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American imperialism

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaJump to navigationJump to search"American empire" redirects here. For other uses, see American Empire (disambiguation).

1898 political cartoon: "Ten Thousand Miles From Tip to Tip" meaning the extension of U.S. domination (symbolized by a bald eagle) from Puerto Rico to the Philippines. The cartoon contrasts this with a map of the smaller United States 100 years earlier in 1798.

American imperialism consists of policies aimed at extending the political, economic and cultural influence of the United States over areas beyond its boundaries. Depending on the commentator, it may include military conquest, gunboat diplomacy, unequal treaties, subsidization of preferred factions, economic penetration through private companies followed by intervention when those interests are threatened, or regime change.[1][page needed]

The policy of imperialism is usually considered to have begun in the late 19th century,[2] though some consider US territorial expansion at the expense of Native Americans to be similar enough to deserve the same term.[3] The federal government of the United States has never referred to its territories as an empire, but some commentators refer to it as such, including Max Boot, Arthur Schlesinger, and Niall Ferguson.[4] The United States has also been accused of neocolonialism, sometimes defined as a modern form of hegemony, which uses economic rather than military power in an informal empire, and is sometimes used as a synonym for contemporary imperialism.

The question of whether the United States should intervene in the affairs of foreign countries has been debated in domestic politics for the whole history of the country. Opponents pointed to the history of the country as a former colony that rebelled against an overseas king, and American values of democracy, freedom, and independence. Supporters of the so-called "imperial Presidents" William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, and William Howard Taft justified interventions in or seizure of various countries by citing the need to advance American economic interests (such as trade and repayment of debts), the prevention of European intervention in the Americas, the benefits of keeping good order around the world, and sometimes racist ideas about the inability of other peoples to govern themselves.




Despite periods of peaceful co-existence, wars with Native Americans resulted in substantial territorial gains for American colonists who were expanding into native land. Wars with the Native Americans continued intermittently after independence, and an ethnic cleansing campaign known as Indian removal gained for European-American settlers more valuable territory on the eastern side of the continent.

U.S. westward expansion–portions of each territory were granted statehood since the 18th century.

A New Map of Texas, Oregon, and California, Samuel Augustus Mitchell, 1846

George Washington began a policy of United States non-interventionism which lasted into the 1800s. The United States promulgated the Monroe Doctrine in 1821, in order to stop further European colonialism and to allow the American colonies to grow further, but desire for territorial expansion to the Pacific Ocean was explicit in the doctrine of Manifest Destiny. The giant Louisiana Purchasewas peaceful, but the Mexican–American War of 1846 resulted in the annexation of 525,000 square miles of Mexican territory.[5][6] Elements attempted to expand pro-U.S. republics or U.S. states in Mexico and Central America, the most notable being fillibuster William Walker's Republic of Baja California in 1853 and his intervention in Nicaragua in 1855. Senator Sam Houston of Texas even proposed a resolution in the Senate for the "United States to declare and maintain an efficient protectorate over the States of Mexico, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, and San Salvador." The idea of U.S. expansion into Mexico and the Caribbean was popular among politicians of the slave states, and also among some business tycoons in the Nicarauguan Transit (the semi-overland and main trade route connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans before the Panama Canal). President Ulysses S. Grant attempted to Annex the Dominican Republic in 1870, but failed to get the support of the Senate.

Non-interventionism was wholly abandoned with the Spanish–American War. The United States acquired the remaining island colonies of Spain, with President Theodore Roosevelt defending the acquisition of the Philippines. The U.S. policed Latin America under Roosevelt Corollary, and sometimes using the military to favor American commercial interests (such as intervention in the banana republics and the annexation of Hawaii). Imperialist foreign policy was controversial with the American public, and domestic opposition allowed Cuban independence, though in the early 20th century the U.S. obtained the Panama Canal Zone and occupied Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The United States returned to strong non-interventionist policy after World War I, including with the Good Neighbor policy for Latin America. After fighting World War II, it administered many Pacific islands captured during the fight against Japan. Partly to prevent the militaries of those countries from growing threateningly large, and partly to contain the Soviet Union, the United States promised to defend Germany (which is also part of NATO) and Japan (through the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security Between the United States and Japan) which it had formerly defeated in war and which are now independent democracies. It maintains substantial military bases in both.

The Cold War reoriented American foreign policy towards opposing communism, and prevailing U.S. foreign policy embraced its role as a nuclear-armed global superpower. Though the Truman Doctrine and Reagan Doctrine the United States framed the mission as protecting free peoples against an undemocratic system, anti-Soviet foreign policy became coercive and occasionally covert. United States involvement in regime change included overthrowing the democratically elected government of Iran, the Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba, occupation of Grenada, and interference in various foreign elections. The long and bloody Vietnam War led to widespread criticism of an "arrogance of power" and violations of international law emerging from an "imperial presidency," with Martin Luther King Jr., among others, accusing the US of a new form of colonialism.[7]

Many saw the post-Cold War 1990–91 Gulf War as motivated by U.S. oil interests, though it reversed the hostile invasion of Kuwait. After the September 11 attacks in 2001, questions of imperialism were raised again as the United States invaded Afghanistan (which harbored the attackers) and Iraq (which the U.S. incorrectly claimed had weapons of mass destruction). The invasion led to the collapse of the Ba'athist government and its replacement with the Coalition Provisional Authority. The Iraq War opened the country's oil industry to US firms for the first time in decades[8] and arguably violated international law. Both wars caused immense civilian casualties.[9]

In terms of territorial acquisition, the United States has integrated (with voting rights) all of its acquisitions on the North American continent, including the non-contiguous Alaska. Hawaii has also become a state with equal representation to the mainland, but other island jurisdictions acquired during wartime remain territories, namely Guam, Puerto Rico, the United States Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands. The remainder of acquired territories have become independent with varying degrees of cooperation, ranging from three freely associated states which participate in federal government programs in exchange for military basing rights, to Cuba which severed diplomatic relations during the Cold War. The United States was a public advocate for European decolonization after World War II (having started a ten-year independence transition for the Philippines in 1934 with the Tydings–McDuffie Act). Even so, the US desire for an informal system of global primacy in an "American Century" often brought them into conflict with national liberation movements.[10] The United States has now granted citizenship to Native Americans and recognizes some degree of tribal sovereignty.

1700s–1800s: Indian Wars and Manifest Destiny[edit]Further information: Empire of Liberty, Manifest Destiny, Modern empires, and Overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii

Caricature by Louis Dalrymple showing Uncle Sam lecturing four children labeled Philippines, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and Cuba, in front of children holding books labeled with various U.S. states. A black boy is washing windows, a Native American sits separate from the class, and a Chinese boy is outside the door. The caption reads: "School Begins. Uncle Sam (to his new class in Civilization): Now, children, you've got to learn these lessons whether you want to or not! But just take a look at the class ahead of you, and remember that, in a little while, you will feel as glad to be here as they are!"

Yale historian Paul Kennedy has asserted, "From the time the first settlers arrived in Virginia from England and started moving westward, this was an imperial nation, a conquering nation."[11]Expanding on George Washington's description of the early United States as an "infant empire",[12] Benjamin Franklin wrote: "Hence the Prince that acquires new Territory, if he finds it vacant, or removes the Natives to give his own People Room; the Legislator that makes effectual Laws for promoting of Trade, increasing Employment, improving Land by more or better Tillage; providing more Food by Fisheries; securing Property, etc. and the Man that invents new Trades, Arts or Manufactures, or new Improvements in Husbandry, may be properly called Fathers of their Nation, as they are the Cause of the Generation of Multitudes, by the Encouragement they afford to Marriage."[13] Thomas Jefferson asserted in 1786 that the United States "must be viewed as the nest from which all America, North & South is to be peopled. [...] The navigation of the Mississippi we must have. This is all we are as yet ready to receive.".[14] From the left Noam Chomsky writes that "the United States is the one country that exists, as far as I know, and ever has, that was founded as an empire explicitly".[15][16]

A national drive for territorial acquisition across the continent was popularized in the 19th century as the ideology of Manifest Destiny.[17] It came to be realized with the Mexican–American Warof 1846, which resulted in the cession of 525,000 square miles of Mexican territory to the United States, stretching up to the Pacific coast.[5][6] The Whig Party strongly opposed this war and expansionism generally.[18]

President James Monroe presented his famous doctrine for the western hemisphere in 1823. Historians have observed that while the Monroe Doctrine contained a commitment to resist colonialism from Europe, it had some aggressive implications for American policy, since there were no limitations on the US's actions mentioned within it. Scholar Jay Sexton notes that the tactics used to implement the doctrine were "modeled after those employed by British imperialists" in their territorial competition with Spain and France.[19] From the left historian William Appleman Williams described it as "imperial anti-colonialism."[20]

The Indian Wars against the indigenous population began in the British era. Their escalation under the federal republic allowed the US to dominate North America and carve out the 48 contiguous states. This can be considered to be an explicitly colonial process in light of arguments that Native American nations were sovereign entities prior to annexation.[21] Their sovereignty was systematically undermined by US state policy (usually involving unequal or broken treaties) and white settler-colonialism.[22] The climax of this process was the California genocide.[23][24]

1800s: Filibustering in Central America[edit]

In the older historiography William Walker's filibustering represented the high tide of antebellum American imperialism. His brief seizure of Nicaragua in 1855 is typically called a representative expression of Manifest destiny with the added factor of trying to expand slavery into Central America. Walker failed in all his escapades and never had official U.S. backing. Historian Michel Gobat, however, presents a strongly revisionist interpretation. He argues that Walker was invited in by Nicaraguan liberals who were trying to force economic modernization and political liberalism. Walker's government comprised those liberals, as well as Yankee colonizers, and European radicals. Walker even included some local Catholics as well as indigenous peoples, Cuban revolutionaries, and local peasants. His coalition was much too complex and diverse to survive long, but it was not the attempted projection of American power, concludes Gobat.[25]

1800s–1900s: New Imperialism and "The White Man's Burden"[edit]Further information: New Imperialism, History of the Philippines (1898–1946), Philippine–American War, Big Stick ideology, and Roosevelt corollary

This cartoon reflects the view of Judge magazine regarding America's imperial ambitions following a quick victory in the Spanish–American War of 1898.[26] The American flag flies from the Philippines and Hawaii in the Pacific to Cuba and Puerto Rico in the Caribbean.

A variety of factors converged during the "New Imperialism" of the late 19th century, when the United States and the other great powers rapidly expanded their overseas territorial possessions. Some of these are used as examples of the various forms of New Imperialism.

