Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Is the United States Imperialist?

When learning about the Imperialist movement between 1815-1914 we have learned about the imperialist desires of western countries.  With this in mind, it is interesting to examine modern day United States and attempt to discern the extent of imperialism present in the US today and throughout our history.  In the following remarks I will present three reasons demonstrating that the US is or has been imperialist and three reasons defending that the United States is not imperialistic.
The United States is/ has been Imperialistic:
1. The United States occupied and annexed the Philippines during the course of the Spanish- American War.  While attempting to obtain Cuban independence, the United States successfully annexed the Philippines, opening a market to the territory and creating a gateway to trade with the middle eastern markets.
2. In July 1898, towards the end of the Spanish- American War the United States occupied and annexed Puerto Rico, a Spanish Territory.  While United States forces met very minimal resistance, this is still considered an imperialist take over, as the United States took over another country without the approval of the people or the ruling country.  Interestingly, Puerto Rico was officially given to the United States in the Treaty of Paris at the conclusion of the Spanish- American War.  
3. In recent years the United States has followed a policy of implementing democracy in Middle Eastern countries, for multiple reasons, one of which is to stabilize the oil markets so that we could continue to trade with the country to obtain oil.  This is eerily reminiscent of Britain's intervention in China, where Britain forced themselves into China to create and sustain an opium market.   

The United States is not Imperialistic:
1. During the course of the Spanish-American War the United States fought for Cuban Independence, even occupying the country at one point, however, they made no attempt to annex the country.      
2. In 1899, the United States promoted open commerce for all countries with China.  However, it believed that Western Nations should respect China's territory, essentially demonstrating the United States disinterest in colonizing China.
3.The implementation of the Monroe Doctrine as an United States policy is another example of the United States anti-imperialistic attitude.  This doctrine essentially promised the United States would not interfere with internal matters of Europe or existing European colonies.  Therefore, while the United States did not follow this doctrine consistently, this doctrine demonstrates the United States disinterest in colonizing European areas or using military force to claim current European colonies, even through they had the military strength to do so.  

Personally, I feel that while the United States has been imperialistic in the past, we are presently not an imperialistic country.  In modern day United States people attempt to claim that the United States is imperialistic because of our invasion of middle eastern countries.  However, the goal of these invasions is often to stabilize the country, search for dangerous weapons, or remove terrorists, not create an entity which would be ruled by the United States for material gain.  Therefore, I truly feel that the United States has been imperialistic in the past but is not currently.      

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