Sample Essay on The U.S’s Move from Relative Isolation to an International Role and Its Impacts

From the time of the Spanish-American war until the beginning of the Cold War, the United States went from relative isolation to increased global involvement because it needed to spread and defend democratic values. The United States and Spain maintained interstate relations. The relations were instituted during colonization, as the first settlers in Florida were Spanish. Consequently, more settlers followed establishing bases in California, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona among other regions in the United States. These settlers also encouraged the British to visit and settle in the area. Thus, Spain and United States maintained an ill-balanced relationship characterized by love and hate. For example, the Spanish were equally undecided in either disapproving or approving United States leadership styles. However, Spain was also the first dynamic adherent of the American revolutionaries. Spain settlers in the United States fought various wars to ensure regions across the United States were neither grabbed nor dominated by colonizers. As a result, the reigning president acknowledged the Spaniard’s actions and declared them United States aides during revolutions. By the 18th Century, United States had commenced sending ambassadors to Spain to maintain and strengthen the friendly ties. Various treaties were also established and signed in attempts to ensure the United States and Spain defined boundaries and guaranteed friendly navigation rights (Waltz 438).

After the 19th Century, United States began playing more vital roles beyond the American context. The country acknowledged adopting protectionism after the American Spanish War in 1898 would facilitate growth and development. This included the development of native industries, the navy, and the establishment of foreign policies against isolationism. The foreign policies were established in attempts to attract both native and foreign involvements. This was aligned to the nation’s endeavors in seeking domestic and international recognition as a superpower. The American context that existed during the Cold War demonstrated the United States between two superpowers. However, United States ensured that it was declared the only superpower after the Cold War. This declaration was based on a number of factors including the nation’s geographical features comprising of the four largest world States. The States covered an area of approximately 9.37 million km2 (Waltz 438).

The area hosted a population of more than two hundred and forty-five million citizens. The populace was deemed the third largest globally. This further prompted the nation to be declared the only superpower. However, it had to make several changes including its political status. As a result, in mid 20th Century United States’ political status was described as a strong constitutional republic and capitalist federation. Consequently, it acquired a stable seat at the United Nations Security Council. However, the seat included two allies namely France and United Kingdom. The United States, therefore, maintained strong ties with Latin America, British Commonwealth, Western Europe, and East Asian nations such as Japan and Korea. Thus, it maintained allies with both capitalist democracies and right-wing dictatorships (Waltz 442).

This is further attributed to economic influences in the United States. The superpower adopted trade and industry strategies in the course of the 20th Century. Some economic policies were however opposed by populations. The opposition however did not hinder the United States from acquiring a powerful economic force as it was declared the largest global economy. More so, the country was endowed with vast economic resources including minerals, metals, energy, timber, and industrial, modernized as well as farming assets. Consequently, the United States dollar dominated the world reserve currency. This further enabled the country to be declared a capitalist economy. The supply and demand chains in the country also promoted reform packages to uplift and develop countries facing economic crises. International institutions including World Bank, United States Treasury Department, and International Monetary Fund (IMF) also provided the nation with support to reform global economies. However, United States was still adamant in maintaining friendly ties with Spain. The United States appointed and sent an envoy tasked with convincing the Spanish government to sell the colonies. However, Spain was obstinate. Ultimately, the diplomatic relations with the United States were severely destroyed in 1898 (Waltz 443).

Thus, the American Spanish War commenced in April 1898 due to diplomatic conflicts. Military actions precipitated by the media led the war to expand beyond the United States through fights to revolutionize the Spanish military and colonies. The two nations applied misrepresented and fabricated journal stories to enhance the democratic wars. However, each nation sought to increase its strengths during the war in order to establish a strong presence in the rivaling nation. In order for America to win the war, Theodore Roosevelt pressured United States Congress to assist Cuba. The stratagem included supporting the weak and feminine Cuban nation so as to justify America’s military intercessions. Coupled with Spain’s extensive atrocities to weaken them, United States applied decisive naval forces to win the war. After one hundred and nine days of fighting and wars, United States was awarded ownership of the Spanish colonies including the Philippines and Puerto Rico. More so, the Treaty of Paris was signed to declare the United States the winner. Thus, the nation successfully defended and expanded its democratic boundaries and values to the Spanish colonies (Waltz 445).

