Notes on American Interventionism

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Introduction Before World War II, American interventionism 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, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic, in some cases more than once. 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 in 1898. This phase of American overseas imperialism has much in common with the previous era of frontier expansion, wars against Native Americans and the annexation of half of Mexico in 1848. New Left and Revisionist historians of the 1960s and 1970s like William Appleman Williams (1972), Gabriel Kolko (1969) and Walter LaFeber (1963) all traced the roots of post-World War II imperialism directly back to this pre-1945 expansionist impulse. Manifest Destiny and the racial attitudes towards blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans that accompanied it existed long before the U.S. became an urban, industrialized economy. Racism dates back to the colonial period in the 17th and 18th Centuries, and the type of expansion that occurred was mainly agrarian and aimed at acquiring land, which was the base of the economy until well into the 19th Century. To that extent, American imperialism was atavistic and existed long before capitalism and the
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