The United States has always had considerable influence on other nations. The US has significant effect on other countries in terms of pop culture, technology, business practices, etc. However, the gravity of how much influence America has on other governments is evidenced by American Imperialism, which is the military, economic and cultural influence of the US on other lands, which usually goes hand in hand with expansion on a grand scale into other territories. This means to say that this influence could the US’ first step to creating an empire, which was first popularized at the time of James K. Polk’s presidency.
The concept of colonization and imperialism didn’t die when colonies turned into independent nations. For quite some time, American Imperialism ruled everything, and continues to exist to this day.
There is some debate as to when American Imperialism started, but its height was likely from the late 1800s through approximately the 1950s. One of the things that motivated American Imperialism is economic. During that time, the US was already gaining industrial power, which means that they were trying to find new markets to sell their goods. Another motive that led to imperialism was military power. In that era, the US needed bases where their naval ships could refuel. Imperialism helped them secure these bases, giving the country more power to show the rest of the world they were strong and important. The last of the motives was cultural influence. This was the time when America felt it needed to spread its superior forms of culture, religion and government to those who didn’t have much. This was also the time when America was competing for territories with Europe. Nevertheless, American Imperialism was also able to promote nationalism. It became a point of pride to ensure their colonies around the world.
Here are some of the important pros and cons of American Imperialism you can consider:
List of Pros of American Imperialism
1. It paved the way for global modernization.
America has always been a leader in many areas. For one, they created the transistor, which allowed people to listen to live broadcasts of current news and events. It was also in the US that modern robotics was first introduced, as well as the exploration of space. All of which have been brought to other countries through imperialism. As a result, other nations were able to develop faster than what they would have been able to do without the US’ help.
2. It helped develop global defense support.
With over 650 military bases in 38 different countries, American Imperialism has helped give the world some level of defensive support, protecting people around the world during conflict. This is by providing training, support, equipment and other resources.
3. It brought about industrialization.
And by extension, imperialism brought about globalization. It paved the way in the advancement of infrastructure and machinery, helping the colonized countries progress. As a result, there was improvement in the standard of living while literacy rate increased exponentially as educational institutes were established. Aside from that, resources were efficiently utilized for manufacturing and trade, improving economies around the world. What’s more, there was a significant increase in competition between local and international markets.
4. It resulted in the exchange of traditions, cultural ideologies and customs.
With America bringing influence to other nations, cultural ideas, language, food, religion and other things are exchanged. This led to nations broadening their horizons.
5. It led to a myriad of technological advancements.
Despite nations gaining higher pedestal long after imperialism was dissolved, no one can deny the fact that such concept brought about significant changes to the colonies in several areas, including transportation, infrastructure, roads, educational institutions and more. Aside from that, there were innovations in science, information technology and healthcare.
6. It helped fuel economic growth around the world.
Innovation is the main focus American Imperialism, which should allow the US to gain as much profit as possible. This resulted in the development of new products and services not only in the United States, but also in other countries. This has fueled economic growth.
List of Cons of American Imperialism
1. It can cause political feud.
No country, person or organization wants to be controlled by another entity, which is the reason that there were a few discords among groups or nations that co-existed before imperialism. Because America obtained cheap labor and had easy access to natural resources from their colonies, there was a gap of differentiation between nations. Aside from that, foul play was becoming more obvious, and then got worse while imperialism continued.
2. It leads to discrimination.
Exchange of traditions and cultures is a good thing, but it should come naturally, not forced. Unfortunately, there were countries that suffered this kind of discrimination as they were forced to adapt to foreign ideas and thoughts despite their protests. What’s worse is that many people from the colonies were shipped and used without them knowing or agreeing, especially in Africa.
3. It causes exploitation.
Citizens of the colonies who did not accept the beliefs of the superpowers of the colonizers can be exploited and punished for doing so. Aside from that, the colonies’ wealth and natural resources were exploited as well.
4. It requires a considerable amount of money to defend more than one nation.
American Imperialism is still present in several countries up to this day. With military bases in numerous places around the world, from Germany to Japan, it will require the US government to support all of these defensive forces.
5. It is seen as unnecessary.
Many opponents of this concept believe that the US government should have spent their own money on developing resources to eliminate dependence from other nations. However, America is spending this money on imported goods. With advancements in technology, the US could have eliminated most imports by producing their own technology.
Now the question is: should America continue to expand to other nations to provide support or should it retract its naval and military bases and give the colonies a chance to stand on their own? By weighing the advantages and disadvantages, you can decide whether you want to support American Imperialism or not.
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.