January 7th, 2010
08:14 AM ET

Past war offers Afghanistan lessons. And it's not Vietnam

The war ignited protests at home. American soldiers battled elusive fighters in remote jungles. The enemy used hit-and-run tactics to drain America’s will.

As President Obama begins to send more of the 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan in the new year, some critics are invoking those snapshots from history to argue that the United States can’t afford to get bogged down in another Vietnam.

But those snapshots actually come from another war: The Philippine-American War, which lasted from 1899 to 1902. The war is largely forgotten today, but it was a bloody preview of the type of warfare that the U.S. military faced in Asia and now in Afghanistan, historians say.

“It was the 19th century version of Vietnam,” said Edward Sheehy, a professor of military history at La Salle University in Pennsylvania.

There was, however, one big difference: The U.S. won. How did a far weaker U.S. military prevail in the Philippines and what lessons can Obama apply from that victory to Afghanistan today?

Historian: ‘It was a very savage war’
Obama faces the same challenge that American leaders faced at the start of the war in the Philippines: How to mobilize public support. A recent poll shows that Obama is already losing support for the war in Afghanistan.

A CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll released December 23, 2009, found that the majority of the U.S. public opposes the war, with 55 percent of respondents opposed and 43 percent in support of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan.

The war in the Philippines provoked skepticism among some Americans as well. For one, victory seemed implausible, said Paul Kramer, author of “The Blood of Government: Race, Empire, the United States and the Philippines.”

Kramer said the U.S. military was small at the time. Filipino forces knew the terrain and had local support. The U.S. military had also never fought a guerilla war outside the mainland. (The 19th century wars against American Indians are considered guerilla war by some military historians.)

When they first started fighting, American soldiers struggled to adjust, Kramer said. Filipino guerillas attacked them and then blended in with the civilian population.

“American soldiers really found it disturbing and traumatizing. They didn’t know who was an enemy and who was an ally,” Kramer said.

Origins of the Philippine-American War
The Philippine-American War grew out another war, the 1898 Spanish-American War. The U.S. defeated Spain, which then ceded the Philippines to America. But Filipino forces that had been fighting for self-rule against Spain didn’t want to live under another occupier.

Filipino nationalists declared their independence, ratified a constitution, and elected a president. But the United States claimed the land, seized the Philippines in February of 1899 and war erupted.

All war is brutal, but several historians and military experts say the war in the Philippines was barbaric, even by military standards.

Yet the United States won, in part, because it was willing to be brutal, some military historians say. According to an official State Department account of the war, at least 4,200 American soldiers, 20,000 Filipino combatants and as many as 200,000 Filipino civilians died from violence and famine during the war.

Filipino fighters deliberately sought to drag the war on with hit-and-run tactics that would turn the American public against the war, historians say. It was the classic guerilla strategy: Win by avoiding big, pitched battles and melt into the civilian population.

But the U.S. military responded to the guerilla strategy with a simple strategy of their own, some historians say: Kill them all.

Civilian casualties were not accidental, but intentional, says Lt. Col. Michael E. Silverman, an Iraq war veteran and a counterinsurgency training consultant for the U.S. Army.

“Victory there was achieved by a brutal strategy of near genocide. … Many of the officers and sergeants who fought the war were veterans of the Indian Wars and brought with them the idea from Gen. Philip Sheridan: ‘The only good Indians I’ve seen were dead.’’’

The U.S. military forced Filipino villagers outside of their villages into population centers where they could be separated from guerillas. They killed villagers’ livestock and torched crops, says John Hinshaw, a history professor at Lebanon Valley College in Annville, Pennsylvania.

“They were the same tactics that worked against the Plains Indians in the 1870s and 1880s,” he says

“We killed hundreds of thousands of people in the process. A lot of it was due to disease and starvation. It was a very savage war.”

How the U.S. overcame its internal divisions
The war ignited debate in America. Critics said America was behaving as a colonial power and denying Filipinos the right to self-government.

An Anti-Imperialist League was founded to lead protests against the war. Public figures such as Mark Twain, steel magnate Andrew Carnegie and three-time Democratic Party presidential nominee William Jennings Bryan spoke out against the war.

“People like Mark Twain were pointing out the Philippines was a country that had set up a republic modeled on the American Constitution, and we were basically saying you’re not ready for it,” says Hinshaw.

