FROM RELATIVE ISOLATION TO GLOBAL INVOLVEMENT 5
From Relative Isolation to Global Involvement
From the time of the Spanish-American War to the current conflict inthe Middle East, the United States went from relative isolation toincreased global involvement due to various reasons including desiresto end the suffering of Cuban society under Spain`s tyrannical thump,national interests in economic expansion, and influence of theCongress, presidential advisors, and powerful United Statescivilians. The consequence of this increased global involvement inAmerican society were sanctioning sense of confidence, incidences ofviolence, racism, despair, and confusion, and the awakening of theAmerican military-industrial complex about 63 years later whichculminated to American being involved in six different foreign warsthat marked the start of a century stained with systematicoppression, terrorism, and hypocrisy.
The policy makers in the United States were forced to contemplateglobal involvement due to national interests in economic expansion.As early as 18th century, the United States interest indeveloping a canal through Central America expanded for several yearsreaching its ultimatum in 1898. In mid-19th century, theUnited States had acquired the current California, which was rich ingold resources. This acquisition resulted in American miningcompanies to acquire gold worth over $5 Billion in the current marketvalue1.This energised the desire of developing a convenient trade routebetween nations. This culminated to increased interests in Panamawhich had the narrowest land region between Atlantic and Pacificoceans. This interest resulted in the construction of theTrans-Panama Railroad in 1855 and the Panama Canal in 19142.This culminated in the need for naval protection of United Statesoverseas assets. At this point, the decision to increase the levelsof global involvement was no longer an option for the United Statesand the effects of these events on the United States foreign policywere irreversible. This point market the onset of Americanimperialism and overseas involvements that are still ongoing.Business leaders and humanitarians generally agreed that the crueltyshown to Cubans by Spain demanded an international intervention3.The information on international activities by the United States wasavailed to civilians through available means of communicating withthe public. As a result, between 1895 and 1898, there was a massiveincrease in mass-tabloid press in the US. The influence of the mediaresulted in massive support of the American people in its involvementin the independence war in Cuba4.
The influence of the Congress, the powerful civilians in the US, andthe presidential advisors forced the then President, McKinley to takeaction, which was later considered as a major mistake in hispresidential career. During McKinley’s term, the United Statesdropped its anti-imperialism and anti-colonialism campaign anddecided to acquire foreign colonies5.The influential media in the United States left the public demandingfor war. These prospects were backed by rich and powerful Americansculminating to strong motivation for the United States to seek war.Specifically, the Spanish-American war made the Americans develop asense of confidence and feel as empowering due to its acquisition ofa dominant position in global status. This resulted in the ability ofUS to pursue its international interests as well as develop a globalforce to protect its interests. However, the United States opted tointroduce several changes in its foreign policy including activeparticipation in the First World War6.
The years after the First World War were marked with prosperityproduced by modernization7.However, the culture of the United States spiralled back into racism,despair, confusion, and violence. Prohibition empowered syndicates asit provided then a profitable alcohol business due to the existingimbalance between demand and supply. The open door policy wasterminated with the formation of the Emergency Quota Act of 1921,which limited immigrants from one country into the United States toless than 3%, and the 1924 Immigration Act that limited the immigrantexpansion at 2%8.The height of racial inequality was marked by the formation of the KuKlux Klan that was a societal hazard for the non-white Americans9.The Klan managed to recruit about 5 million members, whichrepresented 15% of the American population10.Thus, a period of ten years from the First World War was marked byambivalence for civilians in the US due to loss of justice andcertainty. As much as all this cruelty was going on, the influence ofthe U.S. government continued to grow. This was illustrated by theincreased national exports in the 1920s, which offered the U.S.government an avenue to participate in global economy11.
As time went by, the Americans started to feel the impact of themilitary-industrial complex as referred to by President Eisenhower12,which signified the onset of a period full of terrorism, hypocrisy,and systematic oppression. This market the shift of American policyfrom anti-colonial and anti-imperialist perspective that defined theUnited states on a global scale. The declaration by President Monroein 1823 that the United States could not tolerate colonial activitiesby European nations in the Americas was the onset of change in itsforeign13.This was majorly because of the exemption of Cuba, which was then aSpanish territory from this policy14.Thisallowed the United States to snatch Cuba from Spain, which sparkedits interest in global imperialism.
The onset of the second war gave the United States another avenue ofintervention in global affairs. During the early stages of the SecondWorld War, the United States opted to remain neutral with theintention of seeking a peaceful approach to solving the conflict,which was futile due to the resilience demonstrated by Germany15.The decision by Germany to violate the Munich conference forced theUS to offer support to Britain by 1941. However, when Japan bombedthe Pearl Harbour in 1941, it forced the U.S. to declare war againstAxis powers16.The end of the Second World War made the United States to be elevatedto the most powerful nation in the world.
In conclusion, the end of the Second World War offered the U.S. apowerful position to interfere with various foreign nations. This wascharacterised by various wars and invasions including the case ofSouth Korea, Vietnam17,the Gulf of Mexico, and the recent incidents in the Middle East thatinvolved war between the U.S. and Iraq and Afghanistan. This vividlyillustrates the extent to which the United States is activelyinvolved in Global affairs especially in issues that directly affectsits interests and security.
1The Gold Rush”, <http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/goldrush/peopleevents/e_goldrush.html>
2Stephen Kinzer, Overflow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq, 58-59
3"Modern History Sourcebook: Walter Rauschenbusch: The Social Gospel, 1908". <http://legacy.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/rausch-socialgospel.asp>
4William Randolph’s Hearse, <http://www.trutv.com/library/crime/notorious_murders/celebrity/wm_randolph_hearst/8.html>
6Emily Rosenberg, “Spreading the American Dream: American Economic and Cultural Expansion, 1890-1945”, p.89
8Ngai, Mae M. "The architecture of race in American immigration law: A reexamination of the Immigration Act of 1924." Journal of American History (1999): 67-92.
9Kelly J. Baker, “Gospel According to the Klan: The KKK’s Appeal to White Protestant America 1915-1930”, p.248
10Columbia University Press, “The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia”, 6th ed.
11Emily Rosenberg, “Spreading the American Dream: American Economic and Cultural Expansion, 1890-1945”, p.173
12“Eisenhower’s Farewell Address to the Nation”, <http://mcadams.posc.mu.edu/ike.htm>.
13James Monroe, “Monroe Doctrine”.
14 Arthur Schlesinger Jr., The American Empire? Not so Fast, 43-46
15“Japanese Americans in Concentration Camps”, <http://classes.maxwell.syr.edu/soc248/JapaneseIntern.html>
17“The History Place – The Vietnam Var 1945-1960”, <http://www.historyplace.com/unitedstates/vietnam/index-1945.html>