As noted in On Making vs. Declaring War, I, one of the great outcomes of the what some economists and historians refer to as the development of the U.S. monopoly capitalist system and its corollary of a U.S. developed and maintained open door, global, free market was to render moot the Constitutional founding fathers’ original distinction between making and declaring war. Due to the tremendous socio-economic and political transformation that occurred after the U.S. Civil War, U.S. leaders developed new operating principles. Impelled by those historic factors, U.S. policy makers — especially in the Executive branch — found it cumbersome, impractical, and unnecessary to call for a Congressional declaration of war every time U.S. forces had to be employed in risky foreign military operations and/or combat. Indeed, in the contemporary period, one of the leading hallmarks of what historians have termed the "imperial presidency" is the lack of any real need for the Executive to ask Congress for permission to wage war. After all, given the power of the Executive branch to hide and manipulate the military and intelligence information that is provided to Congress and to the public, even the provisions of the 1973 War Powers Act are of diminished importance in blocking the Executive’s power to make war. And that has brought current U.S. policymakers to the brink of yet another war.
Of course, the roots of this current situation stretch far back into history. They reach back to the early uses to which the Monroe Doctrine of 1823 were put. Then, from there, they stretch forward and outward to a number of more contemporary events, actions, and state proclamations or assertions that have both reflected and assisted in the U.S. transformation from a republic into what historian William Appleman Williams was, perhaps, the first to describe as an informal empire. By analyzing the most significant of these events and documents in the period from 1789 to the turn of the 20th century in this second part of On Making vs. Declaring War, I will supply the historical details that support the overview of the topic that was presented the first part. Then, in the third part (and possibly fourth part) I will continue with the 20th century specificities of events and documents that have brought us to the present. As stated in the first essay, it is this complex combination of things that at first blurred and, then, for all practical purposes, virtually eradicated the founders’ Constitutional distinction between making and declaring war.
Referring, then, to my explanation of the original distinction which the framers of the Constitution drew between making and declaring war, I repeat the summation of that distinction made by Convention delegate Alexander Hamilton. In the Federalist Papers that promoted the ratification of the Constitution, Hamilton wrote: "The president is to be commander-in-chief of the army and navy of the United States. In this respect his authority would be nominally the same as the king of Great Britain, but in substance much inferior to it. It would amount to nothing more than the supreme command and direction of the military and naval forces, as first general and admiral of the Confederacy; while that of the British king extends to the declaring of war and to the raising and regulating of fleets and armies — all of which, by the Constitution under consideration, would appertain to the legislature." As stated, however, this pinnacle of principle, articulated by Hamilton, had to give way before the onset of profound U.S. socio-economic changes and historic events.
Yet, President James Monroe and future President John Quincy Adams certainly recognized the framers’ distinction on making versus declaring war when they co-authored (primarily Adams’s work) Monroe’s 1823 message to Congress. As historian T.D. Allman has shown, President Monroe’s message to Congress was regarded as neither a "doctrine" nor an instrument for preempting the war powers of Congress by either Adams or Monroe. Quoting another authority on the Monroe Doctrine to verify this conclusion, Allman cites historian Dexter Perkins’s work A History of the Monroe Doctrine to write that "‘there is no evidence that Monroe was . . . aware that he was enunciating maximums which should govern in perpetuo . . . the foreign policy of the United States. The language of the message,’" Perkins continues, "‘related to a specific situation.’" Thus, when, in 1833, Britain conquered the Malvinas Islands from Argentina, the "United States did nothing."
And, as far as believing that the Monroe message entitled the Executive to by-pass Congress and initiate warfare with minimal consultation with Congress, neither Monroe nor Adams accepted that notion. So, unlike those 20th century presidents who routinely authorized armed intervention in Latin American nations with little or no Congressional authorization or even oversight, Monroe told James Madison that he had informed the Colombian Minister to the U.S. (concerned about possible French aggression against Columbia) that the Monroe message was circumscribed by the fact that "‘the Executive has no right to compromit the nation in any question of war.’" And Adams confirmed that principle in his reply to the same 1823 Colombian inquiry by stating: "‘You understand that by the Constitution of the United States, the ultimate decision of this question belongs to the Legislative Department of the Government.’" So, contrary to the claims of the U.S. interventionists in and around the Ronald Reagan and George Bush I Administrations, the Monroe message certainly did not empower U.S. presidents to intervene and make war in Latin American countries.
Indeed, Monroe and Adams had prudently stated that while the U.S. recognized Russia’s "‘rights and interests’" in Alaska, they also assured the other European colonial powers that the U.S. would respect their colonial claims. Monroe pledged "‘With the existing colonies or dependencies of any European power we have not interfered and shall not interfere.’" Monroe’s main claim, as Allman observes, was the "‘principle’" that "‘the American Continents, by the free and independent condition which they have assumed and maintain are hence forth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European Power.’" Moreover, this non-interventionist policy, as Allman points out, applied to U.S. military interference in Latin America regimes as well. For, as Allman explains, both Monroe and Adams were ardent "anti-colonialists" and this "‘principle’" that they were asserting neither justified nor ordained "U.S. military intervention in Latin America." Indeed, Adams’s much repeated but seldom heeded admonition that America should not go abroad "‘seeking monsters to slay,’" for she, then, "‘might become the dictatress of the world [but] would no longer be the ruler of her own spirit’" is a powerful reflection of his strong aversion to U.S. military interventionism abroad. So, as Allman notes, "Monroe and Adams adamantly opposed foreign adventurism, including U.S. military intervention, as a matter of principle." In fact, as Allman continues, "they were determined to avoid U.S. involvement in the quarrels of both Europe and Latin America." In sum, the "‘purpose’" of the Monroe message, according to Adams, "was to avow American principles ‘while disclaiming all intention of attempting to proprogate them by force.’"
Now, of course, that early 19th century policy of U.S. military non-interventionism was in keeping with the views of non-interventionism and non-alignment that had been best articulated in President George Washington’s Farewell Address. But it was also a reflection of the lack of any U.S. industrial capacity to, as yet, field, or need to field, an interventionist military force. Such a capacity, however, was growing, and, as it developed, the old doctrines of non-alignment and non-interventionism would start crumbling and different interpretations of Monroe’s famous message would be asserted.
