To What Extent Was the Spanish-American War a Turning Point in the Development of American Foreign Policy?

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Tp what extent was the Spanish-American War a turning point in the development of American foreign policy?

The Spanish-American War of 1898 could be seen as the pivotal point in foreign policy as it marks America’s first engagement with a foreign enemy in the dawning age of modern warfare however, one could also argue that the idea had always existed in American politics.

Until the end of the nineteenth century, American foreign policy essentially followed the guidelines laid down by George Washington, in his Farewell Address to the American people: “The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is—in extending our commercial relations—to have with them as little political connection as possible.” By avoiding entanglements with foreign powers, America aimed to minimize the possibility of being dragged into war hence, war was to be undertaken only in defense of the nation against attack. However, the Spanish-American war saw Americans fighting to gain colonies elsewhere, with no relation to self defence. Though going to war with the Spanish was defended as non-imperialistic, shown by the promises of independence for Cuba and the Philippines, the American victory resulted in territorial gains and a inflated sense of power. A much more active and aggressive foreign policy was evident after the Spanish-American War, it had transformed from being focused primarily on isolated nationalism to expansionistic imperialism.

The Spanish-American war resulted in numerous territorial gains, the Paris Treaty handed over Caribbean areas such as Puerto Rico and Guam to America which led to a series of land acquisitions as it expanded in what seemed like direct colonization. The war had begun with paternal feelings of supporting a fellow nation trying to win its freedom, however, the pro-Cuban hysteria masked America’s real intention which was to take over the island. Although Cuba was recognized as independent, American troops remained on the island for...
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