116: Teddy Roosevelt’s Foreign Policy: From Big Stick Diplomacy to the Panama Canal

History That Doesn't Suck

Aug 1 2022 • 1 hr 6 mins

“I [will] be obliged to interfere, by force if necessary, if the Germans [take] any action which look[s] like the acquisition of territory in Venezuela.” This is the story of foreign policy (“Big Stick” Diplomacy) in the Theodore Roosevelt White House. TR loves the West African proverb: “Speak softly and carry a big stick: you will go far.” It defines the Cowboy President’s approach to life—particularly to foreign affairs—and as Germany rattles the saber at indebted Venezuela, Monroe Doctrine-supporting Teddy doesn’t hesitate to tell the Kaiser’s diplomats … “softly” … that those are fighting words. But as Teddy expands the Monroe Doctrine with his “Roosevelt Corollary,” questions arise about the US acting as the Western Hemisphere's self-appointed police force. Particularly when the US interferes in Colombian affairs by backing an independence movement on the Panamanian Isthmus. Is this about supporting the oppressed? Or is TR making an imperialist move to make sure the US can build a canal through the American continents? Winning the Nobel Peace Prize, preventing wars, yet showing American strength with the Great White Fleet—and all of this while undertaking one of the most daunting, impossible engineering feats in world history. This is Teddy Roosevelt on the world stage. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices