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| War to Relations Essay

The Spanish-American War was a significant event, because it allowed the United States to show its military power, but it also started the relations between the United States and Cuba.

The urgency of this subject is caused, first of all, by the modern world military-political conditions. The USA has confirmed that for today it is the world predominant force and any state cannot be its opponent. The Spanish-American War became a starting point for the USA power at the world level; therefore, having analyzed explicitly all events of the war of 1898 and its prehistory, it is possible to point out the bases of this power. The urgency, in a narrow sense, is an urgency of the diplomatic aspects of the Spanish-American War. It is caused by the scarcity of the domestic historiography devoted to this question.

The Spanish-American War of 1898 had an immense value for the United States of America. Inherently, it opened an imperialistic stage of the capitalistic development; the repartition of the colonies began between the great powers of the world. From the 19th century, the aspirations of the USA to leave Europe behind, according to the level of sociopolitical and economic development, and have a geopolitical influence on the Western hemisphere and other regions of the planet were explicitly noticeable. The Spanish-American War has shown that the USA considers itself an absolute master of the Northern and Southern America and will not undergo the foreign presence at the Western hemisphere.

The Spanish-American War deeply divided the American people. Although its resounding success from a military standpoint and the astonishingly high ratio of heroes produced to casualties suffered led John Hay to deem it “a splendid little war”, many Americans at the time and in the years since considered it an unnecessary, unwanted, and unwarranted conflict. In combination with the messy entanglements in the Philippines that directly followed, the Spanish-American War called cherished American ideals into question, spawned leagues of anti-imperialists, and fostered resilient strains of pacifism that would endure in American cultural and political life at least until World War II.

According to Rosenfeld, the Spanish-American War was, undoubtedly, an event of an epoch; it presaged and predetermined the main directions and singularities of the international relations in the subsequent decades. Its value lies not only in what the first “imperialistic” war or “the first war for redivision of the shared world was, since it became a milestone or a starting point of the history of the USA, after which its international status and a role in the world have qualitatively changed. After an agony lasting for more than two centuries, as a result of a mortal blow put to it by the USA during the war of 1898, the prominent Spanish colonial state finally stopped its existence. Consequently, it led to its losing of the influence in the world politics. At the same time, the USA was experiencing a phenomenal economic rise during the last decades of the 19th century and affirmed itself as the absolute master of the American and near American territories. Moreover, it asserted its world claims based on their convincingly substantiated military success. Thus, the Spanish-American War can be considered to be the beginning of the formation of the American military and political world supremacy.

From the start, as popular thinking went, America was acting from humane causes, seeking to end the oppression and brutality that Spain had wreaked upon the innocent Cubans. To support the war was the highest form of patriotism. Those who fought were stirred by the song “Stars and Stripes Forever”.

In 1898 – 1902, the USA controlled the occupied Cuba for the first time. The Americans received a control over Cuba as a result of the war with Spain, which was begun for the reason of its support of the Cuban national-liberation movement. The control of Cuba was carried out by military authorities. In May 1902, the military government handed over the reins to the newly elected Administration of the President Estrada Palma, and the Cuban Republic began its existence as an independent state. However, the government soon wallowed in the contentions between the fractions and corruption; frauds on elections were widely spread. The disagreements reached such a heat that there was a danger of the armed conflict, and the USA asked the government of Cuba for help. According to this amendment (included into the Constitution of the Cuban Republic under the pressure of the USA, which otherwise refused to recognize the independence of Cuba), the USA had the right to interfere with the affairs of the independent Cuban Republic.

The Spanish-American relations on the eve and during the Spanish-American war of 1898 were many-sided and ambiguous. The Cuban Island, which was extremely valuable for the USA as a strategic base and sales market, one of the last signs of the former power and wealth for Spain, was the center of the common interests of the states during this period. The situation in Cuba and around it also caused a character of the relations between Spain and the USA. The international situation made the USA start to watch the island, perceiving it as the most valuable addition, which can be a result of the federation of the states. However, in the middle of the 19th century, the position of Spain on the island was not so catastrophic, and England and France, which had own interests in Cuba, did not remain any chances to the USA in terms of opening struggle for the island. Owing to this fact, the USA tried to maintain the interests of Spain on the island, opposing thus to the main competitors, while kindling revolts on the island and hoping to receive a privilege from the hostess of Cuba for a kind position. The USA achieved the loss of the positions on the island by England and France. More than a half of the economics of Cuba belonged to the USA. Moreover, the revolts against the colonial oppression did not stop even for a day. At the same time, the position of Spain on the island became menacing.

Nineteen-century relations between the United States and Latin America can be divided into two distinct periods. The first encompasses the years from 1787 to approximately 1850, during which almost all of the mainland British, Portuguese, and Spanish colonies achieved their independence. In the process of nation-building that followed, each had to adjust to its newfound freedom and had little time for interaction with each other. During the second period, from approximately 1850 to 1903, these nations sought their place in the new world order and in the process markedly increased their contact with each other. By 1903, the basis for a relationship had been established between the United States and Latin America.

In 1898, the American army expelled the Spaniards from the territory of the Philippines. As a result of negotiations, Spain sold the Philippines to the USA for 20 million dollars. Thus, the USA imposed the most severe conditions to Spain by using the emergency position of the country. Spain lost all the colonial possessions, which passed to the United States. There was an occupational regime on Cuba, headed by the general Leonard Wood. The Platt Amendment was adopted in 1901. According to this document, Cuba was obliged not to sign any contracts with the foreign states about the transfer of its own territory. The USA reserved the right to the intervene. Moreover, the authorities of Cuba were obliged to concede a number of own territories for the coal stations and sea bases to the USA (Guantanamo, which is one of them, exists till now).

After signing such a contract with Spain, the USA considerably strengthened their military and strategic situation both from the West and the East. Cuba and the Philippines became the important outposts on the way to the USA. Moreover, the Philippines opened thriving economic prospects for the USA. The archipelago is rich with minerals and natural resources; besides, it is densely populated and, therefore, is a significant sales market for the American goods. Thus, the Philippines appeared the key transit point for the American expansion to China and Far East.

In response, the USA proclaimed a policy of the “benevolent assimilation” of the Philippines. The Philippines did not agree with it as they met the American army as liberators, but received new colonizers. As a result, the American army had been forced to wage a bloody war with the Philippine insurgents for three years. The Philippines received independence in 1946; the last American military base was closed in 1992. Since James Monroe’s administration, the federal government of the USA moved the indigenous population for the limits of white settlements in a series of the American Indian reservations. The tribes moved to small reservations; thus, their land passed to the white farmers.

The value of the Spanish American War is not only in the fact that the USA received crucial bases and sales markets for the goods and that the USA showed the imperialistic character of its policy to the whole world, but in the relations the USA obtained owning to it. First of all, it became the first large international campaign of the Americans, a peculiar breakthrough, the assertion of the USA as one of the most powerful states on the international scene. It became a sample, the alphabet for all subsequent campaigns of the Americans.

The Spanish-American War is characterized by all the features of modern foreign policy of the USA. It also includes a wide public propaganda of the correctness of its actions, positioning by means of the demagogical statements and the policy of the “double standards” as a main world arbitrator.

On the other hand, it is impossible to criticize the USA. The American expansion together with the severe manifestations also bears the positive effects. People of the Philippines and Cuba, undoubtedly, received a considerable advantage from the domination of the developed USA, than a weak and backward Spain. The consequences of this war deserve more attention than a war itself, which is quite insignificant, especially in its land part.

According to Leonard, the reasons of the Spanish-American War consisted in the desire of the USA to subordinate economically the Spanish colony Cuba for the further expansion to Latin America and eliminate the presence of the European powers at the Western hemisphere. Spain, which was in a highly difficult economic and socio-political situation, did not want a war and was ready to make concessions to the Cuban revolutionaries and the American government, but Mac-Kinsley’s administration consciously went on confrontation, having chosen the explosion of the American battleship of “Man” in a bay of Havana as a war cause. Chronologically, the war took three months, and the sea battles in Manila bay and at Santiago de Cuba became its main moments. After the victory in both battles, the American army almost freely occupied the main cities of Cuba and the Philippines with the support of insurgents.