  • The prevalence of overt racism, notably John Fiske's conception of Anglo-Saxon racial superiority and Josiah Strong's call to "civilize and Christianize,"—were manifestations of a growing Social Darwinism and racism in some schools of American political thought.[27][28][29]
  • Early in his career, as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Theodore Roosevelt was instrumental in preparing the Navy for the Spanish–American War[30] and was an enthusiastic proponent of testing the U.S. military in battle, at one point stating "I should welcome almost any war, for I think this country needs one."[31][32][33]

Roosevelt claimed that he rejected imperialism, but he embraced the near-identical doctrine of expansionism.[citation needed] When Rudyard Kipling wrote the imperialist poem "The White Man's Burden" for Roosevelt, the politician told colleagues that it was "rather poor poetry, but good sense from the expansion point of view."[34] Roosevelt was so committed to dominating Spain's former colonies that he proclaimed his own corollary to the Monroe Doctrine as justification,[35] although his ambitions extended even further, into the Far East. Scholars have documented the resemblance and collaboration between US and British military activities in the Pacific at this time.[36]

Industry and trade are two of the most prevalent motivations of imperialism. American intervention in both Latin America and Hawaii resulted in multiple industrial investments, including the popular industry of Dole bananas. If the United States was able to annex a territory, in turn they were granted access to the trade and capital of those territories. In 1898, Senator Albert Beveridge proclaimed that an expansion of markets was absolutely necessary, "American factories are making more than the American people can use; American soil is producing more than they can consume. Fate has written our policy for us; the trade of the world must and shall be ours."[37][38]

One of the New York Journal's most infamous cartoons, depicting Philippine–American War General Jacob H. Smith's order "Kill Everyone over Ten," from the front page on May 5, 1902.

American rule of ceded Spanish territory was not uncontested. The Philippine Revolution had begun in August 1896 against Spain, and after the defeat of Spain in the Battle of Manila Bay, began again in earnest, culminating in the Philippine Declaration of Independence and the establishment of the First Philippine Republic. The Philippine–American War ensued, with extensive damage and death, ultimately resulting in the defeat of the Philippine Republic.[39][40][41] According to scholars such as Gavan McCormack and E. San Juan, the American counterinsurgency resulted in genocide.[42][43]

The maximum geographical extension of American direct political and military control happened in the aftermath of World War II, in the period after the surrender and occupations of Germany and Austria in May and later Japan and Korea in September 1945 and before the independence of the Philippines in July 1946.[44]

Stuart Creighton Miller says that the public's sense of innocence about Realpolitik impairs popular recognition of U.S. imperial conduct.[45] The resistance to actively occupying foreign territory has led to policies of exerting influence via other means, including governing other countries via surrogates or puppet regimes, where domestically unpopular governments survive only through U.S. support.[46]

A map of "Greater America" c. 1900, including overseas territories.

The Philippines is sometimes cited as an example. After Philippine independence, the US continued to direct the country through Central Intelligence Agency operatives like Edward Lansdale. As Raymond Bonner and other historians note, Lansdale controlled the career of President Ramon Magsaysay, going so far as to physically beat him when the Philippine leader attempted to reject a speech the CIA had written for him. American agents also drugged sitting President Elpidio Quirino and prepared to assassinate Senator Claro Recto.[47][48] Prominent Filipino historian Roland G. Simbulan has called the CIA "US imperialism's clandestine apparatus in the Philippines".[49]

The U.S. retained dozens of military bases, including a few major ones. In addition, Philippine independence was qualified by legislation passed by the U.S. Congress. For example, the Bell Trade Act provided a mechanism whereby U.S. import quotas might be established on Philippine articles which "are coming, or are likely to come, into substantial competition with like articles the product of the United States". It further required U.S. citizens and corporations be granted equal access to Philippine minerals, forests, and other natural resources.[50] In hearings before the Senate Committee on Finance, Assistant Secretary of State for Economic Affairs William L. Clayton described the law as "clearly inconsistent with the basic foreign economic policy of this country" and "clearly inconsistent with our promise to grant the Philippines genuine independence."[51]

1918: Wilsonian intervention[edit]

American troops marching in Vladivostok during the Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War, August 1918

When World War I broke out in Europe, President Woodrow Wilson promised American neutrality throughout the war. This promise was broken when the United States entered the war after the Zimmermann Telegram. This was "a war for empire" to control vast raw materials in Africa and other colonized areas, according to the contemporary historian and civil rights leader W. E. B. Du Bois.[52]More recently historian Howard Zinn argues that Wilson entered the war in order to open international markets to surplus US production. He quotes Wilson's own declaration that

Concessions obtained by financiers must be safeguarded by ministers of state, even if the sovereignty of unwilling nations be outraged in the process... the doors of the nations which are closed must be battered down.

In a memo to Secretary of State Bryan, the president described his aim as "an open door to the world".[53] Lloyd Gardner notes that Wilson's original avoidance of world war was not motivated by anti-imperialism; his fear was that "white civilization and its domination in the world" were threatened by "the great white nations" destroying each other in endless battle.[54]

Despite President Wilson's official doctrine of moral diplomacy seeking to "make the world safe for democracy," some of his activities at the time can be viewed as imperialism to stop the advance of democracy in countries such as Haiti.[55] The United States invaded Haiti in July 1915 after having made landfall eight times previously. American rule in Haiti continued through 1942, but was initiated during World War I. The historian Mary Renda in her book, Taking Haiti, talks about the American invasion of Haiti to bring about political stability through U.S. control. The American government did not believe Haiti was ready for self-government or democracy, according to Renda. In order to bring about political stability in Haiti, the United States secured control and integrated the country into the international capitalist economy, while preventing Haiti from practicing self-governance or democracy. While Haiti had been running their own government for many years before American intervention, the U.S. government regarded Haiti as unfit for self-rule. In order to convince the American public of the justice in intervening, the United States government used paternalist propaganda, depicting the Haitian political process as uncivilized. The Haitian government would come to agree to U.S. terms, including American overseeing of the Haitian economy. This direct supervision of the Haitian economy would reinforce U.S. propaganda and further entrench the perception of Haitians' being incompetent of self-governance.[56]

In World War I, the US, Britain, and Russia had been allies for seven months, from April 1917 until the Bolsheviks seized power in Russia in November. Active distrust surfaced immediately, as even before the October Revolution British officers had been involved in the Kornilov Affair, which sought to crush the Russian anti-war movement and the independent soviets.[57] Nonetheless, once the Bolsheviks took Moscow, the British began talks to try and keep them in the war effort. British diplomat Bruce Lockhart cultivated a relationship with several Soviet officials, including Leon Trotsky, and the latter approved the initial Allied military mission to secure the Eastern Front, which was collapsing in the revolutionary upheaval. Ultimately, Soviet head of state V.I. Lenin decided the Bolsheviks would settle peacefully with the Central Powers at the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. This separate peace led to Allied disdain for the Soviets, since it left the Western Allies to fight Germany without a strong Eastern partner. The British SIS, supported by US diplomat Dewitt C. Poole, sponsored an attempted coup in Moscow involving Bruce Lockhart and Sidney Reilly, which involved an attempted assassination of Lenin. The Bolsheviks proceeded to shut down the British and U.S. embassies.[58][59]

Tensions between Russia (including its allies) and the West turned intensely ideological. Horrified by mass executions of White forces, land expropriations, and widespread repression, the Allied military expedition now assisted the anti-Bolshevik Whites in the Russian Civil War, with the US covertly giving support[60] to the autocratic and antisemitic General Alexander Kolchak.[61] Over 30,000 Western troops were deployed in Russia overall.[62] This was the first event that made Russian–American relations a matter of major, long-term concern to the leaders in each country. Some historians, including William Appleman Williams and Ronald Powaski, trace the origins of the Cold War to this conflict.[63]

Wilson launched seven armed interventions, more than any other president.[64] Looking back on the Wilson era, General Smedley Butler, a leader of the Haiti expedition and the highest-decorated Marine of that time, considered virtually all of the operations to have been economically motivated.[65] In a 1933 speech he said:

I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it...I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street ... Looking back on it, I feel that I could have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.[66]

1941–1945: World War II[edit]

The Grand Area[edit]

In an October 1940 report to Franklin Roosevelt, Bowman wrote that “the US government is interested in any solution anywhere in the world that affects American trade. In a wide sense, commerce is the mother of all wars.” In 1942 this economic globalism was articulated as the “Grand Area” concept in secret documents. The US would have to have control over the “Western Hemisphere, Continental Europe and Mediterranean Basin (excluding Russia), the Pacific Area and the Far East, and the British Empire (excluding Canada).” The Grand Area encompassed all known major oil-bearing areas outside the Soviet Union, largely at the behest of corporate partners like the Foreign Oil Committee and the Petroleum Industry War Council.[67] The US thus avoided overt territorial acquisition, like that of the British and French empires, as being too costly, choosing the cheaper option of forcing countries to open their door to American capitalism.[68]

Although the United States was the last major belligerent to join World War II, it began planning for the post-war world from the conflict's outset. This postwar vision originated in the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), an economic elite-led organization that became integrated into the government leadership. CFR's War and Peace Studies group offered its services to the State Department in 1939 and a secret partnership for post-war planning developed. CFR leaders Hamilton Fish Armstrong and Walter H. Mallory saw World War II as a “grand opportunity” for the U.S. to emerge as "the premier power in the world."[69]

This vision of empire assumed the necessity of the U.S. to “police the world” in the aftermath of the war. This was not done primarily out of altruism, but out of economic interest. Isaiah Bowman, a key liaison between the CFR and the State Department, proposed an “American economic Lebensraum.” This built upon the ideas of Time-Life publisher Henry Luce, who (in his “American Century” essay) wrote, “Tyrannies may require a large amount of living space [but] freedom requires and will require far greater living space than Tyranny.” According to Bowman's biographer, Neil Smith:

Better than the American Century or the Pax Americana, the notion of an American Lebensraum captures the specific and global historical geography of U.S. ascension to power. After World War II, global power would no longer be measured in terms of colonized land or power over territory. Rather, global power was measured in directly economic terms. Trade and markets now figured as the economic nexuses of global power, a shift confirmed in the 1944 Bretton Woods agreement, which not only inaugurated an international currency system but also established two central banking institutions—the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank—to oversee the global economy. These represented the first planks of the economic infrastructure of the postwar American Lebensraum.[70]

1947–1952 Cold War in Western Europe: "Empire by invitation"[edit]

Protest against the deployment of Pershing II missiles in Europe, Hague, Netherlands, 1983

Prior to his death in 1945, President Roosevelt was planning to withdraw all U.S. forces from Europe as soon as possible. Soviet actions in Poland and Czechoslovakia led his successor Harry Truman to reconsider. Heavily influenced by George Kennan, Washington policymakers believed that the Soviet Union was an expansionary dictatorship that threatened American interests. In their theory, Moscow's weakness was that it had to keep expanding to survive; and that, by containing or stopping its growth, stability could be achieved in Europe. The result was the Truman Doctrine (1947) regarding Greece and Turkey. A second equally important consideration was the need to restore the world economy, which required the rebuilding and reorganizing of Europe for growth. This matter, more than the Soviet threat, was the main impetus behind the Marshall Plan of 1948. A third factor was the realization, especially by Britain and the three Benelux nations, that American military involvement was needed .[clarification needed] Geir Lundestad has commented on the importance of "the eagerness with which America's friendship was sought and its leadership welcomed.... In Western Europe, America built an empire 'by invitation'"[71] At the same time, the U.S. interfered in Italian and French politics in order to purge elected communist officials who might oppose such invitations.[72]

Post-1954: Korea, Vietnam and "imperial internationalism"[edit]

Outside of Europe, American imperialism was more distinctly hierarchical “with much fainter liberal characteristics.” Cold War policy often found itself opposed to full decolonization, especially in Asia. The United States decision to colonize some of the Pacific islands (which had formerly been held by the Japanese) in the 1940s ran directly counter to America's rhetoric against imperialism. General Douglas MacArthur described the Pacific as an “Anglo-Saxon lake.” At the same time, the U.S. did not claim state control over much mainland territory but cultivated friendly members of the elites of decolonized countries—elites which were often dictatorial, as in South Korea, Indonesia, and South Vietnam.

