December 28, 2011

For more than a century, US foreign policy was based on the principle of non-intervention in overseas wars and disputes, and rejection of “entangling alliances.” In the 1890s this gave way to an expansionist, imperialistic and “messianic” foreign policy. Big business interests craved new markets overseas, sensationalist newspapers promoted military adventurism, and political and religious leaders sought to spread US-style “democracy” and “Christianity.” In 1898 the US — seizing on a pretext — declared war against Spain. The US acquired the Philippines and Puerto Rico, and used the occasion to take Hawaii and establish hegemony over Cuba. This was a landmark transition from a republic to an imperial power. Later, in two world wars, Presidents Wilson and Roosevelt vigorously pushed a globalist US foreign policy, justifying military intervention everywhere in the name of “democracy.” Today America’s “exceptionalist” role as a “world policeman” is increasingly resented everywhere as arrogant and hypocritical.

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