The present paper is devoted to contrasting the doctrine of territorial incorporation (DTI) with colonialist (CTTE) and imperialist (ITTE) traditions of territorial expansionism. Venator-Santiago describes CTTE, ITTE, and DTI as three approaches to territorial expansionism that differed in multiple ways, including the purpose and way of acquisition and the resulting status of the acquired territory. It can be suggested that, when compared to CTTE and ITTE, DTI is a middle form of acquisition that offers the government, which would use it, more flexibility in handling the annexed territories.
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In any of the mentioned approaches, the key aim of acquisition should be described as gaining a strategic advantage, for example, in the field of commerce or military activities (Venator-Santiago, Puerto Rico, and the Origins of U.S. Global Empire 35). Still, certain differences between the approaches can be found. According to Venator-Santiago, CTTE and ITTE are similar in their intent and purpose of employing acquired territories for “nation-state building” (Puerto Rico and the Origins of U.S. Global Empire 15). However, the author also explains that while CTTE expansion is directly aimed at acquiring territories for settling the country’s own people, ITTE has the intent of occupying territories without colonizing them. As a result, the regions that are acquired by CTTE can be termed as “colonies” while those obtained by ITTE can be regarded as occupied.
Venator-Santiago notes that CTTE and ITTE are not similar in the status of the acquired territories. In particular, CTTE views its territories as parts of the invading country (colonies), but the countries that are occupied by ITTE are viewed as foreign countries. As a result, various aspects of the legislation of the territories also vary for CTTE and ITTE, including that of citizenship. Indeed, for CTTE, the people inhabiting the acquired territory are regarded as citizens, but for ITTE, they are citizens of other countries, even though they are subjugated to the invading party (Venator-Santiago, Puerto Rico and the Origins of U.S. Global Empire 35). Venator-Santiago does point out that both the citizens and the subjects would be expected to exhibit subordination, but legally, the two statuses are different.
In the case of DTI, more freedom in status determination and legal matters is offered to the government of the invading party. DTI territories are typically regarded as “annexed” and termed as “unincorporated,” which implies that while they are not a foreign country and are controlled by the invading party, they are still not its legitimate part (Venator-Santiago, “Extending Citizenship to Puerto Rico” 57-58). Thus, DTI-led expansion does not have the intent of incorporating the annexed land but also will not permit it to retain the status of the foreign land, which makes DTI an intermediate approach when compared to CTTE and ITTE.
Venator-Santiago explains that DTI allows constructing unincorporated territories, in which the subjects are provided with fundamental rights (Puerto Rico and the Origins of U.S. Global Empire 93). However, the expansion of other, nonfundamental civil and constitutional rights is optional, flexible, and could be carried out or not depending on the intent and expected outcomes of the government of the invading party. For instance, Morrell shows that for American Samoa, which remains an unincorporated territory to this day, this practice means that no citizenship birthright is available for Samoan people, and the civil and constitutional rights of the US are not expanded to the territory (Morrell 10). It is apparent that, in comparison to more strictly-defined legal practices of CTTE and ITTE, DTI offers more opportunities for the invading party, which can be viewed as the choice of a variety of intermediate statuses between those provided by ITTE and CTTE. As Morrell shows, this variety of options can have rather detrimental effects for the unincorporated lands.
To sum up, the presented analysis of the three approaches to territory acquisition allows making the following conclusions about their differences and similarities. First of all, the three approaches differ in their intent, the status of the acquired territories, and the consequences of this status. Moreover, the status of the territories is also a direct outcome of the intent of the invading party. Indeed, ITTE intends to occupy, which results in foreign lands being subjugated to the invading party without a change in their status. Legally, the people of the acquired territories are not the citizens of the invading party in this case. CTTE intends to colonize, which results in colonies that are a part of the invading party and people that are its citizens. DTI does not intend to colonize or subjugate; it annexes, creating an unincorporated country that is neither foreign nor incorporated. With respect to legal consequences, despite using the term “unincorporated,” DTI appears to offer the invading party the opportunity to determine the legal level of incorporation of the annexed land. As a result, the expansion approach of DTI is very flexible from the point of view of managing the unincorporated territories, which seems to offer more benefits to the invading party than the annexed country.
Morrell, Benjamin. “Some More for Samoa: The Case for Citizenship Uniformity.” Tennessee Journal of Law & Policy, vol. 9, no. 3, 2014, pp. 475-487.
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Venator-Santiago, Charles. “Extending Citizenship to Puerto Rico: Three Traditions of Inclusive Exclusion.” CENTRO: Journal of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies, no. 1, 2013, pp. 50-75.
Puerto Rico and the Origins of U.S. Global Empire. Routledge, 2015.