US imperialism in Cuba, 1898-1901

US troops land in Cuba

An account of how the United States effectively took over Cuba following the Spanish-American war, by Stephen Kinzer.

The euphoria that gripped Cubans in the last days of 1898 was almost beyond imagination. Their country had been racked by rebellion for thirty years, the last few filled with terrible suffering. That summer, as their uprising reached a crescendo, American troops had arrived to help them deliver the death blow that ended three centuries of Spanish rule. Now, with the victory finally won, Cuban patriots and their American comrades were preparing for the biggest party in the island’s history.

Leaders of “revolutionary patriotic committees” in Havana planned a full week of festivities, to begin on New Year’s Day. There would be grand balls, boat races, fireworks, public speeches, and a gala dinner in honor of the victorious rebel commanders. Thousands of Cuban soldiers would march through the streets to receive the cheers of a grateful nation.

Just as the celebration was to begin, however, the newly named American military governor of Cuba, General John Brooke, made a stunning announcement. He forbade the entire program. Not only would there be no parade of Cuban soldiers, but any who tried to enter Havana would be turned back. Furthermore, the general declared, the United States did not recognize the rebel army and wished it to disband.

This abrupt turnaround outraged Cuban patriots, especially the thousands who had fought so long and tenaciously for independence. The United States snatched their great prize, independence, away from them at the last moment. As years passed, they and their descendants would watch in mounting frustration as their new overlord used various means, including the imposition of tyrants, to keep control of Cuba.

Cubans were among the first people to feel the effect of the profound changes that reshaped the American psyche at the end of the nineteenth century. This was the moment when, with remarkable suddenness, Americans ceased to be satisfied with holding territory on the North American mainland. They became consumed with a grand new idea, that of a United States whose influence extended around the world. In the words of the historian Louis Pérez, 1898 was “a watershed year, a moment in which outcomes were both defining and decisive, at once an end and a beginning: that special conjuncture of historical circumstances that often serves to delineate one historical epoch from another.”

Territorial expansion was nothing new to Americans. They had been pushing westward ever since the first settlers arrived at Jamestown and Plymouth. In the process they appropriated a great continent, killing or displacing nearly all of its native inhabitants. During the 1840s, in their first burst of imperial war, they seized half of Mexico. Many came to believe that the United States had a “manifest destiny” to occupy and settle all the land bounded by Canada, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The idea of going farther, though, was something quite new.

In the months after the 1893 revolution in Hawaii, that country’s new leaders sought annexation to the United States, but President Grover Cleveland—who had succeeded Benjamin Harrison in March of that year—would not hear of it. He was quite right when he declared that most Americans rejected the seizure of faraway lands “as not only opposed to our national policy, but as a perversion of our national mission.” Five years later, this consensus evaporated. Almost overnight, it was replaced by a national clamor for overseas expansion. This was the quickest and most profound reversal of public opinion in the history of American foreign policy.

The foundation for this remarkable turnaround was laid by a handful of visionary writers and intellectuals. In 1893 one of them, Frederick Jackson Turner, published one of the most provocative essays ever written by an American historian. He used as his point of departure the national census of 1890, which famously concluded that there was no longer a frontier in the United States. That “closed the first period of American history,” Turner declared, and left the country with a stark choice. It could either declare itself satisfied with its present size, something it had never done before, or seek territory beyond North America. In his paper and subsequent articles, Turner left his readers with no doubt as to which he believed would be the wiser choice.

For nearly three centuries the dominant fact in American life has been expansion. With the settlement of the Pacific Coast and the occupation of the free lands, this movement has come to a check. That these energies of expansion will no longer operate would be a rash prediction; and the demands for a vigorous foreign policy, for an inter-oceanic canal, for a revival of our power upon the seas, and for the extension of American influence to outlying islands and adjoining countries, are indications that the movement will continue.

The philosopher-sailor who translated calls like this into a plan of action was Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan, director of the fledgling Naval War College. His book The Influence of Sea Power upon History argued that no nation had ever become great without control of foreign markets and access to the natural resources of foreign countries. To achieve that control, he asserted, a nation must maintain a navy powerful enough to protect its merchant fleet and force uncooperative countries to open themselves to trade and investment. A navy with such ambition needed a network of supply bases around the world. Applying these arguments to the United States, Mahan urged that it not only speedily build a canal across Central America but also establish bases in the Caribbean, the Pacific, and wherever else it wished to trade.