In South Korea, the U.S. quickly allied with Syngman Rhee, leader of the fight against the People's Republic of Korea that proclaimed a provisional government. The mass call for an independent and unified Korean government was repressed by Rhee's forces, which were overseen by the U.S. Army. This pre-Korean War violence saw the deaths of 100,000 people, the majority of them civilians.[73] With National Security Council document 68 and the subsequent Korean War, the U.S. adopted a policy of “rollback” against communism in Asia. John Tirman, an American political theorist has claimed that this policy was heavily influenced by America's imperialistic policy in Asia in the 19th century, with its goals to Christianizeand Americanize the peasant masses.[74]

In Vietnam, the U.S. eschewed its anti-imperialist rhetoric by materially supporting the French Empire in a colonial counterinsurgency. Influenced by the Grand Area policy, the U.S. eventually assumed total responsibility for war against the Vietnamese communists, including suppressing nationwide elections when it appeared that Ho Chi Minh would win.[75] The ensuing battles led to large-scale antipersonnel operations in South Vietnam, North Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, leading Martin Luther King Jr. to call the American government “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.”[76]

American exceptionalism[edit]Main article: American exceptionalism

On the cover of Puckpublished on April 6, 1901, in the wake of gainful victory in the Spanish–American War, Columbia—the National personification of the U.S.—preens herself with an Easter bonnet in the form of a warship bearing the words "World Power" and the word "Expansion" on the smoke coming out of its stack.

American exceptionalism is the notion that the United States occupies a special position among the nations of the world[77] in terms of its national credo, historical evolution, and political and religious institutions and origins.

Philosopher Douglas Kellner traces the identification of American exceptionalism as a distinct phenomenon back to 19th-century French observer Alexis de Tocqueville, who concluded by agreeing that the U.S., uniquely, was "proceeding along a path to which no limit can be perceived".[78]

President Donald Trump has said that he does not "like the term" American exceptionalism because he thinks it is "insulting the world." He told tea party activists in Texas, "If you're German, or you're from Japan, or you're from China, you don't want to have people saying that."[79]

As a Monthly Review editorial opines on the phenomenon, "In Britain, empire was justified as a benevolent 'white man's burden.' And in the United States, empire does not even exist; 'we' are merely protecting the causes of freedom, democracy and justice worldwide."[80]

Views of American imperialism[edit]

1903 cartoon, "Go Away, Little Man, and Don't Bother Me", depicts President Rooseveltintimidating Colombia to acquire the Panama Canal Zone

Journalist Ashley Smith divides theories of the U.S. imperialism into five broad categories: (1) "liberal" theories, (2) "social-democratic" theories, (3) "Leninist" theories, (4) theories of "super-imperialism", and (5) "Hardt-and-Negri" theories.[81][clarification needed]

There is also a conservative, anti-interventionist view as expressed by American journalist John T. Flynn:

The enemy aggressor is always pursuing a course of larceny, murder, rapine and barbarism. We are always moving forward with high mission, a destiny imposed by the Deity to regenerate our victims, while incidentally capturing their markets; to civilise savage and senile and paranoid peoples, while blundering accidentally into their oil wells.[82]

In 1899, Uncle Sam balances his new possessions which are depicted as savage children. The figures are Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Cuba, Philippines and "Ladrone Island" (Guam, largest of the Mariana Islands, which were formerly known as the Ladrones Islands).

A "social-democratic" theory says that imperialistic U.S. policies are the products of the excessive influence of certain sectors of U.S. business and government—the arms industry in alliance with military and political bureaucracies and sometimes other industries such as oil and finance, a combination often referred to as the "military–industrial complex." The complex is said to benefit from war profiteering and looting natural resources, often at the expense of the public interest.[83] The proposed solution is typically unceasing popular vigilance in order to apply counter-pressure.[84] Chalmers Johnson holds a version of this view.[85]

Alfred Thayer Mahan, who served as an officer in the U.S. Navy during the late 19th century, supported the notion of American imperialism in his 1890 book titled The Influence of Sea Power upon History. Mahan argued that modern industrial nations must secure foreign markets for the purpose of exchanging goods and, consequently, they must maintain a maritime force that is capable of protecting these trade routes.[86][87]

A theory of "super-imperialism" argues that imperialistic U.S. policies are not driven solely by the interests of American businesses, but also by the interests of a larger apparatus of a global alliance among the economic elite in developed countries. The argument asserts that capitalism in the Global North (Europe, the U.S., Japan, and others) has become too entangled to permit military or geopolitical conflict between these countries, and the central conflict in modern imperialism is between the Global North (also referred to as the global core) and the Global South (also referred to as the global periphery), rather than between the imperialist powers.

Political debate after September 11, 2001[edit]

American occupation of Mexico Cityin 1847

Ceremonies during the annexation of the Republic of Hawaii, 1898

Following the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, the idea of American imperialism was re-examined. In November 2001, jubilant marines hoisted an American flag over Kandahar and in a stage display referred to the moment as the third after those on San Juan Hill and Iwo Jima. All moments, writes Neil Smith, express U.S. global ambition. "Labelled a war on terrorism, the new war represents an unprecedented quickening of the American Empire, a third chance at global power."[88]

On October 15, 2001, the cover of Bill Kristol's Weekly Standard carried the headline, "The Case for American Empire".[89] Rich Lowry, editor in chief of the National Review, called for "a kind of low-grade colonialism" to topple dangerous regimes beyond Afghanistan.[90] The columnist Charles Krauthammer declared that, given complete U.S. domination "culturally, economically, technologically and militarily", people were "now coming out of the closet on the word 'empire'".[11] The New York TimesSunday magazine cover for January 5, 2003, read "American Empire: Get Used To It". The phrase "American empire" appeared more than 1000 times in news stories during November 2002 – April 2003.[91]

Academic debates after September 11, 2001[edit]

In 2001–2010 numerous scholars debated the "America as Empire" issue.[92] Harvard historian Charles S. Maier states:

Since September 11, 2001 ... if not earlier, the idea of American empire is back ... Now ... for the first time since the early Twentieth century, it has become acceptable to ask whether the United States has become or is becoming an empire in some classic sense."[93]

Harvard professor Niall Ferguson states:

It used to be that only the critics of American foreign policy referred to the American empire ... In the past three or four years [2001–2004], however, a growing number of commentators have begun to use the term American empire less pejoratively, if still ambivalently, and in some cases with genuine enthusiasm.[94]

French Political scientist Philip Golub argues:

U.S. historians have generally considered the late 19th century imperialist urge as an aberration in an otherwise smooth democratic trajectory ... Yet a century later, as the U.S. empire engages in a new period of global expansion, Rome is once more a distant but essential mirror for American elites ... Now, with military mobilisation on an exceptional scale after September 2001, the United States is openly affirming and parading its imperial power. For the first time since the 1890s, the naked display of force is backed by explicitly imperialist discourse.[95]

A leading spokesman for America-as-Empire is British historian A. G. Hopkins.[96] He argues that by the 21st century traditional economic imperialism was no longer in play, noting that the oil companies opposed the American invasion of Iraq in 2003. Instead, anxieties about The negative impact of globalization on rural and rust-belt America were at work, says Hopkins:These anxieties prepared the way for a conservative revival based on family, faith and flag that enabled the neo-conservatives to transform conservative patriotism into assertive nationalism after 9/11. In the short term, the invasion of Iraq was a manifestation of national unity. Placed in a longer perspective, it reveals a growing divergence between new globalised interests, which rely on cross-border negotiation, and insular nationalist interests, which seek to rebuild fortress America.[97]

CIA's Extraordinary Rendition and Detention Program – countries involved in the Program, according to the 2013 Open Society Foundation's report on torture.[98]

Conservative Harvard professor Niall Ferguson concludes that worldwide military and economic power have combined to make the U.S. the most powerful empire in history. It is a good idea he thinks, because like the successful British Empire in the 19th century it works to globalize free markets, enhanced the rule of law and promote representative government. He fears, however, that Americans lack the long-term commitment in manpower and money to keep the Empire operating.[99]

The U.S. dollar is the de facto world currency.[100] The term petrodollar warfare refers to the alleged motivation of U.S. foreign policy as preserving by force the status of the United States dollar as the world's dominant reserve currency and as the currency in which oil is priced. The term was coined by William R. Clark, who has written a book with the same title. The phrase oil currency war is sometimes used with the same meaning.[101]

Many – perhaps most—scholars have decided that the United States lacks the key essentials of an empire. For example, while there are American military bases around the world, the American soldiers do not rule over the local people, and the United States government does not send out governors or permanent settlers like all the historic empires did.[102] Harvard historian Charles S. Maier has examined the America-as-Empire issue at length. He says the traditional understanding of the word "empire" does not apply, because the United States does not exert formal control over other nations or engage in systematic conquest. The best term is that the United States is a "hegemon." Its enormous influence through high technology, economic power, and impact on popular culture gives it an international outreach that stands in sharp contrast to the inward direction of historic empires.[103][104]

World historian Anthony Pagden asks, Is the United States really an empire?I think if we look at the history of the European empires, the answer must be no. It is often assumed that because America possesses the military capability to become an empire, any overseas interest it does have must necessarily be imperial....In a number of crucial respects, the United States is, indeed, very un-imperial.... America bears not the slightest resemblance to ancient Rome. Unlike all previous European empires, it has no significant overseas settler populations in any of its formal dependencies and no obvious desire to acquire any....It exercises no direct rule anywhere outside these areas, and it has always attempted to extricate itself as swiftly as possible from anything that looks as if it were about to develop into even indirect rule.[105]

A U.S. soldier stands guard duty near a burning oil well in the Rumaila oil field, Iraq, April 2003

In the book "Empire", Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri argue that "the decline of Empire has begun".[106][107] Hardt says the Iraq War is a classically imperialist war and is the last gasp of a doomed strategy.[108] They expand on this, claiming that in the new era of imperialism, the classical imperialists retain a colonizing power of sorts, but the strategy shifts from military occupation of economies based on physical goods to a networked biopower based on an informational and affective economies. They go on to say that the U.S. is central to the development of this new regime of international power and sovereignty, termed "Empire", but that it is decentralized and global, and not ruled by one sovereign state: "The United States does indeed occupy a privileged position in Empire, but this privilege derives not from its similarities to the old European imperialist powers, but from its differences."[109] Hardt and Negri draw on the theories of Spinoza, Foucault, Deleuze and Italian autonomist Marxists.[110][111]

