A History of the Evolution of Foreign Policy During the Spanish-American War Period

Last Updated: 25 Apr 2023
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When America first engaged the Spanish in Cuba in 1898, the outbreak of war was widely supported by the majority of Americans. In fact, it was the most enthusiastically supported war since the American Revolution The push to grant Cuba independence highlighted both the democratic values that had always been the root of American life as well as the concealed motives that developed as the United States smoothly ascended into its position as a world economic power. Despite this support, politicians recognized that they were charting new diplomatic territory in American foreign policy by engaging in war against Spain. The brief Spanish-American War period is a unique point in American history to observe the evolution of foreign policy especially when considering the role America was assuming as it led into the twentieth century.

When the Monroe Doctrine was declared in 1823, the United States was viewed internationally as a relatively new nation trying to single-handedly define international laws that it could not truly enforce. However, by the dawn of the twentieth century) the United States was ready to stand behind its still-reverberating bark, both militarily and economically. At this point, foreign policy was not only designed to avert conflict with more prominent European nations but to advance American economic potential. With the explosion of industry, such new ideas as James Elaine‘s “Good Neighbor policy" became more popular among the general public 7 the idea of turning a hemisphere of European economic support into almost exclusively American profit was especially appealing.

Conveniently coinciding with the increasing desire for economic expansion were Latin American and Pacific Island revolutions, Cuba in particular had always been under Spanish rule, an exercise of power long tolerated by the United States. However, when the opportunity arose to support Cuban revolutionaries who supported José Marti and not the rivaling Spanish government, America was in a key position to shift its support, While the cause of upholding democratic ideals in America’s nearby neighbor seemed a noble cause, the aftermath of the fighting provides a more complete perspective into American motives, as well as a more drastic change in foreign policy, More troops remained in Cuba after the war than had fought there, to begin with. The war was a low-risk engagement for America with high rewards in the end.

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Under the Platt Amendment, passed in 1901, the new American protectorate was required to supply land for American bases, reimburse the United States for its service, and essentially do nothing that might in any way harm American interests there. Foreign policy shifted from guarding the American people against attack to guarding American economic dominance from rival production centers, The taste of empire was especially palatable to the United States government. After the war in Cuba was over, America inhabited the Philippines in a similar manner, fighting Spain at first and then overstaying its welcome to the dismay of the natives. In such a short period, American politicians went from barely passing the initial war resolution to enter Cuba to refusing the removal of troops from the Philippines despite national protests.

America began to develop a precedent of involving itself in foreign affairs for its own economic interest, and it would take time for the people to grow used to the new approach. Thomas Jefferson, one of the nation’s earliest foreign affairs spokesmen, warned against such entanglement, and his sentiments were far from erased from the American Republic in 1900. Though assuming such power opened never-before-traversed avenues for the United States that worried many citizens, the nation unknowingly gained instrumental experience for the upcoming wars of the early twentieth century.

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A History of the Evolution of Foreign Policy During the Spanish-American War Period. (2023, Apr 25). Retrieved from https://phdessay.com/a-history-of-the-evolution-of-foreign-policy-during-the-spanish-american-war-period/

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