Cuba has been a thorn in the side of the United States since we foolishly allowed Fidel Castro to clamp a dictatorship on the residents of the island. Today, June 22, 2007 is a pasrticularly painful reminder that the United States could have completely prevented this from occuring.
On this date in the year 1898, Admiral William Sampson began amphibious landings at Santiago as a part of the Cuban campaign of the Spanish-American War. This is significant not only beacause of the ability of the United States Navy to successfully execute an amphibious assault- which would be useful during both World Wars in the following century, but because of the effect that this could have had upon American history.
At the conclusion of the war, the United States had established control of Cuba, and Spain ceded all claims. However, the United States, despite the pressure of Manifest Destiny, chose to relinquish control over the island, though we did take over control of the Philippine Islands.
In retrospect, this has been one of the gravest errors of American foreign policy. Had we chosen to make Cuba a part of the United States and allowed the Philippine Islands to gain immediate independence, we would undoubtedly be better off today. The Philippines have brought the United States very little benefit, while the disadvantages of our refusal to take over Cuba are with us still today.