“Whether they will or no, Americans must now begin to look outward,” Mahan wrote. “The growing production of the country demands it.”

Mahan was the toast of Washington during the 1890s. He appeared before congressional committees and developed close friendships with powerful politicians. Senator Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts, a leading expansionist, considered his writings to be secular scripture. Theodore Roosevelt wrote a glowing review of his book and corresponded with him on questions of sea power and the annexation of distant islands. These three—Lodge in Congress, Roosevelt in the executive branch, and Mahan in the minds of men—became the Holy Trinity of American expansionism.

They and others of like mind laid out their case in different ways. Some argued that the United States had to take new territories in order to prevent European powers, or perhaps even Japan, from taking them. Others stressed the missionary aspect of colonialism, the obligation of more “advanced” races to civilize the world. Military commanders realized that a more forceful American military posture would give them greater power and bigger budgets. The most persuasive of these arguments, though, always came back to a single, essential point.

By the end of the nineteenth century, farms and factories in the United States were producing considerably more goods than Americans could consume. For the nation to continue its rise to wealth, it needed foreign markets. They could not be found in Europe, where governments, like that of the United States, protected domestic industries behind high tariff walls. Americans had to look to faraway countries, weak countries, countries that had large markets and rich resources but had not yet fallen under the sway of any great power.

This search for influence abroad gripped the United States in 1898. Spreading democracy, Christianizing heathen nations, building a strong navy, establishing military bases around the world, and bringing foreign governments under American control were never ends in themselves. They were ways for the United States to assure itself access to the markets, resources, and investment potential of distant lands.

Although the American economy grew tremendously during the last quarter of the nineteenth century, much of the country’s fabulous new wealth enriched only a few thousand captains of industry. Conditions for most ordinary people were steadily deteriorating. By 1893, one of every six American workers was unemployed, and many of the rest lived on subsistence wages. Plummeting agricultural prices in the 1890s killed off a whole generation of small farmers. Strikes and labor riots broke out from New York to Chicago to California. Socialist and anarchist movements began attracting broad followings. In 1894, Secretary of State Walter Gresham, reflecting a widespread fear, said he saw “symptoms of revolution” spreading across the country.

Many business and political leaders concluded that the only way the American economy could expand quickly enough to deal with these threats was to find new markets abroad. Among them was President Cleveland’s Treasury secretary, John Carlisle, who warned in his annual report for 1894 that “the prosperity of our people depends largely on their ability to sell their surplus products in foreign markets at remunerative prices.” Senator Albert Beveridge of Indiana came to the same conclusion. “American factories are making more than the American people can use; American soil is producing more than they can consume,” he asserted. “Fate has written our policy for us. The trade of the world must and shall be ours.”

• • •

Cuba, the largest island in the Caribbean and the last great bastion of what had once been a vast Spanish empire in the Americas, was in turmoil during the second half of the nineteenth century. Patriots there fought a ten-year war of independence that ended with an inconclusive truce in 1878, and rebelled again in 1879–80. Their third offensive broke out in 1895. Its chief organizer was an extravagantly gifted lawyer, diplomat, poet, and essayist, José Martí, who from his New York exile managed to unite a host of factions, both within Cuba and in émigré communities. His success persuaded two celebrated commanders from the first war, Máximo Gómez and Antonio Maceo, to come out of retirement and take up arms again. After careful planning, the three of them landed on the island in the spring of 1895 and launched a new rebellion. Martí, who insisted on riding at the head of a military column, was killed in one of the rebels’ first skirmishes. His comrades posted his last, unfinished letter on a pine board at their campground. In it he urged his compatriots not only to free their country from Spain but also “to prevent, by the independence of Cuba, the United States from spreading over the West Indies and falling, with that added weight, upon other lands of our America.”

The rebel army made steady progress, and the Spanish commander, General Valeriano Weyler, adopted radical tactics to blunt its advance. He ordered his troops to force huge numbers of Cubans into fortified camps, where thousands died, and declared much of the countryside a free-fire zone. Rebels responded by burning farms, slaughtering herds of cattle, and destroying sugar mills. Soon much of the population was starving, bitterly angry, and more passionate than ever in its support for independence.