According to the article of a peace treaty, Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines appeared under the jurisdiction of the USA. Thus, the goals of the American administration were achieved. Despite the declaration of independence of Cuba in 1902, the republic remained under the control of the USA.

The American government possessed a doubtful merit of the introduction of such methods, as a “big stick policy” and a “dollar diplomacy” into the international relations. In 1904, Theodore Roosevelt declared that the application of the Monroe’s Doctrine in the Western Hemisphere forced the USA to assume the duties of the international police force. Thus, the USA tried to justify an open intervention in internal affairs of the Latin American states, numerous occupations of the Dominican Republic (1904, 1914), Cuba (1906-1909, 1912), Honduras and Nicaragua.

Thus, it is possible to single out definite benefits which the USA received after the Spanish-American War.
The political, economic and social factors acted as the basic reasons of a special interest of the USA in relation to Cuba. The American government had been interested in this island since the 19th century. The political justification was directed at the strengthening of the positions of the USA in the Caribbean Basin and acquisition of the Pacific sea bases as strong points on approaches to the Asian region. The economic intervention was directed at the acquisition of new sales markets, owing to the arisen surplus of the goods because of the overproduction in the industrial branches. A social basis of intervention consisted in the investments of less developed areas for the purpose of the profit increase.
The evolution of the foreign policy of the USA in the Latin American question consisted of several stages. Initially, the policy of the American diplomacy had a peace character. The moderate policy of the President Monroe in the Latin American region in 1823 testifies to it. The Monroe Doctrine proclaimed pan-American bases. The President Millard Fillmore, who signed the contract with Great Britain in 1850, which was counterbalancing the rights with the USA in the Latin American region, had also a peace character.
The U.S. Presidents Grover Cleveland, William Mac-Kinley, Theodor Roosevelt, William Taft, and Woodrow Wilson pursued an aggressive policy in the Latin American region, based on the military intervention to various spheres. These facts are proved by the various documents accepted during this period.
The value of Cuba was a priority interest of the USA in the relation of the change of the US general foreign policy. The ideologists of an expansionism declared that the USA was recognized to take control of the whole American continent and to establish control over the whole world. However, only military unpreparedness and remaining economic dependence on Europe limited the implementation of a wide expansionist policy, which was carried out in Great Britain, France and Germany at the end of the 19th – beginning of the 20th centuries. Therefore, the USA paid a special attention to the Latin American region. The American diplomats considered these methods to be a pan-Americanism, which served as an ideological justification of the expansionist claims, a civilizing role of the USA, a big stick policy and dollar diplomacy into the international relations. These methods and principles found a practical application on the territory of Cuba.

Thus, Washington managed to strengthen considerably the expansionist foreign policy in Latin America. The activization of the foreign policy dynamics of the USA occurred in the interests of huge capitals and expansionist policy, where the methods, by means of which the USA tried to become firm and significant power in the Latin American region, were gradually shown in an accurate manner. Thus, Cuba became a kind of outpost, on the basis of which further strengthening of the positions of the USA in this region was conducted.

During this period, the United States began to grow as the international state with the solid population for both industrial growth and numerous military adventures worldwide, including Spanish-American War, which began when the USA was accused of the flooding of the American battleship “Man”. The United States were interested in liberation of Cuba, the island state battling for freedom from Spain, and also Puerto Rico and the Philippines, Spanish colonies that were searching for liberation. In December of 1898, the Spanish and American representatives signed the Treaty of Paris, a peace agreement about the war end, according to which Cuba found independence, and Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines became the territories of the USA. Moreover, it is rather interesting to compare the military campaigns of the USA of 1898 and 2003since they have much in common. They are similar not only by those specific methods which were applied by America, but also by their deep essence.

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