Geographer David Harvey says there has emerged a new type of imperialism due to geographical distinctions as well as unequal rates of development.[112] He says there have emerged three new global economic and political blocs: the United States, the European Union, and Asia centered on China and Russia.[113][verification needed] He says there are tensions between the three major blocs over resources and economic power, citing the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the motive of which, he argues, was to prevent rival blocs from controlling oil.[114] Furthermore, Harvey argues that there can arise conflict within the major blocs between business interests and the politicians due to their sometimes incongruent economic interests.[115] Politicians live in geographically fixed locations and are, in the U.S. and Europe,[verification needed] accountable to an electorate. The 'new' imperialism, then, has led to an alignment of the interests of capitalists and politicians in order to prevent the rise and expansion of possible economic and political rivals from challenging America's dominance.[116]

Naval Base Guam in the U.S. territory of Guam

Classics professor and war historian Victor Davis Hanson dismisses the notion of an American Empire altogether, with a mocking comparison to historical empires: "We do not send out proconsuls to reside over client states, which in turn impose taxes on coerced subjects to pay for the legions. Instead, American bases are predicated on contractual obligations — costly to us and profitable to their hosts. We do not see any profits in Korea, but instead accept the risk of losing almost 40,000 of our youth to ensure that Kias can flood our shores and that shaggy students can protest outside our embassy in Seoul."[117]

The existence of "proconsuls", however, has been recognized by many since the early Cold War. In 1957, French Historian Amaury de Riencourt associated the American "proconsul" with "the Roman of our time."[118] Expert on recent American history, Arthur M. Schlesinger, detected several contemporary imperial features, including "proconsuls." Washington does not directly run many parts of the world. Rather, its "informal empire" was one "richly equipped with imperial paraphernalia: troops, ships, planes, bases, proconsuls, local collaborators, all spread wide around the luckless planet."[119]"The Supreme Allied Commander, always an American, was an appropriate title for the American proconsul whose reputation and influence outweighed those of European premiers, presidents, and chancellors."[120] U.S. "combatant commanders ... have served as its proconsuls. Their standing in their regions has usually dwarfed that of ambassadors and assistant secretaries of state."[121]

Enlargement of NATO

Harvard Historian Niall Ferguson calls the regional combatant commanders, among whom the whole globe is divided, the "pro-consuls" of this "imperium."[122]Günter Bischof calls them "the all powerful proconsuls of the new American empire. Like the proconsuls of Rome they were supposed to bring order and law to the unruly and anarchical world."[123] In September 2000, Washington Post reporter Dana Priest published a series of articles whose central premise was Combatant Commanders' inordinate amount of political influence within the countries in their areas of responsibility. They "had evolved into the modern-day equivalent of the Roman Empire's proconsuls—well-funded, semi-autonomous, unconventional centers of U.S. foreign policy."[124] The Romans often preferred to exercise power through friendly client regimes, rather than direct rule: "Until Jay Garner and L. Paul Bremer became U.S. proconsuls in Baghdad, that was the American method, too".[125]

Another distinction of Victor Davis Hanson—that US bases, contrary to the legions, are costly to America and profitable for their hosts—expresses the American view. The hosts express a diametrically opposite view. Japan pays for 25,000 Japanese working on US bases. 20% of those workers provide entertainment: a list drawn up by the Japanese Ministry of Defense included 76 bartenders, 48 vending machine personnel, 47 golf course maintenance personnel, 25 club managers, 20 commercial artists, 9 leisure-boat operators, 6 theater directors, 5 cake decorators, 4 bowling alley clerks, 3 tour guides and 1 animal caretaker. Shu Watanabe of the Democratic Party of Japan asks: "Why does Japan need to pay the costs for US service members' entertainment on their holidays?"[126] One research on host nations support concludes:

A convoy of U.S. soldiers during the American-led intervention in the Syrian Civil War, December 2018

At an alliance-level analysis, case studies of South Korea and Japan show that the necessity of the alliance relationship with the U.S. and their relative capabilities to achieve security purposes lead them to increase the size of direct economic investment to support the U.S. forces stationed in their territories, as well as to facilitate the US global defense posture. In addition, these two countries have increased their political and economic contribution to the U.S.-led military operations beyond the geographic scope of the alliance in the post-Cold War period ... Behavioral changes among the U.S. allies in response to demands for sharing alliance burdens directly indicate the changed nature of unipolar alliances. In order to maintain its power preponderance and primacy, the unipole has imposed greater pressure on its allies to devote much of their resources and energy to contributing to its global defense posture ... [It] is expected that the systemic properties of unipolarity–non-structural threat and a power preponderance of the unipole–gradually increase the political and economic burdens of the allies in need of maintaining alliance relationships with the unipole.[127]

In fact, increasing the "economic burdens of the allies" is one of the major priorities of President Donald Trump.[128][129][130][131] Classicist Eric Adler notes that Hanson earlier had written about the decline of the classical studies in the United States and insufficient attention devoted to the classical experience. "When writing about American foreign policy for a lay audience, however, Hanson himself chose to castigate Roman imperialism in order to portray the modern United States as different from—and superior to—the Roman state."[132] As a supporter of a hawkish unilateral American foreign policy, Hanson's "distinctly negative view of Roman imperialism is particularly noteworthy, since it demonstrates the importance a contemporary supporter of a hawkish American foreign policy places on criticizing Rome."[132]

U.S. foreign policy debate[edit]Further information: Military history of the United States and Overseas interventions of the United States

Map of the United States and directly controlled territories at its greatest extent from 1898 to 1902, after the Spanish–American War

Annexation is a crucial instrument in the expansion of a nation, due to the fact that once a territory is annexed it must act within the confines of its superior counterpart. The United States Congress' ability to annex a foreign territory is explained in a report from the Congressional Committee on Foreign Relations, "If, in the judgment of Congress, such a measure is supported by a safe and wise policy, or is based upon a natural duty that we owe to the people of Hawaii, or is necessary for our national development and security, that is enough to justify annexation, with the consent of the recognized government of the country to be annexed."[133]

Prior to annexing a territory, the American government still held immense power through the various legislations passed in the late 1800s. The Platt Amendment was utilized to prevent Cuba from entering into any agreement with foreign nations and also granted the Americans the right to build naval stations on their soil.[134] Executive officials in the American government began to determine themselves the supreme authority in matters regarding the recognition or restriction of independence.[134]

When asked on April 28, 2003, on Al Jazeera whether the United States was "empire building," Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld replied, "We don't seek empires. We're not imperialistic. We never have been."[135]

However, historian Donald W. Meinig says imperial behavior by the United States dates at least to the Louisiana Purchase, which he describes as an "imperial acquisition—imperial in the sense of the aggressive encroachment of one people upon the territory of another, resulting in the subjugation of that people to alien rule." The U.S. policies towards the Native Americans, he said, were "designed to remold them into a people more appropriately conformed to imperial desires."[136]

A map of Central America, showing the places affected by Theodore Roosevelt’s Big Stick policy

Writers and academics of the early 20th century, like Charles A. Beard, in support of non-interventionism (sometimes referred to as "isolationism"), discussed American policy as being driven by self-interested expansionism going back as far as the writing of the Constitution. Many politicians today do not agree. Pat Buchanan claims that the modern United States' drive to empire is "far removed from what the Founding Fathers had intended the young Republic to become."[137]

Andrew Bacevich argues that the U.S. did not fundamentally change its foreign policy after the Cold War, and remains focused on an effort to expand its control across the world.[138] As the surviving superpower at the end of the Cold War, the U.S. could focus its assets in new directions, the future being "up for grabs," according to former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Paul Wolfowitz in 1991.[139] Head of the Olin Institute for Strategic Studies at Harvard University, Stephen Peter Rosen, maintains:

A political unit that has overwhelming superiority in military power, and uses that power to influence the internal behavior of other states, is called an empire. Because the United States does not seek to control territory or govern the overseas citizens of the empire, we are an indirect empire, to be sure, but an empire nonetheless. If this is correct, our goal is not combating a rival, but maintaining our imperial position and maintaining imperial order.[140]

In Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media, the political activist Noam Chomsky argues that exceptionalism and the denials of imperialism are the result of a systematic strategy of propaganda, to "manufacture opinion" as the process has long been described in other countries.[141]

Thorton wrote that "[...]imperialism is more often the name of the emotion that reacts to a series of events than a definition of the events themselves. Where colonization finds analysts and analogies, imperialism must contend with crusaders for and against."[142] Political theorist Michael Walzer argues that the term hegemony is better than empire to describe the U.S.'s role in the world.[143] Political scientist Robert Keohane agrees saying, a "balanced and nuanced analysis is not aided ... by the use of the word 'empire' to describe United States hegemony, since 'empire' obscures rather than illuminates the differences in form of rule between the United States and other Great Powers, such as Great Britain in the 19th century or the Soviet Union in the twentieth".[144]

Since 2001,[145] Emmanuel Todd assumes the U.S.A. cannot hold for long the status of mondial hegemonic power, due to limited resources. Instead, the U.S.A. is going to become just one of the major regional powers along with European Union, China, Russia, etc. Reviewing Todd's After the Empire, G. John Ikenberry found that it had been written in "a fit of French wishful thinking."[146]

Other political scientists, such as Daniel Nexon and Thomas Wright, argue that neither term exclusively describes foreign relations of the United States. The U.S. can be, and has been, simultaneously an empire and a hegemonic power. They claim that the general trend in U.S. foreign relations has been away from imperial modes of control.[147]

Cultural imperialism[edit]

McDonald's in Saint Petersburg, Russia

Some critics of imperialism argue that military and cultural imperialism are interdependent. American Edward Said, one of the founders of post-colonial theory, said,

... so influential has been the discourse insisting on American specialness, altruism and opportunity, that imperialism in the United States as a word or ideology has turned up only rarely and recently in accounts of the United States culture, politics and history. But the connection between imperial politics and culture in North America, and in particular in the United States, is astonishingly direct.[148]

International relations scholar David Rothkopf disagrees and argues that cultural imperialism is the innocent result of globalization, which allows access to numerous U.S. and Western ideas and products that many non-U.S. and non-Western consumers across the world voluntarily choose to consume.[149] Matthew Fraser has a similar analysis but argues further that the global cultural influence of the U.S. is a good thing.[150]

Nationalism is the main process through which the government is able to shape public opinion. Propaganda in the media is strategically placed in order to promote a common attitude among the people. Louis A. Perez Jr. provides an example of propaganda used during the war of 1898, "We are coming, Cuba, coming; we are bound to set you free! We are coming from the mountains, from the plains and inland sea! We are coming with the wrath of God to make the Spaniards flee! We are coming, Cuba, coming; coming now!"[134]

In contrast, many other countries with American brands have incorporated themselves into their own local culture. An example of this would be the self-styled "Maccas," an Australian derivation of "McDonald's" with a tinge of Australian culture.[151]

U.S. military bases[edit]

