America's Democratic Beacon

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In the 20th Century, the strongest case that could be made for the U.S. as a democratic beacon rather than an imperialist capitalist juggernaut is it participation in the world wars that prevented Germany from controlling Europe an authoritarian Germany in the First World War and Nazi Germany in the Second. To be sure, the genocidal crimes of the Third Reich were qualitatively and quantitatively worse than those of any imperial power in 1914-18, but after both world wars the U.S. did play an important part in establishing and supporting democratic governments in Europe. Its leaders like Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman expressly claimed that the U.S. was not an imperial power in the classical sense and this was partially correct. In the developing world or the so-called 'Third World', however, the countries that were mostly colonies up until the 1940s and 1960s, it has more of a mixed record. From 1898 to 1933, American interventionism in Asia and Latin America was often overt and direct, simply landing troops on the shores of some prospective banana republic and installing a 'friendly' government there. This is exactly what happened in Hawaii, Cuba, Mexico, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic in some cases more than once. President Theodore Roosevelt was hardly shy about admitting that he sent troops to Puerto Rico and the Philippines, taking Panama from Columbia or landing in person with the army in Cuba
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