USA Global Involvement from the Spanish war to the Cold War

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USA Global Involvement from the Spanish war tothe Cold War

USA Global Involvement from the Spanish war tothe Cold War.

At the time of the Spanish American war, theUnited States went from relative isolation to increased globalinvolvement because of the Cuban struggle for independence,Imperialism and the need to expand territory, the sinking of a USship at Havana harbor, the First World War, theSecond World War, and the American Imperialism. The consequences ofthe increased global involvement on the American society wereincreased industrialization in America, the development of thedesire to control more territories, increased rivalry,increased industrialization in America, and varying opinions anddecreasing patriotism.

During the Spanish American war, theUnited States went to global involvement because of the desire tohelp Cuban rebels fight for independence from Spain. Thisconsequently created a conflict of interest with Spain1.The USA had a policy of not interfering with the affairs of othercountries especially from Europe. The separationist policy ensuredthat the USA focused on its development agenda without foreigninterference. However, the conflict on Cuba was just at the USA’sBackyard. This was different from the conflicts that were takingplace in Europe. The Spaniards used brutal methods to crush therebellion. Soon there was civil unrest in Cuba. The USA had to dosomething to protect its citizens in Cuba and their property. Thepublic opinion was for the intervention of the USA in the Cubanstrife. Citizens felt that it was morally wrong to turn a blind eyeon their neighbors when they needed them the most.

Following the USA’s involvement in the Cuban war Spain declaredwar on her in April 24, 18982.The USA retaliated by declaring war on Spain a day after- April25,1898. What followed was a one-sided war with Spain on the receivingend. The USA did not have to take the war all the way to Spain’shomeland. She attacked Spanish territories in the pacific. Theyinclude Puerto Rico and the Philippines. The war caught the Spanishmilitary unprepared because she had to go all the way to Spain tocollect weaponry and reinforcements. For instance, when the USA navyunder the leadership of Commodore George Dewey attacked Manila Bay inPhilippines, it captured the Spanish base in a few hours. Thehappenings of May 1, 1898 exposed the vulnerabilities of the Spanisharmy when it suffered major casualties in the Manila Bay attack.Following the defeat, Spain gave up on her overseas territories andresolved to reduce its involvement in international affairs.

In addition, the USA was forced to get involved into global conflictsbecause of the sinking of USS-Maine at the Havana Harbor fuelled theurge for the USA to join the Cuban Revolt.3Because of the happenings in Cuba, the USA decided to send some ofher ships to protect Americans living in Cuba and properties. One ofthe ships sent was USS-Maine that was commissioned in 1895. On theevening of February 15, 1898, UUS-Maine exploded without warning. Ina matter of minutes, she sank quickly killing three quarter of thecrewmembers. The real cause of the explosion was not clear. Oneexpert claimed that the ship might have been sunk by an externalmine. Another expert refuted the theory claiming that the ship sankdue to an explosion of a magazine within the ship.

Despite the differing opinions of the experts regarding the primarycause for the sinking of the ship, public opinion maintained that theSpanish were responsible for the act4.On the other hand, Spain did not take responsibility for theunforeseen fate of USS-Maine. Conspiracy theorists pointed fingers atSpain. Expectedly, the masses believed that Spain was responsible forthe attack. The people wanted the USA government to declare war onSpain because of its alleged involvement in the sinking of a US Shipat the port of Havana. The public formulated chants meant to admonishSpain. Some of the protesters created the slogan that Spain was notto be trusted. Despite the pressure from the citizens, the USAgovernment still needed enough proof of Spain’s involvement beforedeclaring war. However, the sinking of the American ship by unknownforces fuelled the urge for the USA to join the Cuban war against theSpanish.

Although America was against any form of colonialism, it wished tocontrol more territory for purposes of trade and acquiringresources.5The USA wanted more control of the Pacific to enhance its traderoutes to Asia that was a growing market. However, the USA could notachieve its imperialist dream because all the territories along thePacific belonged to European powers. For instance, the Philippines, astrategic point for the USA-Asia trade, were a territory of Spain. Inorder for the USA to use this space, it had to seek permission fromSpain and maybe pay tax returns to it. As some historians propose,the primary reason prompting the USA to support the independence ofcolonized countries was to open up markets for its growingindustries. Bearing in mind that colonized states were out of boundsfor the USA’s trade activities, the country had to come up with abetter solution to enhance its interests.

