Imperialism battles waged at the turn of the century portraying many prominent voices. Henry Cabot Lodge strongly believed in imperialism as it possessed power for good. William McKinley stood middle ground to promote imperialism while not condoning it. Then, of course, there existed the Anti-Imperialist League, thus; many conflicts abrood. The question of ethical practices of sacrificing innocent lives for financial gain became a major issue, one that plagues people today, despite its uselessness.
A forerunner for imperialism, Henry Cabot Lodge believed strongly in foreign policy and its great importance to the nation’s financial (and thus overall) wellbeing. He stated, “There is no higher aim or purpose for a man or for nations than to buy and sell, to trade jack-knives and make everything cheap.” He utilized the Monroe Doctrine, among many sources including Washington’s Neutrality Policy, to prove his pro-imperialism thoughts by informing people that the Monroe Doctrine only applied to Europe. He believed that Europe possessed no privilege to enter the Western Hemisphere, but America maintained the rights and power to extend wherever it desires. It was America’s “destiny”. He saw a never-ending landscape of an American future; it expanded west at one point, and thus, in Lodge’s eyes, must colonize and imperialize further out, past oceans, to promote trade and become a world power of green. He states, “But from the Rio Grande to the Arctic Ocean there should be but one flag and one country.” Also, he believed that the U.S. needed to control Hawaii, occupy Samoa, build a Nicaraguan canal, and promote a strong navy.
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Another face in the imperialism and foreign policy debate included William McKinley. He used many arguments to justify intervention in Cuba including horror in Cuba commencement, trade losses, aggravation to the citizens, and shock of the citizens, but the greatest issue that he deduced remained money. McKinley thought that the social struggles in Cuba caused hardships to the land, affecting U.S. interests–sugar, and thus not protecting his people. He also attempted to appeal to the kindred of hearts (in Congress–what a challenge) by claiming that this struggle in Cuba needed to cease to save the Cubans and endangered the lives of Americans by not securing them financially.
Whether that remained true or not, the physical lives of Americans stood threatened, citing examples like the U.S.S. Maine. 260 Americans died on that vessel, in Havana Harbor, and McKinley cited this as a necessity to intervene in Cuba. From his perspective, Cuba defended itself not and peace perished, thus; American involvement rang necessary. Congress remembered this; to protect Americans, both financially and physically (in that order), America intervened in Cuba.
Also, McKinley stated that General Blanco of Spain “proclaimed a suspension of hostilities” “in order to prepare and facilitate peace”. He also said, “If this measure attains a peaceful result, then our aspirations as a Christian, peace-loving people will be realized.” What aspirations does McKinley speak of? He desired to possess Cuba; if he imperialized the land and people, then he would own the sugar, thus securing Americans financially. It remained the duty of America—a Christian and peaceful nation—to expand South, securing trade and becoming powerful. With Spain ceasing hostilities, it remained an apt time to annex Cuba. However, he claimed that if Spain’s plan for peace failed, another justification for intervention remained. Therefore, it stood as the duty of Americans to step in and defend the poor Cuban brothers (sugar).
The Anti-Imperialism League, a final group involved with this issue, claimed imperialism to be “criminal aggression.” They abhorred the slaughter of innocent Cubans and American soldiers for economic gain, and thus; deplored the extension of America in such a matter. From their perspective, they saw constant battle, bloodshed, and horror that occurred in the Philippines. By citing the Declaration of Independence, they basically state that no one possesses the power to remove the ideals of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. How arrogant America seemed! To think they possessed the power to destroy the lives of an entire people. They also cited Abraham Lincoln, “Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves, and under a just God cannot long retain it.”
One issue stood true yet unanswered: the ethicalness of sacrificing lives for economic gain. To an extent, honestly, surprising, it seems okay. Not to mindlessly kill people for some stupid sugar in Cuba, but on a smaller scale. Physical and psychological oppression cannot occur in a just society. Yes, this stands not as a just society but one dream; changes occur. Anyway, imperialism happens every day: a group member takes advantage of the group by not working, a coworker quits on the spot leaving the rest to work more, a friend cheats for another so he fails the class not. These all entail exploiting (and ultimately controlling) one group of people for gain: imperialism. Those examples stand accepted, generally, just like ‘white lies’, despite the oppression they tend to ensue. However, there remains a difference between slight exploitation for personal gain and overall oppression for a few extra dollars. Who does anybody think he is to attack, kill, or destroy the lives or livelihood of anybody? All came into existence the same way—all stand equal. Furthermore, to what comes of this imperialism? Money. Money exists as a value, no different than love or family, but the bigger value, though it comes down to perspective, is life. Life stays more important than money. Without life, money possesses no purpose or power.
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