Theinfluence of major nations and societies such as the United States inother parts of the world is very evident in the modern society.However, this is not a new phenomenon, nor is it by default. Thereare social, political and economic reasons why dominant nations orsocieties seeks to directly or indirectly influence other nations orsocieties. This influence is referred to as imperialism.
Imperialismcan be defined as an attempt to extend authority and control of astate or a society to another state of society. Imperialism can alsobe defined as an unequal relationship between human societies orterritories where the superior society or territory spreads itdominance to other societies and territories. Although the mostimportant imperialism in history as well as the modern world ispolitical imperialism which involved the spread of politicalideologies and processes of a dominant nation, there are forms ofimperialism. In the earlier civilizations, imperialism was aimed atexpansion of the political territories. For example, kings could goto war to expand their territories by defeating the neighboringkingdoms. However, the modern form of imperialism that emerged in thelate 19thcentury and early 20thcentury aims at spreading the political ideologies of a dominantgroup. Therefore, the main characteristic of imperialism is a controlof a less powerful society or nation by a more powerful nation orsociety (Bacevich,2008).
Themodern form of imperialism is mainly perpetrated by the superpowersuch as the United States. Since the United States governmentabandoned the isolationist policies in the 19thcentury, there has been a rise in American imperialism. Americanimperialism is a form of political, cultural, economic, social andmilitary influence of the United States outside its territories. TheAmerican imperialism can be traced back to the Mexican-American warin the mid 19thcentury which led to the expansion of the American territories.However, in the late 19thcentury, due to rapid industrialization in the United States, therewas an increased demand for raw materials for the American industriesand market for the finished products which led to the increased needfor expansionism. While the United States did not seek to establishcolonies outside its territories, like the European powers in the19thcentury, the United States went into war with Spain in the late 19thcentury to gain influence on some of the Spanish territories such asCuba and Puerto Rico. The United States also gain control overPhilippines. This marked the beginning of the modern economic,political, social and cultural imperialism by the United States inthe modern world (Bacevich,2008).
Untilafter the defeat of the Spanish by the American in the late 19thcentury, Philippines and other islands such as Cuba were Spanishcolonies. The war between the United States and Spain were mainlyaimed at freeing Cuba from the Spanish influence because the UnitedStates wanted to take influence of the islands for strategic reasons.However, some expansionists in the American government wanted Cuba tobe annexed. However, the war was not fought in Cuba. It was fought inthe Far East and Pacific Ocean. The American expansionist had seenCuba as an important expansion target for economic reasons (USHisory, 2014).However, it was later revealed that Philippines would be a moreimportant and valuable target for American expansionist policies.Philippines were strategically located to help the United Statesexpand its economic interest across the pacific. This is because itprovided new markets for American products, excellent bases forfueling American ships and a strategic military base to protectAmerican economic interests in the pacific. On the other hand,political leaders in the United States were convinced that the peopleof Philippines wanted to be associated with the United States. Thisresulted into the emergence of United States interest in Philippines(Brody,2010).
Asa result of the influence of the United States in Philippines, "thenational centennial" celebrations in 1998 were marred withnumerous controversies. "The national centennial" was anational celebration to mark 100 years since Philippines becameindependent. The celebrations were made simultaneously across thecountry led by President Fidel Ramos. The Filipino Diaspora also heldcelebrations around the world. Some historians have argued thatPhilippines have been a colony of the United States until 1946. Although the country was free from the Spanish influence, the UnitedStates established military based in Philippines until they wereremoved recently. Therefore, it was argued that "the nationalcentennial” was based on vague states of affairs and IndependenceDay should be dated to a more recent date (Karnow,2011).Therefore, the opponents of the "the national centennial"argued that arguing that Philippines has enjoyed freedom fromexternal influence since 1898 was a big lie.
Inconclusion, American imperialism is very evident in the modernsociety. Since the second half of the 19thcentury, the United States has extended its influence in differentparts of the world. American imperialism is mainly motivated by theneed to protect America’s economic and political interests.
Bacevich,A. (2008). TheLimits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism.ISBN 0-8050-8815-6. Macmillan.
Brody,D. (2010). VisualizingAmerican empire: orientalism and imperialism in the Philippines,Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.
Karnow,S. (2011). Inour image: America`s empire in the Philippines,New York: Ballantine Books.
USHisory. (2014). SeekingEmpire,http://www.ushistory.org/us/44.asp
USHisory. (2014).TheSpanish-American War and Its Consequences,http://www.ushistory.org/us/44d.asp