The war with Spain presented an excellent opportunity to annex someof the coveted territories from the Spanish. The Spanish territoriesin the Pacific that were of strategic importance to the USA werePuerto Rico, the Philippines, Cuba and Hawaii.6Hawaii was considered the crossroad to the pacific because of itsposition. The USA was primarily interested in Hawaii possibly tofunction as a coal station for the USA navy on pacific missions. TheAmericans wanted control over Cuba because of its agriculturalpotential. Cuba was booming in sugarcane farming and sugarproduction. The Philippines was a strategic point for the USA toaccess markets in Asia and the Pacific. The distance between Americaand potential markets in the Pacific was evident when it took USAtroops two months from the USA to Manila Bay in the Philippines. TheUSA wanted control over Hawaii because it harbored many Americanbusiness people and therefore necessary to protect them and theirinterests.

In the end, the USA was able to control Spanish territories alongthe Pacific. After surrendering, Spain handed some of its territoriesto the USA. The USA took control of Cuba, the Philippines, PuertoRico, and Hawaii. The number of USA troops in these annexedterritories went up. For instance, by 1901, there were over 70,000USA troops in the Philippines. The USA presence in the Philippinesled to the struggle for independence from the USA by the Philippines.

The Second World War made the USA review itspolicy of staying outside the affairs of European politics(isolationism). Even though the USA had come out victorious from thejust concluded First World War, she still thought that it was for thebest if she remained out of European politics in order to concentrateon her development plan. However, immediately Germany declared war,Canada retaliated.7Canada are USA’s next-door neighbors and some sort of rivalry hasexisted between them. Suddenly, the USA populace wanted to join inthe war like their neighbors. However, the congress could not hearany of that. President Roosevelt wanted to join the war but themajority of congress could not grant him his wishes. In a statementto the public, the president urged all the patriotic Americans tohelp their allies by giving them food supplies and arms8.True to his word, Roosevelt supplied arms to Britain whenever shefaced a deficit. At this juncture, the USA was taking part in the warfrom the sidelines.

Japan’s imperialist ambitions put the USA onhigh alert regarding possible aggression from the former. Just likeany other dynasty, the Japanese monarchy had ambitions to expand itsterritory to cover more regions. Japan wanted to take over Thailand,Philippines and Australia9.The only barrier between Japan’s plans and the coveted territorieswas the USA. The USA was in control of the Philippines and it hadstationed its troops in readiness for aggression from Japan. To addsalt to the injury, the USA cut off supplies to Japan since it hadassumed the control of Hawaii after defeating the Spanish in the USA-Spanish war of 1898. The USA was clever enough not throw the firstpunch. However, its activities provoked the Japanese to make thefirst move.

When Japan finally thought it was time shemade her intentions clear, she attacked a USA base in thePhilippines. Japan Sunk a USA ship at the Pearl Harbor, in thePhilippines10.Initially, Japan basked under the knowledge that its location was toofar for allied forces’ warplanes to reach. When the USA sent herAir Force from a base in China, 15 planes crashed before they couldreach Japan because they lacked a place to refuel. The pinnacle ofthe war with Japan was when the USA dropped two atomic bombs inJapanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The attacked marked one ofthe worst atrocities committed by man in modern history. The effectswere immense. Japan had no option but to surrender. Once again, theUSA emerged from the war a super power.

During the Onset of WWI, the USA decided tostay out of it, as was the norm. Even though the USA had emergedvictorious from the Spanish war, she still did not feel the need tojoin a war that she had no stakesin11.In addition, the USA was a country of immigrants from Europe. Amongthe USA population were immigrants from France, Russia, Germany andBritain. It therefore did not make sense for the USA to be inclinedto any side. Although most of the Americans immigrants had adoptedBritish customs and lifestyle, they were still inclined to theircountries of Origin. The warring nations were all USA’s tradingpartners. The USA did not feel the need to place embargos on onecountry and freely trade with the other (s). The USA continued totrade with both warring parties, in alignment with its neutralitypolicy.

