The war of Cuba (1898)

May 2017
1,263
France
Hello everybody and dear specialists.The war of Cuba between Spain and USA was it provoked by the political project to take the control of the internatioal, market of sugar ?
 

Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
6,426
Portugal
Hello everybody and dear specialists.The war of Cuba between Spain and USA was it provoked by the political project to take the control of the internatioal, market of sugar ?
Not my area, but from my overall readings: A political project to control the sugar market could have played a part, a small one, but it was the imperialism raising in the USA that led to it. The expanded idea of an “Manifest destiny”, on a cocktail with the Monroe Doctrine/the support of the independentists in Cuba and also in the Philippines. A power had born!
 
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Jun 2019
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USA
in 1898, Sugar Cane Production for export for the world was 2.898M tons, while Sugar Beet production was 4.972M tons.

In 1897 Germany was the leading Raw Sugar exporter with 681,516 tons, followed by Austria-Hungary
This was all Sugar Beets.

Tropical Sugar Cane production had been dropping all thru the 19th Century.

In 1894, Cuba produced(not the same as exported) around 1M tons, but 686k tons in 1901, from the effects of the Rebellion before the Spanish-American War

So even with Cuban sugar, there was no way for the USA to control the World Sugar Market
 
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Jul 2019
159
Pale Blue Dot - Moonshine Quadrant
Not sugar in regard to Cuba.

Americans did certainly have politically active sugar interests but at the time they were focused on Hawaii where they had already deposed the Hawaiian Queen. The initial effort in what was eventually to become the annexation of Hawaii formally began in 1893 and by 1899 the Philippines had been annexed as well at the conclusion of the Spanish-American War – the war that was initially centered on Cuba. The situation in Cuba was triggered by a rather chaotic combination of anger at Spanish policies in Cuba and an increasingly jingoistic America flexing its muscles. The U.S. was on the cusp of empire and in the end Cuba became the trigger for what was already building.

Immediately following America's Civil War that had hyper-focused all its policies, Lord Acton, wrote to General Robert E. Lee bypassing the all-critical question of slavery and asking about the idea of States’ Rights as the only availing check upon the absolutism of collective sovereign will. Lee, in replying to Acton’s letter sensed the American future:

I yet believe that the maintenance of the rights and authority reserved to the states and to the people, not only essential to the adjustment and balance of the general system, but the safeguard to the continuance of a free government. I consider it as the chief source of stability to our political system, whereas the consolidation of the states into one vast republic, sure to be aggressive abroad and despotic at home, will be the certain precursor of that ruin which has overwhelmed all those that have preceded it.

Lee’s concern about the consolidated republic being aggressive abroad and despotic at home was substantiated before long. The U.S. had been a strong, sometimes even dominating presence, in Central America even before the American Civil War and in 1869 President Grant sought to annex Santo Domingo (as the Dominican Republic was commonly known) as a United States territory, with the promise of eventual statehood. Apparently Grant privately thought annexation would be a safety valve for African Americans who were suffering persecution in the U.S., but he did not include this in his official messages. Grant speculated that the acquisition of Santo Domingo would help bring about the end of slavery in Cuba and elsewhere. Militarily he wanted a US naval port in the Dominican Republic which would also serve as protection for a projected canal across Nicaragua.

The Panic of 1893 (caused, as almost all bank panics are, by monetary factors), American businessmen and policymakers turned increasingly to the expansion of overseas trade as the solution to America's ills. Foreign markets would be the way out of the supposed dilemma of a frontier-less democracy; they would solve America's supposed problem of overproduction. World markets — the fabled China market above all — would cure the economic and social crisis which America's ruling classes were feeling so acutely.