U.S. military presence around the world in 2007. As of 2013, the U.S. still had many bases and troops stationed globally.[152] Their presence has generated controversy and opposition.[153][154]  More than 1,000 U.S. troops  100–1,000 U.S. troops  Use of military facilitiesFurther information: List of United States military bases

Combined Air and Space Operations Center (CAOC) at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, 2015

Chalmers Johnson argued in 2004 that America's version of the colony is the military base.[155] Chip Pitts argued similarly in 2006 that enduring U.S. bases in Iraqsuggested a vision of "Iraq as a colony."[156]

While territories such as Guam, the United States Virgin Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, and Puerto Rico remain under U.S. control, the U.S. allowed many of its overseas territories or occupations to gain independence after World War II. Examples include the Philippines (1946), the Panama Canal Zone (1979), Palau (1981), the Federated States of Micronesia (1986), and the Marshall Islands (1986). Most of them still have U.S. bases within their territories. In the case of Okinawa, which came under U.S. administration after the Battle of Okinawa during the Second World War, this happened despite local popular opinion on the island.[157] In 2003, a Department of Defense distribution found the United States had bases in over 36 countries worldwide,[158] including the Camp Bondsteel base in the disputed territory of Kosovo.[159] Since 1959, Cuba has regarded the U.S. presence in Guantánamo Bay as illegal.[160]

By 1970,[needs update] the United States had more than one million soldiers in 30 countries,[citation needed] was a member of four regional defense alliances and an active participant in a fifth, had mutual defense treaties with 42 nations, was a member of 53 international organizations, and was furnishing military or economic aid to nearly 100 nations across the face of the globe.[161] In 2015 the Department of Defense reported the number of bases that had any military or civilians stationed or employed was 587. This includes land only (where no facilities are present), facility or facilities only (where there the underlying land is neither owned nor controlled by the government), and land with facilities (where both are present).[162]

Also in 2015, David Vine's book Base Nation, found 800 U.S. military bases located outside of the U.S., including 174 bases in Germany, 113 in Japan, and 83 in South Korea. The total cost: an estimated $100 billion a year.[163]

According to The Huffington Post, "The 45 nations and territories with little or no democratic rule represent more than half of the roughly 80 countries now hosting U.S. bases. ... Research by political scientist Kent Calder confirms what's come to be known as the "dictatorship hypothesis": The United States tends to support dictators [and other undemocratic regimes] in nations where it enjoys basing facilities."[164]

Support[edit]Main articles: Neoconservatism and Monroe Doctrine

Political cartoon depicting Theodore Roosevelt using the Monroe Doctrine to keep European powers out of the Dominican Republic.

One of the earliest historians of American Empire, William Appleman Williams, wrote, "The routine lust for land, markets or security became justifications for noble rhetoric about prosperity, liberty and security."[165]

Max Boot defends U.S. imperialism, writing, "U.S. imperialism has been the greatest force for good in the world during the past century. It has defeated communism and Nazism and has intervened against the Taliban and Serbian ethnic cleansing."[166] Boot used "imperialism" to describe United States policy, not only in the early 20th century but "since at least 1803."[166][167] This embrace of empire is made by other neoconservatives, including British historian Paul Johnson, and writers Dinesh D'Souza and Mark Steyn. It is also made by some liberal hawks, such as political scientists Zbigniew Brzezinski and Michael Ignatieff.[168]

British historian Niall Ferguson argues that the United States is an empire and believes that this is a good thing: "What is not allowed is to say that the United States is an empire and that this might not be wholly bad."[169] Ferguson has drawn parallels between the British Empire and the imperial role of the United States in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, though he describes the United States' political and social structures as more like those of the Roman Empire than of the British. Ferguson argues that all of these empires have had both positive and negative aspects, but that the positive aspects of the U.S. empire will, if it learns from history and its mistakes, greatly outweigh its negative aspects.[170]

Another point of view implies that United States expansion overseas has indeed been imperialistic, but that this imperialism is only a temporary phenomenon, a corruption of American ideals, or the relic of a past era. Historian Samuel Flagg Bemis argues that Spanish–American War expansionism was a short-lived imperialistic impulse and "a great aberration in American history," a very different form of territorial growth than that of earlier American history.[171] Historian Walter LaFeber sees the Spanish–American War expansionism not as an aberration, but as a culmination of United States expansion westward.[172]

Historian Victor Davis Hanson argues that the U.S. does not pursue world domination, but maintains worldwide influence by a system of mutually beneficial exchanges.[117] On the other hand, Filipino revolutionary General Emilio Aguinaldo felt as though American involvement in the Philippines was destructive: "The Filipinos fighting for Liberty, the American people fighting them to give them liberty. The two peoples are fighting on parallel lines for the same object."[173] American influence worldwide and the effects it has on other nations have multiple interpretations.

Liberal internationalists argue that even though the present world order is dominated by the United States, the form taken by that dominance is not imperial. International relations scholar John Ikenberryargues that international institutions have taken the place of empire.[146]

International relations scholar Joseph Nye argues that U.S. power is more and more based on "soft power," which comes from cultural hegemony rather than raw military or economic force. This includes such factors as the widespread desire to emigrate to the United States, the prestige and corresponding high proportion of foreign students at U.S. universities, and the spread of U.S. styles of popular music and cinema. Mass immigration into America may justify this theory, but it is hard to know whether the United States would still maintain its prestige without its military and economic superiority.,[174] In terms of soft power, Giles Scott-Smith, argues that American universities:[175]acted as magnets for attracting up-and-coming elites, who were keen to acquire the skills, qualifications and prestige that came with the ‘Made in the USA’ trademark. This is a subtle, long-term form of ‘soft power’ that has required only limited intervention by the US government to function successfully. It conforms to Samuel Huntington’s view that American power rarely sought to acquire foreign territories, preferring instead to penetrate them — culturally, economically and politically — in such a way as to secure acquiescence for US interests.[176][177]

See also[edit]


United States portal


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Further reading[edit]

Boundless US History
The Gilded Age: 1870–1900
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American Imperialism

American Imperialism
“American imperialism” is a term that refers to the economic, military, and cultural influence of the United States internationally.

Define American imperialism

Key Points
The late nineteenth century was known as the “Age of Imperialism,” a time when the United States and other major world powers rapidly expanded their territorial possessions.
American imperialism is partly based on American exceptionalism, the idea that the United States is different from other countries because of its specific world mission to spread liberty and democracy.
One of the most notable instances of American imperialism was the annexation of Hawaii in 1898, which allowed the United States to gain possession and control of all ports, buildings, harbors, military equipment, and public property that had belonged to the Government of the Hawaiian Islands.
Some groups, such as the American Anti-Imperialist League, opposed imperialism on the grounds that it conflicted with the American ideal of Republicans and the “consent of the governed.”
Key Terms
Social Darwinism: An ideology that seeks to apply biological concepts of Darwinism or evolutionary theory to sociology and politics, often under the assumption that conflict between societal groups leads to social progress, as superior groups surpass inferior ones.
American Exceptionalism: A belief, central to American political culture since the Revolution, that Americans have a unique mission among nations to spread freedom and democracy.
The American Anti-Imperialist League: An organization established in the United States on June 15, 1898, to battle the American annexation of the Philippines as an insular area.
American Imperialism: A term that refers to the economic, military, and cultural influence of the United States on other countries.
Expansion and Power
“American imperialism” is a term that refers to the economic, military, and cultural influence of the United States on other countries. First popularized during the presidency of James K. Polk, the concept of an “American Empire” was made a reality throughout the latter half of the 1800s. During this time, industrialization caused American businessmen to seek new international markets in which to sell their goods. In addition, the increasing influence of social Darwinism led to the belief that the United States was inherently responsible for bringing concepts such as industry, democracy, and Christianity to less developed “savage” societies. The combination of these attitudes and other factors led the United States toward imperialism.

“Ten Thousand Miles from Tip to Tip”: “Ten Thousand Miles from Tip to Tip,” refers to the extension of U.S. domination (symbolized by a bald eagle) from Puerto Rico to the Philippines. The cartoon contrasts the 1898 representation with that of the United States in 1798.

American imperialism is partly rooted in American exceptionalism, the idea that the United States is different from other countries due to its specific world mission to spread liberty and democracy. This theory often is traced back to the words of 1800s French observer Alexis de Tocqueville, who concluded that the United States was a unique nation, “proceeding along a path to which no limit can be perceived.”

Pinpointing the actual beginning of American imperialism is difficult. Some historians suggest that it began with the writing of the Constitution; historian Donald W. Meinig argues that the imperial behavior of the United States dates back to at least the Louisiana Purchase. He describes this event as an, “aggressive encroachment of one people upon the territory of another, resulting in the subjugation of that people to alien rule.” Here, he is referring to the U.S. policies toward Native Americans, which he said were, “designed to remold them into a people more appropriately conformed to imperial desires.”

Uncle Sam teaching the world: This caricature shows Uncle Sam lecturing four children labelled “Philippines,” “Hawaii,” “Puerto Rico,” and “Cuba” in front of children holding books labeled with various U.S. states. In the background, an American Indian holds a book upside down, a Chinese boy stands at the door, and a black boy cleans a window. The blackboard reads, “The consent of the governed is a good thing in theory, but very rare in fact… the U.S. must govern its new territories with or without their consent until they can govern themselves.”

Whatever its origins, American imperialism experienced its pinnacle from the late 1800s through the years following World War II. During this “Age of Imperialism,” the United States exerted political, social, and economic control over countries such as the Philippines, Cuba, Germany, Austria, Korea, and Japan. One of the most notable examples of American imperialism in this age was the annexation of Hawaii in 1898, which allowed the United States to gain possession and control of all ports, buildings, harbors, military equipment, and public property that had formally belonged to the Government of the Hawaiian Islands. On January 17, 1893, the last monarch of the Kingdom of Hawaii, Queen Liliuokalani, was deposed in a coup d’état led largely by American citizens who were opposed to Liliuokalani’s attempt to establish a new Constitution. This action eventually resulted in Hawaii’s becoming America’s 50th state in 1959.

Opposition to Imperialism
The American Anti-Imperialist League was an organization established in the United States on June 15, 1898, to battle the American annexation of the Philippines as an insular area. The League also argued that the Spanish-American War was a war of imperialism camouflaged as a war of liberation. The anti-imperialists opposed the expansion because they believed imperialism violated the credo of republicanism, especially the need for “consent of the governed.” They did not oppose expansion on commercial, constitutional, religious, or humanitarian grounds; rather, they believed that the annexation and administration of third-world tropical areas would mean the abandonment of American ideals of self-government and isolation—ideals expressed in the U.S. Declaration of Independence, George Washington ‘s Farewell Address, and Abraham Lincoln ‘s Gettysburg Address. The Anti-Imperialist League represented an older generation and was rooted in an earlier era; they were defeated in terms of public opinion, the 1900 election, and the actions of Congress and the president because most younger Progressives who were just coming to power supported imperialism.

The Spanish-American War
The Spanish-American War was a three-month-long conflict in 1898 between Spain and the United States.

