Jan 25, 2018 in Research

U.S. – A Great Power and Imperialist Exploiter

Though the great power of the United States came as a result of industrialization and rapid economic growth, the Spanish-American war revealed that it was really a great power in the world stage of diplomacy and international relations. The war indicated to the rest of the world that United States was a powerful player in many world affairs. This made it rise from a state of isolation and boast to the Spanish that it can play a major role in the affairs of the world.

The Spanish-American war indicated the move by the United States to oppose colonialism. The move was so surprising because the United States which was once a colony was against colonialism of Europeans. Prior to the war, the United States Congress made an amendment to the Teller law that would see the United States leave Cuba to rule itself (Graves 12). But after the war, the United States ordered Hawaii, Philippines, Guam, and Puerto Rico to provide coal stations to their army all over the world. It is therefore arguable and not clear whether the war was a moment of US imperialism or the start of the period of informal imperialism achieved through economic domination. The war also revealed a pattern evident through the 20th century; as the annexed nations strived to get out of the rule by the United States, other nations were not pleased by the manner in which the United States interfered with the affairs of the world. This was evident in the war of 1899 to 1901 done by Emilio Aguinaldo and the Filipinos against the United States where more people were killed compared to those killed during the Spanish-American war. The involvement of America with nationalists of Asia and later with Korea and Vietnam in military confrontations hinted that the Spanish-American war was a signal of many things coming.

The Spanish-America war can be described as the fast media war in the world. Just before the war and during the war, newspapermen produced articles about the war in their newspapers that would make the public buy them in large numbers. The yellow journalists for example, instigated the war believing that it would help it sell many of its newspapers. The role of media in the war was not to shape the opinion of the public regarding wars. When the Spanish government tried to suppress a revolt, for example, two leading publishers of America newspapers, Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph, used the chance to sensationally report the happening to sell a lot of their newspapers. They reported information that spoke against Spanish and Cuba. One of the publications is the letter from the Spanish Minister Depuy de Lome, which indicated that the minister referred to President McKinley as weak in politics and just after few days after the publication and the U.S. battleship bombed the Havana harbor which led to the death of 260 people and the cause of explosion was not yet determined, Hearst published an article blaming the Spanish for the blast. The public demanded action which led to war between Spain and America.  

The war revealed that industrialization made United States a great power as many world markets sought to work with United States industries as they believed that the US army has protected its territories. It also revealed, through Social Darwinism, that international relations were competitions in which the strongest nations would do what they can do to survive. Though America came in late during World War I, it was economically and military stable to sustain the war for a long period of time. It used its money and military to fight the war until some of the great powers of the war like Germany surrendered and peace was seen in the whole world. This made it a great power both economically and in the military.

President Theodore changed his attitude towards Great Britain by engaging into reconciliatory talks in 1985 after Britain recognized that German over extended it during disputes of boundary between Venezuela and Guyana. This is as opposed to the traditional method of resolving issues – using war. Britain continues to support America during the Spanish-America war by selling coal and war ships to them. The America-British relationship was reflected during the Boer War that happened from1899 to 1902. Though the values of Americans were on the side of the Boers, the interests of the United States were with the British. Being a person who was geopolitical, Roosevelt followed the interest of Americans by supporting British in the war.

Another instance of conciliatory move made by Roosevelt was in the Alaska Boundary Dispute. The dispute was between the United States and Canada after gold was discovered in the region. He sent the U.S. army in the border quietly without the public realizing and agreed to form a tribunal to solve the issue amicably. The tribunal eventually favored United States in its ruling and removed a huge obstacle that could destroy the good relationship U.S. has had with British. Roosevelt also concluded that Germany war a threat to the interests of the United States and privately supported French during the Moroccan crisis that happened from 1905 to 1906 and insisted that the British should not give up.

Before leaving office, Roosevelt in an effort to indicate to Japan the American military power, sent the whole troop of United States around the world. This was to show the readiness of U.S. army to tackle any war in the world and to seek support for defending itself. He instructed the troops to visit Japan while very careful as Japan had strong army and has issues with the United States. In contrast, Japan welcomed the troop and later gave Washington, dc a gift of Cherry, indicating that it was ready for reconciliation and positive relationship with the United States. Roosevelt also sent the troop to New Zealand and Australia to show its commitment to defend the country.  

He was moderate in using American power in the Caribbean. In 1902, he withdrew American troops from Cuba as was agreed and refused to obey the requests by opposing political factions in Cuba, withdrew his troops that were taken there by American naval commander without his authority, and refused to intervene even after the collapse of Cuba in 1906. Instead, he chose a civilian judge to rule Cuba until it performed its peaceful elections.

U.S. entry into World War I turned Americans against all that Roosevelt had accomplished. Roosevelt has developed a culture that would enable countries, U.S. included, to solve issues through other means rather than war. This was not seen during World War I as nations fought to solve their issues and to show their military prowess to others. In the war’s aftermath, America returned to isolation as to reduce its involvement with world’s affairs by refusing to be a member of the League of Nations arguing that the European nations were prone to fights and if it gets involved with them, it would be continuously engaged in fights which adversely affect its economy (Schomp 67). President Wilson Wood wanted the United States not to get involved in World War I in order to build nations that would be destroyed by the war. His attempts failed when his friends and advisers refused to welcome the idea. His vision for the US and the world was to create warm international relations and democracy. 


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