The US Has Become A Dominant Power Essay
The US Has Become A Dominant Power
The United States has always been described as a superpower. This status has been held by the country following World War II . The term superpower is used to depict a country whose powers, capacity, and influence in the aspects of military, economic, political and cultural are unparalleled . A superpower country possesses a direct influence on almost anything in the world, in whatever matter. At the start of the 1815 up to the early twentieth century, it was Britain who held the distinct honor of being called a superpower . Amassing a great number of territories, which benefited the country economically, Britain was arguably the superpower country. Its colonies included countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Then, World War II struck and the US had become the second leading superpower in the world. But America’s climb to its superpower stature did not happen overnight.
One of the crucial events in the US history that planted the seeds of being superpower was the Spanish American War. It was a war that initially did not involve the country. As a matter of fact, it was a revolt of the Cuba and the Philippines against Spain . Both countries sought freedom from the Spaniards. For so long, Cubans had been struggling for independence and their fight reached a critical turn when US intervened. At that time, the US, understanding the plight of the Cubans, asked Spain to grant the country its freedom but the latter refused. General Valeriano Weyler was sent by Spain to keep Cuba in control but his ways, which include “reconcentration of the civilian population”, was deemed harsh by the most, including the US. Furthermore, a US battleship, Maine, which was positioned in Havana to give the country “a naval presence” exploded, which further caused more tension between the two countries.
Then US President McKinley, though against a military intervention, initiated an investigation. So did Spain. Results of the Spanish inquiry blamed it on an internal explosion but the American inquest decided that the explosion was the result of an external source . This further complicated the already complicated relationship of US and Spain. McKinley, a keen anti-war believer, had no choice but to declare war on the Spain, especially after Spain had started to put up defense in their other territories, such as Puerto Rico and the Philippines . US had a small bevy of trained navy compared to the large army of Spain but neither backed down.
The well-trained navy of US, albeit small, was able to come up with a strategy that would force Spain to fight on the fringe claim the first victory of the country. But Spain was adamant in raising the white flag. The war continued in the Philippines where Filipino insurrectors opposed the battle . Following the defeats of Spain, US sought a settlement. Cuba was finally given her due independence and the Philippines was ceded to the US, finally ending the Spanish imperialism. The US’ intervention in the Spanish regime brought the country in the front row of the makings of the superpower. It proved its military and political strength.
When the spirit of nationalism started to blaze in the late 1800s to early 1900s, Europe started to crumble. It used to be that Europe was led by kings and emperors but this nationalistic thinking made people realize that it did not need to be that way. Moreover, Europe experienced a surge in population, which instigated a fear of suspicion against its neighboring nations . Europe had also become industrialized, adding more tension .
Central and Eastern Europe, which was ruled with empires, longed to be independent countries . To protect themselves, several countries formed alliances- Germany, Austria- Hungary and Italy started a Triple Alliance, while France and Russia drew together to make one . Later on, Britain joined the alliance and together, the three were known as the Allied Powers . Tensions in Europe began in 1914, when Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria- Hungary, was assassinated in Bosnia. Austria- Hungary held Bosnia responsible for his death and staged war against the country . Russia came in aid for Serbia, making Germany, an Ally of Austria-Hungary, came to its defense, declaring war against Russia and France .
On August 4, 1914, Britain joined the fray and declared war against Germany . Thus began World War I, the first war of the industrialized age . The start of the 19th century saw developments in Europe and the US, ushering the use of iron and steam . Railways improved transportation, facilitating shipping of military supplies in a shorter amount of time . Moreover, inventions in the field of electricity, metallurgy and chemicals resulted in the creations of more dangerous weapons and explosives . With the invention of the electric telegraph, communication was faster, allowing better coordination within military units.
Back in the home front, US declared neutrality. President Wilson said that the country would be impartial, even though some Americans had been egging the president to help its allied countries . The country acted as supplier of food and munitions to the Allied Powers, majority of which were being sent to Britain. Thus, this neutrality stance was harder to uphold . Germany invaded another neutral country, Belgium, to the ire of the Americans but Wilson did not intervene. It was only when Germany sunk all water vessels; including four American merchant ships that Wilson accepted the gauntlet of a war . On April 6, 1917, US, though unprepared, joined the war .
