Jim Thompson
Jim Thompson
By Jim Thompson
HCP columnist


In his seventh State of the Union Address to Congress, President James Monroe delineated what would later become known as the “Monroe Doctrine.” Issued Dec. 2, 1823, it stated that “further efforts by European nations to take control of any independent state in North or South America would be viewed as ‘the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition toward the United States.’” (Source: Wikipedia).

Over the years, it was applied to Russia and Japan, as well as others.

The last president to overtly cite and apply the Monroe Doctrine was President John F. Kennedy at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962.

President Ronald Reagan let the Monroe Doctrine slide when his good friend, Margaret Thatcher, decided to invade the Falkland Islands (1982). Since then, we have heard little about the Monroe Doctrine.

President Donald Trump needs to dust off the Monroe Doctrine now. It is urgent that he do so.

• Issue No. 1. Russia is setting up shop with a nuclear bomber capable base on an island off the coast of Venezuela. According to Reuters on Dec.12, 2018: “Nezavisimaya Gazeta cited unnamed military and diplomatic sources as saying that Russia wanted to deploy strategic aircraft to a military airfield on the island of La Orchila off the coast of Venezuela.”

• Issue No. 2. From The Guardian on Nov. 28, 2018: “The Amador peninsula separates the concrete and glass skyline of Panama City from the soaring iron arch of the Bridge of the Americas – under which 40 cargo ships pass each day en route to or from the Panama Canal.

“This strategic outcrop is home to a handful of derelict buildings once used to house U.S. military personnel. But it has become a new flashpoint in the global rivalry between Beijing and Washington, as the U.S. struggles to develop a coherent strategy to deal with China’s rising influence in Latin America.”

You can rest assured that this is not the end of the push for China to establish a strategic base at the Panama Canal. The Panama Canal is just too important to world trade and domination to think they will leave it alone for long.

Both Russia and China know our military is in a state of decline, given the skimpy budgets it received during the Obama years. With headwinds blowing against President Trump starting this month, it will be difficult to rebuild our military to the level it once was, hence an opportunity for antagonists to move ahead.

One can argue that our military is still the largest in the world; and in a day when anyone can send a nuclear-armed missile anywhere from anywhere, further argue who cares its source.

However, precedent still matters and weakness on our part will be answered with aggressiveness on the part of these two mischief makers.

In the meantime, The Taiwan News on Dec. 27, 2018, reported on how China is wielding its power elsewhere: “China may be preparing to seize some major assets in the African nation of Kenya, as a result of debt-trap diplomacy. African media report that Kenya may soon be forced to relinquish control of its largest and most lucrative port in Mombasa to Chinese control. Other assets related to the inland shipment of goods from the port, including the Inland Container Depot in Nairobi, and the Standard Gauge Railway, may also be compromised in the event of a Chinese port takeover.

"Kenya has reportedly taken extremely large loans from the Communist government for the development of some major highways, and especially for the SGR, which forms a crucial transport link to and from Nairobi for the import and export of goods through Mombasa. In November, Moody’s noted that Kenya is at high risk of losing strategic assets because of debts owed to Beijing.”

While we wring our hands over some relatively mundane headlines at home, China and Russia are playing for keeps. This will be to our detriment if we don’t wake up.

Jim Thompson, formerly of Marshall, is a graduate of Hillsboro High School and the University of Cincinnati. He resides in Duluth, Ga. and is a columnist for The Highland County Press. He may be reached at jthompson@taii.com.