Already, by the mid-19th century, President James Knox Polk (the conqueror of Mexico) is seizing upon the Monroe message of 1823, and proclaiming that he was anxious to "‘reaffirm the principle avowed by Mr. Monroe and to state my cordial concurrence in its wisdom and sound policy.’" In which case, Polk maintained that its "‘principle’" of disallowing "‘future colonization by any European powers’" in the "‘American continents’" applied to both the British claims to the Oregon territory and to "sinister" British plots against the Mexican government’s sovereignty over California. And in remarking to Senator Thomas Hart Benton, Polk — apparently for the first time in U.S. presidential history — explicitly referred to Monroe’s message as a "‘doctrine’" when he told Benton that he was reasserting "‘Mr. Monroe’s doctrine against permitting foreign colonization, and that in doing this he had [Mexico-held] California . . . as much in view as [British-held] Oregon.’" In short, Polk, as his private conversations and his personal diaries make clear, "wanted not just [Oregon and] Texas, but California and everything between the two."
The problem, however, was that Britain was strong while Mexico was weak, and Polk wanted the territories held by each. He, therefore, hit upon a stratagem that some other like-minded presidents after him have adopted. That stratagem combines accomodationism with the strong and a bullying stance toward the weak. So, faced with the prospect of a two-front war with mighty England over the Oregon territory and with weak Mexico over Texas and its New Mexico and California territories, Polk dropped his previous belligerent presidential campaign slogan ("Fifty-four forty or fight"). He, then, quickly struck a 1846 deal with Britain to give up what was a more legitimate and stronger U.S. claim that the U.S. had on the Oregon territory while he prepared to assert the "totally fraudulent claims [he] had manufactured to justify the war against [weak] Mexico."
After that, in a fashion that becomes something of a model for some future presidents, Polk proceeded to manufacture the pretext for a casus belli with Mexico. But, Polk had a problem because the Mexican regime refused to play its appointed role and act the part of the aggressor. And "what does one do with an aggressor who refuses to attack?" Well, Polk provided the answer for all those who would follow his example. After writing his speech calling on Congress to declare war on Mexico, due more to Mexico’s "‘breach of faith’" with the U.S. than her aggressive offenses against the U.S., Polk maneuvered the largely hapless Mexicans into an act of alleged aggression against U.S. forces which he and his advisors did their best to stage manage. In the perceptive words that some Baghdad-bound, young soldiers in today’s U.S. military might acknowledge, Ulysses S. Grant contended: "‘We were sent to provoke a fight, but it was essential that Mexico commence it.’"
The appropriate provocation was accomplished by goading the Mexicans into attacking the U.S. forces by having U.S. forces undertake a couple of hostile actions. Polk, first, had U.S. naval forces blockade the mouth of the Rio Grande river in Mexican-claimed territory and, then, sent U.S. troops into the disputed Mexican-claimed territory between the Nueces and Rio Grande rivers. Allman points out that the blockade constituted an internationally recognized act of war while the U.S. incursion into the territory between the Nueces and Rio Grande rivers represented a deliberate disregard of legitimate Mexican rights to that territory. After noting that the "southern boundary of Texas had been the Nueces River under both Spanish and Mexican rule," Allman writes, "Nothing in Spanish, Mexican, U.S., or international law suggested that the territory between the Nueces and Rio Grande was a part of Texas, let alone a part of the United States."
And, just as Polk had expected, there was a clash of U.S. and Mexican troops north of the Rio Grande. Then, with eleven U.S. troopers killed and five wounded, Polk adjusted his pre-existing message calling for a declaration of war by adding their bloodshed to the alleged aggression of Mexico and got Congress to pass a declaration of war against Mexico on May 13, 1846. Interestingly, such sentiments as his in that day are still echoing in the comparable presidential outrage of today and of the recently past 20th century. "‘After,’" Polk declared to Congress, "‘reiterated menaces, Mexico has passed the boundary and shed American blood on American soil.’" In other words, Polk not only maintained that his largely reluctant adversary had sorely tried his patience, but that his adversary had finally provided the cause (or is that pretext?) for war.
From that distant past to the current period, various U.S. presidential Administrations have manipulated the public and Congress about matters of war and peace. In words that are perhaps more powerfully relevant today than they were when he wrote them, Allman offered this searing indictment of the practice of presidential machinations and deceit that Polk may have inaugurated: "Like a number of our later presidents, James Knox Polk must stand acquitted of any charge he committed naked aggression. By the time he finally attacked Mexico, his aggression was fully cloaked in a whole wardrobe of lies, half-truths, misrepresentations, and outright fabrications — all designed to convince Congress and American public opinion that the United States was only defending itself against the Mexican peril." Is it at all possible to substitute George Walker Bush for James Knox Polk, and Iraq for Mexico in this interpretation to grasp the relevance of Allman’s conclusion?
At any rate, we see the shadowy beginning of the Executive’s usurpation of Congressional war powers when Polk asserts — less than six months prior to declaring war on Mexico — that the "‘principle’" articulated in Monroe’s 1823 message to Congress is the basis for a U.S. defense against an alleged British conspiracy to seize California from Mexico. And, so, after concocting a war with Mexico to presumably defend U.S. rights in the recently annexed Texas, Polk utilizes the war begun in Texas to invade Mexico and to fulfill his ambition for the conquest of half of Mexico’s territory. After all, "what better way to save California from the British than to conquer it" for the U.S.? And with Polk’s claim that he was merely following the "‘principle’" of hemisphere defense laid down by Monroe, Polk not only began the process of eroding Congressional war powers, but he provided a more powerful rationale for actual U.S. military intervention into Latin American countries than Monroe and Adams had ever dreamt. In that sense, Polk might be called our first "deconstructionist" president as well as our first imperial one. For by asserting that the Monroe "‘doctrine,’" as he termed it, gave him the right to conduct a defensive war and to take the land of another nation, Polk — despite the Congressional declaration of war which he manipulated out of Congress — was actually setting a precedent for the Executive’s right to make war.
Many of his contemporaries understood that result very well, and they challenge it. Two of Polk’s most capable political critics were actually poles apart on virtually every other important issue in their day, but they were as one in recognizing the real portent of Polk’s deceptions and war-making claims based on the 1823 Monroe message. These two men were Abraham Lincoln and John C. Calhoun. Both of them, especially as the facts behind Polk’s imperial actions were exposed, were fully aware that Polk, as Allman described it, "had committed aggression against the [U.S.] Constitution not just Mexico."
