As we learn in “From Columbus to Castro,” the U.S. chose to impose its Manifest Destiny on the nations of Northern Europe that had colonies in the Caribbean. Both French and British government officials had something to say about this, and one important example can be found on pp.416, Lord Salisbury, the British Foreign Secretary, states that “no nation, however powerful, [is] competent to insert into the code of international law a novel principle which was never recognized before.” Also, he adds that “they are not prepared to admit that the interests of the United States are necessarily concerned in every frontier dispute which may arise between any two of the states who possess dominion in the Western Hemisphere,” referring of course to Britain and France.
The question of whether Britain was necessarily correct in their criticism of the U.S., and particularly, whether this attitude on the part of the U.S. may have led to the takeover of Cuba in 1898 is certainly a complex one. We learn that during the Cuban revolt of 1898 against the Spanish occupation, the U.S. sent a battleship named the Maine to Havana, where it was suddenly blown up. The U.S. accused Spain of carrying out the attack, while the Spanish said it was a mechanical fault of the ship, but in any case, the relevant occurence is what took place next. The U.S. gave Spain an ultimatum, saying that they should leave immediately, and that they (U.S.) would assume control over the island for the purpose of “pacification…” and that “when that is accomplished [they would] leave the government in control of the island to its people.” (pp. 420).
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the U.S. set up military bases on the island, and stayed there for the next 25 years. So much for giving the island back to its people. So my question is, do you think Britain was right in accusing the U.S. of being selfish, or do you think they had a genuine desire to help the Cubans achieve their …