Outside View: Obama Doctrine Supplants Monroe's
by LT. COLONEL JAMES G. ZUMWALT, USMC (RET)
August 15, 2012
Half a century ago this October, for almost two weeks, the world dangerously slid toward war as the United States and U.S.S.R. played a nuclear chess match. The confrontation focused on whether Soviet missiles, secretly installed in Cuba, would be voluntarily withdrawn by Moscow.
It was the closest the two Cold War adversaries would ever come to nuclear war.
Washington was committed to not endangering its national security by the placement of missiles drastically reducing the distance required for Moscow to launch a surprise nuclear strike against the United States while also reducing U.S. reaction time to such a first strike.
Recognizing his responsibility as president to protect U.S. national security interests above all else by denying an adversary a base anywhere within the Western Hemisphere from which to conduct such an attack, John F. Kennedy understood the threat facilitated by Cuban dictator Fidel Castro's actions.
In the end, Kennedy proved his mettle by confronting the Soviets, eyeball to eyeball, until they blinked. The Soviets backed down; the missiles removed; U.S. national security restored; and the Monroe Doctrine preserved.
Today, the same threat, involving a different adversary and facilitator, exists -- and has existed since 2006 -- yet has been ignored by U.S. President Barack Obama. While comments he made last month sought to minimize concerns about this threat, they portrayed a false sense of security to Americans.
In a July 11 interview, Obama assured the American people another dictator, again providing an adversary with a base on his home soil from which missiles capable of hitting the United States would be positioned, represented no "serious" national security threat.
Nothing has changed during the past five decades to decrease the threat posed by missiles positioned on foreign soil capable of hitting the U.S. homeland. For a U.S. president to even suggest otherwise reflects either extreme naivete or reckless disregard for our national security -- and a willingness to abandon a U.S. foreign policy first declared in 1823.
The Monroe Doctrine sought to prevent European nations from interfering with Latin American countries, most of which had recently been freed from Spanish control, with any effort to do so being viewed by the United States as an act of aggression.
"Latin America ... has been indispensable in the evolution of U.S. diplomacy," notes one expert on Latin America, which is often referred to as America's "backyard."
As such, the Monroe Doctrine has been one of our country's longest standing policies. U.S. presidents of both parties, Democratic and Republican, have appreciated the need to invoke it, most recently during the Ronald Reagan presidency to justify our intervention in Grenada and Nicaragua.
Obama's "don't worry, be happy" dismissal of a U.S. national security threat was made in reference to Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez. He made this representation in the face of a relationship between Chavez and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that has only strengthened since the latter came to office in 2005.
The relationship began to blossom as early as 2006. Reports surfaced at the time that Chavez had authorized the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah -- Tehran's puppet -- access within Venezuela. In doing so, Hezbollah began brainwashing the native Wayuu tribe, located on the Guajira Peninsula, trying to convert them into Islamic fanatics.
Over the past several years, Hezbollah's access within the country has greatly expanded.
Iran's ultimate goal is to use Hezbollah's authorized access in Venezuela to gain unauthorized access into the United States. It has successfully achieved this end by developing relationships with drug cartels having established routes across our borders. Hezbollah's influence on these gangs has become apparent due to jihadist tattoos some members bear.
Should war between Iran and the United States erupt, Hezbollah is positioned to wreak havoc north of the Mexican border.
When queried by Congress last month as to whether terrorists are illegally entering the United States from Mexico "with the intent to do harm to the American people," U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano responded they do so "from time to time."
In October 2010, Iran and Venezuela agreed to build a base to include both short- and medium-range missiles -- the latter capable of reaching some U.S. cities.
As Iran continues to improve its missile technology and as the United States continues not to object to the presence of Iranian missiles, Tehran will add longer-range missiles to the inventory there.
Despite these developments, Obama told a Spanish language television station in Miami that, "Overall, my sense is that what Mr. Chavez has done over the last several years has not had a serious national security impact on us."
Having heard Obama's statement, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., accused Obama of "living under a rock."
While the president shelves the Monroe Doctrine -- a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy for almost 190 years -- he replaces it with the Obama Doctrine of "speak softly and do less."
As tensions increase with Iran in the months ahead, as war becomes inevitable and as Iranian missiles are launched from Venezuela toward the United States, President Obama will want to remain under that rock.
© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Lt. Colonel James G. Zumwalt, USMC (Ret.), is a retired Marine infantry officer who served in the Vietnam war, the U.S. invasion of Panama and the first Gulf war. He is the author of "Bare Feet, Iron Will--Stories from the Other Side of Vietnam's Battlefields," "Living the Juche Lie: North Korea's Kim Dynasty" and "Doomsday: Iran--The Clock is Ticking." He frequently writes on foreign policy and defense issues.