American Colonialism

 
 
 
 
The effects of a colonial power's domestic politics on political and economic development in its colonies can be examined by comparison of different colonial powers, or by comparison of a single nation's colonies acquired under differing circumstances or for varying motives. The following discussion will consider the effects of American colonialism, particularly on Cuba and the Philippines, with further consideration of later neocolonial experience in East and Southeast Asia.

It will be suggested that the US, as a (more or less) democratic state, was compelled by internal domestic pressures to take greater responsible for overt colonies than for nominally independent client states. It will also be suggested that "strategic" colonies, acquired for national purposes, drew more public attention, and thus were more affected by domestic pressures, than were "economic" colonies that were of concern chiefly to particular economic interests.

The two great acquisitions of the SpanishAmerican War, Cuba and the Philippines, represent nearly mirror images in the political and economic dynamics of American imperialism. While the specific pretext for war with Spain was provided by the mysterious (and almost certainly accidental) explosion that sank the battleship USS *Maine, this event took place in a context of strong American public support for the Cuban independence cause.

Given this domestic political context, the US had effectively no choice but to endorse formal Cuban inde

     
 
 
 
    

 

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