Murray Rothbard in his History of Money and Banking described the nationalist attitude in America:

“The great turning point of American foreign policy came in the early 1890s, during the second Cleveland administration. It was then that the U.S. turned sharply and permanently from a foreign policy of peace and non-intervention to an aggressive program of economic and political expansion abroad. At the heart of the new policy were America’s leading bankers, eager to use the country’s growing economic strength to subsidize and force-feed export markets and investment outlets that they would finance, as well as to guarantee Third World government bonds…

…By the late 1890s, groups of theoreticians in the United States were working on what would later be called the 'Leninist' theory of capitalist imperialism. The theory was originated, not by Lenin but by advocates of imperialism, centering around such Morgan-oriented friends and brain trusters of Theodore Roosevelt as Henry Adams, Brooks Adams, Admiral Alfred T. Mahan, and Massachusetts Senator Henry Cabot Lodge. The idea was that capitalism in the developed countries was “overproducing,” not simply in the sense that more purchasing power was needed in recessions, but more deeply in that the rate of profit was therefore inevitably falling. The ever lower rate of profit from the 'surplus capital' was in danger of crippling capitalism, except that salvation loomed in the form of foreign markets and especially foreign investments. . . . Hence, to save advanced capitalism, it was necessary for Western governments to engage in outright imperialist or neo-imperialist ventures, which would force other countries to open their markets for American products and would force open investment opportunities abroad"


Henry Cabot Lodge noted in “Our Blundering Foreign Policy” published in the March 1895 issue of Forum:

We have a record of conquest, colonization and expansion unequalled by any people in the Nineteenth Century. We are not to be curbed now by the doctrines of the Manchester school, which...as an importation are even more absurdly out of place than in their native land…

…From the Rio Grande to the Arctic Ocean there should be but one flag and one country…For the sake of our commercial supremacy in the Pacific we should control the Hawaiian Islands and maintain our influence in Samoa. England has studded the West Indies with strong places which are a standing menace to our Atlantic seaboard. We should have among those islands at least one strong naval station, and when the Nicaragua Canal is built the island of Cuba, still sparsely settled and of almost unbounded fertility, will become to us a necessity.


Thus, the U.S began the journey that eventually led to Fidel Castro.

Once at war with Spain over Cuba, U. S. interests switched rapidly to the Philippines and Asian Empire. Financial interests were large in the American acquisition of an empire but it was not sugar interests specifically and Cuba soon became just a pawn in a much larger game. Over the long decades, American treatment of Cuba has been both unfortunate and embarrassing, but it has been almost a footnote in a much larger tragedy.

An editorial by the well-known Progressive, and later the author of a biography on Calvin Coolidge, William Allen White in the March 20, 1899 edition of The Emporia Gazette expressed the tone of the era:

Only Anglo-Saxons can govern themselves. The Cubans will need a despotic government for many years to restrain anarchy until Cuba is filled with Yankees…It is the Anglo-Saxon's manifest destiny to go forth in the world as a world conqueror. He will take possession of all the islands of the sea. He will exterminate the peoples he cannot subjugate. That is what fate holds for the chosen people. It is so written. Those who would protest, will find their objections overruled. It is to be.
 

pikeshot1600

Ad Honoris
Jul 2009
10,081
Not my area, but from my overall readings: A political project to control the sugar market could have played a part, a small one, but it was the imperialism raising in the USA that led to it. The expanded idea of an “Manifest destiny”, on a cocktail with the Monroe Doctrine/the support of the independentists in Cuba and also in the Philippines. A power had born!
Sugar had less to do with the Caribbean than did geopolitics. The Midwest US had become a bread basket for northwest Europe and also for much of northern South America. Maturing US industrial capacity also added to the importance of the Ohio-Missouri-Mississippi river system as an economic highway. The Mississippi Valley, ending in New Orleans, was the economic lifeline that supported a great deal of the US export economy. The security of that lifeline was essential.

An excerpt from startfor.com on US-Cuba relations:

"...Spanish Cuba remained a thorn in the side of the United States. The Florida and Yucatan Straits were narrow....Cuba was the key. In the hands of a hostile foreign power it was as effective a plug to the Mississippi as taking New Orleans."

Effective domination of Cuba at the turn of the 20th century became an imperative (although largely unpublicized) objective of US policy. Prior to WW I, the US was still a relatively minor naval power, the success of 1898 being more a sugar high than the emergence of great power reality. Part of the movement toward a large fleet after 1900 was the security of the Caribbean and defense of the Western Hemisphere. The access to Asian markets was a different issue.

For the Western Hemisphere, the Monroe Doctrine had been "effective" because of British economic and strategic interests through the 19th century. However, There were indications that Britain had potential maritime adversaries in the 1890s. Germany and Spain had fairly close relations in the late 19th century, and Germany was showing interest in expanding its influence and presence overseas. Spain, even before the 1898 war, was in poor shape economically, and after that war she sold her Pacific island possessions to...Germany.

