HST 202 - 08
03 June 2013
U.S. Foreign Policy - Spanish-American War, World War I and II
Foreign policy is a key component in maintaining a peaceful and stabilized world. In order for countries to work with each other cooperatively, boundaries and limitations must be established by each country so that others will know how to interact economically, socially, and militarily without making unapproved actions. As a leading empire, the United States. constituted that an ideological government should be democratic for liberty and freedom. Being involved in the Spanish-American War, World War I, and World War II, the U.S. presidents at the time formulated their foreign policies and forms of intervention around the idea of spreading democracy and freedom to other countries. Most of the U.S. foreign policies were often successful and had influential effects on the foreign governments, however, there were some leaders who opposed this idea creating conflicts.
The Spanish controlled small colonies such as Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines, all of which wanted independence. Unfortunately, these colonies could not have been freed if the U.S. had not become involved by aiding these small countries. However, U.S. intervention in these countries only led to the Spanish-American War. Originally, the U.S. only intended on helping out with the war and "had no intention of annexing or dominating the island (Cuba)" (GML, p 659). After helping Cuba win the victory for their independence, the U.S. found even more reason to stay longer and be more involved with the new, independent country.
The responsibilities of the United States did not end when Cuba won - reconstructing and restructuring was needed to be done in the new country, which could not be done alone. Prior to the war, President McKinley passed the Teller Amendment to establish U.S. foreign policy in Cuba. However, after the war interest in Cuba increased, which "had more to do with trade than gaining wealth from natural resources or large-scale American settlement," (GML, p 662). The process of helping Cuba reconstruct allows the U.S. to create a better relationship with them. The benefit of this is that the U.S. can influence the new country and how it is governed. Being in a good relationship with them serves as a gateway to trade in Latin America. The United States' main goal was to have access to more trade outposts and expand on their growing economic empire, however, the Platt Amendment that was passed defeated the purpose of helping Cuba become an independent country because the U.S. eventually took control, even though it was for trade purposes. The U.S. had good intentions in establishing their foreign policy in Cuba because it was for their own good. The U.S. did not have total control, they just had a lot of influence on the Cuban government.
U.S. democratic ideology is the foundation to having a capable and independently governed country because it revolves around liberty and freedom. This idea was brought upon in the Philippines. The new country was unorganized and abandoned, therefore, Americans felt that they "had a duty to ‘uplift and civilize’ the Filipino people and to train them for self-government," (GML, p 661). Americans believed that the Filipinos did not have the capability to govern themselves especially after seeing how savagely looking they were during the war. This relationship between the U.S. and the Philippines only happened because the U.S. could not return them to Spain. The U.S. had to take full responsibility of the Philippines or else the country’s condition would be worse than when they were under Spanish control. Although, it was not long until Emiilo Aguinaldo criticized U.S. foreign policy in the Philippines in which he says, "In the face of the world you emblazon humanity and Liberty upon your standard, while you cast your political constitution to the winds and attempt to trample down and exterminate a brave