When evaluating the geopolitical significance of the United States in contemporary times, it becomes evident that it possesses a unique dynamic. The combination of military and technological supremacy, profound economic strength and a proven willingness to unilaterally approach international relations has cemented America as a force of tremendous global influence. In a post 9/11 context, America has declared an ‘axis of evil’, stated its right to preemptive conflict, unilaterally invaded a sovereign nation and defied principles of international law. The purpose of this investigation is hence to examine the nature of American imperialism – not where it stands now; but where it began.
The Spanish-American War (1898) is viewed by many to have been the first indication of America’s imperial ambitions – however, historical conflict persists when viewing the nature of this imperialism. Some view it as a state-directed form of expansion; others as adhering to a sinister ‘military-industrial complex’; some consider it an explosion of jingoism. The investigation does not focus merely on whether American intervention in Cuba, and its concurrent declaration of War on Spain, was imperialistic; I also seek to examine how different schools of thought – Revisionist, Economic, Marxist and Cultural – characterise this imperialism and explain its contribution to war’s outbreak.
The question developed from contemporary concerns of American imperialism, and personal interest in foreign affairs – cultivated from my brief consideration of a political career. Furthermore, I hoped to explore an issue of contemporary significance. Thus, the combination of my political interest, my desire to explore the roots of American imperialism and my wish to sift through differing historical perspectives was responsible for the development of the question.
Considering the period I am exploring, it has been necessary to include a wide array of sources. There is an abundance of secondary...