US foreign policy of our time is clearly interventionist. From the 1950s to today, from Korea, Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan and countless smaller wars in between the country has moved away from the sentiment once expressed by George Washington: Beware of foreign entanglements.
When did all this begin? Michael Parenti uses the history of the Spanish American War to answer several very intriguing questions. Who first expressed the desire to annex the island of Cuba, and when? The early African American emancipation movement inside the US was critical of US plans to attack Cuba. Why, their leaders asked, was the US government concerned about Spanish repression of the rights of Cubans while the repression of African Americans within the US was ignored. Some said the Negro needs freedom just as much as the Cubans. Why did the US attack the Philippines when it was Cuba that they wanted to take over? Why did the US give verbal support to the Cuban liberation movements against Spain while selling weapons to Spain to fight the poplar movement?
The Spanish American War was an important turning point in the transition of the US to an imperial power and many of the forces at work are eerily contemporary.
Michael Parenti’s most recent books are The Culture Struggle (2006), Contrary Notions: The Michael Parenti Reader (2007), God and His Demons (2010), Democracy for the Few (9th ed. 2011), and The Face of Imperialism (forthcoming March 2011). For further information about his work, visit his website: www.michaelparenti.org.