To prepare, the Congress passed the Selective Service Act, which enlisted young men to the army . Trainings were conducted and two million solders were sent to France to battle . At the start of the war, US had only 55 airplanes, compared to the deadly new weapons developed by the Germans but its military remained steadfast. The war affected the country’s economy but the country created strategies to ensure that the safety of those back home were accounted for. One major problem was food distribution. The Allies needed food to survive, so did the rest of the American people in its own soil. Herbert Hoover was tapped to be the Food Administrator .
Through his resourcefulness, the country remained satiated, so to speak. In fact, by 1918, US was able to sell grains, meats and sugar overseas . The war had its own advantages, too. Employment increased as men served in the war, immigration also hindered and production increased as demand for goods amplified . In the end, World War I brought a new America. For one, it was instrumental in annexing two amendments in the Constitution . Woman suffrage was ratified, finally allowing women to vote . The country had done its part ensuring a safer world and Americans simply wanted to savor peace until another threat came on.
World War II was the most deadly war in human history, leaving a body count of more than millions. Again, it started in Europe, following a discord between Germany and an Anglo-French coalition . While World War I saw industrial developments which were useful during the battle, World War II saw the creation of lethal weapons- long-range rocket and atomic bomb . The Second World War also witnessed improvements in aircrafts and tanks . Germany, crushed from World War I, aimed for a “nationalistic, militaristic, totalitarianism” known as fascism .
Adolf Hitler, the leader of the German National Socialist (Nazi) Party, upset over the Versailles Treaty, sought to introduce a racist kind of fascism by hoping to seize more “living spaces” for the Germans, which he believed was the superior race in the world . After taking over Czechoslovakia, Germany’s next target was Poland. Britain and France immediately came to its defense . Another country, this time in Asia- Japan, was also hoping to enforce its own brand of totalitarianism . Hitler was able to force Austria and Germany, sending Britain to battle alone. Britain, a US ally, was starting to crumble.
US helped Britain was providing planes, manpower and ammunition. Meanwhile, Japan was already starting to colonize its neighbour countries. US saw this as another threat of imperialism. The country tried to intervene by tightening is trade with Japan but Japan retaliated, bombing Pearl Harbor . Thus began America’s participation in the World War II. Its entry into the war brought the country out of depression and in the end, saw an economic boom. No country had experience this economic boom other than the US. This growth made the country flourished. It also strengthened America’s influence in the global politics. Out of the war came the United Nations, an attempt to finally give “international peace and security . However, another threat came. This time, it was the Cold War.
The Cold War was a battle between US and the Soviet Union. Following WWII, a rivalry between the two nations existed. Some said it was a battle about attaining “great power” . The Soviets were described as wanting to dominate the world, which US was vehemently against . It was precisely the reason why US had intervened in wars, to avoid imperialism and global domination. It was termed as “Cold War” because the tension was so frosty but there was no actual battle . Cold War went on from the mid1940s up to the early 80s.
Among the US allies included Britain, France, West Germany, Japan and Canada while some Eastern Europe countries such as Bulgaria, Hungary, East Germany and Romania backed USSR . During the course of the Cold War, a fragmented Germany was at the battlefront. US had hoped to help rebuild the country and the rest of Eastern Europe with the Marshall Plan. USSR was opposed to this, igniting a blockade. It came to a point where all of Eastern Europe was under the Soviet bloc .
Communism was reignited. This led to an assembly of the US, Canada and Western Europe which resulted in the creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) . The Cold War was not limited in Europe. It also played in both the Korean and Vietnam Wars, which was a battle for and against communism. American soldiers were sent to both wars, resulting in many deaths. When Mikhael Gorbachev came into power, negotiations with US President Reagan took place. The Soviets’ power in Eastern Europe had diminished and USSR itself was abolished, bringing an end to the Cold War.
With the ongoing war in Iraq and dwindling economy of US, the country is for the first time, facing fears of ending the age of its superpower. The war has cost a lot of lives, money and time for the American people. But the country has always been resilient. It has survived a lot of battles and emerged victorious. This time, however, US cannot afford to be complacent. Several countries, such as China, are starting to have the makings of a superpower. With an election on the loom, the US must finally be able to assess what it had achieved in the past and find something that will still make it a superpower in the world, regardless of whoever the people will elect to lead the country.
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Subject: Cold War,
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 19 March 2017
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