After three years, part of the American public began to grow disenchanted with the war. “The Forbidden Book,” a book that explored the racial and commercial justifications for the war, cited a 1901 New York Times editorial that declared: “The American people are plainly tired of the Philippine War. … Is it the lack of troops, supplies, transportation, ammunition and artillery? Is it the lack of a competent commander? How long is this Philippine War going to last?”

Despite the protests, political leaders in the United States were able to maintain support from most of the American public by employing several strategies, historians say. They told Americans they were in the Philippines to civilize and Christianize its inhabitants, historians say.

“They ignored the fact that most of them [Filipinos] were already Roman Catholic,” says Sheehy, professor from La Salle University.

Supporters of the war also squelched the voices of opponents by dismissing them as unpatriotic and effeminate “aunties,” historians say.

America’s political leaders also correctly read the mood of the country, historians say. Ordinary Americans wanted to flex their newfound military muscle and business leaders wanted to make money in Asia. Many Americans were aware that several European countries were also trying to gain control of the Philippines, according to Sheehy.

“There was this sense that we had to take our place in the world. If we don’t, someone else might.”

The United States also won because it didn’t just rely on military might. They found strong, local allies, historians say. They did so through a tactic called the “policy of attraction,” according to a State Department account of the war. Under the policy, the United States introduced social reforms, economic development and permitted some forms of self-government. The policy won over key elites and other Filipinos, the State Department says.

The United States also found local allies on the battlefield. It created an auxiliary Filipino military force called the Philippine Scouts to take on Filipino guerilla fighters, historians say.

The Scouts allowed the United States to reduce troop levels after the war was declared over in 1902. Armed resistance by the Filipinos continued after the war was declared over but the United States simply described that résistance as “crime,” says author Kramer.

“It [the Scouts] allowed the American forces to declare war over long before the resistance was over,” Kramer says. “It frees American troops to come home. It got the war out of the American papers.”

The crucial question Americans face
History can teach but it also can mislead. Scholars and military experts concede that there are crucial differences between the Philippines and Afghanistan.

The Philippines had already been colonized by Spain before its war with the United States, while Afghanistan has resisted conquest by various nations for centuries.

The Philippines was, and still is, a majority Roman Catholic country, while Afghanistan is predominately Muslim. And the U.S. military was able to isolate the Filipino guerillas on several islands, while it’s more difficult to isolate the Taliban since Afghanistan shares a porous border with Pakistan, experts say.

Yet the U.S. still can learn several lessons from its war in the Philippines, scholars and military historians say.

One is what not to do. The U.S. military can’t employ the brutal tactics it once did against Filipinos in a world where there is a 24-hour news cycle, historians say.

“I don’t think we’re willing to do what it took back then and that’s a good thing,” says historian Hinshaw.

“Modern counterinsurgency is focused on winning the support of the population,” says Silverman, the Iraq war veteran and counterinsurgency expert. “The Philippine counterinsurgency strategy was to ‘kill them all.’ ’’

Perhaps the primary lesson from the war in the Philippines is that the United States must be willing to settle in for the long haul, said Dan Roberts, a Vietnam veteran and host of the public radio history program, “A Moment in Time.”

Though the war was declared over in 1902, American soldiers continued to die in the Philippines for 46 years - up to the onset of Word War II, Roberts says. The United States granted independence to the Philippines in 1946.

“I don’t think the U.S. wants to stay in Afghanistan for 46 years,” Roberts says. ”But that’s the way you do these things. You have to be willing to stay there and shed blood decade after decade.”

soundoff (503 Responses)
  1. Jae In

    I had read about this topic only briefly when reading a book about the Vietnam War by Barbara Tuchman. In that book, Mrs. Tuchman stated that although the US was able to win the war in the Phillipines by waging an all-out war, with torturing of prisoners and eradication of villages friendly to the enemy, the US could not repeat that tactic in Vietnam because current public moral values would not sanction such actions. It is time for the American Public to remember its history, past and present, so that the next time some politician comes around demanding that we go to war, we can remember the price such a war will exact from us and the country we will invade. As a democracy, we cannot wash our hands from the responsibility that we all have in the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan by saying that I voted against the war. Guess what, doesn't matter, you are an adult and must therefore accept the fact that we as a country are at war and act accordingly. Support our troops while at the same time demand from the US Government that it ends the wars.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  2. lg

