Victory in the Spanish-American War of 1898 left the U.S. in possession of
Spain’s last major Caribbean colony. After independence in 1902,
Washington sent troops back well into the 1930s, when Fulgencio Batista
seized power. The U.S. helped keep him there until Fidel Castro’s
revolution in 1959.
Washington governed the Philippines as a province from the end of the
Spanish-American war until 1946. A hefty garrison force fought a bloody
conflict with pro-independence Filipino rebels. By the time Japan
conquered the Philippines in 1942, however, a path toward independence
already had been agreed. After independence in 1946, U.S. troops remained
on two large bases leased from Manila until 1999.
Washington won rights “in perpetuity” to the territory around the Panama
Canal after helping locals secede from Colombia. In 1999, the canal and
adjacent territory were turned over to local sovereignty and the county
currently is a functioning democracy.
1905-1924: Dominican Republic
U.S. Marines intervened and occupied this nation on the eastern side of
Hispanola after European states hinted they would intervene to stave off
the nation’s bankruptcy. American troops left in 1924, but the U.S.
Treasury controlled the country’s finances until 1941. In 1965, Marines
imposed a new pro-American government. True democratization failed to take
root until the mid-1970s. Today, the country is a functioning democracy.
American Marines ruled Nicaragua for 13 years beginning in 1912, fighting
nationalist rebels before leaving in 1925. They returned in 1928 to fight
a new rebel leader, Augusto Sandino. The U.S. withdrew in 1934, leaving
Anastasio Somoza in charge. Somoza ruled as U.S.-based dictator until his
overthrow by Soviet-inspired Sandinista guerrillas in 1979. A CIA-based
war against them ended in 1989, when free elections forced the Sandinista
regime out of power.
U.S. Marines entered Haiti in 1915 after a mob killed the Haitian ruler.
Some 20,000 American troops stayed there, running the country via military
administration, until 1934. The Marines left power in the hands of Haiti’s
national guard, which, in turn, installed the brutal Francois “Papa Doc”
Duvalier into power. He and his son Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier ruled
until 1986, when Baby Doc fled to Paris.
Gen. Douglas MacArthur sat as military governor of Japan between
1945-1949. By absolving Emperor Hirohito of his wartime guilt, MacArthur
successfully blunted opposition to the democratization of Japan, most
notably the drafting of a new constitution that foreswore war and
established electoral laws. In April, 1952, a peace treaty took effect and
the Allied occupation ended.
The four victorious Allied powers occupied sectors of German territory and
quadrants of its capital city, Berlin. The occupation quickly broke down
into rival Western vs. Soviet zones. De-Nazification and Marshal Plan aid
began to transform Western Germany by the early 1950s, and in 1954 it
emerged as the independent West German state.
1945-1948: South Korea
The defeat of Japan left Korea, a Japanese colony, split between U.S. and
Soviet control. The U.S. military governed the southern part of the
peninsula until 1948, when elections established the Republic of Korea.
U.S. forces remained, however, when the Soviet-backed north refused to
hold elections. In 1950, North Korea attacked and war raged until 1953.
U.S. forces (some 38,000) have stayed ever since.
As in Germany, Austria (which had been annexed by the Germans in 1938) was
split between victorious powers. Austria's status remained unclear for a
decade until a treaty ended the occupation, recognized independence and
forbade unification with Germany.
1965-73: South Vietnam
When communist guerillas defeated French efforts to reestablish its
Indochina colony in 1953, the U.S. stepped in to back the anti-communist
Vietnamese government. Drawn progressively into the maelstrom, Washington
formally landed combat troops in 1965, their numbers topping out at
500,000 in 1969. Throughout, the South’s government remained undemocratic
and corrupt. The U.S. pulled out in 1973, and the South was overrun by
communist North Vietnamese troops in 1975.
U.S. troops landed on this tiny Caribbean island, citing the arrival of
Cuban military advisers and the threat they allegedly posed to American
medical students studying there. After a short battle, U.S. troops took
control of the island, deposed its left-leaning military council and
organized free elections before leaving in 1984. The country is now a
When the Duvalier dictatorships ended in 1986, the Haitian military took
direct control of the country. An election in 1993 quickly led to a coup,
which in turn caused the U.S. to threaten invasion. The threat forced the
generals into exile, restoring the ousted president, Jean-Bertrande
Aristide. U.S. and other international forces patrolled the country until
The collapse of Yugoslavia beginning in 1990 led to civil war in its most
ethnically diverse republic, Bosnia-Hercegovina. European-led U.N. force
tried to restore order but failed. In 1995, after years of steering clear,
the U.S. intervened and imposed a peace treaty that included a NATO-led
occupation of the fractured state. Some 6,000 U.S. troops are still there,
along with 40,000 other forces, in 2003.
Repression by Serbia in ethnic Albanian province of Kosovo spiraled into
civil war in 1999, and the U.S. led a NATO invasion of the country to
force an end to Serb efforts to deport the Albanian population. Some
60,000 U.S., British, French and German troops occupied Kosovo after the
war, and a force about half that size remained in place in 2003.
A coalition campaign resulted in the toppling of the Taliban government
who had harbored al-Qaida leaders and fighters. In early 2003, some 9,000
U.S. forces remained in and around Afghanistan, many engaged in the hunt
for Osama bin Laden.
campaign resulted in the removal of dictator, Saddam Hussein.