There is public outcry over the new imperialist policies followed by the U.S. However, our studies show that this is not strictly a new phenomenon. In fact, its lineage can be traced back to the birth of America. Initially, U.S. imperialism manifested itself in the form of colonialism and America’s desire to expand its frontiers, or the idea of Manifest Destiny. The Monroe Doctrine of 1823 laid the foundation for the protection of American interests in foreign nations and taking military action abroad. The U.S. Mexican War set the tone for the American policy of expansion by gaining the territories of New Mexico and California, in addition to the annexation of Texas. The new territories divided the country and lead to the Civil War, where each section of the country tried to introduce their own ideologies and institutions in these new lands. The Spanish American War of 1898 established America as an emerging world power and marked the first phase in an era of interventionist policy in Latin America.
Throughout the 20th century, the U.S. intervened in Latin American to exploit natural resources and further its economic gains. American foreign policy was exemplified by the U.S. involvement in Panama, Guatemala, and Nicaragua. U.S. government repeatedly supported hostile dictatorships and overthrew democratic leaders who were not aligned with its interests.
This brings us to the foreign policy of the U.S. today. The Bush administration has led a war on terrorism in Afghanistan and sought to “liberate” Iraq and put an end to Saddam Hussein’s rule. The U.S. invaded Iraq without the approval of the U.N., and this bold action reaffirms the commonly held belief that America now seeks to be the dominant world power—an “empire builder.” In the modern age, building empires does not involve acquiring new land or territories, but rather exercising political, economic, and military control over other nations. In this light, America is the empire builder of today.
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