In the spring of 1897, William McKinley, a Republican who was supported by midwestern business interests, succeeded the anti-imperialist Democrat Grover Cleveland as president of the United States. Like most Americans, McKinley had long considered Spanish rule to be a blight on Cuba. The prospect of the Cubans governing themselves, however, alarmed him even more. He worried that an independent Cuba would become too assertive and not do Washington’s bidding.

McKinley had reason to worry. Cuban rebel leaders were promising that once in power, they would launch sweeping social reforms, starting with land redistribution. That struck fear into the hearts of American businessmen, who had more than $50 million invested on the island, most of it in agriculture. Early in 1898, McKinley decided it was time to send both sides in the conflict a strong message. He ordered the battleship Maine to leave its place in the Atlantic Fleet and head for Havana.

Officially the Maine was simply making a “friendly visit,” but no one in Cuba took that explanation seriously. All realized that she was serving as a “gunboat calling card,” a symbol of America’s determination to control the course of events in the Caribbean. For three weeks she lay quietly at anchor in Havana. Then, on the night of February 15, 1898, she was torn apart by a tremendous explosion. More than 250 American sailors perished. News of the disaster electrified the United States. All assumed that Spain was responsible, and when the navy issued a report blaming the disaster on “an external explosion,” their assumptions turned to certainty.

Many Americans already felt a passionate hatred for Spanish colonialism and a romantic attachment to the idea of “Cuba Libre.” Their emotions had been fired by a series of wildly sensational newspaper reports that together constitute one of the most shameful episodes in the history of the American press. William Randolph Hearst, the owner of the New York Journal and a string of other newspapers across the country, had been attracting readers for months with vivid denunciations of Spanish colonialists. Like countless others who have sought to set the United States on the path to war, he knew that he needed a villain, an individual on whom he could focus the public’s outrage. The king of Spain was at that moment a fourteen-year-old boy, and the regent, his mother, was an Austrian princess, so neither of them would do. Hearst settled on General Weyler, and published a series of bloodcurdling stories that made him the personification of evil.

“Weyler, the brute, the devastator of haciendas, and the outrager of women . . . is pitiless, cold, an exterminator of men,” ran one such account. “There is nothing to prevent his carnal, animal brain from running riot with itself in inventing tortures and infamies of bloody debauchery.”

The moment Hearst heard about the sinking of the Maine, he recognized it as a great opportunity. For weeks after the explosion, he filled page after page with mendacious “scoops,” fabricated interviews with unnamed government officials, and declarations that the battleship had been “destroyed by treachery” and “split in two by an enemy’s secret infernal machine.” The Journal’s daily circulation doubled in four weeks. Other newspapers joined the frenzy, and their campaign brought Americans to near-hysteria.

With such intense emotion surging through the United States, it was easy for McKinley to turn aside repeated offers from the new Spanish prime minister, Práxedes Sagasta, to resolve the Cuban conflict peacefully. Sagasta was a modernizing Liberal who understood that his country’s colonial policies had brought its empire to the brink of collapse. Immediately after taking office in 1897, he replaced the hated Weyler, and then tried to placate the rebels by offering them home rule. The rebels, sensing that victory was at hand, rejected his offer. That made Sagasta all the more eager to sue for peace, and several times during the spring of 1898 he offered to negotiate a settlement with the United States. Dismissing these overtures as insincere, McKinley and his supporters said that they had lost patience with Spain and were determined to resolve the Cuban situation by force of arms.

Behind their tough talk lay an obvious fact. Negotiations would most likely have led to an independent Cuba where neither the United States nor any other country would have military bases. This was hardly the outcome McKinley wanted, and it would have horrified expansionists like Roosevelt, Lodge, and Mahan. Lodge went so far as to warn McKinley that if he did not intervene, he would kill Republican chances in that year’s election.

“If the war in Cuba drags on through the summer with nothing done,” he told the president, “we shall go down to the greatest defeat ever known.”

Years later, the historian Samuel Eliot Morison surveyed Spain’s efforts to resolve the Cuban crisis peacefully and concluded, “Any president with a backbone would have seized this opportunity for an honorable solution.” Such a solution, however, would have denied the United States the prizes it sought. They could be won only by conquest. McKinley understood this, and on April 11 he asked Congress to authorize “forcible intervention” in Cuba.

