To What Extent Was the Spanish-American War a Turning Point in the Development of American Foreign Policy? Essay

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Tp what extent was the Spanish-American War a turning point in the development of American foreign policy?

The Spanish-American War of 1898 could be seen as the pivotal point in foreign policy as it marks America’s first engagement with a foreign enemy in the dawning age of modern warfare however, one could also argue that the idea had always existed in American politics.

Until the end of the nineteenth century, American foreign policy essentially followed the guidelines laid down by George Washington, in his Farewell Address to the American people: “The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is—in extending our commercial relations—to have with them as little political connection as possible.” By avoiding
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In 1890, when a rebellion began under Queen Liliuokalani, the marines were sent to force a surrender. This perhaps can be seen as an early display of America’s expansionist foreign policy, however, the annexation of Hawaii was opposed by many in government who feared that America would become an imperial power like the Europeans. It can be argued that the war with Spain in Cuba strengthened the arguments for annexation as America gained an inflated sense of confidence from victory and officially took up their role as a “global power”. Hawaii was annexed in July 1898, after the Spanish-American war had ended.

The result of the Spanish-American War was that USA became a Carribean power with it’s temporary acquisition of Cuba and this brought about long discussed plans for a canal through the Isthmus of Panama. The USA gained a 10 mile wide strip of the canal and was granted full control. With increasing territorial gains such as Cuba and Panama, USA’s interest in Latin American affairs was evident. Roosevelt felt that US had the right to intervene in order to maintain stability in the area and this was evident through the Roosevelt Corollary where he stated that the US had the right to intervene in the affairs of other countries on the continent in cases of “chronic wrongdoing or impotence”. Americans decided what