Early US Interests in South American Affairs
In 1901, Theodore Roosevelt, veteran of the Spanish-American War and extremely imperialistic, was elected as the 26th president of the United States. Early in his presidency, an incident occurred between Venezuela and European bankers. The Venezuelan economy was very poor and unable to pay back the debts it owed to foreign investors. In an effort to get their money, Germany sent its navy to negotiate. Feeling threatened by the German presence, the American navy pressured the Germans to withdrawal.
After this conflict, President Roosevelt felt that it was America’s right to intervene in the affairs of its neighbors which included the entire Western Hemisphere. These views, which were later called “Roosevelt’s Corollary,” continued well past Roosevelt’s presidency. During the early 1900's to the beginning of the Great Depression, the United States intervened over 30 times.
In many instances, U.S. forces landed, took care of the problem, and remained for many more years. In other instances, the financial affairs of the suffering country were taken over by America and solved.
Intervention in Cuba
One important U.S. led intervention was in Cuba. Cuba had been under the supervision of the United States after the Spanish-American War. In 1902, America granted Cuba its independence on one condition; that it accepts and adopts the Platt Amendment to its constitution. The Platt Amendment states that America will have the right to prevent any power from entering Cuba.
American Interests in Panama
Another U.S. led intervention was in Panama. Roosevelt wanted to build a canal across the Panama isthmus to connect the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Due to the rejection by Columbian authorities of the proposed plan, Roosevelt funded Panamanian rebels and sent the U.S. navy to push back Columbian territory in Panama. The plan worked and Panamanians happily let the U.S. build the Panama Canal.
The Canal costed around 387 million dollars and took a workforce of over 44,000, ten years to build. However, the trip from New York to San Francisco became 7,872 miles shorter that going all the way around South America.
The Panama Canal made trade faster and created a faster route for the American navy to take in case of an attack. The purpose of U.S. intervention was to keep other imperial powers away from mainland America. Thus, thwarting any potential attacks on the mainland. U.S. interventions in Latin America certainly kept foreign influence out of the Western Hemisphere for the better half of the 20th century until Cuba adopted communist views from the Soviet Union.
America is a "Big Brother"
In conclusion, the era of American Imperialism was successful for the United States because it showed the world that America was very powerful. From 1890 to 1917, America expanded its territory, pushed its way into foreign markets, as well as pushed other imperial powers out.
It fought battles and won more possessions.
It intervened in the affairs of many countries.
America bought and purchased and even funded rebellions to get what it wanted. The majority of the American people were supporters of expansionism. They pushed their way into the West and pushed the Native Americans aside. And they felt they could expand and similarly push aside or assimilate the peoples of other regions. This ethos, or way of thinking, strove American Imperialism to press forward.
The effects of the American Imperialism era still remain today. The United States still uses its military might and aggressive diplomacy to get the desired effect. Recently, the war in Iraq was conceived because America saw Saddam Hussein’s regime as a future threat to America. After many months of aggressive talks, America declared war and ousted the undesirable regime.
Currently, the United States is trying to set up a desirable government in Iraq that can benefit America’s oil interests and the Iraqi people. During the Imperialism era, the United States proved itself as a new world leader. U.S. led interventions became a trend. President Roosevelt once stated that “any country whose people conduct themselves well can count upon our hearty friendship. Chronic wrongdoing, however, may force the United States to exercise an international police power.” Even to this day, America still watches over foreign affairs and intervenes when American interests are threatened.