The Spectacle Blog

The Neocons in the Western Hemisphere

By on 12.13.11 | 8:15AM

My distinguished and tall colleague Jim Antle writes:

OK Jeff, I'll bite. If the Monroe Doctrine is neoconservative, when did the United States intervene militarily to spread a particular form of government throughout Latin America? Or pursue regime change in the hemisphere? Or wage preventive war, with or without regime change, against the European powers who might conceivably ignore the doctrine's warning?

Well, Jim, I'm glad you asked.

Let's do this by presidents and adhere to the Paul Doctrine, that we had no business outside our borders. So, to start:

Richard Nixon: A $10 million order to the CIA to get rid of Chile's democratically elected President Salvador Allende in 1970. Allende was killed, and General Augusto Pinochet was installed instead.

Lyndon Johnson: The 1965 invasion of the Dominican Republic.

Lyndon Johnson: The 1964 invasion of Panama

John F. Kennedy: The 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba.

John F. Kennedy:  The 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, in which JFK insisted Russia had no right to install nuclear weapons in Cuba or Cuba to accept them. JFK promised a nuclear strike on Moscow if someone's Cuban or Russian trigger finger so much as twitched.

Dwight D. Eisenhower: The 1954 CIA coup that overthrew the democratically elected Guatamalan government of Jacobo Árbenz Guzmán.

Harry Truman: Sending bombers as a show of strength to Uruguay in 1947.

Herbert Hoover: Sends Navy warships to El Salvador during a revolt.

Calvin Coolidge: Sends the Marines to Panama in 1925.

Woodrow Wilson: Sends occupying troops to Cuba. They remain until 1933.

And…well…so on and on and on. Here's a list, as a matter of fact. Which is actually incomplete, as these interventions go allllllllllllllll the way back to at least the Father of the Constitution, President James Madison, who sent the U.S. Navy to Chilean waters in the form of the Essex, where the U.S. Navy forced British ships to leave.

And I haven't even mentioned George H.W. Bush in Panama, Reagan in El Salvador and Nicaragua and Grenada etc. Or (he says with a grin) James K. Polk snaking Hollywood while giving Barry Goldwater a base as a result of the Mexican War.

So. The point. If Ron Paul, Tom Woods, Kevin Gutzman, Daniel Larison and company wish to insist that U.S. interventionism is a bad deal -- that's fine. But the bogus nature here is the idea that they clearly seem to be insisting it's somehow "Neocon" to be in Iraq or anywhere in the Middle East or elsewhere… but no big deal when America repeatedly intervenes outside its borders in the Western Hemisphere. Or, most tellingly, adds to the physical geography of the United States itself… California, Arizona etc. etc. ...by the sheer use of force outside the then existing borders of the U.S.

Either the term "blowback" applies as much to Latin America as it does to the Middle East or elsewhere -- or it doesn't. Either it's all about "empire" for those U.S. troops in, say, Korea and Germany and Kuwait -- and all this long (and incomplete!) list of Latin America… not to mention California. Or it ain't.

But it can't be both.

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