Lincoln, in fact, was so outraged by Polk’s deceptions, fabrications, and manipulations that, as a freshman Congressman (1847-1849), he boldly introduced the first of his famous "spot resolutions" (Dec. 22, 1847). That resolution called on Polk to identify the exact spot on which U.S. blood was shed. Lincoln, of course, strongly suspected that Polk would have to confess that it was on Mexican, not U.S., soil. Later (Jan. 3, 1848), Lincoln joined some of his colleagues in amending a resolution of thanks to the victorious U.S. General Zachary Taylor. The amendment noted that Taylor’s victories came "‘in a war unnecessarily and unconstitutionally begun by the President of the Untied States.’" And, still later (Jan. 12, 1848), in a long speech that asserted that Polk had never proven that the war had begun on American soil, Lincoln dramatically described the war as such a war of blatant conquest that Polk must feel "the blood of this war, like the blood of Abel, is crying to Heaven against him that he ordered General Taylor into to the midst of a peaceful Mexican settlement, purposely to bring on war."
Still, Lincoln’s fullest treatment of the Constitutional meaning of Polk’s manipulation of Congressional war powers was expressed in a letter to his law partner, William H. Herndon. Herndon had defended Polk’s claims for going to war against Mexico, and Lincoln’s critical response deserves to be quoted at length. Its logic and understanding of Constitutional principles regarding Executive and Congressional war powers are unsurpassed. So, in an analysis that is not only prescient in its anticipation of some of today’s specific presidential actions, but, also, of the meaning underlying the preemptive war doctrine that is being asserted by the Bush II Administration, Lincoln writes Herndon:
"Let me first state what I understand to be your position. It is that if it shall become necessary, to repel invasion, the President may, without violation of the Constitution, cross the line, and invade the territory of another country; and that whether such necessity exists in any given case, the President is to be the sole judge. . . .
Allow the President to invade a neighboring nation, whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion, and you allow him to do so, whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such purpose — and you allow him to make war at pleasure. Study to see if you can fix any limit to his power in this respect, after you have given him so much as you propose. If, to-day, he should choose to say he thinks it necessary to invade Canada, to prevent the British from invading us, how could you stop him? You may say to him, ‘I see no probability of the British invading us’ but he will say to you ‘be silent; I see it, if you don’t . . .’" Applied to the present, Lincoln’s remarks are appropriately critical of a similar sort of argument that is being made by some of the Bush II policy makers today.
More importantly, as Lincoln’s next passage explains, if Polk’s position is accepted by congress, there is a great danger of congress abdicating its war powers to the presidency. And this, he argues, would reduced the high estate in which our great republic once stood to the rubble of a kingship. Indeed, given the tax cuts that disproportionately benefit the richest ten or twenty percent of U.S. families that Bush II and Congress have enacted in the last two years, the soaring deficit (projected to be at least $1.08 trillion over the next five years), the prodigious defense budget (already projected, before Congressional "add-ons" and all the costs related to the upcoming Iraq war, at $2.495 trillion in the next six years, FY 2002-2007), and the massive cuts in social service that are sure to follow these enormous expenditures and tax cuts, Lincoln’s words are more pertinent today than in 1848. Lincoln concludes:
"The provision of the Constitution giving the war-making power to Congress, was dictated, as I understand it, by the following reasons. Kings had always been involving and impoverishing their people in wars, pretending generally, if not always, that the good of the people was the object. This, our Convention understood to be the most oppressive of all Kingly oppressions; and they resolved to so frame the Constitution that no one man should hold the power of bringing this oppression upon us. But your view destroys the whole matter, and places our President where kings have always stood." As one who was not only steeped in the "republican ideal" but as one who articulated it more superbly than anyone else, Lincoln, today, would be most unlikely to condon anything resembling an imperial presidency.
Likewise, Senator John C. Calhoun, Lincoln’s ideological opposite in most respects, vehemently rejected Polk’s contention that the "‘principle’" of Monroe’s "‘doctrine’" empowered the Executive to use armed intervention as one of the Executive’s free-wheeling, foreign policy prerogatives. For example, shortly after Polk had seized California from Mexico, Polk claimed that Monroe’s 1823 declaration permitted him to send U.S. forces to intervene in the Yucatan of Central America because he suspected that some "foreign conspiracy" threatened that territory. To this Executive assertion, Calhoun retorted, "‘Declarations are not policy and cannot become settled policy.’" More importantly, he added that decisions of war and peace in the Republic "‘belong to us — the Congress,’" and besides, nothing in Monroe’s statement authorized U.S. military intervention. As Calhoun explained, "‘here is nothing said of it [i.e., military intervention]; and with great propriety it was omitted.’" Calhoun, as Allman notes, realized, as had Adams, Monroe, and Lincoln, that the "real danger of a Monroe Doctrine approach" was that "it allowed the president to turn U.S. policy from a matter of constitutional deliberation into a matter of executive privilege." And this switch, Calhoun perceptively predicted, would allow presidents like Polk "‘to make us a party to all their wars.’" "‘Hence,’" he stated in his rejection of Polk’s novel assertion of Executive war powers, "‘if this broad interpretation [of the Monroe statement] be given to these declarations, we shall forever be involved in wars.’"
Coming from his pro-slavery, pro-states rights perspective, Calhoun was naturally sensitive to the growing power of the Northern industrial machine and its potential to be employed by hostile, anti-slavery, Executive policy makers. So, it seems to be one of those splendid ironies in history and politics that his name is sympathetically linked to Lincoln — "the great emancipator" — on the issue of Constitutional war powers. But even more ironic, in this saga of 19th century developments and documents, is the fact that, in 1848, John Quincy Adams — the principal author of Monroe’s famous 1823 message to Congress — keeled over and dropped dead on the floor of the House of Representatives after protesting against the very war which Polk had wrongly claimed was justified by the "‘principle avowed by Mr. Monroe.’"
Since then, it is likely that few, if any, of Adams’s successors in either the White House or the Congress have even read Monroe’s message. Why should they? Its original content and meaning, in the U.S. context of late 19th century rapid industrialization, large-scale business consolidation, and corporate expansion, had become obsolete. And, so Polk is not only the first president to have ignored the message’s original content and meaning, but he also is a sort of presidential harbinger of things to come. Still, those succeeding expansion-minded presidents of the late 19th and early 20th centuries were vastly more impelled than had been Polk to adopt new operating principles which were suitable for the needs of an economy that was generating ever more goods and ever more demands for more raw materials and foreign markets.
