt and the Politics of Power Boston: Little Brown and Company
Collin, Richard H. (1985) Theodore Roosevelt: Culture, Diplomacy, and Expansion: A New View of American Imperialism Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press