What Are Reasons for American Imperialism?

American imperialism is caused by the nation’s desire to expand its control and influence in locations overseas. This is accomplished through military, political and even economic prowess. United States imperialism dates back to the 1800s.

In the United States, imperialism emerged around the 19th century. For the country, the rationale for expanding its economic and military power was driven by several factors. At that time, the United States was gaining power on the world scene following its break from Great Britain. The Industrial Revolution, which began in Europe and eventually made its way across the Atlantic Ocean, also empowered the United States to exert its dominance. The Industrial Revolution sparked a significant growth in economic productivity, which in turn created the production of many more goods and consumer products. The United States was more readily accessible to European nations at this time, as their ships and products were able to reach the United States in larger quantities and in shorter periods of time, which made the United States more connected to global trade. As its economy developed, the United States also put more money into fortifying its land and water-based branches of the military, as did many other countries around the world gaining power.

Motives for Imperialism Imperialism is generally produced by a handful of motives, which are economic, ethnocentric, exploratory, religious and political. Collectively, these components of imperialism allow countries to dominate and control territories and other countries. Economic imperialism occurs when a country seeks to gain economic dominance with the help of private and sometimes government companies too. The driving motives for economic expansion, or imperialism, are access to cheap labor and a readily available source of basic supplies that the imposing country needs. When applied to the United States, for instance, economic imperialism manifests in the United States’ involvement in the Middle East, which is a lucrative source of oil and fossil fuels that the United States depends on for energy. Another example is the expansion overseas of companies like McDonald’s, Burger King and many clothing retailers. Large corporations find that they can get cheap labor and readily available supplies of materials to produce products and operate at a cheaper cost, which in turn increases corporations’ bottom lines.

Examples of Imperialism In addition to economic imperialism, the United States also displays political imperialism. Political imperialism is formed when patriotism and competing imperial powers spur a country, such as the United States, to become more assertive in its political dominance. Pride, prestige and national security are all motivating factors for a country to develop political imperialism. As part of political imperialism, countries put money and resources into expanding their navies, armies and other military branches. Evidence of political imperialism is seen in wars initiated by the United States over the years. Examples of this are the Cold War and the invasions of Iraq and Iran following the terror attacks of 9/11. The United States, in the invasion of the Middle Eastern countries, felt compelled to assert its military and political dominance over these countries. The move was one of both a desire to protect national security, gain access to critical resources and rebuild national pride and the United States’ respect as a global superpower.