Which factor, self-interest or idealism, was more important in driving American foreign policy in the years 1895-1920?

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American foreign policy in most eras has combined elements of both self-interest and idealism, and the period from 1895 to 1920 is no exception. Indeed, most of the United States' relations with other countries during this time could be reasonably construed either way. Take the Spanish-American War of 1898, for example. As well as the immense strategic importance of Cuba (self-interest), the United States also backed the Cubans in their revolt against Spanish colonialism (idealism). Whatever the prime motivation for America's involvement with Cuba, there can be little doubt that the war with Spain precipitated an increasingly assertive and expansionist foreign policy.

This development can be seen most clearly in the following year's war between the United States and the Philippines. Having expelled the Spanish from their East Asian colony, the Americans believed that they were entitled to take possession of the Philippines. Immediately, this placed them at odds with a growing Filipino...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 606 words.)

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