Friday, March 21, 2003
Garret Hobart and William McKinley
Two of four 3" X 3" made by AETCo for 1896 Presidentail Election
Historical Present by Harold Myerson contrasts today's events with 1898 and 1914:
You have to go back all the way to 1898, and the immediate aftermath of the Spanish-American War, to find a time when the question of an American empire was on the national agenda in such pure and unalloyed fashion. At issue then was what the United States should do with the nations -- Cuba, the Philippines, Puerto Rico -- it had won from the Spanish in the ludicrous little war just concluded. The leading imperialists of the day -- New York Gov. Theodore Roosevelt, diplomat John Hay, naval theorist Alfred Thayer Mahan -- favored annexation, de jure or de facto, of those islands, not to mention of the hitherto independent Hawaii; they also favored building a sizable U.S. fleet. Arrayed against them was a broad coalition of Americans appalled at the thought of the United States becoming a colonial power. Among its leading members were a number of former northern Civil War generals, Mark Twain, and the very personifications of American capital and labor: Andrew Carnegie and Samuel Gompers. Indeed, when President McKinley announced that the U.S. would pay Spain $20 million to take over the Philippines, Carnegie offered $20 million of his own to Spain to create an independent nation there. (McKinley told him to butt out.)
For the neoconservatives who are today's neo-imperialists, Iraq is just the first stop on their itinerary for American intervention.