The USA had to choose new trading partners whenBritain blocked all the sea routes to Germany. Back then, Britain hadthe best navy in the world. Britain’s activities cut off the USAfrom Germany. Trade between the USA and Britain and France increasedalmost three times. On the other hand, trade ties between Germany andthe USA reduced by almost 90%.12It did not take long before German figured out the USA was no longerneutral as it claimed. Germany instituted Submarine wars with theUSA. Meanwhile, Russia had opted out of the war and Germany had justwithdrawn its forces from the Eastern front. The departure of Russiameant that Germany had more resources to attack another country.

Two years after the war, USA decided to joinin. Immediately after, her impact was felt on the Germany side6.The USA helped the allied forces to beat the Germans. Apart frommilitary support, the USA was involved in the First World War byproviding supplies, money and weapons. The budding industries in theUSA were the sole providers of supplies to allied forces in Europe.In addition, the USA government ran an extensive media propagandacalling upon Americans to support the Allied forces in the war. Dueto the propaganda, many Americans were willing to get drafted for thewar. The government was quick to quell any dissatisfaction within theAmerican population.

The colonization of Puerto Rico after beatingthe Spanish in the Spanish- American war marked the onset of USAimperialism. According to the English dictionary, imperialism is theact of one country to extend its political, social and economicinfluence to another country13.In the early 20thcentury, the greatest imperialists were the British. They sought outon a mission to conquer foreign lands in an effort to expand theBritish Empire. The Britons had acquired territories in Africa, Asia,the Middle East and the new world. The USA’s dream was to be likeher former colonial master in regards to imperialism. However, thecountry was still in its infant stage hence the idea of extending itsempire was a mirage. The USA lacked the resources to spread itsinfluence to other countries. However, after defeating the Spanish inwar, the USA got the confidence to lay down its imperialism dream.

During the early 20thCentury, the USA’s Imperialism policy was not clearly cut out. TheUSA had the ambition but it lacked the blueprint. Among the things,that the USA wanted to do was to build a canal in Central America,annex Hawaii, and become a dominant power in the affairs of theCaribbean14.Initially, these objectives were just a pipe dream. However, afterthe Spanish- American war, the USA realized how achievable theseobjectives were. Under the leadership of President McKinley, the USAstarted preparing to take over the world. As some critics say,McKinley was not that enthusiastic in achieving the imperialistdream. When McKinley was assassinatedin 1901, the vice president,Roosevelt ascended to power and progress towards the imperialismdream changed instantly. As historians describe him, Roosevelt wassoft- spoken but he hid a big stick (the military) on his back.

Roosevelt’s first priority was to build acanal in Central America so that USA battleships could cover ashorter distance between the pacific and the Atlantic15.The proposed canal was to pass through either Columbia or Nicaragua.However, the two countries were not willing to negotiate. Rooseveltresorted to undemocratic means to get what he wanted. The USAsupported a revolution by Panamanian landowners against thegovernment of Nicaragua. Since the USA had superior arms than theNicaraguan Army, the Panamanian revolvers easily won the war. In1903, the state of panama was formed. Immediately after, the USA wasable to build the canal that it so desired. Even though thecompletion of the canal happened years after Roosevelt completed histerm, he lived long enough to witness his pet project.

Other acts of USA imperialism that saw the USAget involved in global affairs include the naval task force on theworld voyage and quelling rebellion in Nicaragua in 1912. AfterTheodore Roosevelt became president, he ordered a naval task forcecomprising of 16 battleships on a round-the-world voyage. The primaryreason for this decision was to show other countries, especiallyJapan, that the USA was in the major league now. In 1912, whenviolence broke out in Nicaragua, the USA under President Howard Taft,sent marines to tranquilize the situation16.The Marines did their work perfectly and restored calm within a shorttime. However, due to USA imperialism policies, the governmentdecided that it was best if the Marines stayed there for two moredecades after the end of the revolution. The reason for this move wasto ‘prevent any further violence’.