This step alarmed Cuban revolutionary leaders. They had long believed that, in General Maceo’s words, it would be “better to rise or fall without help than to contract debts of gratitude with such a powerful neighbor.” The rebels’ legal counsel in New York, Horatio Rubens, warned that American intervention would be taken as “nothing less than a declaration of war by the United States against the Cuban revolution” and vowed that rebel forces would resist any American attempt to take the island “with force of arms, as bitterly and tenaciously as we have fought the armies of Spain.”

Protests like these had a great effect in Washington, where the cry of “Cuba Libre” still stirred many hearts. Members of Congress were reluctant to vote for McKinley’s war resolution as long as the Cuban people opposed it. They had refused to annex Hawaii after it became clear that most Hawaiians were against the idea. Now, five years later, Americans were showing the same reluctance. Many were uncomfortable with the idea of sending soldiers to aid a movement that did not want American help. To secure congressional support for intervention in Cuba, McKinley agreed to accept an extraordinary amendment offered by Senator Henry Teller of Colorado. It began by declaring that “the people of the island of Cuba are, and of right ought to be, free and independent” and ended with a solemn pledge: “The United States hereby disclaims any disposition or intention to exercise sovereignty, jurisdiction, or control over said island except for the pacification thereof, and asserts its determination, when that is accomplished, to leave the government and control of the island to its people.” The Senate approved it unanimously.

That promise, which came to be known as the Teller Amendment, calmed the rebels’ fears. “It is true that they have not entered into an accord with our government,” wrote one of their leaders, General Calixto García, “but they have recognized our right to be free, and that is enough forme.”

On April 25, Congress declared that a state of war existed between the United States and Spain. Members of the House of Representatives celebrated their vote by breaking into rousing choruses of “Dixie” and “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” as they left the chamber. “A spirit of wild jingoism seems to have taken possession of this usually conservative body,” McKinley’s secretary wrote in his diary.

A nation that was still recovering from the bitter divisions of the Civil War finally had a cause everyone could embrace. President McKinley called for 125,000 military volunteers, and more than twice that number poured into recruiting stations. The New York Journal suggested that heroic athletes like the baseball star Cap Anson and the boxing champion “Gentleman” Jim Corbett be recruited to lead an elite unit. Not to be outdone, the rival New York World published an article by Buffalo Bill Cody headlined, “How I Could Drive the Spaniards from Cuba with Thirty Thousand Braves!” Theodore Roosevelt announced that he would quit his post as assistant secretary of the navy to raise and lead a fighting unit.

“It was a war entered without misgivings and in the noblest frame of mind,” the military historian Walter Millis wrote thirty years later. “Seldom can history have recorded a plainer case of military aggression; yet seldom has a war been started in so profound a conviction of its righteousness.”

Events moved quickly in the weeks that followed. Roosevelt ordered Commodore George Dewey to proceed to Manila Bay, in the Philippines, and destroy the Spanish fleet that had been deployed there. This Dewey did with astonishing ease in a single day, May 1, after giving his famous command “You may fire when you are ready, Gridley.”

Six weeks later, American soldiers landed near Santiago on Cuba’s southeastern coast. They fought three one-day battles, the most famous being the one in which Roosevelt, dressed in a uniform he had ordered from Brooks Brothers, led a charge up Kettle Hill, later called San Juan Hill. On July 3, American cruisers destroyed the few decrepit Spanish naval vessels anchored at Santiago. Spanish forces soon ended their resistance, and the Cuban and American commanders, Generals Calixto García and William Shafter, prepared to accept their formal surrender. Before the ceremony, though, Shafter astonished Garcia by sending him a message saying he could not participate in the ceremony or even enter Santiago. That was the first hint that the United States would not keep the promise Congress had made when it passed the Teller Amendment.

On August 12, barely two months after the American landing, diplomats representing Spain and the United States met at the White House and signed a “protocol of peace” that ended the war. Just 385 Americans had been killed in action, barely more than Sioux Indians had killed at Little Big Horn in the country’s last major military engagement, twentytwo years before. About two thousand more died later of wounds and disease, but even that number was less than had fallen in single afternoons during intense battles of the Civil War. It had been, in the words of the American statesman John Hay, “a splendid little war.”

