Did the U.S. surpass other nations after the Spanish American War due to foreign policy changes?

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The United States's crushing victory in the Spanish-American War greatly enhanced its status as a world power. At this time, the United States was already the world's richest and most industrially-advanced nation. But victory over Spain added military prowess to America's growing list of strengths.

Traditionally, American governments had fought shy of engaging too directly in foreign affairs. Ever since George Washington's famous "Farewell Address," with its warning of "foreign entanglements," successive administrations had shown a marked reluctance for the United States to take on a significant role on the international stage. But the easy victory of the Spanish-American War changed all that. From now on, the United States would unequivocally be an international power, ready and willing to use military force anywhere in the world to protect its strategic interests.

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What are four topic points to how United States became superior to other nations after the Spanish American War from the changes in foreign policy?

"Superiority" is a relative term to use in this case. In what ways is the United States superior? I can point out how the Spanish-American War led to distinct changes in American policy.

First, the Spanish-American War demonstrated the growth of the American navy. While the Spanish fleet did not have quite the strength it had in previous centuries, it was still a European fleet that was recognized by other major powers. The United States destroyed the Spanish fleet in the Pacific in a brief battle, with little damage to its own ships. Overnight, the American fleet grew in power, since before the Spanish-American War it ranked far behind European powers.

Secondly, the acquisitions after the Spanish-American War placed the United States on a footing with other major powers, especially in the Pacific. Alfred Thayer Mahan stated that the United States needed ports in order to reach potential markets in Asia. Overnight, the United States gained Guam and the Philippines. The United States would also annex Hawaii in the same year of the Spanish-American War. This meant that American production had an outlet. The United States also was active in keeping Chinese markets viable by writing the Open Door policy.

The United States also created a reputation for projecting force abroad during this war. A lot of this stems from the man who would succeed McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt gained his fame during the Spanish-American War as the leader of the Rough Riders. Before the war, Roosevelt was an academic, adventurer, police reformer, and assistant secretary of the navy, but he was not yet a household name all over the country. Roosevelt authorized the voyage of the Great White Fleet as a projection of force in the Pacific. He also brokered a peace that ended the Russo-Japanese War, an act which gained him the Nobel Prize. While the nations of Europe knew the United States as an industrial powerhouse, they now had to be aware that the United States had the capacity to project its force abroad.

The Spanish-American War also led to a strengthening of the Monroe Doctrine. After the war, the United States was willing to use force to ensure a pro-American government in Cuba, much to the consternation of many Cubans who hoped for independence. The United States also helped to create the independent state of Panama in order to build the Panama Canal. All of these actions made Central America a sphere of American influence.

While "superiority" is hard to measure, one can see how American foreign policy transformed due to the Spanish-American War and its immediate aftermath. While the United States could not claim moral superiority over the colonizing powers of Europe, as its policies during the Filipino War were quite brutal, the United States demonstrated its willingness to project force in the name of what it considered "Manifest Destiny" and a responsibility to bring American values to places where they did not already exist. While much of this was a guise to support American military and commercial interests, the people who insisted on the war claimed moral superiority over colonizing European powers. Likewise, the anti-imperialists claimed that the new acquisitions were a blemish on the national record.

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What are four topic points to how United States became superior to other nations after the Spanish American War from the changes in foreign policy?

This question makes two assumptions: firstly, that the United States is superior to other nations, and secondly, that this superiority was caused by changes in foreign policy after the Spanish-American War. Both assumptions are subject to debate.

Yes, the United States has been the world's leading economy, but it had already become the world's largest industrial economy (surpassing Great Britain's) decades before the Spanish-American War. It also had a reputation for non-interference in the sovereign affairs of other nations and for avoiding foreign wars. One could argue that that was the real American greatness, before over a century of imperialism, foreign military adventurism, unprecedented expansion of Federal power, high taxes, and record levels of debt resulted from endless foreign wars.

Be that as it may, here are four potential topic points:

The United States, it was argued, must make the world safe for democracy by extending its Manifest Destiny beyond its borders. This argument was trumpeted to the American public by yellow journalists like William Randolph Hearst, because lurid tales of alleged Spanish atrocities in Cuba (ignoring the acts of terrorism by the separatists) sold more newspapers than honest reporting. It also supported the new "large" foreign policy of advocates of imperialism, like William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, and Henry Cabot Lodge. Woodrow Wilson famously became a leading advocate of this moral interventionist line of reasoning, showing that it crossed party lines.

The United States must seek new markets and greater market access for our capital investments abroad (i.e., American economic security requires and justifies imperialism). Some nations unfairly closed off their markets to foreign capital investments or foreign imports, and these backward nations must be integrated into the world economy for their own good and for the good of the world (the argument goes).

The then-popular theory of Social Darwinism was developed when Herbert Spencer applied Charles Darwin's evolutionary theory to human affairs and argued that, because nature was a struggle resulting in the survival of the fittest (those that adapted best to the current environment), the United States had a right to assert its struggle for its interests around the globe, like other nations were doing.

"Civilizing" the world and bringing an end to barbarism, slavery, oppression, and tyranny was held to be a moral duty. Was it not manifestly true that the world was full of barbarism, slavery, oppression, and tyranny? Would it not be morally irresponsible for the United States, with its unmatched power to do good, to isolate itself instead of fighting for the oppressed around the world?

These were the main points used to justify American imperialism and intervention in foreign wars (a complete reversal of American foreign policy since 1789).

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