    It's funny how we all seem to ignore the real causes for why we keep having wars. one word, RESOURCES. United States was in the Philippines because it needed access to natural resources in Southeast Asia. So were the British, the French, the Dutch and Spain. Again,
    why are we in Afghanistan? RESOURCES. Same goes with the BOER War and all the african wars that the west were involve in, RESOURCES. Afghanistan has a lot of minerals that the western world are needing. For thousands of years invaders came and gone and didn't get a chance to exploit the land. Why can't we accept that everything we consume comes with a price? Nations don't go to war for the sport of it.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  3. AAW

    This article left some things out primarliy in regard to tactics. While much of what we did would be unnacceptable today, we eventually won with a classic counter-insurgency strategy. The US forces applied what what known as "The policy of attraction". They basically worked to win the "hearts, minds and pocket books" of the people. In doing so they undermined insurgent authority and ability. In short the US gave the people what they really wanted...something the insurgents couldn't. If you look at it from that perspectice and don't focus on the atrocities committed on both sides, then the paralell becomes much clearer.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Realistic

    It used to be said that the U.S. was "no better friend, no worse enemy". In Afghanistan, we were the "friend" that abandoned them after the Soviets left and now we are the "enemy" except not really. When you're no longer trustworthy as a friend and you aren't willing to be a truly menacing enemy, no one is going to believe in you in either role. Which is why the Afghans are betting on which local power will win and supporting them instead of helping the Americans because, just like before, we'll leave and they'll have to deal with the local power-makers, not us.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  5. J. Kashimilkenov

    The war in the Philippines was a continuation of the process of manifest destiny. It didn't end at the coast of the continent but continued to Hawaii and then the Philippines. There was a very strong sentiment for racism and the notion that white men were superior to all other races. Teddy Roosevelt was adamant in that regard. Filipinos were called niggers by American troops and demonized to detract from any sentimentality over their deaths. This war is not one studied much by Americans similar to America's war with Russia from March, 1918 to April, 1920.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Nate

    T. Mitchell - War is a form of diplomacy/politics. In fact, it's known as "diplomacy by 'other means.'" It's almost always exists as part of a multi-front diplomatic effort. Using Iraq as an example, while engaged in combat, multiple coalition governments were also trying to convince Saddam to leave Iraq and go into exile. After Saddam's fall, financial and political incentives were presented to multiple factions within Iraq to cap civil war and the insurgency. Believe it or not, it mostly worked. Without interferance from Iran and Syria, there probably wouldn't be an active insurgency in Iraq today! So, again, remember that war doesn't exist as a singularity but as a "tool" in a political mix.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  7. rhenry

    I say lets just kill them all before we all have to praise allah.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jason Williams

    All we have to do to "win" in Afghanistan is protect their oil fields until we've extracted the last recoverable barrel.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Shad Holland

    There is a huge piece missing here. First, we started in Afghanistan before Mr. Bush decided (for some stupid reasons) to go into Iraq. This meant we didn't focus on the war we had started after 9/11 because we were after 1 man who lead Al Qaeda. Bush and Co. dropped the ball and now we are having to refocus on what he failed at.

    So that's history. Obama would not have this mess if it wasn't for the huge mistakes of the previous administration.

    As far as moving forward. As anti-war as I am......I do think we need to figure out what to do in Afghanistan. We can't just do a 1/2 ass job like we have been doing since 2002 and then walk away. We started something and promised a lot of people our protection from the brutal Taliban. If we fail to do that, we just make the enemy larger. Hopefully as we move forward, we don't keep letting Big Oil move in and take over natural gas production like we have been doing. That alone creates a lot of resistance in the people......on both sides.

    January 7, 2010 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jim Jones

    The Author made a big mistake in comparing these two wars; The flaw? GLOBALIZATION. See, back in the 1800s news didnt disseminate like it does now... It might take months or YEARS for a story to get out. Now-a-days news is brought to the world ALOT faster (especially violent/war related news). Hence, real time information leads to different reactions/conclusions. If we could kill off a whole nation and have a couple of months/years before anyone finds out, then maybe the reaction would be different (ie. what if tiger woods was caught for cheating right after the frist time instead of 10 years (and many accomplishments)) later?? If alot of time passes then people rationalize it as not being as important as whats going on "RIGHT NOW" - globalization brings these two words together (the news & right now)... this method from the war in the Phillipines would crush us if we utilized it in afganistan... see?