With victory won, the time had come for the United States to begin its withdrawal and, in the words of the Teller Amendment, “leave the government and control of the island to its people.” Instead it did the opposite.

In the United States, enthusiasm for Cuban independence faded quickly. Whitelaw Reid, the publisher of the New York Tribune and the journalist closest to President McKinley, proclaimed the “absolute necessity of controlling Cuba for our own defense,” and rejected the Teller Amendment as “a self-denying ordinance possible only in a moment of national hysteria.” Senator Beveridge said it was not binding because Congress had approved it “in a moment of impulsive but mistaken generosity.” The New York Times asserted that Americans had a “higher obligation” than strict fidelity to ill-advised promises, and must become “permanent possessors of Cuba if the Cubans prove to be altogether incapable of self-government.”

These pillars of American democracy were arguing quite explicitly that the United States was not obligated to keep promises embodied in law if those promises were later deemed to have been unwisely made. Over the next year, they and others justified this remarkable argument through a series of propositions. All were calculated to soothe the public conscience, and all were largely or completely false.

The first of these propositions was that American fighters, not Cubans, had expelled the Spanish from Cuba. Newspaper reporters told their credulous readers that when the U.S. Army arrived, it found the Cuban rebel force “in desperate straits,” “threatened with collapse,” and “bogged down in a bitter stalemate.” Quite the opposite was true. After three years of continual fighting, Cuban rebels had won control of most of the island, forced the hungry and disease-plagued Spanish army to withdraw into guarded enclaves, and made plans to attack Santiago and other cities. They were headed toward victory when the Americans landed.

The second myth that Americans were led to embrace was that Cuban revolutionaries were cowardly laggards who had watched in bewildered admiration while Americans defeated the Spanish army. “This ally has done little but stay in the rear,” one newspaper correspondent reported from the front. Another found that the Cubans “made very weak allies.” A third wrote that the rebel army “did little or no fighting” and “has borne no testimony to its desire to free Cuba.”

This was another piece of self-deception, but understandable. Few American correspondents had been in Cuba to watch as rebels built their power over a period of years, won broad popular support, and waged a highly successful guerrilla war. To most of these journalists, the war began only when American forces landed in the spring of 1898. None understood that Cuban units had secured the beaches where American soldiers landed near Santiago; even the American naval commander there, Admiral William Sampson, said afterward that the absence of Spanish troops on the beaches “remains a mystery.” Other Cubans served as scouts and intelligence agents for the Americans, although they indignantly refused repeated demands that they work as porters and laborers.

To most Americans, war consisted of set-piece battles in which armies faced off. They loved reading about charges like the one at San Juan Hill, in which few Cubans participated. The long war of attrition that Cubans had waged unfolded far from the view of American officers and correspondents. Most of them did not realize that this campaign played a decisive role in the victory of 1898.

Once Americans convinced themselves that Cubans were cowards who had no idea of how to organize an army, it was easy for them to conclude that Cuba was incapable of ruling itself. The American press never focused on the revolutionary leaders, some of whom were highly educated, experienced, and sophisticated. Instead they portrayed the rebel force as an ignorant rabble composed largely of blacks who were barely removed from savagery. As a result, McKinley and his allies in government and business had no trouble portraying them as equal to the Hawaiians in ignorance and stupidity.

“Self-government!” General Shafter snorted when a reporter asked him about it. “Why, these people are no more fit for self-government than gunpowder is for hell.”

Within days of the Spanish surrender, American officials began telling the Cubans that they should forget the promise of independence embodied in the Teller Amendment. President McKinley declared that the United States would rule Cuba under “the law of belligerent right over conquered territory.” Attorney General John Griggs told the vice president of Cuba’s provisional government that the U.S. Army in Havana was an “invading army that would carry with it American sovereignty wherever it went.”

The confusion many Cubans felt as they heard these statements turned to indignant anger when General Brooke refused to allow their liberating army to participate in the celebration planned for the first days of 1899. Many were dumbfounded. “None of us thought that [American intervention] would be followed by a military occupation of the country by our allies, who treat us as a people incapable of acting for ourselves, and who have reduced us to obedience, to submission, and to a tutelage imposed by force of circumstances,” General Máximo Gómez wrote. “This cannot be our fate after years of struggle.”

