So then why is the Obama administration calling for an end to the Monroe Doctrine even as it continues to call for a pivot to Asia?
The truth of the matter is that the Obama administration is almost certainly not disavowing the spirit of the Monroe Doctrine. If a country like Russia or especially China were to try and station large numbers of troops in Central America, it’d likely have to go through the U.S. military first, as Moscow learned during the Cuban Missile Crisis. However, the Obama administration rightly calculates that such a possibility remains remote and, in any case, America’s true feelings on the matter can be communicated to leaders in Moscow or Beijing privately should the need arise.
More importantly, the Obama administration understands the central role soft power plays in sustaining regional hegemony. Although America’s superior military power is what ultimately ensures its regional hegemonic status, this is an instrument that should only be used overtly as a last resort.
The better, more efficient way to sustain regional hegemony is for the hegemonic power to legitimize its status through non-coercive means. The U.S. has usually done a decent job of this historically. However, it has seen a number of setbacks in recent months, which likely prompted Kerry’s speech.