    January 7, 2010 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Wes

    Tell me again, why are we in Afghanistan?

    January 7, 2010 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Robert

    I'm embarrassed to say that, as someone who took as many history classes as possible in college, I have never heard of this war! Doesn't say much for the American education system!

    January 7, 2010 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  13. frederick lee

    AK #8 is astute to note the Moslem component of the conflict. The Christian-Moslem conflict in the cintinues to this day – occasionally a mention crops-up in the newspapers – the murder of one small group by another in the Phillipines usually in the name of Allah.
    A few years back 500 Christians were killed in nearby Indonesia a predominately Moslem collection of islands. And who are we to declare the moral high ground – the troubles in Northern Ireland – Catholics vs. Protestants – killed hundreds if not thousands over the post-WW 2 decades.

    However to be effective commenters should in the future irefrain from attacking Bush with sand-box invectives ("man-child Bush'). If we had stayed out of Iraq, Sadam would have eventually gotten the A-Bomb and if AK has zero tollerance for W, life under the threat of a nuclear Sadam would be pure hell for him. .

    One last albiet minor missing fact: The 1911 Colt 45 ACP side-arm was chosen by the US Army to replace the .38 cal. revolver in the Phillipines to stop in their tracks Moslem fighters who tied wet leather straps arounf their testicles and smoked hashish before going into battle. The drying leather thongs would squeeze their testicles and make them fearless. The ordinary .38 cal. bullet did not stop them, the .45 ACP bullet did.

    January 7, 2010 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Gao

    I could only say US shouldn't stick their head into anymore wars. There are wars that still hasn't ended for some people that the US had help them, like the Vietnam War. Don't send more people to their grave for a War that cannot be win. At the end, you leave innocent people who think you are their allies, to fend for themselves, like the HMONG people. Learn from history US. Innocent people are killed..when will you guys open your eyes up.

    January 7, 2010 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jeff Rudacille

    Word War II? Were we entering a Scrabble tourney?

    January 7, 2010 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  16. Rothgar

    The comparison is pure folly. The Filipinos wanted independence from a colonizer. Afghanistan is only united in keeping their independent tribal governments alive regardless of the American puppet Karzai installed government.

    The key for Afghanistan success is for Afghanis to fight terrorism independently in their respective tribal areas. U.S., NATO, and other forces who add up to over 100,000 troops will fail to impose a unified state in the hopes of having a strong arm government with strong arm forces to fight terrorism. This will fail miserably.

    The Filipinos were right, and, had every right to use whatever tactics to rid itself of foreign intrusion...

    Now with America's focus on Yemen, the U.S. will undoubtedly shift millions of dollars in supporting the Yemini government first with money for troops, then American military advisors, then military drones, and finally, when they see that nothing's working, with American troops. This will be the coup de grace of the Fall of the U.S.A. It cannot fight multiple non-standard wars in 2 countries, much less 3, without bankrupting itself and finally failing as the world's police force. The new U.S.A. that will rise will be akin to Britian in its post-Empire days, quiet, unobtrusive, and cooperative with other countries instead of antagonistic...

    January 7, 2010 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  17. Darian Raul

    Thank you for bringing attention to this forgotten war which many American's don't even know about. This was one of the most brutal, embarrassing things the United States has ever engaged in – driven by racism and imperialism, pure and simple. Mark Twain was one of the most vocal people in opposition of this horrible and un-needed war of aggression. You would do well to read his writings on the Philippines and learn a little about some of the evil done in America's name and how to prevent it in this century!

    January 7, 2010 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  18. Fred

    I really have to laugh at some of the comments here. Kill them all, really; isn't that what th Nazis did? How many german generals were executed for ordering killings of civilians? You people have short memories. This will only end badly.

    January 7, 2010 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Tony Weiss

    I'm retired military and spent a couple of years in the P.I. 1957-59.
    I was told by a former scout that the 45 cal pistol was invented to mortally wound and knockdown Mora"s who would wrap their bodies in cloth so they could continue to attack.

    Also, I was told that American General Pershing used a tactic of putting pig parts in the graves of Muslim fighters.

