History of North America

Big Stick Policy

The Big Stick Policy is a reference to US President Theodore Roosevelt's (1858 - 1919) style of resolving diplomatic conflicts.

In a speech that took place in 1901, during a fair in Minnesota, the president used an African proverb that says:"with smooth speech and a big club, you go far ".

This was the way found by the American president to avoid conflict and show his military might. The diplomatic negotiation style was exposed when referring to South American countries, devastated by debts with Europe.

With smooth talk and a big stick, you'll go far, said Roosevelt

The main episode occurs in the collection of debt by Germany against Venezuela in 1900. Faced with the threat of a moratorium after 24 months of negotiation, Germany besieged five ports and bombed the Venezuelan coastal base in 1902.

Monroe Doctrine

The German action violated the precepts of the Monroe Doctrine, promulgated in 1823, which provides for the prevention of the invasion of American countries by Europeans.

In the case of Venezuela, the United States intervened directly and sent ships to the region, preventing war. Germans and Venezuelans ended up negotiating the debt.

With the support of Congress, the president managed to reinforce the fleet of warships on the grounds that the show of force reflects positively on international affairs.

Faced with the outcome, Roosevelt published in 1904 an amendment to the Monroe Doctrine, providing that the US can, in case of impotence of the threatened nations, intervene directly in matters of international politics.

Panama Canal

With the argument that, in the event of a threat, having the fleet fully available both in the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans, Roosevelt negotiated with the government of Colombia the right to take over the Panama Canal for what it was used as a military passage.

The point, in addition to military availability, would also be used for the transport of goods, enabling the expansion of North American trade in a 99-year lease.

Negotiations came up against the National Congress, but through the intervention of the president, the rules of international law were revised, Panama separated from Colombia and the US recognized it as a nation .

After the recognition of the Republic of Panama, the US signed the lease agreement and began the construction of the Panama Canal.

Also read:Panama Canal

Dollar Diplomacy

Roosevelt's style preceded another form of US treatment of international relations and the consolidation of US imperialism:dollar diplomacy.

This was a policy instituted by President Willian Taft (1857 - 1930) and provided for the promotion of US interests abroad by encouraging investment in foreign countries.

Taft's actions did not dispense with the use of military might to promote US companies and guarantee trade in Latin America and Asia.

To understand better, read further:Imperialism.

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