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The term American imperialism is used in describing the economic, military and cultural influence that the U.S has compared to the other countries in the world. The concept developed during the regime of President James Polk with the onset of the term American empire. There was an influence by social Darwinianism which caused a belief among people that America had the innate responsibility of bringing about industrialization, democracy, and Christianity among the less developed nations (Jeffrey, pg. 106). The United States is said to have the responsibility of spreading democracy and liberty over the world and is seen as a unique nation a concluded by Alexis de Tocqueville. Pronounced imperialism was experienced in the 1800s all through the two world wars and the subsequent wars. Imperialism was a driver of the contribution that the United States made during the wars.
America focused on expansion after it had gained its independence and the start of imperialism was marked by the occurrence of the Spanish-American war . During this time, the Philippines, Guam and the Puerto Rico were acquired by the United States. The war began in 1898 as it started its imperialism which but the nation gave up when it was defeated. The nation then turned to the Caribbean islands in 1908 when they failed to succeed. The nation focused on the Caribbean specifically the Panama Canal as the islands were closer home. The attempts of the nation in gaining imperialism can be traced in the line of the first, second and the cold war and the events which followed thereafter (Welch and Richard, pg. 78).
First World War Era
The United States had maintained a neutral position the First World War until in the year 1917 when a disagreement ensued between the nation and Germany concerning the use of submarines. The selected services act was developed upon the entry of the US into the war and the country was allowed to send soldiers to France on a daily basis. The First World War was held in France from 1918 to the year 1945. The nation gained a recognition as a world power just before the war ended.It gained recognition in terms of both military and economic basis and did not agree to the signing of the Treaty of Versaille. The move of the failure to sign the treaty helped the country gain a reputation of isolationists. The Americans were faced with the fear of communism as a result of the revolution that took place in Russia (Luttwak, Edward, pg. 96).
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In the 1920s, mark able events occurred in the United States whose effects are felt up to date. During this period, there was the prohibition of conversation. The KKK was also reformed whereby there was a membership of up to four million people and the immigration act was also passed which reduced the number of persons who could immigrate into the nation. The jazz age also came up during this period which was a group of very active youths. However, the nation was not able to sustain these developments initiated conceived in the 1920s (Sandy, pg. 112).
The stock market crashed in the year 1929 leading to the development of the Great Depression as a result of the worldwide depression. The nation experienced high unemployment rates whereby almost a quarter of the United States population was jobless. The industrial output also declined in almost every industry where the output was one-third of the original output. The nation did not let the issue of the Great Depression to discourage them in their development agenda. Franklin D. Roosevelt got into campaigns in 1932 where he promised a great deal to the Americans. Entitlement programs were introduced which led to new ways of spending money paid by the taxpayers so that some social programs could have a voice in the national congress.in the reign of president Franklin D. Roosevelt, the social security act, the emerging banking act together with the Social Security Act, the Economy Act Works Progress Administration were also introduced (Welch and Richard pg. 80).
World War II Era
Most countries were dealing with economic problems during this period. The unarrest from Nazi in Germany and the Fascists from Italy had besieged Europe causing rumblings. Imperial japan was also expanding to East Asia and the French and British were engaging in appeasement process so as to prevent another war from breaking out. The neutrality act was set up by America to prevent America from engaging in any conflict with nations outside its territories. Germany invaded Poland in 1939 and the legislation changed as World War II emerged. The president promised finances and supplies to the arsenal of democracy so as to support the Allies in Europe. In 1941, Pearl Harbor was attacked by japan in a bid to bar the nation from demonstrating their power in the pacific hence the country decided to revenge (Sandy pg. 120).
The nation’s economy improved during the war and the move out of the negative impacts of the Great Depression was aided by the War Production Board of FDR. The concept of full-time employment came into being and there was a huge labor force from America engaged during the war. The Allies finally defeated the Power of Axis and this resulted in another war behind the scenes. The nation was made a superpower after the war and made the decision to join the United Nations. The nation broke from its tradition of isolationism of acting as a unilateral which they had held for a very long time. The nation aimed at preventing the already growing expansion of communism by the Soviets in Europe (Luttwak, Edward, pg. 99).
The NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) was formed in 1949 as a measure by the country to protect nations from any unnecessary attacks particularly by the soviets. The NATO composed of countries like the United Kingdom, Italy, France, the USA, and Canada among others whereby if one member was attacked it was considered that it was the whole NATO that was attacked. The Warsaw pact was formed by the Soviet Union upon recognizing the formation of NATO and this marked the beginning of the cold war.
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The Cold War Era
The cold war was conducted in the form of proxy wars such as the Korean War that took place in 1950 and the Vietnam War that occurred in the year 1955. The United States got involved in the Space Race that took place in 1957 in a competition for greatness in technology and innovation. The nation influenced all the other countries in the world in all the dimensions of life including economically, technologically, socially, and culturally and in matters concerning the military. The height of the cold war was experienced during the reign of president j. f. Kennedy and the united states was highly involved in the Vietnam War (Jeffrey, pg. 108).
Post-Cold War Era
In the 1970s, the United States experienced the Iran hostage crisis which occurred under the reign of President Carter. The Economic Recovery Tax Act was introduced by President Reagan where the tax was reduced significantly. The president also reinforced the military activities of the country and also brought up the Strategic Defense Initiative. The cold war finally ended through the efforts of President Reagan. The Soviet Union was defeated in 1989 during Reagan’s leadership. The collapse of the Soviet Union led to the emergence of the United States as the only superpower globally and it started monitoring the affairs of the affairs of other nations globally (Luttwak, Edward, pg. 108).
In 1992 under the leadership of bill Clinton, the United States saw technological development particularly the onset of the dot-com era. The al-Qaeda hijacked two United States airliners in the year 2001 and threw them in the New York City where over 300 people died in the incidence. President George bush declared war on terror and Afghanistan was ruined by the NATO. The nation also started another war against Saddam Hussein who was believed to have weapons of mass destruction. The economy was affected in 2007 with a massive decline in all sectors of the United States hence a devastating financial crisis. The nation was granted an economic boost by the former president barrack Obama and this helped to re-stabilize it. The nation remains at the top globally despite the challenges it has gone through and the current problems ((Jeffrey, pg. 112).
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Imperialism is used to define an influence that the United States has on other global nations in terms of economic, cultural and military aspects. The concept emerged at the time of President Polk as the belief that Americans have inherent power to influence the actions of other nations was born. Imperialism was experienced from the 1800s through the world wars and wars that followed thereafter. The nation was interested in the expansion after it gained independence in the late 19th century. The Spanish-American war prompted the onset of the imperialism in an attempt to conquer the Caribbean islands. The journey of imperialism can be traced along the first, second, and the cold war and the post-cold war era. The nation gained military and economic strength during the First World War and embraced the isolationism concept when it failed to sign the treaty of Versaille. The nation got into the Great Depression, an economic crisis during President Roosevelt reign. World War II saw the formation of NATO to prevent unwarranted attacks, especially from the Soviet Union. The cold war ensued with a conflict between the NATO and the Soviet Union which end as a result of the collapse of the Soviet Union. America stood over the years hence became recognized globally as a super power. Subsequent efforts in the nation led to the strengthening of the United States of America as an imperial nation through the development of technology and economy.
- Grande, Sandy. Red pedagogy: Native American social and political thought. Rowman & Littlefield, 2015.
- Luttwak, Edward N. The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire: From the First Century CE to the Third. JHU Press, 2016.
- Sachs, Jeffrey. “The fatal expense of American imperialism.” Boston Globe 30 (2016).
- Welch Jr, Richard E. Response to Imperialism: The United States and the Philippine-American War, 1899-1902. UNC Press Books, 2016.