The consequence of the increased global involvement on the Americansociety was an increased industrialization in the country.17Involvement in global affairs opened new opportunities for Americaduring the Spanish American war. Formerly, the USA was majorlyagricultural and less into manufacturing. However, the involvement inglobal affairs, especially after defeating the Spanish, brought theopportunities to manufacture goods for the increased market. TheChinese Exclusion Act opened up China for any worthy contestant.18The USA was willing to take advantage of China’s large populationand ready market for its goods. By acquiring territories along thePacific, the USA found a new reason to increase its productioncapacity. In turn, the number of industries back home grewtremendously. The USA started refining oil and exporting it to Japanand China through Hawaii and the Philippines. The USA had managed totake away the territory from the Spanish after beating them in theSpanish- American war.

In addition, America’s involvement in global affairs led to thedesire to control more territories and increased rivalry. The USAglobal involvement during the Spanish war boosted its confidence tocontrol more parts of the world. After defeating the Spanish, the USArealized that it had some hidden strengths it was never aware of. TheUSA sought to annex more territories to enhance its agenda. Apartfrom totally taking over the affairs of Philippines, the USA alsotook control of the Pearl Harbor19. The harbor served as repair and coal station for USA ships. TheJapanese on the other hand secretly admired the harbor because of itsstrategic position. The rivalry between the USA and Japan played outwhen the Second World War broke out but is a consequence of the U.Sglobal involvement during the Spanish American War.

America’s involvement in global affairs ledto increased industrialization in the country. Involvement in globalaffairs opened new opportunities for the formerly isolationistAmerica. Before global involvement, the country was mainly intoagriculture and less manufacturing. However, with involvement inglobal affairs, came the opportunities to manufacture goods for theincreased market. The Chinese Exclusion Act opened up China for anyworthy contestant20.The USA was willing to take advantage of China’s large populationand ready market for its goods. In turn, the number of industriesback home grew tremendously. The USA started refining oil andexporting it to Japan and China. Pearl Harbor was an integral part inthe trade between the USA and Asia. The USA had managed to take awaythe territory from the Spanish after beating them in the Spanish-American war.

Involvement in the First World War was a majorboost to America’s dream of industrialization. Before the war, mostof America’s industries were directed towards the production ofbasic commodities such as food, fuel, and automobiles. With the wargoing on in Europe, demand for weapons went up5.The USA saw an opportunity and decided to take advantage of it. Whatfollowed was a conversion of many industries into producing weapons.The number of food industries went down significantly becauseproducing weapons was more profitable. The conversion of foodindustries into weapon- manufacturing industries led to a biting foodcrisis in the USA. The country had to institute food rationing inorder to cater for the food demands of every citizen.

America’s involvement in global affairscreated a sharp division between isolationists and interventionists.The USA’s involvement in the First World War caused mixed reactionsamong the electorate and politicians alike. When Eugene Debs, apresidential candidate in 1918 elections, gave a speech againstAmerica’s involvement in the war, he was imprisoned21.The prosecution claimed that his utterances would cause disloyaltyamong the armed forces already serving in the war and consequently,lead to a mutiny. His utterances came in time when the government wasrunning a serious propaganda campaign in support of USA’s role inWWI. Elections took place when he was still in jail. To showsolidarity for his course, 1 million voters demonstrated that indeedthey were opposed to the war by voting for Debs. The election impliedthat America’s involvement in global affairs had split publicopinion into two. Differing public opinion is the root cause of civilunrest in most countries.

The USA’s imperialism activities in theCaribbean and South America also caused a stir in the public andcongress. Some people felt that the USA had no business interferingwith other nations’ problems while it had its own problems thatneeded solving. Part of the debate was that it was wrong for the USAto impose its influence on other countries yet it was the number oneoppose of colonization. Its acts of imperialism came off ashypocrisy.


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