Should the United States have intervened in foreign affairs in the early twentieth century? There are many opinions on this topic; however, I believe that imperialism, the policy of extending the rule or authority of an empire or nation over foreign countries, was a smart decision for the United States. Imperialism was the correct decision for the US because of its mandating by legal documents, education of foreign countries, and increase in land and resources.
Not only was imperialism an opinionated decision of the United States, but it was necessary as citizens to fulfill our American duties. President McKinley explains how he feels it is necessary to intervene, “In the cause of humanity and to put an end to the barbarities, bloodshed, starvation, and horrible miseries now existing there in Cuba, and which the parties to the conflict are either unable or unwilling to stop or mitigate…We owe it to our citizens in Cuba to afford them that protection and indemnity for life and property.” This does not state that we should go around fixing every little problem of the countries around us, but that we not let situations go beyond a critical state of impeding on any human’s natural rights. “…Chronic wrongdoing, or an impotence which results in a general loosening of the ties of civilized society, may in America, as elsewhere, ultimately require intervention” (Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine). Just as important as intervention itself is the education of foreign communities, which can only be fulfilled with initial mitigation and stability.
Once we have put a stop to all dictatorship or anarchy in foreign nations, it is crucial that we establish a democracy and educate the citizens of the country so that they may govern themselves. Goals of the US were to see neighboring nations stable, orderly, and prosperous which are achievable only after education. The US wished not to govern other nations forever, but to educate and them about the justice of having a democracy where they can govern themselves. “I answer, would not the natives of the Philippines prefer the just, humane, civilizing government of the Republic to the savage, bloody rule of pillage and extortion from which we have rescued them?” stated Senator Albert J. Beveridge summarizing the moral reasons and importance of intervention.
Another benefit of imperialism was the expansion of our territories and increase in strategic locations along with resources. “The acquisition of the Dominican Republic is desirable because of its geographical position…It possesses the richest soil, best and most capacious harbors, most salubrious climate, and the most valuable products of the forest, mine, and soil of any of the West Indian Islands” stated President Grant. This demonstrates the success of the US in becoming imperialistic. Another important location for commerce was the Panama Canal. How would we be able to quickly ship goods between the Philippines and our eastern borders without the Panama Canal? If we had never gained this section of land from Panama, today we would still have to sail around the tip of South America to transport goods. These decisions have impacted how we live today in accordance with our surrounding nations.
During the early twentieth century, imperialism led to America realizing that our industry was dependant on foreign markets and that it needed to move away from a self-centered mindset and focus on the prosperity of ourselves along with surrounding nations. If any person were to state that these suggestions were contrary to the law that we may not govern people without their consent, then they would be going against how they live today because of what Senator Albert J. Beveridge depicts, “I answer, the rule of liberty that all just government derives its authority from the consent of the governed, applies only to those who are capable of self-government. We govern the Indians without their consent; we govern the territories without their consent; we govern our children without their consent.” Overall, imperialism was a way for America to help other incapable nations develop, while expanding our own relations and resources as well.