The Monroe Doctrine has guided American foreign policy since 1823. Through it, the United States pledged to oppose European intervention into North and South America. Adopted in the colonial era, it went on to guide the US through the Cold War, when the Soviet Union allied with Cuba and sought to establish beachheads in Latin America by force. President John F. Kennedy invoked it during the Cuban Missile Crisis. President Ronald Reagan invoked it during the Grenada crisis and other Cold War battles.

Speaking at the Organization of American States Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry had declared that 190 year old bipartisan policy dead.

Kerry said, “In the early days of our republic, the United States made a choice about its relationship with Latin America. President James Monroe, who was also a former secretary of state, declared that the United States would unilaterally and as a matter of fact act as the protector of the region. The doctrine that bears his name asserted our authority to step in and oppose the influence of European powers in Latin America. And throughout our nation’s history, successive presidents have reinforced that doctrine and made a similar choice. Today, however, we have made a different choice. The era of the Monroe Doctrine is over.”

In the video, tentative applause can be heard in reaction to Kerry’s statement. It’s unclear what Kerry and the Obama administration mean by ending the Doctrine without any warning or consultation with Congress or with our regional allies. Do they mean that the United States will no longer intervene and save flailing regional economies, as the US bailed out Mexico during the Clinton administration? Do they intend to signal China that the US will not resist its efforts to increase its influence in the Americas? Just what fresh scheme is the Obama administration up to?

Rejecting the Monroe Doctrine now is a strange statement, coming from the same administration that heavily and bizarrely involved itself on the wrong side in Honduras as recently as 2009.