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American Imperialism: Altruism or Aggression?

An essay on American expansion in the early 20th Century

         The policy of expansion that the United States followed during the latter half of the 19th Century based on the Monroe Doctrine and continuing well into the 20th Century, strengthened by President Roosevelts Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine and legally ending with President Wilsons  Mobile Doctrine was to some a misguided greedy land grab.  To others, the politics, military threat, and responsibility of the United States to maintain order throughout the world were simply the destiny of a nation with a correct worldview, and the military power to enforce international law.  The United States would have never survived the turmoil during these times had it not acted proactively in trouble spots.  Hence, the claim by some that the United States was purely being greedy and aggressive to take advantage of smaller or weaker countries, is ludicrous at best.  The concept of Pan-Americanism was paramount to the success of this great nation on the world stage.
        
         The United States, after reconstruction and the expansion to the Pacific Ocean was a nation that felt the melancholy of momentary anticlimactic lethargy.  The great exploring country had no where left to go on the North American Continent and events globally were pulling the country in many directions.  The first twinge of growth was in Caribbean and the South Pacific.  In 1898 the colonies of the Spanish Empire were engaged in a fight for independence that only the United States could help them with.  The Spanish aggression against the sovereign people of Cuba, the Philippines and Puerto Rico was the same kind that U.S. had fought against in the Revolution.  Therefore, it was only natural for this defender of Democracy to step in and offer a helping hand.  The Annexation of Hawaii during 1898 was also a step toward the stabilization of the turmoil that raged around the now Trans-continental Americans.  The United States stepped in on a tragic situation in which a deposed Queen was attempting to overthrow a legitimate democratic government.
        
          The Secretary of State under Presidents Garfield and Harrison, James G. Blaine, while unsuccessful in gaining an American monopoly in the Canal Project in Central America, sowed the seed that would later lead to the United States control of the most key maritime passageway in the western hemisphere.  When the U.S. assisted the valiant freedom fighters in the Republic of Panama against the oppressive Colombian regime, the stage was set for the United States to build the Panama Canal.  The Canal had been left unfinished, like so may other things that the French have left for us in the century, so American ingenuity and drive saved the day yet again.
        
         The Boxer Rebellion was another prime example of how the United States, in the attempt to defend American Citizens, was dragged into a war with yet another Monarchy bent on totalitarianism and oppression of a populace.  The Empress of China, TsuTsi, was not only a power hungry Queen that was contrary to the very thought of freedom, but also a murderous instigator of war who must be stopped.  The United States only responded to her aggression after American lives were put at risk. The only crime that the American government would be guilty of during this rebellion is not acting decisively enough.
        
         With the untimely demise of President McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt took office, and one of the greatest periods of American international prosperity began.  The hero of San Juan Hill was more than a match for the heavy job of policing the Americas and American interests abroad.  The institution of the Roosevelt Corollary was the epitome of American Policy, as it was and as it should now be.  Roosevelt accomplished in a few short years what many Presidents have tried multiple terms before and since to do.  The United States played a pivotal role during the Roosevelt administration in preventing European aggression in the Americas, protracted war between Russia and Japan, and the loss of the Dominican Republic to foreign debtors.
        
         The Gentlemans Agreement and later Root-Takahira Agreements with the Japanese governments demonstrated the willingness of the United States to lay down the sword and negotiate peace during this era of foreign aggression.  Unfortunately, this could not have been accomplished with out the Big Stick in the form of the Great White Fleet that was the overt symbol of the projection of U.S. power.  Had President Roosevelt been less convicted of his policy, or had the United States not already proven that they would fight for what was right in the world, the outcome would have surely been one of carnage for both sides.
        
  All these events set the example for other nations, and precedent for the United States to protect its holdings and friendly or democratic nations throughout the world.  The willingness of President Roosevelt in particular to negotiate when possible, but make war when necessary, led the United States into one of the most glorious periods of American history.  One can surmise then that the United States, while protecting the sovereignty or friendly nations and its interests abroad, was altruism in its nearly perfect form, and that the aggression that was a unfortunately necessary part of international politics was instrumental to the success of the United States on its quest for international justice.