One such president was William McKinley, a guy who writer Gore Vidal has termed our first "imperial president." When McKinley entered the White House in 1897, he began presiding over a national economy that had just entered its embryonic stage of monopoly capitalism. Already, such famous capitalists as John P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, James Hill, John Astor, Henry Clay Frick, Andrew Carnegie, Gustavus Swift, James Duke, James Pillsbury, and Aaron M. Montgomery had consolidated or were in the process of consolidating, interlocking, and monopolizing whole sections of the U.S. economy such as banking, transportation, precious minerals, steel, oil, coal, railroads, tobacco, meat packing, merchandising, and manufacturing. The raw statistics almost tell the story, for between 1897 and 1904, some 5,300 industrial firms were consolidated into just 318 firms, and they "controlled 40% of the U.S. manufacturing" capacity. In fact, no one less than John D. Rockefeller candidly explained the economic import and future of oligopolistic and monopoly enterprises in his memoirs. He wrote that the "combinations of capital are bound to continue and to grow. . . . The day of individual competition in large affairs is past and gone. . . . It is too late to argue about advantages of industrial combinations. They are a necessity."
So, with vital sectors of the U.S. economy slipping under the oligopolistic and oligarchic control of just a few men who came to dominated the investment, production, and distribution in crucial sectors of the economy, it was inevitable that government policies would be geared to their needs and interests. After all, even at that early stage of industrial and financial consolidation and control, the large-scale production system had a far greater capacity to produce far more goods than the huge majority of poorly paid workers in the domestic market could afford to absorb. Thus, as historian Howard Zinn reports, as early as 1898 — the year of the Spanish-Cuban-American War — a crucial "10 percent" of U.S. products were being sold abroad. Now, 10 percent might not sound like any great shakes, but it was. As early as 1893, the U.S. volume of foreign trade had surpassed every country but England. More importantly, the concentrated economic and political clout behind a significant part of that foreign trade was disproportionately greater than the 10 percent figure alone might indicate. For instance, Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company not only contributed huge exports of kerosene (90% of the U.S. total) to that important 10 percent in the 1880s and 1890s, but, also, his company controlled "in the 80 percent range" of the domestic and "70 percent of the world market." In Rockefeller’s own words, his company "sold. . . more than half of all the product that the company makes . . . outside of the United States." As for foreign investment, as early as 1891, "Rockefeller pushed the [Standard Oil] company toward . . . buying up a large number of [domestic] producing products [i.e., 25%], and by 1920 — 29 years later — president Walter Teagle of Standard Oil was blunt in recognizing the global strategic objective to which Rockefeller’s virtual oil monopoly had carried the company: "‘The present policy of the Standard Oil Company is to be interested in every producing area no matter in what country it is situated.’" This sort of market discovery and export need in those sorts of private profit-making hands demanded that the organized force of government be at its service.
Consequently, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, powerful U.S. businessmen and institutions began to require that there be created a foreign market that was adjusted to the economic imperatives of the large-scale, corporate-dominated and interlocked production system that they were so rapidly developing. One of the most significant reflections of this requirement, as historian Thomas J. McCormick points out, was the emergence of the economic theory of "generalized overproduction" that developed in the period between 1873 and 1893. Unlike the preceding "scarcity of money" theory which had predominated in U.S. economic thinking in the period 1865-1873, the generalized overproduction theory ascribed the basic cause of commercial and industrial depressions to "growing stocks [of commodities] and stagnant demand." As one who accepted that theory and its conclusions, Andrew Carnegie developed, as early as 1889, what Charles Schwab later termed "Carnegie’s Law of Surplus." According to Carnegie, the solution to the problem of generalized overproduction in the era of large-scale production units was to keep running the production lines "‘full’" while disposing, "‘even at low foreign prices,’" the surplus product in foreign markets. In the era of large scale production units, Carnegie pointed out that Adam Smith’s classical economic theory (i.e., a manufacturer would stop production when supply exceeded demand) no longer applied. When "‘manufacturing,’" Carnegie said, "‘is carried on . . . in enormous establishments . . . it cost the manufacturer much less to run at a loss for ton or yard than to check his production’" for that "‘stoppage would be serious indeed.’" But, running "‘full,’" maintaining market area, and continuing to make a profit in "good" as well as "hard times" required more consolidation at home and more market penetration abroad. "‘The result of all this,’" Carnegie predicted, "‘is that we will be able to sell our surplus abroad, run our works full all the time, and get the best practice [including profit] and costs in this way.’" As for the capitalist state’s part in helping to secure those foreign markets that the young monopoly economy needed, J.D. Rockefeller, heaped these telling words of praise on the U.S. government’s actions: "One of our greatest helpers has been the State Department in Washington. Our ambassadors and ministers and consuls have aided to push our way into new markets to the utmost corners of the world."
All of which brings us to one of the ghost of President George Bush II’s past — President William McKinley. Now, when in 1898, McKinley launched his "splendid little war" (John Hay coined the phrase) against Spain — presumably to liberate the Cuban people from under the yoke of Spanish imperialism — he was not only fully aware of the needs and dictates of the U.S. economic system and its leaders in his day, but he also was completely in tune with the powerful U.S. intellectual, military, and political opinion that favored U.S. expansionism. In sum, as the path-breaking U.S. historian William Appleman Williams details in his seminal work The Contours of American History, the voice of McKinley himself was a forceful part of the whole U.S. "business consensus" that was pushing for the "absolute necessity of overseas expansion." Blending his pre-presidential efforts with those institutions and groups that were driving for U.S. overseas market expansion, McKinley told the 1895 organizational meeting of the pro-export National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) businessmen: "‘It is a mighty problem to keep the whole of industry in motion . . . [and it] cannot be kept in motion without markets.’" Then, acknowledging, like his NAM exporter supporters, the "axiom" that the only "‘relief’" for the "now perpetual existence of vast surpluses" was overseas economic expansion, McKinley stated: "‘We want our own markets for our manufacturers and agricultural products . . . we want a foreign market for our surplus products.’" Later, as president McKinley told the businessmen at the 1897 meeting of the pro-expansionist, Philadelphia Commercial Museum that "‘No worthier cause [than] the expansion of trade . . . can engage our energies at this hour.’"
