An Idea of Foreign Policy in America
America felt the need to move towards the idea of foreign policy from 1895 to 1920; their success was a combination of idealism and self-interest. Both were influential in the decision to venture outside of U. S borders. America expanded due to idealistic view such as: The White Man’s Burden, Religious motivation, a social contract with the Western Hemisphere and the Spanish American War. However, self interest offered more of a substantial force with America’s desire for a stronger Navy, foreign market, power, pride, and the influences of the Roosevelt Corollary.
When both ideas are combined they create one of the most influential and globally shaping decisions of our world. America’s decision to expand their foreign policy influenced their idealistic views. America especially felt the need to assist the less fortunate and successful nations in the western hemisphere, which is called the White Man’s Burden. This is described in (Document C). This poem shows the feelings of the American people, the poem’s optimistic tone and uplifting morale portrays the justification the colonization of less developed and successful countries.
Many of America’s missionaries decided to leave the land of the free and help other countries and their populations through education and the gospel. Missionaries were sent out to spread their religion and to help people who were not as fortunate as others. American men and women set up schools and hospitals in SE Asia and taught children the basic principles of science and math. (Document D) shows a picture of American missionaries teaching in China. Citizens of the government served as inspiration for the expansion of its foreign policy.
America was caught in a feeling of moral obligation to its western countries. It then became morally bound to help those in times of need. The government became stuck in their good deeds. It was difficult to maintain its policy of individualism with this moral arrangement. The Spanish American War was a main factor that led America to gain foreign policy. While Cuba was struggling for independence in the late 1890s, the Spanish created a form of concentration camps in response to the revolts to keep prisoners from assisting the rebels.
They believed that if they kept the citizens in these camps, they could not mount a large enough force to overthrow Spanish power. Over the time of the camps habitation, approximately a third of all prisoners were killed by the time of the camps liberation. America felt obligated to assist the Cubans due to their burden of the white man, pushing their foreign policy higher. America was given no choice; they were forced to break down their wall of individualism. This was the impetus for America’s colonial expansion.
Shortly after their adventures in Cuba, America gained both Puerto Rico and the Philippines. On the other hand, self-interest, a powerful and influential factor, influenced America greatly. America was still on the rise to becoming a world power; one requirement for a world power is a powerful and efficient Navy. America had the potential to become a sea power but it lacked power on the global stage. America’s Navy was centralized near the motherland; their navy had to be present in all waters across the earth. America needed ports around the globe to refuel and re-supply.
By creating ports around the world, America expanded itself and became a created a global presence. Also a big problem in the early 1900s was overproduction, farmers continued to create more product than they could sell. This can be largely contributed to America’s lack of a foreign market. The American people alone were too small to consume all of the products. This need for foreign investors drove the Americans to expand for economic purposes. This can be shown by the excerpt in (Document B). ” An introduction of foreign consumers brought an influx of variety and mixture of products.
America was still standing outside of the world power circle peering in. This created a desire and want from the American people to become a world leader and global power. Greed for power pushed Americans to become more aggressive and assertive on the world stage. Americans saw the addition of colonies as a way to gain power and recognition on the world stage; this led to the colonization of Puerto Rico and the Philippines, some of Americas expansion is shown in (Documents E and F). One thing was for sure, America had war pride, it was the citizens duty to prove their success in war.
This pride that they felt is shown in (Document A), where it states “Anew consciousness seems to have come upon us- the consciousness of strength-and with it a new appetite, the yearning to show our strength…” An example can be found in the events following the publication of the De lome letter. Enrique Dupuy de Lome, who was the Spanish and Cuban Minister, wrote the letter. The letter stated that president McKinley was weak. The Americans found this offensive and shortly after its publication, the Spanish and Americans were at war. Document G) exhibits how Americans were done with their peripheral lifestyle; they were tired of being the little guy. The influences of the Roosevelt corollary were drastic and obvious. The proclamation showed America’s intentions and exhibited the fact that America was ready to expand and come out of its isolationist cocoon. It served as a message to the world that America had arrived on the global stage. However, America’s arrival on the world stage wasn’t without struggle. This struggle can be shown through (Document H). The political cartoon depicts the U. S.
A joining happily with, or marrying, foreign entanglements through the League of Nations. It also depicts the U. S Senate objecting to the marriage showing that America’s decision to become a world power wasn’t without struggle or objection. The tension between what the people wanted and what the Senate wanted was on opposite spectrums. The people gained the win even though the Senate claimed it was against the Constitution. Obviously the push to expand America’s foreign policy cannot be attributed to idealism or self-interest alone. A combination of both created a push to leave the comforts of our borders.
One is not more important than the other; they alone would not have achieved what is achieved today. This push created one of the largest current powers on the globe. One has to think; where would we be today if President Roosevelt and the American people had decided to stay isolated. America truly changed the name of the game by coming out of their bubble and stepping into the world. In retrospect Foreign Policy was not achieved through one thing, Foreign policy is like any good casserole; there are many ingredients and varying measurements of each.