The United States should cease opposing China's version of the Monroe Doctrine and the Roosevelt Corollary.
All we have to fear is fear itself.
Years ago, I attended a meeting with a high level Chinese official in the offices of the then Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The official explained that for more than a century the United States had grown bigger while China had become smaller. Now it was China's turn to grow bigger.
There was no pretense that China's expansion would further "Manifest Destiny,' offshore balancing, regional stability, or any other strategic model. It would represent the adolescent gratification of power for its own sake. China would redraw maps to correspond to its territorial ambitions.
Thus, China is now projecting maritime power over the South and East China seas in disputes with Vietnam Japan, the Philippines, and other Asian nations. It is building a Blue Water Navy and strengthening its armed forces to establish a sphere of influence in the Pacific and East Asia.
The United States is alarmed. We recently sailed a United States navy guided missile destroyer within the 12-nautical-mile territorial limits of Subi and Mischief Reefs in the South China Sea claimed by China.
President Barack Obama has announced a United States pivot from the Middle East to East Asia.
But is China doing anything more reckless than imitating our venerated Monroe Doctrine and the Roosevelt Corollary?
On December 2, 1823, President James Monroe's seventh annual message to Congress proclaimed "that the American continents, by the free and independent condition which they have assumed and maintain, are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European powers...[W]ith the Governments who have declared their independence and maintain it, and whose independence we have, on great consideration and on just principles, acknowledged, we could not view any interposition for the purpose of oppressing them, or controlling in any other manner their destiny, by any European power in any other light than as the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition toward the United States...It is impossible that the allied powers should extend their political system to any portion of either continent without endangering our peace and happiness...."
President Monroe, however, had no writ to speak for the entire North and South American continents. He imply asserted in the manner of a papal encyclical that the United States would not tolerate within the Western Hemisphere any political dispensation in any country encouraged by a European power that conflicted with the principles of the United States Constitution.
President Theodore Roosevelt's 1905 Monroe Doctrine Corollary declared that the United States was deputed by the heavens to exercise an international police power to intervene anywhere in the Western Hemisphere to prevent any blemish on our conception of civilized society:
"Chronic wrongdoing, or an impotence which results in a general loosening of the ties of civilized society, may in America, as elsewhere, ultimately require intervention by some civilized nation, and in the Western Hemisphere the adherence of the United States to the Monroe Doctrine may force the United States, however reluctantly, in flagrant cases of such wrongdoing or impotence to exercise an international police power."
The Corollary coincided with President Roosevelt's scored earth campaign against Filipinos fighting for independence. His tactics in the Philippines included the burnings of entire villages, torture and concentration camps. He sermonized that "by war alone can we acquire the virile qualities necessary to win in the stern strife of national life," i.e., savagery is better than civilization.
Invoking the Monroe Doctrine, the United States initiated the Mexican-American War ostensibly to prevent Great Britain or France from imposing a monarchy on Mexico. Summoning the Roosevelt Corollary, the United States dispatched troops into Caribbean and Central American countries on approximately 20 occasions in the first three decades of the twentieth century, most frequently in the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Mexico to install or insure friendly or obedient governments and to preempt European interventions. In 1961, the United States attempted the overthrow of Communist Cuba's Fidel Castro by force and violence in the Bay of Pigs fiasco. And in 1965, the United States sent troops to the Dominican Republic to insure a government friendly to our interests.
In none of these cases, was the United States responding to an actual or imminent attack in legitimate self-defense under the Constitution or international law.
What is China doing in the South China and East China Seas that the United States has not already done and more in the Western Hemisphere?
Double standards at all times and in all places evoke strife or bitterness. Exemplary is Animal Farm's creed: "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."
Moreover, China's military adventurism towards Vietnam, Japan, and the Philippines is no threat to United States sovereignty. The three Asian nations are more than capable of self-defense. Vietnam smartly rebuffed China's 1979 invasion. China has never defeated Japan in war. And a Chinese occupation of the Philippines would spawn endless Filipino uprisings at huge expense to China.
To repeat, we have nothing to fear from China's Monroe Doctrine and the Roosevelt Corollary than fear itself. All the money and forces we are wasting on President Obama's pivot to Asia should be redirected to protecting the United States from an actual or imminent attack at home.