With such beliefs and economic imperatives animating him, it is not surprising that, even before declaring war on Spain, President McKinley is found in U.S. strategy sessions regarding a Pacific campaign to secure a U.S. base in the Spanish-held Philippines. Such a base would allow U.S. businesses to better penetrate those Far Eastern markets. McKinley, after all, was fully aware that a war against Spain in the Caribbean had to have its counterpart in the Pacific if the U.S. were to achieve global objectives. Indeed, as McCormick notes in his fine study China Market, "seven months before hostilities with Spain [U.S. policy formulators in the Navy Department — chiefly Assistant Navy Secretary Theodore Roosevelt — had proposed that] the [U.S.] Asiatic Squadron should blockade, and if possible take Manila." McCormick concluded that, even before the hostilities commenced, "the McKinley administration intended to retain a foothold in the Philippines as an ‘American Hong Kong.’" So, a half month before the U.S. battleship Maine was mysteriously blown up (or accidentally blew up) in the Havana harbor, McKinley was explaining to yet another NAM meeting of businessmen that American naval power in the Philippines would protect future U.S. interests in the Far East. And, more importantly, Republican President McKinley, like Democratic President Glover Cleveland before him, was "intimately familiar with the requests from corporate leaders for ‘energetic’ action ‘for the preservation and protection of [our] important commercial interests in that [Chinese] Empire.’" Thus, throughout the Spring and Summer of 1897, "American foreign policy," Williams notes, "was largely taken up with an expansionistic drive directed toward Asia."
And, so, after discovering the necessary pretexts for a casus belli, the war came. But it came — no more in that time than today — not because the U.S. "enemy" was cruel, aggressive, and inhumane (always a given), or because of any U.S. policy maker’s desire to save the Cuban people. Like all wars of choice rather than necessity — the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, the Banana Wars, World War I, the U.S.-Vietnam War, the impending U.S.-Iraq War, etc. — the Spanish-Cuban-American War came because of "the definition of America’s needs made by its own leaders." So, by the fall of 1897, McKinley, along with "many large corporate leaders," had decided, according to Williams, that the "situation [in Cuba] had to be stabilized so that [U.S.] domestic recovery [from one of five severe economic depressions between 1873-1915] and overseas expansion could proceed without further delay and interruption."
With words that might suggest a comparison between what is happening today with what happened in 1897 and 1898, Williams details what McKinley and his policy makers did when they maneuvered to go to war with Spain. Once again, we might be tempted to substitute a few places and people to see history repeat itself — but never exactly. In noting that the McKinley Administration had demanded that the Spanish occupiers of Cuba establish "stability" but, then, demanded that the methods — determined and ruthless military actions — used to bring it about be halted, Williams observes that "America had thus irresponsibly demanded results while denying Spain the right to use [the] effective means [to create the results demanded]. Thus, "as early as November 20, 1897, [the McKinley Administration declared] that ‘peace in Cuba is necessary to the welfare of the people of the United States.’ [And] having defined the problem in those terms, McKinley, on December 6, 1897, graciously gave Spain ‘a reasonable chance’ to do what he told it. But [having deprived Spain of the chance to comply or, alternatively, having condemned their compliance, McKinley] . . . impatient of further delay, and cavalierly depreciating Spain’s continued efforts to meet his demands . . . went to war to remove the distraction, establish firm control of the Caribbean, and proceed with expansion into Asia."
Historian, social critic, and humorist Oscar Ameringer once repeated the "old saw" — not inaccurately in this case — that one can tell what a war is really about by observing what the victor takes when the war is over. And, when the Spanish-Cuban-American war ended, Ameringer noted that the U.S. had secured Hawaii, taken over the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Guam, and gotten a first hand economic "mortgage on Cuba." In fact, once the 1901 "Platt Amendment" to a U.S. military appropriations bill had hurled the 1898 "Teller Amendment" further into the proverbial dustbin of history than Satan had been hurled out of heaven, Cuba was to become the first of many informal U.S. tributaries. It would be subjected to U.S. economic domination through the "open door" doctrine that was proclaimed by U.S. Secretary of State John Hay in 1899.
But, before turning to the full scope of the strategic and imperial meaning of U.S. open door policies, there are two very interesting facts about the Teller Amendment that need to be mentioned. They seldom are. Together these two facts reveal the little known real meaning of the, presumably, anti-imperialist Teller Amendment. Thus, first, while the Teller Amendment disclaimed any U.S. policy intention to physically acquire Cuban territory, (i.e., the traditional imperialism of physical conquest and domination of others’ territories.), it did not outlaw the much more subtle control imposed by the U.S. open door policy (i.e., economic conquest and domination of other societies’ socio-economic systems through the superior productivity of the dominant exporting country coupled with a lack of import restrictions in the dominated importing country). In words clearly explaining this latter form of indirect and informal control, McCormick wrote, "Instead of closed doors, [it’s] open markets; instead of [direct] political domination, [it’s] economic hegemony; instead of large-scale colonialism, [it’s] informal empires." And, by opposing traditional imperialism, the beauty of informal and open door domination is that it effectively conceals itself. In other words, as McCormick noted, it is the imperialism of anti-imperialism. Perceiving the underlying reality in all this, however, Williams noted that "Teller and [other] leaders . . . agreed in early 1894 [i.e., four years before the Spanish-Cuban-American War] that nothing should be allowed to weaken or disrupt America’s economic control of Cuba." "Teller," in short, as Williams wrote, "was an eloquent advocate of the free marketplace expansionism."
Now, the second fact related to the expansionist thinking underlying the Teller Amendment is even more important than the first because it reveals that Senator Teller — like growing numbers of U.S. leaders and policy makers in his day — had reinterpreted the Monroe Doctrine in the expansionist tradition of President James K. Polk. Animated by the needs and dictates of the embryonic monopoly capitalist system, Teller and his fellow U.S. policy makers twisted the original meaning and application of Monroe’s message into a new operating principle. Their purpose in doing this was to justify more frequent U.S. military interventions in Latin America in order to back-up U.S. economic interests. Hence, Teller asserted, "‘The Monroe Doctrine . . . [provides] a right to intervene . . . [because where] commerce is destroyed and lives are wasted’ America had the power and the right to ‘say to those people, "Now you have . . . disturbed the commercial world. You are destroying your civilization, and it is time for your to come to a halt. . . . [And if that cannot be done peacefully],’" Teller went on to warn, with a type of rhetoric that resembles that which is delivered by some U.S. neoconservatives today, "‘does anybody deny the right of this Government, in the interest of humanity, in the interest of the business of the world and the race, to say, ‘You must put an end to this condition, or we shall compel you to do so’?"
President Glover Cleveland, certainly concurred with this new operating principle. And following Cleveland’s lead, virtually all successive presidents took this interpretation of the Monroe Doctrine as an article of faith, so the "doctrine" was turned into dogma. The result: Between 1898 and 1995, there have been 38 U.S. military interventions in Latin American countries, excluding Mexico. At least one outspoken U.S. officer who had engaged in several of these military interventions ("Banana Wars") was candid enough to describe exactly what interests he and his fellow troopers had served as they risked their lives under banana trees and the U.S. flag. In 1935, two time Medal of Honor winner and U.S. Marine Corps Major General Smedley D. Butler put it bluntly: "‘I spent 33 years and four months in active service . . . And during that period I spent most of my time being a high-class muscle man for Big Business. . . . Thus I helped make Mexico . . . safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank to collect revenues in. . . . I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909 to 1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for Amerian sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras ‘right’ for American fruit companies in 1903.’"