Most Americans had little regard for Cubans, so it was natural that they would reject such protests. Many went even further. They were angry that Cubans had not fallen on their knees to thank the United States for liberating them. News correspondents reported that instead of embracing American soldiers, the Cubans seemed “sour,” “sullen,” “conceited,” “vain and jealous.” One wrote of his astonishment to find that they were not “filled with gratitude towards us.” None seemed willing or able to understand how logical it was for Cubans to feel this way. They took the Cubans’ resentment as further proof of their ignorance and immaturity.

Cuban patriots had for years promised that after independence, they would stabilize their country by promoting social justice. Americans wanted something quite different. “The people ask me what we mean by stable government in Cuba,” the new military governor, General Leonard Wood, wrote in a report to Washington soon after he assumed office in 1900. “I tell them that when money can be borrowed at a reasonable rate of interest and when capital is willing to invest in the island, a condition of stability will have been reached.” In a note to President McKinley, he was even more succinct: “When people ask me what I mean by stable government, I tell them, ’Money at six percent.’”

On July 25, 1900, General Wood published an order calling for the election of delegates to a Cuban constitutional convention. Fewer than one-third of the qualified voters turned out, and even they refused to support many of the candidates the Americans sponsored. General Wood described the thirty-one delegates as “about ten absolutely first class men and about fifteen men of doubtful qualifications and character, and about six of the worst rascals and fakirs in Cuba.”

That autumn, Secretary of War Elihu Root, who had been a leading corporate attorney in New York, and Senator Orville Platt of Connecticut, chairman of the Senate Committee on Relations with Cuba, wrote the law that would shape Cuba’s future. The Platt Amendment, as it came to be known, is a crucial document in the history of American foreign policy. It gave the United States a way to control Cuba without running it directly, by maintaining a submissive local regime. Washington would go on to apply this system in many parts of the Caribbean and Central America, where to this day it is known as plattismo.

Under the Platt Amendment, the United States agreed to end its occupation of Cuba as soon as the Cubans accepted a constitution with provisions giving the United States the right to maintain military bases in Cuba; the right to veto any treaty between Cuba and any other country; the right to supervise the Cuban treasury; and “the right to intervene for the preservation of Cuban independence [or] the maintenance of a government adequate for the protection of life, property and individual liberty.” In essence, the Platt Amendment gave Cubans permission to rule themselves as long as they allowed the United States to veto any decision they made.

Members of Congress could not avoid realizing that by passing the Platt Amendment, they would be reneging on the pledge they had made to Cuba less than three years before. Each had to ask himself a painful question that the New York Evening Post framed in a pithy editorial: “Given a solemn and unmistakable promise of independence to Cuba, how can I lie out of it and still go to church to thank God that I am not as other men are?” Senators resolved this dilemma without evident difficulty. On February 27, 1901, they approved the Platt Amendment by a vote of forty-three to twenty. Republicans cast all the affirmative votes. Later the House of Representatives joined in approval, also on a party-line vote. President McKinley signed the amendment into law on March 2. That plunged Cuba into what one historian called “a storm of excitement.”

Havana was in turmoil on the night of March 2. A torchlight procession delivered a petition of protest to Wood at the Governor’s Palace, and another crowd of demonstrators sought out the convention delegates and urged them to stand firm in their opposition to American demands. Similar demonstrations occurred on the following night. Outside the capital, municipal governments throughout the island poured out a flood of protest messages and resolutions, while public meetings were epidemic. On the night of March 5, speakers told a procession in Santiago that if the United States held to its demands, the Cubans must go to war once more.

Cuban delegates to the constitutional convention had to decide whether to accept the Platt Amendment. American officials assured them that the United States wished no direct influence over Cuba’s internal affairs, and also warned them that if they did not accept the Platt Amendment, Congress would impose even harsher terms. After long debate, much of it conducted behind closed doors, the Cuban delegates agreed, by a vote of fifteen to fourteen, to do what the United States wished. A year later, in an election the Americans supervised, Tomás Estrada Palma, who had lived for years in the town of Central Valley, New York, was chosen as the first president of the Republic of Cuba. General Wood, the military governor, wrote in a private letter what every sentient Cuban and American knew: “There is, of course, little or no independence left Cuba under the Platt Amendment.”

Excerpted from: Overthrow: America's century of regime change from Hawaii to Iraq - Stephen Kinzer. We recommend you buy this book: