Loans and Debt Resolution - Wilsonian intervention

It is ironic that the treaty that consummated the success of dollar diplomacy in Nicaragua bore the name of William Jennings Bryan, for Bryan, out of office, had been a severe critic of dollar diplomacy. Other inconsistencies were to follow. The anti-imperialist Wilson administration (1913–1921), with first Bryan and later Robert Lansing as secretary of state, although promoting independence for the Philippines and self-government for Puerto Rico, imposed upon Haiti a protectorate treaty of unprecedented severity and set up a regime of pure force in the Dominican Republic.

There is perhaps less of a contradiction than at first appears between the new administration's policy in the Philippines and Puerto Rico and its policy toward the independent republics of the Caribbean. The Philippines and Puerto Rico, under American tutelage, had been learning the lessons of democracy and conducting orderly elections in which ballots, not bullets, determined the outcome. Perhaps a few years of American tutelage would suffice to complete the political education of the natives of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, who hitherto had found the bullet a more congenial instrument than the ballot. At the very beginning of his administration, Wilson made it clear that he would frown upon revolutions in the neighboring republics. "I am going to teach the South American republics to elect good men," he remarked with optimism to a British visitor.

Such remarks foreshadowed a new turn in American interventionist policy in which the promotion of democracy would take its place as an objective beside the preservation of the Monroe Doctrine and the protection of the economic and strategic interests of the United States. Unfortunately, although the new measures were effective in restoring order and preventing revolutions by force, they did little or nothing toward providing a substitute for revolutions in the form of free and fair elections.

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