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How the Monroe Doctrine Led to America Occupying Cuba, Panama, Hawaii, and Haiti

August 10, 2023
00:00 47:30
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Following the Napoleonic Wars, a tidal wave of independence movements hit the Western Hemisphere. The United States was afraid that expansionist powers—namely Britain, France, Germany, and Japan—might extend their empires into these regions, threatening the growth of fledgling republics in the Americas. This kicked off a century of American launching well-intentioned but bloody imperialism in Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Pacific, with the annexation of Hawaii, the Spanish-American War, and military occupations of Cuba, Haiti, Panama, and other countries as a firewall against European expansion.

Only after making these preemptive incursions to restore order and support democracy in its “mortal combat” against imperialism, as Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan put it, did the U.S. get bogged down in interventionist quagmires.

Today’s guest is Sean Mirski, author of “We May Dominate the World: Anxiety, and the Rise of the American Colossus.” Mirski examines a lost chapter of American foreign policy, the century following the Civil War in which the United States carved out a sphere of influence and became the only great power in modern history to achieve regional hegemony.

By understanding what drove the United States’ behavior, it offers a window into the trajectory that other regional powers—including China, Russia, and Iran—may take in the coming decades.

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Meet Your Host
Meet Your Host
Scott Rank is the host of the History Unplugged Podcast and a PhD in history who specialized in the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey. Before going down the academic route he worked as a journalist in Istanbul. He has written 12 history books on topics ranging from lost Bronze Age civilizations to the Age of Discovery. Some of his books include The Age of Illumination: Science, Technology, and Reason in the Middle Ages and History’s 9 Most Insane Rulers.. Learn more about him by going to
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