The Monroe Doctrine was an American policy put forth by the 5th President of the United States of America, James Monroe. It was a clear cut statement issued by the United States which stated that the United States of America would neither interfere in the conflicts between European nations, nor allow these nations to meddle in the affairs of the 'New World' i.e. the hemisphere that included the continents of North America and South America. Monroe Doctrine sent across the message that any attempt by the European nations to colonize the New World would amount to aggression, which would be met by U.S. intervention. It was one of those U.S. policies which had profound effects on various American foreign policies to follow. At the same time, the Monroe Doctrine was also responsible for establishing a cordial relationship between the United States and Great Britain, which was one of the major European powers back then.
Summary of the Monroe Doctrine
The Monroe Doctrine was introduced by James Monroe in a speech before the United States Congress on 2nd December, 1823. It was put forth unilaterally by the United States in response to Great Britain's proposal of mutually coming up with a policy which would separate the New World from the Old World. (The term 'Old World' referred to those regions of the world that were known to Europeans before the Americas were discovered.) For Great Britain, allowing Spain to regain control of its former colonies was not a viable option as it would have hampered their profitable trade with this region. For the United States, it was the question of national security with the newly formed 'Holy Alliance' (made up of Austria, Prussia and Russia) trying to gain an upper hand in this region.
The main objective of Monroe Doctrine was to make sure that the European nations don't succeed in colonizing the newly independent colonies of Latin America. It was introduced at a point of time when quite a few Latin American colonies under the Spanish Empire had become independent, and several were about to become independent. When the United States realized that European colonization of these Spanish colonies in Latin America would be a threat for its national security, President Monroe introduced this policy and made sure that the national security of the country was not threatened. While the Foreign Minister of Great Britain, George Canning, did put forth the proposal of going ahead together, the United States administration under the leadership of Monroe was wary of this, especially after the war of 1812.
Monroe Doctrine didn't just put a check of European colonization of the Americas, but also asserted that the European nations should stop interfering in the matters of the western hemisphere. It also made it a point to state that the United States would not meddle with the existing European colonies in the Americas, nor would it interfere in the internal matters of the European nations. The policy established two separate spheres of influence for the United States and Europe. However, it did provide a platform for the development of cordial ties between the United States and Great Britain, and thus is considered by many to be a precursor to 'Special Relationship' between these two nations. Even though the Latin American nations knew that the Monroe Doctrine was nothing more than a tool of national policy, they did welcome it as they were aware of the fact that it was not possible for the United States alone to wield power in this region without the backing of Great Britain.
The fact that Monroe Doctrine continued for the next two centuries, with a few minor changes here and there, hints at its impact in the geopolitical scenario back then. It did come under fire though, with critics terming it 'American hegemony', but that didn't really matter for the United States or Latin America as both benefited from the same. If it was not for Monroe Doctrine, Latin America would have been nothing but a region plagued by internal conflicts today. It was this policy that provided Latin America with the much-needed protection from European interests, with the United States acting as a protector for this region.