Imperialism is a very controversial subject among Paul Johnson, Howard Zinn and liberals. Johnson, always the conservative, does not really have much to say regarding America and its imperialist turn after the Progressive Era. He says that America really is not an imperialist power. It seems to be a subject he is avoiding. Zinn, the repetitive Marxist waiting on a revolution, tends to think that America is an imperialist country and is extremely hypocritical. Liberals recognize imperialism and that it probably was not right, but it does not mean America should return the land. They recognize it was something that was bad but that good things came from imperialism. This is a typical liberal view being extremely indecisive and recognizing both the bad and the good. For the first time in all of my papers I am going to have to side with the liberals. Maybe if Johnson were to say more regarding imperialism I would side with him, but even to me I believe Johnson is avoiding the subject because even the conservatives can recognize this was not a good time for America. I do tend to agree with the liberals and even Zinn a bit that this period of imperialism was extremely racist and was all about benefitting the businesses and government. There were really not good intentions while invading these countries and taking over. However, I also agree with the liberals that we are doing better today and things have changed for the better.
Howard Zinn tends to make some pretty compelling arguments regarding imperialism. He argues that America is definitely an imperialist power. The American government got involved in the problems of other countries, like Cuba, not to help. The reason intervention happened was to steal materials from smaller countries, increase American markets, and to create colonies. Zinn believed that “the ideology of expansion was widespread in the upper circles of military men, politicians, businessmen, and even among some of the leaders of farmers’ movements who thought foreign markets would help them.” Basically Zinn believed that those with power wanted to colonize these smaller countries to better themselves. Zinn’s whole belief regarding imperialism is that business men and the government were only in it for themselves. Zinn argues that public support for imperialism was “a taste…created, encouraged, advertised, and exaggerated by the millionaire press, the military, and the government…” Zinn makes the American public out to be befouled by the government and big business. American involvement in Cuba was actually widely supported by the American public. They saw it as helping those who could not help themselves. However, Zinn believes that the only reason for the Spanish American War was not because of a sunk ship or the mistreatment of Cubans. He believes our involvement was for our own self-interest and benefit. Surprisingly, I tend to side with Zinn on this subject. He makes good points and his argument makes sense. We could have given Cuba independence and we never had to take the smaller countries across the Pacific. Even Hawaii was unnecessary. There is no valid reason for these moves other than that it was to benefit America. Although I do agree with Zinn in some aspects, I tend to side with liberals a little more. I do think the American government realized some of their mistakes (i.e. giving Filipinos independence) and as a whole, America may be an imperialist power, but it is a lot more humane and no longer expanding.
As a very strong conservative, it is a little upsetting to say I agree with the liberal perspective on a subject. However, I tend to listen to all viewpoints during arguments and I concede when I know it is necessary. The period of imperialism was incredibly bad for America. America always tends to hold itself to a higher standard. However, the Spanish-American War, and the imperialism that comes after is a sad point for America. The argument that imperialism was to humanize those in other countries or aid in their freedom was pretty much a blunt lie. This can be seen by the Spanish-American War and our aid and then taking of Cuba. Even after the Platt Amendment was signed, which said America would not take anything from Cuba after helping, America still took control of Cuba for no good reason. The American government knew how beneficial Cuba and the other countries in the Pacific could be to the government and big business. This is their real reasoning for becoming imperialistic. There were no intentions to teach other countries Christianity, especially because countries like Cuba and the Philippines were already Catholic. The American government and military were looking for ports and resources and this was the driving force behind imperialism. I completely agree that there were no good intentions. The government was even extremely racist and refused to let Cubans and Filipinos govern themselves because they were not white. Because they were of different skin color, the view was that whites were superior and smarter. This was an unnecessary and bad time for America. However, I do believe it secured America as a superpower and expansionist country. Imperialism was bad, but it was a necessary evil. It aided in America becoming powerful. America would probably be a completely different country today had there never been an imperialist change. Imperialism has mostly ended in America. There tends to be many countries that are still held onto from the original period. However, Americans have realized some of their wrongs and have released some imperialist holdings. The American military also tends to aid other countries, not take over them. While this was an embarrassing moment in United States history, imperialism is ending/remaining stagnate currently.
Paul Johnson seems to be very quiet regarding the subject of America and imperialism. This could be because even he can recognize it was a low morals point in United States history. Johnson brings up the point that imperialism was “presented as an altruistic theme to Christianize the world.” Johnson is bringing up the point that promoting Christianity was one of the driving points behind imperialism. Unfortunately this “theme” was just used as a ploy to gain the support of the American public. Johnson brings up some other points about imperialism, but all tend to be brief. In my opinion, Paul Johnson portrays himself as in denial about the real purpose of imperialism and how bad it truly was. Why would America need to Christianize countries that are already Catholic? Because they want to take their resources and use them for America’s benefit. In my opinion America is an imperialist superpower, but has gotten less imperialistic as time has gone on.