The consequences on American society of that greater involvement were political, cultural, economic, and societal as the nation was ill-prepared. The armies and military forces applied to fight the Native Americans were undermanned, undertrained, and underequipped. Although Spain was even less prepared and geared up to fight the United States, the war was characterized by daunting problems. For example, both nations required an ocean navy to protect against individual water boundaries. The Battle of Manila Bay however proves the nations were ill-prepared. Foremost, the Spanish navy was underequipped with guns in comparison to the United States. However, they applied sunstrokes against the United States navy. A historical journal authored by the Independence Hall Association asserts that the Spanish navy remained in control for recruiting, training, and transporting an army with skills to use sunstrokes. Thus, the United States military and navy forces were ill-equipped during the Battle of Manila Bay (Chávez 12).

Political tension due to a strained relationship between United States Congress and Spain was also attributed to the conflicts. For example, United States invaded Cuba in an attempt to use political tension and acquire Spanish colonies. However, United States was not prepared for the personnel army placed in Cuba. Foremost, United States was outnumbered. Thus, the invading force was uneventful leading to forces protecting Cuban territories to overpower United States armies. The Cuban armies compromised of college students, ex-convicts, cowboys, and Rough Riders under the command of Leonard Wood. These armies outnumbered United States armies at the ratio of seven to one in personnel. Thus, United States armies had to destroy the Spanish Atlantic Fleet in order to succeed in the invasion attempts (Foner 1).

With regards to the Treaty of Paris, United States was offered the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Guam islands. Conversely, Cuba was affirmed autonomous. Spain on the other hand was offered twenty million dollars to cover for the losses accounted for during the war. Although this seemed like a generous win for the United States, it prompted heated political debates. The opponents asserted the country was an anti-imperialist describing the United States as a hypocrite. This is because the United States condemned European empires in their attempts to pursue one of its own. During the political debates, United States had to explain why it seized the Philippines. This is because the war was mainly aligned with fleeing Cuba. More political tension was fueled by Emilio Aguinaldo and other hired Filipino rebels through a three-year Philippine Insurrection that invaded new American colonizers. Thus, United States was declared responsible for the deaths of more than four thousand American lives during the Philippine Insurrection (NM 7).

Nevertheless, some consequences were positive. For example, President McKinley’s introduced policies aimed at expanding the American empire. The public accepted and declared their support to the president in expanding the United States. These policies were based on the belief that the expansion would foster economic growth. Thus, the policies increased domestic economies fostering growth in financial strengths. This further led to the development of a reconfigured peaceful environment. However, original and reliant frameworks were rationalized and obliged to acquire land from East-West bystanders. They hindered the attainment of President McKinley’s vision. This is because the United States acquired the nations as well as the expenses, debts, commitments, and resources (Foner 1).

This led to rising of national security burdens coupled with adversely affected environmental legacies. The United States, therefore, had to institute new and revised economic and civilian policies to handle the inherited burdens. The economic burdens inherited during the acquisition confrontations attributed to the loss of United States superpower title and status. This is because the United States and Russia recorded equal economic liabilities. Consequently, China’s economic strengths and powers began to rise. Thus, antagonistic economic values between the United States and the Soviet Union were applied to declare the two as dominant world superpowers. The United States and the Soviet Union were described as nations representing capitalism and democracy versus communism and authoritarianism respectively. This eased the augment of global conflicts. During the Cold War, propaganda war engagements were applied to influence United States’ military efforts in stopping communism. Thus, the effects of the Cold War further affected United States’ economic, cultural, and political policies adversely (Totten 360).


Both the American Spanish War and the Cold War attributed to several adverse effects on America’s cultural, political, environmental, and economic policies. For example, United States was always suspicious of communist nations. As a result, it used Hollywood to advocate for patriotism against communists. However, this has led to more suspicions, accusations, and violations of human rights. However, they also encouraged the United States to end slavery, reduce racial inequalities, discrimination, and prejudice mainly against blacks. Currently, blacks are able to gain employment and earn fair commissions. More so, injustices fueling international nations to accuse the United States of a hypocrite were abolished through the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Thus, United States suffered both negative and positive consequences from the wars. However, positive consequences continue to expand as the country grows and develops in modern times.


Works Cited

Chávez, Thomas. Spain and the Independence of the United States: An Intrinsic Gift, University of New Mexico Press, 2002. Print.

Foner, Eric. Cold War Influences on American Culture, Politics, and Economics, Word-press, 2009. Web 29th Oct 2014

National Museum (NM). The Price of Freedom: Americans at War, Spanish American War, National Museum of American History, 2005. Print.

Totten, Michael. The Effects of the Cold War on United States, Education Space, 2013. Print.

Waltz, Susan. Reclaiming and Rebuilding the History of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Third World Quarterly, 23(3): 437–448, 2002. Print.