    January 7, 2010 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  20. Kamil

    let me see more troops to Afghanistan for nothing guerilla fighters got nothing to loose they have Ak-47 or other weapon and clothing on there back that's all they have what alse and they are happy

    January 7, 2010 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  21. Robbie

    This says it all: "The U.S. military can’t employ the brutal tactics it once did against Filipinos in a world where there is a 24-hour news cycle, historians say." So we shouldnt kill innocent civilians because it might show up on the news, not because its the wrong thing to do. This is a great article and just reminds me of the brilliant line in that song "war, what is it good for, absolutely nothing....."

    January 7, 2010 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  22. adude

    Wow! Someone actually finally admitted that the USA engaged in genocide.
    If Filipinos and Native Americans were white skinned Jews this would not have taken so
    long to actually acknowledge.

    So ultimately the USA won those previous conflicts by unifying US fighters through an
    introduction to racial hatred meant to produce savagery and barbarism.
    In other words; don't get rid of evil, just become it yourself.

    January 7, 2010 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  23. M. Slater

    Do any of you folks know that the one method used by General Black Jack Pershing to quell the enthusiasm of those radical muslims was to take 10 captured muslim fighters and execute them by a fireing squad. Before they were executed the men watched as a pig had it's throat slit and was bled into a bucket in front of them. Then every American soldier in the firing squad would calmly walk up to the bucket and dip the bullet he was going to shoot into the pigs blood. Then he would go and stand in front of the subject he was about to shoot and make sure that subject saw him load the pigs blood dipped bullet into his rifle. When the order was given all muslim fighters would be shoot except for one on the end. This man was freed and told to go and tell all the other muslim fighters what he had witnessed.
    The large amount of muslim aggression and activity in Pershing's area quickly diminished. You see, if you are muslim and you come into contact with Pig's Blood, you are Damned and will not get into heaven. Pershing used their own radical religious belief system against them. Had the rumor that American forces had dipped their bullets in pigs blood before going into combat in both Iraq and Afghanistan, there may very well had been a few less jihad fighters willing to die for their cause.

    Freedom is never free, thank a soldier for providing it for you.

    MCS TX

    January 7, 2010 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  24. Baz

    CNN:

    Are you suggesting the US military go for genocide?

    January 7, 2010 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  25. Julius F

    Ahhh, the Spanish-American War, a trumped up in the press conflict that was blamed on a terrorist act against the USS Maine by Spain. Even though all the evidence pointed towards an accident aboard that ship. Of course, we were more than happy to push Spanish influence out of North America and claim Puerto Rico, Cuba, Guam and the Philippines. All who are less than equal. Ask a Viet Nam Vet what an LBFM is and look how we still treat Cuba...

    We don't understand Afghanistan or next Yemen, and Muslim Nations have plenty of history to back up a distrust of Christian Nations. that fight has been going on for centuries as well.

    Terrorism will never end, unless the root of it is ended. The sad part is even if you end one group's reason another will take issue with that.

    It's sad we are willing to randomly kill each other and shed our liberty because of the insanity of such a small group of people.

    January 7, 2010 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  26. Chuck

    I would simply like to know what generation and when will simply govern and protect our own shores.

    January 7, 2010 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  27. anon

    The MAIN problem, in my opinion, is the cultural notion of "WINNING" a war. Who comes out victorious when hundreds of thousands of people have been killed anyway?

    Perhaps if we abolish the notion of WINNING when it comes to war, we will finally understand what it takes to HELP the people of Afghanistan. It is a selfish way of thinking.

    January 7, 2010 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  28. Don Mattox

    Afganistan is not the "good" war nor the "right" war it is the crazy war. Why did we attack Afganistan in the first place – because the Taliban was allowing terrorist training camps and we showed them some muscle. Somehow the war has morphed to a war on the Taliban – who are themseves no threat to the weastern world. We should leave Afganistan to itself but tell whomever that we wil be watching and if terrorist training camps are allowed to sprout that we will attack the camps as well as the government that tolerates them. Don

    January 7, 2010 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  29. Mark

    "The U.S. military forced Filipino villagers outside of their villages into population centers where they could be separated from guerillas."

    'Population centres'? Read ' concentration camps', to put it literally – though those word have a far too chilling resonance, don't they?

    January 7, 2010 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  30. Tooltime

    If civillian villagers are habouring and protecting insurgents are they now insurgents them selves and no longer civvilians???

    January 7, 2010 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  31. Noel Navarro

    It should be noted that the U.S. won the Philippine-American war, despite its brutality, because they were able to win the hearts and minds of the majority of the population. It is true that the U.S. military employed brutal tactics, however, these atrocities remained hidden to the average Filipino at that time. The news that spread and affected the larger population were about progress and freedom.

