American Military and Political Imperialism (1890 – 1910) Essay
Both political and military imperialism have been very prominent in the history of America. Political imperialism works behind the cover of providing support to the political system of some small country by a large, stable and powerful country, which uses money and military power to enforce its culture and democratic ideas, and thus gain intervention in the internal affairs. Military imperialism on the other hand is direct invasion and occupation of one country by another.
The United States of America during 1890 – 1910 grew exponentially in agriculture and industrial products and thus there arose a need to find new foreign markets to sell the surplus production, and thus imperialism became a need of the new aggressive foreign policy. Another reason for US imperialism during this era was to compete with UK, France, Germany, Italy, Belgium and Portugal in their rapid imperialistic victories around the world and thus to become the “world power”. America was also interested in testing its latest war technology and modern naval fleets and also in gaining racial superiority.
The US imperialism during 1890 – 1910 began with the US sending its troops to South Dakota in 1890 where 300 Lakota Indians were put to death and during the same year troops were sent to Argentine to protect the interests of Buenos Aires. In 1891, US troops were sent to Chile to defeat the nationalist rebels and to Haiti, to suppress the black revolt in Navassa. In 1892, US troops fought to end the silver miners’ strike in Idaho and in 1893; the US naval troops annexed Hawaii by overthrowing the independent kingdom there. In 1894, US broke the rail strike, killing 34 people in Chicago and during the same year troops were sent to Nicargua to occupy the blue fields for some time. During 1894 – 1898, the US marines participated in wars in China, Korea and Panama.
The highlight of US imperialism during 1890 – 1910 is the American – Spain war that began in 1898. Philippines and Cuba were Spanish colonies in 1898 and were subject to extreme suppression, starvation, instability and human rights violations by Spain. US was particularly concerned about the deteriorating state of Cuba as it had a direct influence on US investments and trade. President William McKinley sent a US battleship to help the Cuban people in their fight for self-determination against Spain, and this ship was destroyed killing 260 US sailors, and thus the Spain – American war began. The US quickly defeated Spain at various battle fields like Manila and Santiago, mainly due to its strong naval power. The famous “Treaty of Paris” was signed in 1898 through which America acquired Philippines, Puerto Rico and Guam from Spain. Emilio Aguinaldo, the leader of the Philippines freedom movement was with the US during the Spain war but revolted with the annexation and thus a bloody clash between Filipinos and US troops began which lasted three years and killed 200, 000 Filipino civilians.
In 1901, US congress passed the Platt amendment in which it put restrictions on Cuban government’s financial freedom and also acquired a naval base at Guantanamo Bay, forcing Cuba to include the amendment in its constitution and thus US gained the right to interfere in the country’s affairs.
In 1903, President Roosevelt began to help Panama to gain independence from Colombia, with the primary interest of constructing the Panama Canal that connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. From 1904, President Roosevelt began his good neighbor policy by announcing that the US would support local population all around the western hemisphere if the Latin American governments could not safeguard their interests and fail to rule democratically. On this pretext, US invaded many times in Latin America and the Caribbean during the next 30 years, primarily to safeguard their business interests. US also became interested in Nicargua as it could serve as an alternate connecting route between the pacific and Atlantic oceans and the US backed rebels finally ended the government in Nicargua in 1909. On the whole, America’s imperialistic victories during this era might be regarded as great military victories but have been subjected to severe criticism and contempt by human rights activists throughout the world.
American Globalism 1917 – 1953
Globalism is a process of connections and networking amongst different nations in the world, across continents, and is based on understanding the patterns underlying these connections amongst nations. Globalization on the other hand, tends to explain the changes in these connections. Globalism is thus like a large network and globalization is the process of reducing mutual distances.
American globalism from 1917 – 1953 is based on America’s national geo-political policy in which it tried to exert influence on the entire world during this era.1917 – 1953 is a period of extreme antagonism between the American led Western bloc and the communist bloc led by Russia.
There was a serious ideological rivalry between America and Russia in 1917, where Americans supported democracy and free enterprise system while the Russians wanted a worldwide class revolution. Russia however, was a weak military power during the 1920’s and 1930’s and therefore was not a threat to the United States then. However the World War II in 1935 that ended in 1945 changed the military balance of the world. America in 1944 started making efforts for currency stabilization, giving loans to poorer countries and making corporations such as IMF to achieve its capitalist objectives. The American industrialists having accumulated huge amounts of money during world war needed to invest heavily in markets all over the world and Russia stood in their way by supporting closed economic systems in Eastern Europe.
USA in fact was the only country that emerged almost unharmed by the Second World War and thus free trade amongst nations was hugely and wholly in its own interest. US wanted a global market for its exports and to gain unrestricted access to raw materials around the world. America thus used World Bank and IMF to create an open, international capitalist economy and the Russians did not support any of this.
America launched huge reconstruction efforts through the “Marshall Plan” in Western Europe, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, mainly to create demand for its products as well as to create diplomatic goodwill and gain allies to support them against Russia.
The world by the end of World War II had become bipolar with America and Russia as the two super powers, while America had military and economic edge. UK, as the third largest power in the world was strictly against Russian influence in Europe and fueled American antagonism against Russia by ensuring their full support to the USA.
Another important factor that led US to take a strict stance against Russia was the death of President Roosevelt in April 1945 and Truman succeeded him. Roosevelt was an experienced states man and had maintained a balanced stance on Russia while Truman was inexperienced and vulnerable and fell prey to the anti Russian bloc.
The allied cooperation between America, Britain and Russia in Germany, also broke in 1948-49 on the issue of payment mode of repatriation by Germany. America and Britain were ready to accept loose payments and quickly get over with the issue since Germany was vital to American trade, while Russians insisted on strict and huge repatriation payments. In 1949, America became a member of NATO and then started expansions of their military interventions and joined the Korean War. America then started an arms and weapons race against Russia, created more and better nuclear weapons, made alliances with more nations across the world to gain support against Russia, engaged in military propaganda and created vast bureaucratic and industrial systems to defeat Russians on every front.
The Americans however made a mistake by joining the Korean War and made an enemy in China along the way. The final setback to the Russian stance was the death of their leader Stalin, in 1953 that put an end to the cold war between the nations.
The United States from Super Power to Lost Horizons
During the last century United States has enjoyed been called a super power all over the world, the only power in the world. It is true though, mostly because there is a lot of money involved and America is pretty privileged as a nation. Half of the world economy belongs to America. But it has been argued over a period of time that America once being the super power is going down to lost horizon. United States of America is losing its status of superpower and is losing its qualities of being the world most influential and powerful state. Its status of superpower is reducing with its economy because of the rising economy of China specially.
The financial position of United States is declining considerably. Both the government and industry are heavily in debt. It is increasingly becoming difficult for United States to pay its bills, afford military actions, and it might become difficult for it to protect the citizens from the discomfort heading towards them. America being a super power depended on many dynamics. Its status of superpower was achieved through military, economy, political, technological and cultural realm. Some experts are of the view that power belongs to those with huge economy, and as America’s economy is on stake. The world financial crises have showed that with the decline in America’s economy it will no longer be called superpower. New York was once perceived the capital of finance but now it is more likely to face difficulty with keeping this rank due to recession. According to a newspaper correspondent, America’s two most influential icons, General Electric and Berkshire Hathaway, lost their triple-A credit ratings. China is most probably dominating the place of America. Only weeks ago China called for a meeting to replace Dollar as a global currency right after the safety of Beijing’s $1 trillion debt was announced by Washington. The gossip is that Dollar would be replaced as a fluid global currency. But these gossip still needs to be confirmed as we can see that America is not that frail and will not let go that easily.
Although the financial crisis is the factor that has shaken the United States in recent times, but it would be childish to call it the end of the world. There is stability of course. The affection and love once America had is slowly on the decline. Now people are beginning to think that the world’s once leading power can no longer lead. A beautiful picture of America portrait by Islamists as an enemy of Muslims is shattering its images.
Being a superpower does not mean having a strong military and strong economy but having much of the world admiring, respecting and depending on your political, financial and social system. But most of these things are in question now. The world is beginning to question the democratic system of America. Even America’s political condition has its weak points. President Obama’s announcement that America is at loss in Afghanistan is an example of political crisis. What does it implement?
The war between Iraq and America is yet another example, although they have been appearing as a winner but analysts have declared Iraq the winner. This war has greatly inspired Iran and an emergence of a new superpower is in order. America’s support of Palestinians is professed by the world as highly duplicitous.
The recession in economy coupled with mounting federal debt and expected cuts to science and technology are threatening to unseat the United States as the reigning superpower of the world. Many people are already beginning to think the new world is in order. It is becoming difficult to continue military spending at high rate. If the present state continues it will alter the perception of United Sates as the super power and how America deals with the world.
The situation is not all that bad; the US economy has no rivals…at least on paper. The nation has a gross domestic product (GDP) over $10 trillion. The next-largest economy is China, with a GDP only half as large. On a per-capita basis, America’s GDP is 8 times larger than China’s and 40 larger than that of the United Kingdom. So even if America is the lost horizon, that horizon seems too far away if we remain a little skeptic and realistic, but be a little optimistic, and the situation does not seem that bad at all, and if one learns to live within its means, then as well.