At any rate, Cuba and China were the first societies after the Spanish-Cuban-American War to be subjected to the U.S. open door strategy. But China, of course, was the initial target of the famous U.S. open door notes. For, after all, the turn-of-the-century American businessmen and policy makers were faced with a tremendous problem when they started dreaming of entering that seemingly boundless Chinese market. The problem was that many of the leading imperialist powers on earth — Germany, Japan, France, England — had already pounced on China and carved it up into spheres of influence. So, it seems that everyone was eating at the Chinese bowl but the Chinese and the Americans. And, by using the open door policy — proclaimed in their open door notes — U.S. policy makers wanted to make sure that the U.S., if not the Chinese, were included. Therefore, it should not be surprising to learn that the 1899, U.S., open door notes were sent to every government with spheres of influence in China, but they were not sent to the Chinese government. The Chinese, after all, were seen as simply objects, not people, by U.S. policy makers. Thus, China, as historian McCormick has written, was regarded by U.S. policy makers as "a passive and somewhat static entity . . . something to be acted upon."
Anyway, the purpose of the U.S. open door policy was not to protect or create any real sovereignty of the Chinese people over their country. The open door notes did not call for the abandonment of imperialist spheres of influence in China. In fact, they explicitly accepted them. The notes only called for the U.S. right to trade and invest in those spheres of influence. And, for all this, as McCormick has observed, the U.S. policy makers defined Chinese sovereignty in terms only of "preserving her territory intact" [and of] maintaining the external symbols of her sovereignty." But, more importantly, "the American definition denied to China either the right or capacity to modify or close the open door." So, as McCormick summarized the results of his study into subsequent U.S. policies and actions in China, "the United States [in its "Protocol negotiations" is "found"] vigorously befriending and protecting China in all things political and territorial, while it sought to limit her internal, economic development so as to expand her value as a market" for U.S. trade and investment. In short, U.S. policy makers and business interests fostered policies and practices, in the China that existed from 1900 to 1949, which attempted to keep that land deindustrialized and open to U.S. market penetration. And all this prefigured U.S. foreign policy for the whole 20th century and beyond if the events of the last three years are any guide. As McCormick succinctly explained, "The open door policy . . . represent[s] America’s basic response to the . . . question of how to expand. . . . [A] most interesting hybrid of anti-colonialism and economic imperialism."
And Cuba, more effectively under U.S. control than China, was the first guinea pig to truly experience what the open door strategy of economic conquest really meant. Once the Platt Amendment had tossed the few anti-imperialist features of the Teller Amendment into oblivion, Cuba’s "independence" became, at best, a bad joke. By the terms of the Platt Amendment — incorporated into the Cuban Constitution by U.S. force of arms — Cuba could not make any treaties with third powers and had to allow the U.S. "‘the right to intervene for the preservation of Cuban independence, the maintenance of a government adequate for the protection of life, property, and individual liberty.’" Cuba, also, was required to surrender parts of its territory for U.S. coaling and naval stations and the U.S. took control of Cuba’s imports and exports. In fact, U.S. capitalists took control of the vast bulk of Cuba’s sugar, timber, railroads, mines, tobacco, and oil refineries; they controlled pretty much the whole island.
And, so, just as the Mexican-American War and President Polk had pointed the way for future presidents who hoped to manipulate the U.S. population into supporting wars of expansion, the Spanish-Cuban-American War was a prelude to the open door expansion of U.S. business interests throughout the world. But, at least, in the cases of the Mexican-American War and the Spanish-Cuban-American War, U.S. presidents still bothered to ask Congress to declare war. Between 1898 and today, however, the increasingly frequent need for U.S. military action and interventionism has made the old principles, policies, and practices more and more obsolete. And this has required not only new interpretations of old doctrines but the creation of new doctrines as well.
So, as early as 1904, President Theodore Roosevelt had codified the right of U.S. military intervention in Latin America with what became know as the "Roosevelt Corollary" to the Monroe Doctrine. Using the same aggrandizing logic that had once been employed by Polk, Roosevelt maintained that, since the Monroe Doctrine prohibited European intervention in the Caribbean and South America, then the U.S. itself could preemptively intervene in Latin American nations on the pretext of warding off some intervention by other nations. In Roosevelt’s words, "‘[A]dherence of the United States to the Monroe Doctrine [gave the U.S. the right to] "‘the exercise of an international police power’" in its sphere of influence. Indeed, in a similar vein of self-righteousness exhibited by some of today’s U.S. policy makers — some of whom might see themselves as reincarnated "Teddies" — Roosevelt argued that "America’s commitment to ‘civilization’ . . . gave it the special right to intervene in countries guilty of ‘wrongdoing or impotence.’"
And, now, once again, the new operating principle of making rather than declaring war has enabled a few U.S. policy makers to carry us to the brink of a war that will endanger thousands of people. And if that war occurs and if it kills tens of thousands or more of innocent civilians in a U.S. strategy designed to create "shock and awe" by using massive, concentrated firepower, it will stain and shame the U.S. people for generations. So, asks U.S. political scientist Bertell Ollman, what are we to do? And he answered his own question by advising us to join the non-violent, peace campaign against the impending war. Citing the recent conclusions of a University of Sussex study, Ollman pointed out that the study "showed that demonstrating for a cause in which you believe is not only good for your conscience, it’s good for your health." So, as Ollman says, demonstrations for peace are "in the interest of good health — your’s, [mine], the Iraqi’s, our troops’ and the world’s." Paix. (E)
Notes to On Making vs. Declaring War, II
The description and explanation of that stage in the development
of a free market economy known as monopoly capitalism can be found in many
works by, among others, such historians and economists as Eric Hobsbawn,
Thomas McCormick, Philip Foner, Ernest Mandel, Paul M. Sweezy, and Douglas
Dowd. Of these authors, the latest work by Dowd (Capitalism and It’s
Economics: A Critical History, 2002) is, perhaps, the most readable
and thorough in its treatment of the subject. Dowd breaks monopoly
capitalism into the phases of monopoly capitalism I and II.
