1880s – Too much money. Need to invest somewhere.
1890s – Cuba! Puerto Rico! Philippines! Lots and lots of stuff to sell and buy. Oh, looks like we can have Hawaii, too.
1907-09 – Great White Fleet sails around the world. We can go anywhere, project power as we want.
1903-14 – France has screwed up the canal job in western Colombia, aka Panama. Recognize new country Panama. Dig canal. Open in 1914. Yeah! We can do anything.
1914-19 – Too much s’t going on to really get a handle on. Limeys and Frogs kind of holding the Krauts, but looks like they’ll need American stuff to get the job done. Not a problem. They have cash, right?
1919-39 – Britain, France and US really screwed the pooch. Everybody has an idea, none works. (Maybe we killed too many of everybody except Germans in The Great War? Didn’t kill enough Bolsheviks?)
1939-45 – Well, s’t. Here we go again. Soon the US has the world’s largest navy and the best air force. War’s over, let’s go home.
1946-50 – Ain’t gonna study war no more. And if we have to, we’ll just drop some nukes. Worked before.
1950-1989 – Well, s’t. The commies are really serious. Can’t nuke them, cause they’ll nuke us in return. Sounds kind of MAD, huh. “Little” war here, “little” war there. Does it really matter how many rice farmers think we’re OK? LBJ shook hands with a Pakistani camel driver.
1990-2001 – Americans forgot who they were.
2001-Now – Americans still haven’t figured out who they are. S’t has been piled up for decades, and now it’s starting to roll back down. Find the dung beetles.