That's the subject of this insightful post over at The Pittsford Perennialist: New Spain. Well worth a read to understand how the long-standing American quest for empire damaged and continues to damage America. Of course, the problem of American empire doesn't date from the Spanish-American War -- it has far deeper roots in the Jeffersonian vision of slave empire spanning the Western Hemisphere, a vision that lead the Slave Power within the United States to move us to war with Mexico in 1845. A young congressman from Illinois stood up in the floor of the House of Representatives to denounce that war -- and Abraham Lincoln remained resolute in his determination to avoid the path of empire for the United States. A firm and solid Union, yes, but an empire? His answer was no.
A great movie dealing with the dirty business of empire, set during the American pacification of the Philippines after the Spanish-American War, is Amigo. Well worth watching -- a sympathetic portrayal of both the American servicemen who were sent overseas to fight and the Filipino patriots who sought the independence and liberty of their homeland. Another great movie exploring the dirty business of empire, set during the Mexican-American War, is One Man's Hero, based on the true story of the St. Patrick's Brigade in the Army of the Republic of Mexico.