The 1901 Platt Amendment to that year's Army appropriations bill, and subsequent treaties, gave the US effective domination of Cuba, precluding any foreign control or naval presence on the island.
 
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pikeshot1600

Ad Honoris
Jul 2009
10,081
Although I mostly agree with your post, this part is questionable in the sense that you seem to gave to it. What did you mean here?
A quick Google shows I am in error there. Rather than a friendly transaction in the Pacific, it appears that there was German pressure on Spain to sell all those islands, but Spain was in economic distress at the end of the war.

Whatever naval power might emerge as a rival of Britain, its presence in Cuba could not be accepted. Germany in the 1890s was probably the most likely, but that may have been more William II bluster than realistic thinking. There were problems with her expansion to the Western Hemisphere. However, the US could not take the risk. The routes in and out of the Caribbean had to be secure.
 
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Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,970
Dispargum
So even with Cuban sugar, there was no way for the USA to control the World Sugar Market
The US had always consumed more sugar than was produced domestically. In 1900 the US consumed 2.6 million tons of sugar while producing less than 700,000 tons domestically (cane sugar from Louisiana and Hawaii plus beat sugar). About 1million tons were imported from Cuba while another million tons were imported from other countries. The Cuban Revolution had reduced Cuban production and exports in the 1890s. After the Spanish American War US investment in Cuban sugar mills and sugar plantations increased. By 1915, US-owned sugar mills in Cuba refined more than half of all Cuban sugar. There was definitely a profit motive by the American sugar industry to gain control of Cuba. The revolution in the 1890s had reduced supplies of Cuban sugar. When stability returned to the market after 1900 profits of American sugar companies increased.

So while the US might not have been able to control the world sugar market, there were definitely increased profits to be had. Sugar was not only produced in Cuba but also Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and Hawaii - all of which came under US control in 1898. A bit much for coincidence. I agree there were other American motives for the war, but the sugar interests clearly gained as a result of the war. After the war American sugar companies built sugar mills and acquired sugar plantations in the countries that were now under US control. Increased stability in those countries regularized sugar supplies.

 

pikeshot1600

Ad Honoris
Jul 2009
10,081
The US had always consumed more sugar than was produced domestically. In 1900 the US consumed 2.6 million tons of sugar while producing less than 700,000 tons domestically (cane sugar from Louisiana and Hawaii plus beat sugar). About 1million tons were imported from Cuba while another million tons were imported from other countries. The Cuban Revolution had reduced Cuban production and exports in the 1890s. After the Spanish American War US investment in Cuban sugar mills and sugar plantations increased. By 1915, US-owned sugar mills in Cuba refined more than half of all Cuban sugar. There was definitely a profit motive by the American sugar industry to gain control of Cuba. The revolution in the 1890s had reduced supplies of Cuban sugar. When stability returned to the market after 1900 profits of American sugar companies increased.

So while the US might not have been able to control the world sugar market, there were definitely increased profits to be had. Sugar was not only produced in Cuba but also Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and Hawaii - all of which came under US control in 1898. A bit much for coincidence. I agree there were other American motives for the war, but the sugar interests clearly gained as a result of the war. After the war American sugar companies built sugar mills and acquired sugar plantations in the countries that were now under US control. Increased stability in those countries regularized sugar supplies.

Oh, come on. It was all a Chinese hoax to increase our dental expenses. :D
 

johnincornwall

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
7,982
Cornwall
It was actually a result of the ongoing Cuban rebellions - there was another Guerra de Cuba about 20 odd years earlier (for which the contemporary book is still in my pending pile!). The fairly lamentably-run dying embers of the Spanish Empire left itself rather vulnerable to American intervention and taking advantage of the situation. Fitted rather nicely with the US imperial project of the time, adding Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Phillipines and the Spanish armed forces, especially after the replacement of Weyler, were a sitting duck waiting to be knocked over

Looking at Puerto Rico lately, they may have been better staying Spanish!!

This toxic politico-military top-heavy arrangement running Spain would continue in North Africa, culminating in the disaster at Annual in 1921. Only then did Primo de Rivera actually pull the place together. But it would all end in the civil war of course - a climax of 200 years of troubles really, combined with 1920s/30s radicalism