Analyze the Spanish-American War

Key Points
The Spanish-American War was the result of American intervention in the ongoing Cuban War of Independence with Spain.
The war served to further repair relations between the American North and South. The war gave both sides a common enemy for the first time since the end of the Civil War in 1865, and many friendships were formed between soldiers of Northern and Southern states during their tours of duty.
The war marked American entry into world affairs. Since then, the United States has had a significant hand in various conflicts around the world, and has entered into many treaties and agreements.
The defeat of Spain marked the end of the Spanish Empire.
Key Terms
expansionism: The policy of expanding a nation’s territory or its economic influence.
The Spanish-American War was a conflict in 1898 between Spain and the United States. It was the result of American intervention in the ongoing Cuban War of Independence. American attacks on Spain’s Pacific possessions led to U.S. involvement in the Philippine Revolution and ultimately to the Philippine-American War.

Revolts against Spanish rule had been endemic for decades in Cuba and were closely watched by Americans. With the abolition of slavery in 1886, former slaves joined the ranks of farmers and the urban working class, many wealthy Cubans lost their property, and the number of sugar mills declined. Only companies and the most powerful plantation owners remained in business, and during this period, U.S. financial capital began flowing into the country. Although it remained Spanish territory politically, Cuba started to depend on the United States economically. Coincidentally, around the same time, Cuba saw the rise of labor movements.

Following his second deportation to Spain in 1878, revolutionary José Martí moved to the United States in 1881. There he mobilized the support of the Cuban exile community, especially in southern Florida. He aimed for a revolution and independence from Spain, but also lobbied against the U.S. annexation of Cuba, which some American and Cuban politicians desired.

By 1897–1898, American public opinion grew angrier at reports of Spanish atrocities in Cuba. After the mysterious sinking of the American battleship Maine in Havana harbor, political pressures from the Democratic Party pushed the administration of Republican President William McKinley into a war he had wished to avoid. Compromise proved impossible, resulting in the United States sending an ultimatum to Spain that demanded it immediately surrender control of Cuba, which the Spanish rejected. First Madrid, then Washington, formally declared war.

The War
Although the main issue was Cuban independence, the 10-week war was fought in both the Caribbean and the Pacific. American naval power proved decisive, allowing U.S. expeditionary forces to disembark in Cuba against a Spanish garrison already reeling from nationwide insurgent attacks and wasted by yellow fever.

The Spanish-American War was swift and decisive. During the war’s three-month duration, not a single American reverse of any importance occurred. A week after the declaration of war, Commodore George Dewey of the six-warship Asiatic Squadron (then based at Hong Kong) steamed his fleet to the Philippines. Dewey caught the entire Spanish armada at anchor in Manila Bay and destroyed it without losing an American life.

Cuban, Philippine, and American forces obtained the surrender of Santiago de Cuba and Manila as a result of their numerical superiority in most of the battles and despite the good performance of some Spanish infantry units and spirited defenses in places such as San Juan Hill. Madrid sued for peace after two obsolete Spanish squadrons were sunk in Santiago de Cuba and Manila Bay. A third more modern fleet was recalled home to protect the Spanish coasts.

The Treaty of Paris
The result of the war was the 1898 Treaty of Paris, negotiated on terms favorable to the United States. It allowed temporary American control of Cuba and indefinite colonial authority over Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines following their purchase from Spain. The defeat and collapse of the Spanish Empire was a profound shock to Spain’s national psyche, and provoked a movement of thoroughgoing philosophical and artistic reevaluation of Spanish society known as the “Generation of ’98.” The victor gained several island possessions spanning the globe, which caused a rancorous new debate over the wisdom of expansionism.

Legacy of the War
The cartoon shows Uncle Sam standing on the United States, clawing at the Cuba and the surrounding area.
“La Fatlera del Oncle Sam”: A Catalan satirical drawing, published in La Campana de Gràcia (1896), criticizing U.S. behavior regarding Cuba.

The war marked American entry into world affairs. Before the Spanish-American War, the United States was characterized by isolationism, an approach to foreign policy that asserts that a nation’s interests are best served by keeping the affairs of other countries at a distance. Since the Spanish-American War, the United States has had a significant hand in various conflicts around the world, and has entered many treaties and agreements. The Panic of 1893 was over by this point, and the United States entered a long and prosperous period of economic and population growth and technological innovation that lasted through the 1920s. The war redefined national identity, served as a solution of sorts to the social divisions plaguing the American mind, and provided a model for all future news reporting.

The war also effectively ended the Spanish Empire. Spain had been declining as an imperial power since the early nineteenth century as a result of Napoleon’s invasion. The loss of Cuba caused a national trauma because of the affinity of peninsular Spaniards with Cuba, which was seen as another province of Spain rather than as a colony. Spain retained only a handful of overseas holdings: Spanish West Africa, Spanish Guinea, Spanish Sahara, Spanish Morocco, and the Canary Islands.

Markets and Missionaries
Progressive Era evangelism included strong political, social, and economic messages, which urged adherents to improve their society.

Identify the Social Gospel movement and the American Missionary Association

Key Points
The Social Gospel was the religious wing of the Progressive movement, which aimed to combat injustice, suffering, and poverty in society.
The American Missionary Association established schools and colleges for African Americans in the post-Civil War period.
The Social Gospel movement was not a unified and well-focused movement, as there were disagreements among members.
Key Terms
Social Gospel: A Protestant Christian intellectual movement that was most prominent in the early twentieth-century United States and Canada that applied Christian ethics to social problems.
American Missionary Association: An organization supporting the education of freed blacks that founded hundreds of schools and colleges.
Evangelical: Of or relating to any of several Christian churches that believe in the sole authority of the gospels.
The Social Gospel Movement
The Social Gospel was a Protestant movement that was most prominent in the early twentieth-century United States and Canada. The movement applied Christian ethics to social problems, especially issues of social justice such as economic inequality, poverty, alcoholism, crime, racial tensions, slums, unclean environments, child labor, inadequate labor unions, poor schools, and the danger of war.

In the United States, prior to World War I, the Social Gospel was the religious wing of the Progressive movement, which aimed to combat injustice, suffering, and poverty in society. Denver, Colorado, was a center of Social Gospel activism. Thomas Uzzell led the Methodist People’s Tabernacle from 1885 to 1910. He established a free dispensary for medical emergencies, an employment bureau for job seekers, a summer camp for children, night schools for extended learning, and English language classes. Myron Reed of the First Congregational Church became a spokesman for labor unions on issues such as worker’s compensation. His middle-class congregation encouraged Reed to move on when he became a Socialist, and he organized a nondenominational church. Baptist minister Jim Goodhart set up an employment bureau, and provided food and lodging for tramps and hobos at the mission he ran. He became city chaplain and director of public welfare of Denver in 1918. In addition to these Protestants, Reform Jews and Catholics helped build Denver’s social welfare system in the early twentieth century.

Walter Rauschenbusch and Dwight Moody
Pastor Dwight Moody, ca.1900: Portrait of Pastor Dwight Moody: preacher, evangelist, and publisher in the Social Gospel movement.

One of the defining theologians for the Social Gospel movement was Walter Rauschenbusch, a Baptist pastor of a congregation located in Hell’s Kitchen in New York City. Rauschenbusch railed against what he regarded as the selfishness of capitalism and promoted a form of Christian Socialism that supported the creation of labor unions and cooperative economics.

While pastors such as Rauschenbusch were combining their expertise in Biblical ethics and economic studies and research to preach theological claims around the need for social reform, others such as Dwight Moody refused to preach about social issues based on personal experience. Pastor Moody’s experience led him to believe that the poor were too particular in receiving charity. Moody claimed that concentrating on social aid distracted people from the life-saving message of the Gospel.

Rauschenbusch sought to address the problems of the city with Socialist ideas that proved to be frightening to the middle classes, the primary supporters of the Social Gospel. In contrast, Moody attempted to save people from the city and was very effective in influencing middle-class Americans who were moving into the city with traditional style revivals.

The American Missionary Association
The American Missionary Association (AMA) was a Protestant-based abolitionist group founded on September 3, 1846, in Albany, New York. The main purpose of this organization was to abolish slavery, educate African Americans, advocate for racial equality, and promote Christian values. Its members and leaders were both black and white and chiefly affiliated with Congregationalist, Methodist, and Presbyterian churches.

The AMA started The American Missionary magazine, which published from 1846 through 1934. Among its efforts was the founding of antislavery churches. For instance, the abolitionist Owen Lovejoy was among the Congregational ministers of the AMA who helped plant 115 antislavery churches in Illinois before the American Civil War, aided by the strong westward migration of individuals from the East. While the AMA became notable in the United States for its work in opposition to slavery and in support of education for freed men, it also worked in missions in numerous nations overseas. The nineteenth-century missionary effort was strong in China and east Asia.

While the Social Gospel was short-lived historically, it had a lasting impact on the policies of most of the mainline denominations in the United States. Most began programs for social reform, which led to ecumenical cooperation in 1910 during the formation of the Federal Council of Churches (although cooperation regarding social issues often led to charges of Socialism). It is likely that the Social Gospel’s strong sense of leadership by the people led to women’s suffrage, and that the emphasis it placed on morality led to prohibition. Biographer Randall Woods argues that Social Gospel themes learned from childhood allowed Lyndon B. Johnson to transform social problems into moral problems. This helps explain his longtime commitment to social justice, as exemplified by the Great Society, and his commitment to racial equality. The Social Gospel explicitly inspired his foreign-policy approach of a sort of Christian internationalism and nation building.

The Open Door Policy
The Open Door Policy aimed to keep the Chinese trade market open to all countries on an equal basis.

Identify the Open Door Policy and the Monroe Doctrine

Key Points
The Open Door Policy was established in 1899 and stated that all European nations and the United States could trade with China with equal standing.
The Monroe Doctrine stated that efforts by European nations to colonize or interfere with states in North or South America would be viewed as acts of aggression toward the United States and that the United States would neither interfere with existing European colonies nor meddle in the internal European affairs.
Key Terms
Open Door Policy: A doctrine that governed the relationship between China and the imperial powers (Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, America, and Japan) during the early 1900s. The policy forbade the imperial powers from taking Chinese territory and from interfering with one another’s economic activities in China.
Monroe Doctrine: A U.S. foreign policy regarding domination of the Americas, which aimed to free the newly independent colonies of Latin America from European intervention.
The “Open Door Policy” refers to a U.S. doctrine established in the late nineteenth century and the early twentieth century, as expressed in Secretary of State John Hay’s “Open Door Note,” dated September 6, 1899, and dispatched to the major European powers. The policy proposed to keep China open to trade with all countries on an equal basis, keeping any one power from total control of the country, and calling upon all powers, within their spheres of influence, to refrain from interfering with any treaty port or any vested interest, to permit Chinese authorities to collect tariffs on an equal basis, and to show no favors to their own nationals in the matter of harbor dues or railroad charges.

The Open Door policy was rooted in the desire of U.S. businesses to trade with Chinese markets, though the policy’s pledging to protect China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity from partition also tapped the deep-seated sympathies of those who opposed imperialism. In practice, the policy had little legal standing; it was mainly used to mediate competing interests of the colonial powers without much meaningful input from the Chinese, which created lingering resentment and caused it to be seen later as a symbol of national humiliation by many Chinese historians.

Formation of the Policy
During the First Sino-Japanese War in 1895, China faced an imminent threat of being partitioned and colonized by imperialist powers such as Britain, France, Russia, Japan, and Germany. After winning the Spanish-American War of 1898, and with the newly acquired territory of the Philippine Islands, the United States increased its Asian presence and was expecting to further its commercial and political interest in China. The United States felt threatened by other powers’ much larger spheres of influence in China and worried that it might lose access to the Chinese market should the country be partitioned.

As a response, William Woodville Rockhill formulated the Open Door Policy to safeguard American business opportunities and other interests in China. On September 6, 1899, U.S. Secretary of State John Hay sent notes to the major powers (France, Germany, Britain, Italy, Japan, and Russia), asking them to declare formally that they would uphold Chinese territorial and administrative integrity and would not interfere with the free use of the treaty ports within their spheres of influence in China. The Open Door Policy stated that all nations, including the United States, could enjoy equal access to the Chinese market.

In reply, each country tried to evade Hay’s request, taking the position that it could not commit itself until the other nations had complied. However, by July 1900, Hay announced that each of the powers had granted consent in principle. Although treaties made after 1900 refer to the Open Door Policy, competition among the various powers for special concessions within China for railroad rights, mining rights, loans, foreign trade ports, and so forth, continued unabated.

The Monroe Doctrine
The Monroe Doctrine was a U.S. foreign policy regarding domination of the Americas in 1823. It stated that further efforts by European nations to colonize land or interfere with states in North or South America would be viewed as acts of aggression, requiring U.S. intervention. At the same time, the doctrine noted that the United States would neither interfere with existing European colonies nor meddle in the internal concerns of European countries. The Doctrine was issued in 1823 at a time when nearly all Latin American colonies of Spain and Portugal had achieved, or were at the point of gaining, independence from the Portuguese and Spanish Empires.

The cartoon shows Uncle Sam standing on a map of the Western Hemisphere. His top hat, ornamented with stars, stripes, and the label "Monroe Doctrine," rests on Central and South America. A number of men look on from a distance in the Eastern Hemisphere.
Monroe Doctrine: A 1912 newspaper cartoon about the Monroe Doctrine.

President James Monroe first stated the doctrine during his seventh-annual State of the Union Address to Congress. The term “Monroe Doctrine” itself was coined in 1850. By the end of the nineteenth century, Monroe’s declaration was seen as a defining moment in the foreign policy of the United States and one of its longest-standing tenets. It would be invoked by many U.S. statesmen and several U.S. presidents, including Ulysses S. Grant, Theodore Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, and many others.

The intent and impact of the Monroe Doctrine persisted with only minor variations for more than a century. Its stated objective was to free the newly independent colonies of Latin America from European intervention and avoid situations that could make the New World a battleground for the Old World powers, so that the United States could exert its own influence undisturbed. The doctrine asserted that the New World and the Old World were to remain distinctly separate spheres of influence, for they were composed of entirely separate and independent nations.

Inherent in the Monroe Doctrine are the themes of American exceptionalism and Manifest Destiny, two ideas that refer to the right of the United States to exert its influence over the rest of the world. Under these conditions, the Monroe Doctrine was used to justify American intervention abroad multiple times throughout the nineteenth century, most notably in the Spanish-American War and with the annexation of Hawaii.

The Philippine-American War
The Philippine-American War was an armed conflict that resulted in American colonial rule of the Philippines until 1946.

Analyze the Philippine-American War

Key Points
The Philippine-American War was part of a series of conflicts in the Philippine struggle for independence, preceded by the Philippine Revolution (1896) and the Spanish-American War.
The conflict arose from the struggle of the First Philippine Republic to gain independence following annexation by the United States.
The war and U.S. occupation changed the cultural landscape of the islands. Examples of this include the disestablishment of the Catholic Church as the Philippine state religion and the introduction of the English language as the primary language of government and business.
The United States officially took control of the Philippines in 1902. In 1916, the United States promised some self-government, a limited form of which was established in 1935. In 1946, following World War II, the United States gave the territory independence through the Treaty of Manila.
Key Terms
Philippine Revolution of 1896: An armed conflict in which Philippine revolutionaries tried to win national independence from Spanish colonial rule. Power struggles among the revolutionaries and conflict with Spanish forces continued throughout the Spanish-American War.
Battle of Manila: The battle that began the Philippine-American War of 1899.
American Anti-Imperialist League: A U.S. organization that opposed American control of the Philippines and viewed it as a violation of republican principles. The group also believed in free trade, the gold standard, and limited government.
The Philippine-American War, also known as the “Philippine War of Independence” or the “Philippine Insurrection” (1899–1902), was an armed conflict between the United States and Filipino revolutionaries. The conflict arose after the Philippine Revolution of 1896, from the First Philippine Republic’s struggle to gain independence following annexation by the United States.

The conflict arose when the First Philippine Republic objected to the terms of the Treaty of Paris, under which the United States took possession of the Philippines from Spain after the Spanish-American War.

The Battle of Manila: The Battle of Manila, February 1899.

Fighting erupted between U.S. and Filipino revolutionary forces on February 4, 1899, and quickly escalated into the 1899 Battle of Manila. On June 2, 1899, the First Philippine Republic officially declared war against the United States. The war officially ended on July 2, 1902, with a victory for the United States. However, some Philippine groups led by veterans of the Katipunan continued to battle the American forces. Among those leaders was General Macario Sakay, a veteran Katipunan member who assumed the presidency of the proclaimed “Tagalog Republic,” formed in 1902 after the capture of President Emilio Aguinaldo. Other groups, including the Moro people and Pulahanes people, continued hostilities in remote areas and islands until their final defeat a decade later at the Battle of Bud Bagsak on June 15, 1913.

Impact and Legacy
Filipino soldiers: Filipino soldiers outside Manila in 1899.

The war with and occupation by the United States would change the cultural landscape of the islands. The war resulted in an estimated 34,000 to 220,000 Philippine casualties (with more civilians dying from disease and hunger brought about by war); the disestablishment of the Roman Catholic Church as the state religion; and the introduction of the English language in the islands as the primary language of government, education, business, and industry, and increasingly in future decades, of families and educated individuals.

Under the 1902 “Philippine Organic Act,” passed by the U.S. Congress, Filipinos initially were given very limited self-government, including the right to vote for some elected officials such as a Philippine Assembly. But it was not until 14 years later, with the passage of the 1916 Philippine Autonomy Act (or “Jones Act”), that the United States officially promised eventual independence, along with more Philippine control in the meantime over the Philippines. The 1934 Philippine Independence Act created in the following year the Commonwealth of the Philippines, a limited form of independence, and established a process ending in Philippine independence (originally scheduled for 1944, but interrupted and delayed by World War II). Finally in 1946, following World War II and the Japanese occupation of the Philippines, the United States granted independence through the Treaty of Manila.

American Opposition
Some Americans, notably William Jennings Bryan, Mark Twain, Andrew Carnegie, Ernest Crosby, and other members of the American Anti-Imperialist League, strongly objected to the annexation of the Philippines. Anti-imperialist movements claimed that the United States had become a colonial power by replacing Spain as the colonial power in the Philippines. Other anti-imperialists opposed annexation on racist grounds. Among these was Senator Benjamin Tillman of South Carolina, who feared that annexation of the Philippines would lead to an influx of nonwhite immigrants into the United States. As news of atrocities committed in subduing the Philippines arrived in the United States, support for the war flagged.

The Banana Wars
The Banana Wars were a series of U.S. military occupations and interventions in Latin American and Caribbean countries during the early 1900s.

Analyze the Banana Wars

Key Points
The Banana Wars were a series of conflicts and military interventions in Latin America and the Caribbean caused or influenced by the United States to protect its commercial interests. Panama, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic were all venues of conflicts.
The United Fruit Company and the Standard Fruit Company had significant commercial stakes and influence in Latin America and were behind many of the conflicts.
Key Terms
Roosevelt Corollary: An extension to the Monroe Doctrine articulated by President Theodore Roosevelt that states that the United States will intervene in conflicts between European nations and Latin American countries to enforce legitimate claims of the European powers, rather than allowing the Europeans to press their claims directly.
United Fruit Company: An American company that sold fruit produced on Latin and South American plantations to North American and European markets. Along with the Standard Fruit Company, it dominated the economies and strongly influenced the governments of Latin American countries.
The Banana Wars, also known as the “American-Caribbean Wars,” were a series of occupations, police actions, and interventions involving the United States in Central America and the Caribbean. This period of conflict started with the Spanish-American War in 1898 and the subsequent Treaty of Paris, which gave the United States control of Cuba and Puerto Rico. Thereafter, the United States conducted military interventions in Cuba, Panama, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic. The series of conflicts ended with the withdrawal of troops from Haiti in 1934 under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Reasons for these conflicts were varied but were largely economic in nature. The conflict was called the “Banana Wars” because of the connections between U.S. interventions and the preservation of American commercial interests in the region.

A banner at the top of the advertisement reads, "The Great White Fleet." An image on the left side of the advertisement shows a woman and her child sitting on the deck of a ship. A sailor, dressed in white, stands nearby, pointing to the horizon. An image on the right side of the ad shows pirates burying gold. The text below the image reads, "'There the Pirates hid their Gold'-- and every voyage, every port, every route of the Great White Fleet through the Golden Caribbean had the romance of buried treasure, pirate ships and deeds of adventure--centuries ago. Today health and happiness are the treasures sought on the Spanish Main, and Great White Fleet Ships, built especially for tropical travel, bear you luxuriously to scenes of romance. Cruises from 15 to 25 Days to Cuba, Jamaica, Panama Canal, Central and South America. Sailings of Great White Fleet Ships from New York every Wednesday and Saturday and fortnightly on Thursdays. Sailings from New Orleans every Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday. For information write to Passenger Department, United Fruit Company Steamship Service, 17 Battery Place, New York. An image at the bottom of the ad shows a map of the voyage route.
United Fruit Company Steamship Service: A 1916 advertisement for the United Fruit Company Steamship Service.

Most prominently, the United Fruit Company had significant financial stakes in the production of bananas, tobacco, sugar cane, and various other products throughout the Caribbean, Central America, and northern South America. The United States also was advancing its political interests, maintaining a sphere of influence and controlling the Panama Canal, which it had recently built and which was critically important to global trade and naval power.

Panama and the Canal
In 1882, Ferdinand de Lesseps started work on a canal, but by 1889, the effort had experienced engineering challenges caused by frequent landslides, slippage of equipment, and mud, and resulted in bankruptcy. U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt convinced Congress to take on the abandoned works in 1902, while Colombia was in the midst of the Thousand Days’ War. During the war, Panamanian Liberals made at least three attempts to seize control of Panama and potentially achieve full autonomy. Liberal guerrillas such as Belisario Porras and Victoriano Lorenzo were suppressed by a collaboration between conservative Colombian and U.S. forces under the Mallarino-Bidlack Treaty. The Roosevelt administration proposed to Colombia that the United States should control the canal, but by mid-1903, the Colombian government refused. The United States then changed tactics.

Less than three weeks later, on November 18, 1903, the Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty was signed between Frenchman Philippe-Jean Bunau-Varilla, who had promptly been appointed Panamanian ambassador to the United States (representing Panamanian interests), and the U.S. Secretary of State John Hay. The treaty allowed for the construction of a canal and U.S. sovereignty over a strip of land 10-miles wide and 50-miles long on either side of the Panama Canal Zone. In that zone, the United States would build a canal, then administer, fortify, and defend it “in perpetuity.”

Honduras and American Fruit Companies
Honduras, where the United Fruit Company and Standard Fruit Company dominated the country’s key banana export sector and associated land holdings and railways, saw the insertion of American troops in 1903, 1907, 1911, 1912, 1919, 1924, and 1925. The writer O. Henry coined the term “banana republic” in 1904 to describe Honduras.

The first decades of Honduras’s history were marked by instability in terms of politics and economy. Indeed, the political context gave way to 210 armed conflicts between independence and the rise to power of the Carias government. This instability was due in part to American involvement in the country.

The first company that concluded an agreement with the Honduras government was the Vaccaro Brothers Company (Standard Fruit Company). The Cuyamel Fruit Company then followed that lead. The United Fruit Company also agreed to a contract with the government, which was attained through its subsidies (the Tela Rail Road Company and Truxillo Rail Road Company).

Different avenues led to the signature of a contract between the Honduras government and the American companies. The most popular avenue was to obtain a grab on a piece of land in exchange for the completion of railroads in Honduras; this explains why a railroad company conducted the agreement between the United Fruit Company and Honduras. The ultimate goal in the acquisition of a contract was to control the bananas, from production to distribution. Therefore, the American companies would finance guerrilla fighters, presidential campaigns, and governments.

The U.S. military involvements with Mexico in this period are related to the same general commercial and political causes, but stand as a special case. The Americans conducted the Border War with Mexico from 1910 to 1919 for additional reasons: to control the flow of immigrants and refugees from revolutionary Mexico (pacificos), and to counter rebel raids into U.S. territory. The 1914 U.S. occupation of Veracruz, however, was an exercise of armed influence, not an issue of border integrity; it was aimed at cutting off the supplies of German munitions to the government of Mexican leader Victoriano Huerta, whom U.S. President Woodrow Wilson refused to recognize. In the years prior to World War I, the United States also was sensitive to the regional balance of power against Germany. The Germans were actively arming and advising the Mexicans, as demonstrated by the 1914 SS Ypiranga arms-shipping incident, the establishment of German saboteur Lothar Witzke’s base in Mexico City, the 1917 Zimmermann Telegram, and the presence of German advisors during the 1918 Battle of Ambos Nogales. Only twice during the Mexican Revolution did the U.S. military occupy Mexico: during the temporary occupation of Veracruz in 1914 and between the years 1916 and 1917, when U.S. General John Pershing and his army came to Mexico to lead a nationwide search for Pancho Villa.

Other Countries
Other Latin American nations were influenced or dominated by American economic policies and/or commercial interests to the point of coercion. Theodore Roosevelt declared the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine in 1904, asserting the right of the United States to intervene to stabilize the economic affairs of states in the Caribbean and Central America if they were unable to pay their international debts. From 1909 to 1913, President William Howard Taft and his Secretary of State Philander C. Knox asserted a more “peaceful and economic” Dollar Diplomacy foreign policy, although that, too, was backed by force. The U.S. Marine Corps most often carried out these military interventions. The Marines were called in so often that they developed a Small Wars Manual, The Strategy and Tactics of Small Wars, in 1921. On occasion, U.S. Naval gunfire and U.S. Army troops were also used.

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TheGamer • 1 day ago
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Chick-fil-A College Football Hall of Fame • American football • NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision
11 former SEC stars await College Football Hall of Fame announcement
al.com • 10 hours ago
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Baltimore Ravens • Tennessee Titans • NFL • Lamar Jackson • Wild card
Jackson, Ravens Get Revenge vs. Titans
FOXSports.com • 3 hours ago
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East Garfield Park • Chicago • CBS News
Two killed in West Side drive-by shooting
WGN-TV • 6 hours ago
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Northwestern Wildcats football • The University of Iowa • Big Ten Conference • Northwestern University • Basketball

22 Northwestern 77, Iowa 67: Road Woes

Go Iowa Awesome • 20 hours ago
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Go Iowa Awesome
Boston Celtics • Miami Heat • NBA • Jayson Tatum
NBA postpones Celtics vs. Heat as Miami is unable to field a roster due to health and safety protocols
Boston.com • 2 hours ago
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Pittsburgh Steelers • Ben Roethlisberger • NFL • Mike Tomlin
Steelers Veterans Knew Their Advantage, And Started Using it Before the Playoffs
Sports Illustrated • 11 hours ago
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Sports Illustrated
The Weeknd • Super Bowl halftime
Pepsi Drops the Commercial for The Weeknd's Anticipated Super Bowl Performance
JaGurl TV • 6 hours ago
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JaGurl TV
All Creatures Great and Small
What to Watch on Sunday: Tiger Woods documentary goes deep on golfing legend
Charlotte Observer • 12 hours ago
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Charlotte Observer
Pakistan • Power outage
Minister: Massive power outage leaves Pakistan in the dark
PBS NewsHour • 3 hours ago
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PBS NewsHour
Berthoud Pass • Colorado • U.S. 40
UPDATE: Berthoud Pass reopened after fatal crash
FOX31 Denver • 2 hours ago
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FOX31 Denver
Real Valladolid • Valencia CF • La Liga • Carlos Soler
Valencia edges Valladolid 1-0 to end winless streak in Spain
Washington Times • 2 hours ago
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Washington Times
Iowa • Minnesota
Titusville Herald • 3 hours ago
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Titusville Herald
Golden State Warriors • Toronto Raptors • NBA • Stephen Curry • Andrew Wiggins • Fred VanVleet
Fantasy Basketball Picks: Top DraftKings NBA DFS Lineup Strategy for Raptors vs. Warriors Showdown on January 10
DraftKings Nation • 3 hours ago
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DraftKings Nation
Are You Afraid of the Dark?
A New Trailer for Are You Afraid of the Dark?: Curse of the Shadows Brings Plenty of Spookiness
Comic Years • 6 hours ago
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Comic Years
School • Houston • Coldspring-Oakhurst Consolidated Independent School District
School closures, delays: Snow forces Houston-area districts to close, shuffle start times
KHOU.com • 29 minutes ago
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Nueces County • Coronavirus • Vaccine • Corpus Christi • United Kingdom
New variant of COVID-19 found in Nueces County. Here's what we know.
Corpus Christi Caller-Times • 2 hours ago
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Corpus Christi Caller-Times
Vaccine • Greenburgh • New York • Paul J. Feiner
Greenburgh Recruiting “COVID Angels to Help Seniors
The Hudson Independent • 5 hours ago
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The Hudson Independent
Riot • United States Capitol • Police officer
Surprise, Surprise: Off-Duty Cops From All Over the Country Were in DC During Capitol Coup Attempt
The Root • 6 hours ago
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The Root
Valparaiso University • Missouri Valley Conference • Chicago Bears • Basketball
Gallery: Missouri State at Valparaiso men's basketball
nwitimes.com • 1 hour ago
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Baltimore Ravens • Sam Koch • Tennessee Titans • Cleveland Browns • Pittsburgh Steelers
No one on the team's injury report was listed as out. All scratches are of the healthy variety.
NBC Sports • 7 hours ago
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NBC Sports
Top Gun: Maverick • Top Gun • Tom Cruise • Action • Tony Scott
Miles Teller Almost Turned Down His Role Opposite Tom Cruise in 'Top Gun: Maverick'
TheThings • 1 hour ago
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Narendra Singh Tomar • Law • Supreme Court of India • Government • India
SC to hear pleas on farm laws, removal of farmers from Delhi borders today
Times Now • 20 minutes ago
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Times Now
Lahore • Pakistan • Tourism • 2021
Lahore among world's 'dream destinations to love in 2021'
The Express Tribune • 5 hours ago
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The Express Tribune
Avalanche • Utah
Utah's avalanche danger will remain high over next few weeks
KRDO • 7 hours ago
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Philadelphia Flyers • National Hockey League • Alain Vigneault • Ivan Provorov • Travis Konecny • Shayne Gostisbehere
Erik Gustafsson's skills fit right into Flyers' game plan
The Morning Call • 11 hours ago
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The Morning Call
Lana Del Rey
Lana Del Rey shares album artwork and track list for 'Chemtrails Over The Country Club'
NME.com • 2 hours ago
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Miami Heat • Jimmy Butler • Washington Wizards • NBA • Boston Celtics • Goran Dragić • Erik Spoelstra • Eastern Conference
Erik Spoelstra explains how Tyler Herro's game has grown. And where the Heat defense stands
Miami Herald • 10 hours ago
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Miami Herald
Sony Open in Hawaii
The First Look: Sony Open in Hawaii
pgatour.com • 10 hours ago
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Chicago • Evanston
Cops: Chicago shooter who killed 3 posted social media rants
Pacifica Tribune • 1 hour ago
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Pacifica Tribune
Minnesota Timberwolves • San Antonio Spurs • Karl-Anthony Towns • DeMar DeRozan • NBA
What we learned from the Spurs' overtime win over the Timberwolves
Pounding The Rock • 7 hours ago
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Pounding The Rock
Northern Iowa Panthers men's basketball • Bradley Braves men's basketball • College basketball • NCAA Missouri Valley Conference Football • Bradley University
Northern Iowa vs Bradley: College Basketball Betting Lines, Odds and Trends – January 10, 2021
TheLines.com • 8 hours ago
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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Dozens of Virginia Tech athletes got COVID-19. Tech still won't say how many.
Roanoke Times • 23 hours ago
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Roanoke Times
Donald Trump • 2021 • January 6
Trump-supporting Christian leaders and their Sunday messages
The Independent • 3 hours ago
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The Independent
Jordan Spieth • Butch Harmon • PGA TOUR • Tiger Woods • Golf Digest
Is Jordan Spieth ready for help? A report says he's visited Butch Harmon.
Yahoo Sports • 4 hours ago
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Yahoo Sports
Kate Hudson • Bill Hudson • Oliver Hudson • Zachary Hudson • Goldie Hawn • Family estrangement • Cindy Williams • Boston Russell
Kate Hudson feels it would be nice to connect with estranged father Bill Hudson's children
WION • 15 hours ago
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New Orleans Saints • Atlanta Falcons • NFL • General manager • Head coach • Los Angeles Rams
Saints executive Terry Fontenot is one of 2 or 3 finalists for Falcons GM opening
The Falcoholic • 9 hours ago
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The Falcoholic
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