Writing for the conservative and respected think tank of Cato Institute, defense analyst Robert Higgs acknowledged this point in these candid words: "Manipulation of information is [not only] central to what modern governing elites do, [but] on defense-related and foreign policy matters, the scope for information management and opinion leadership by the national security elite is much wider." See Robert Higgs, "U.S. Military Spending in the Cold War Era: Opportunity Costs, Foreign Crisis, and Domestic Constraints," Policy Analyses no. 114 (November 30, 1998): 14. HYPERLINK "http://www.cato.org.pubs/pa114.html" www.cato.org.pubs/pa114.html .
Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay, The Federalist Papers, No. 69, New York: Mentor Books, [1787-1788], 1961, 417-418. Hamilton’s emphasis.
T.D. Allman, "The Doctrine that Never Was," Harper’s, January 1984, 20.
John J. Abt, Who Has the Right to Make War?: The Constitutional Crisis, New York: International Pub., 1970, 18.
Abt, 19. John J. Abt cited similar responses on this issue by mid-19th century, U.S. policy makers. Three of his examples are fully quoted below.
"In 1851, Secretary of State Daniel Webster rejected an Hawaiian request for armed aid against France, stating: ‘In the first place, I have to say that the war-making power in this Government rests entirely with Congress; and that the President can authorize belligerent operations only in the cases expressly provided for by the Constitution and the laws. By these no power is given to the Executive to oppose an attack by one independent nation on the possessions of another.’
In 1857, Secretary of State Cass in the Buchanan administration, gave a similar reply to a request that the United States join an Anglo-French expedition against China: ‘This proposition, looking to a participation by the United States in the existing hostilities against China, makes it proper to remind your lordship that, under the Constitution of the United States, the executive branch of this Government is not the war-making power. The exercise of that great attribute of sovereignty is vested in Congress, and the President has no authority to order aggressive hostilities to be undertaken.’
In 1859, President Buchanan sent a message to Congress requesting authority to use armed force for the protection of transit across the Isthmus of Panama. In explaining the need for Congressional authorization, he said: ‘The executive government of this country in its intercourse with foreign nations is limited to the employment of diplomacy alone. When this fails it can proceed no further. It cannot legitimately resort to force without the direct authority of Congress, except in resisting and repelling hostile attacks. It would have no authority to enter the territories of Nicaragua even to prevent the destruction of the transit and to protect the lives and property of our own citizens on their passage.’" See Abt, 19-20.
Allman, "Doctrine," 18.
T.D. Allman, Unmanifest Destiny, Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1983, 160.
Allman, "Doctrine," 20.
Allman, Unmanifest, 286.
Ibid., 285, 286.
Ibid., 286. My emphasis.
George Brown Tindall and David Emory Shi, America: A Narrative History, Brief Fifth Edition, Vol. I, New York: W.W. Norton, 2000, 456.
Allman, Unmanifest, 285, 284.
Allman, "Doctrine," 22.
Mark E. Neely, Jr. Abraham Lincoln Encyclopedia, New York: Da Capo, 1982, 209.
Abraham Lincoln, "Speech in United States House of Representatives: The War with Mexico," Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, editor Roy P. Basler, et al, Vol. I, 439. Along with these highly critical words and actions, Congressman Lincoln proudly claimed that he must have voted for abolitionist Representative David Wilmot’s "Proviso" to exclude slavery and involuntary servitude in all the territories taken from Mexico "‘at least forty times.’" Lincoln may have done as he claimed, but less than a quarter of such votes have so far been verified by researchers. See Neely, 338.
Lincoln to William H. Herndon, February 15, 1848, Letter in Collected Works, Vol. I, 451. Lincoln’s emphasis.
"Passing down debt, a disservice to young," Atlanta Journal Constitution, 9 February 2003, F10.
Center for Defense Information (CDI), "Fiscal Year 2003 Pentagon Defense Budget Request, Budget Authority," Feb. 4, 2002, 1, HYPERLINK "http://www.cdi.org/issues/budget/FY03topline-pr.cfm" www.cdi.org/issues/budget/FY03topline-pr.cfm .
Lincoln to William H. Herndon, February 15, 1848, Letter in Collected Works, Vol. I, 451-452. Lincoln’s emphasis.
Some of my own arguments and explanations of Lincoln’s adherence to and projection of the republican ideal are found in "Abraham Lincoln on Labor and Capital," Civil War History, 38 (September, 1992): 197-209; "Lincoln vs. Douglas Over the Republican Ideal," American Studies, 35 (Spring, 1994): 63-89; "The Founding Fathers’ Republican ideal nourished Abraham Lincoln’s belief in Freedom for All," America’s Civil War, 7 (November, 1994): 8, 87-90, 92-94.
Allman, "Doctrine," 22.
Allman, Unmanifest, 256-257.
Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States, 1492-Present, New York: Harper, 1995, 343. For a readily available and a splendid treatment of this remarkable era from 1865-1914, read Zinn’s analysis and synthesis of scores of studies in his three chapters entitled "Robber Barons and Rebels," "The Empire and the People," and "The Socialist Challenge" (pages 247-349). Zinn’s account masterfully covers the economic, social, and political history of elites and ordinary people by coherently incorporating the vital statistics related to capital and working class conditions with the laboring people’s struggles for survival, justice, and social progress. He points out, for example, that Morgan and Rockefeller (at their peak of power) sat on a combined total of 85 separate boards of directors. Morgan, alone, controlled more than 50% of U.S. railroads by 1900, and Rockefeller controlled the largest oil refining capacity in the world as early as 1879. Meanwhile, 22,000 railroad workers were killed or injured on the job in 1889; 27,000 workers in manufacturing, transportation, and agriculture were killed at work in 1904; and 35,000 were killed in industrial accidents in 1914. Today, an estimated 14,000 American are annually killed on the job, but those numbers probably go much, much higher when job-related deaths are calculated on the basis of workers who have died after contracting long-term, lethal, health problems in their workplaces.
John D. Rockefeller, Random Reminiscences of Men and Events, New York: Arno Press,  1973, 65, 67.
Zinn, A People’s, 293.
Daniel Yergin, The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power, New York: Touchstone, 1991, 51; Zinn, 294.
Yergin, 53, 199.
Thomas J. McCormick, China Market: America’s Quest for Informal Empire, 1893-1901, Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 1990, 26.
McKinley was a believer in Alfred Thayer Mahan’s naval expansion and insular imperialism theories (Atlantic and Pacific island coaling outposts); he called for a larger navy and merchant marine; he advocated the annexation of Hawaii and even said that it was part of U.S. Manifest Destiny; he tried to buy Cuba; he moved to create a canal across the isthmus of Central America; he refused to sell arms to the Cuban revolutionaries fighting Spain or to recognize their claim to sovereignty or to grant them U.S. recognition as belligerents because he was far more interested in exercising U.S. influence over Cuba than to favor their independence. See Philip S. Foner, The Spanish-Cuban-American War and the Birth of American Imperialism, 1895-1902, New York: Monthly Review Press, 1972, Vol. I, 308, 307-308; also Zinn, 297.
William Appleman Williams, The Contours of American History, Chicago: Quadrangle,  1966, 363.
These included the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), flour millers, wool manufacturers, the National Live Stock Exchange, the Committee on American Interests in China, and business journals like Scientific America, Engineering Magazine, and Iron Age.
Williams, Contours, 363.
Ibid. Foner also cites these quotations by McKinley. See Foner, vol. I, 308.
Foner, vol. I, 309-310.
McCormick, China, 107.
Foner, vol. I, 309, 310.
Williams, Contours, 366.
Three causes or pretexts that are commonly cited as justifications for the U.S. war against Spain are: Spanish "pacification" strategies which included forcing thousands of Cubans into disease-ridden interment camps (i.e., reconcentracion) in order to deprive the Cuban resistance fighters of the support of the Cuban rural population. Likewise, the derogatory remarks about McKinley that the Spanish Minister to the U.S., Depuy de Lome, made in a letter that was purloined and published were said to have offended American honor. And, of course, the mysterious sinking of the U.S. battleship Maine and the loss of 266 U.S. servicemen in Havana harbor was taken as the strongest evidence of Spanish hostility and criminality against the U.S.
In outlining the chronology of the U.S.-Spanish diplomatic actions leading to declarations of war by each nation, historians George Brown Tindall and David Emory Shi offer this telling sequence of dates and events in 1898: March 27, the U.S. issues an ultimatum to Spain demanding an end to reconcentracion, an immediate armistice, and Spain’s consent to a U.S. mediation of the conflict; April 9, the Spanish government accepted the armistice; April 10, the Spanish minister to Washington gave the U.S. State Department a note which amounted to Spain’s capitulation to U.S. demands; April 11, McKinley ignores these concessions and asks Congress for an authorization to use force to protect U.S. trade and property; April 22, McKinley ordered a blockade of Cuban ports (i.e., an act of war under international law); April 24, Spain declared war on the U.S.; April 25, U.S. declared war on Spain but made it retroactive to April 21, 1898. See Tindall, Vol., 804.
Williams, Contours, 366.
Ibid, 367. Foner and Zinn, likewise, point out that it was only two days after McKinley received a telegram (February 25, 1898) from one of his White House advisors in the field that he asked Congress for an "authorization to use force" against Spain (February 27, 1898). The telegram read: "‘Big corporations here now believe we will have war. Believe all would welcome it as relief to suspense.’" See Zinn, 298, and Foner, vol. I, 307.
In part, this demand also may have been conditioned by the fact that, by 1893, U.S. business interests had $50 million of investments in Cuba, and U.S. trade with Cuba stood at $103 million per year. See Zinn, 295.
Williams, Contours, 367.
Oscar Ameringer, Life and Deeds of Uncle Sam: A Little History for Big Children, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: American Guardian, 1938, 55.
Sponsored by Senator Orville Platt.
Sponsored by Senator Henry M. Teller.
McCormick, China, 128.
William Appleman Williams, The Roots of the Modern American Empire, New York: Vintage, 1969, 377.
In the 1894-1896 boundary dispute between British Guinea and Venezuela, Cleveland invoked the Monroe Doctrine against British pressure on Venezuela and grandiosely declared that the Doctrine "‘is essential to the integrity of our free institutions and the tranquil maintenance of our distinctive form of government.’" See Ibid., 379.
"Keeping the Backyard Safe," The Sojourner’s, April 1980. See also Zinn, 399, and David W. Dent, The Legacy of the Monroe Doctrine: A Reference Guide to U.S. Involvement in Latin America and the Caribbean, Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1999, 12-13. Dent’s reference work lists a total of 111 "incidents" of U.S. military interventions in Latin America since 1823. With the exception of General Poncho Villa’s raid on Columbus, Texas, I cannot think of any other Latin American military incursion or intervention in the U.S.
McCormick, China, 155.
Zinn, 303. Zinn notes that the U.S. forces under General Leonard Wood remained in Cuba until a reluctant assembly of Cuban delegates to their Constitutional Convention agreed to incorporate the terms of the Platt Amendment into the Cuban Constitution. And, after that had been accomplished, General Wood candidly wrote to Theodore Roosevelt stating: "‘There is, of course, little or no independence left in Cuba under the Platt Amendment.’" See Zinn, 304, 305.
Zinn, 303. Zinn points out that while American lumber interests took 10,000,000 acres of virgin forest, the U.S. railroad, mine, and sugar properties invested "$30 million of American capital" to dominate those industries, and United Fruit company bought 1,900,000 acres of land at about twenty cents an acre. Meanwhile, by 1901, "80 percent of the export of Cuba’s minerals were in American hands, mostly Bethlehem Steel." See Zinn, 303.
More humorously than anyone, political scientist Michael Parenti has summarized what the U.S. open door policy and Platt Amendment meant for Cuba when he noted that "we turned to the Cubans and said, ‘We stole you fair and square from the Spaniards, but we are a republic, and it doesn’t look good if we have a colony. So, we are going to give you your independence. You will have your own flag and it’s going to be red, white, and blue. You are going to have only one star on it since you are just a little island. You get your own presidente, and you get your own currency. You don’t have to put George Washington on it. You can put Jose Marti or any other Cuban we find acceptable. You have your own guardia civile and they will keep; your people in line. We will train them and give them guns, and we will give them nice uniforms and all that sort of thing. You will be independent, and all we will have is that we will own your tobacco industry, your sugar industry, your nickel mines, and your oil refineries, and we will control all your imports and exports. You won’t be allowed to make any treaties with third countries. You have to deal with us. Other than that, you are independent.’ That is neo-colonialism, where you give them the bills and the overhead costs, and you skim the cream." See Michael Parenti, "The Cost of Empire at Home and Abroad," November 1994, Seattle, Washington: People’s Video (Audio tape), sound cassette.
Allman, "Doctrine," 21.
Bertell Ollman, "Why War with Iraq? Why Now? Phantom Reasons and Real Ones," 14 February 2003, Center for the Advance Study of American Institutions and Social Movements, Grenoble, France, email of 2/14/03.