    It is the United States that established democratic elections, instituted universal education, stabilized and united the whole archipelago, and established English as a common language (the Philippine islands has over 100 indigenous languages, and the people did not share a common language).

    American policies also promoted agricultural exports in the Philippines as a way of developing their economy. American industries also came to the country, creating jobs and introducing modern industrial know how to the business community. Additionally, thousands of young Filipino men were sent to the United States to obtain university level education. These young men would later govern the country.

    Ultimately, it is the goodwill that was created by the Americans, despite the brutality of their military strategy, that laid the foundation for an American victory in the Philippine-American War of 1902. That goodwill still lives on to this day in hearts and minds of most Filipinos.

    January 7, 2010 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  32. John

    You only win a war when the enemy realizes it faces total annihilation. Think Japan 1945

    January 7, 2010 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  33. bob martin

    at 1 million $ per troop in afganistan i don't think we have that much time or money to go through with this thing or iraq. and this is not a 3 year war. we have people in this country living on food stamps only [ 6 million] because they can't get on wefare anymmore. [ they have exhausted the 5 year cap on receiving welfare assistance. whats it going to be like in 5 more years.big mess, or should i say bigger mess.

    January 7, 2010 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  34. Steve Ervin

    Yes, it was a vicious war but a lot of the US tactics did work. When Pershing ( the general in charge) had prisoners (muslim prisoners) shot,they were then stiched up in a pigskin and buried where they died and this scared the holy ala out of them. Amazingly a lot of the trouble did subside after these tactics and I recommend that the same should be implemented again. If they want to make this a holy war I say send them to hell!!

    January 7, 2010 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  35. Danilo Deocampo

    The U.S. after the Philippine-American War bought the Philippines from Spain for $20 Million (during the Treaty of Paris). I still wonder if it included the Filipinos themselves. The war has been called the Philippine Insurrection. Thus, giving a sense of authority and justification to the occupying forces.

    Civilian women and children were slaughtered - like animals - in the province of Samar. It was so horrific and barbaric that the general in charge was forced to retire - with pension, of course.

    There are stories of tortures and desertions.

    During the Second World War, the Japanese army improved the U.S. Army's "Water Treatment" torture method by using vinegar in lieu of water.
    . . . but the Americans are the ORIGINAL - shouldn't we be proud?

    January 7, 2010 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  36. Don Patchie

    This is a perfect historical article that hopefully will open the eyes of our country the United States. We don't know how to fight a war. War is war. It's either kill or be killed in any way shape or form. We let the terrorist kill us unfairly while we try to be civil and sacrifice American lives by being picky in who and how we kill. Sad to say, the terrorist know how to fight and be willing to kill than be killed. We must fight these people the same way. Give them the same doze of their own medicine. War is war. If we can't fight a war to win at all cost, then let's just go home and mind our own territorial security here.
    Use our resources instead to better the security all around our country.

    January 7, 2010 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  37. Nix

    The dispassion shown in this post is a refreshing change. However, as a Filipino and student of American history, I feel the Philippine-American War is much more parallel to Iraq than Afghanistan. Which gives some measure of hope to Iraq, I suppose.

    January 7, 2010 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  38. Ian Stevenson

    The object of terrorism is to terrorize has nobody remembered that the taliban most certainly has not so as an ex French Foreign Legionaire 17yrs I think that the gvt should look at the big picture and ask themselves DO WE WANT TO WIN you have to do whatever is neccesary and no holds barred.Ian

    January 7, 2010 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  39. Atila the Hun

    Bring back the draft, that will force the parents to get involved and voice more strongly their opinions in american policy as it determines the fate of their children.
    USA forces under current Rule-of-Engagement are deployed as police forces this is wrong
    let them fight to win as military force ought to.
    From after 2nd WW USA did not win a war because of self imposed red-lines to prevent a
    nuclear outbreak.
    In war as in war there should be no red lines everything should be focused on 3 things: Win, Win, Win.

    January 7, 2010 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  40. Flash

    Read "The Imperial Cruise" for a good understanding of Teddy Roosevelt's role in the Phillipines conquest – which was for no good reason.

    January 7, 2010 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  41. BigVince

    We need to be brutal like we used to be, the lesson history tells us is no war has ever been won where there was not a clear winner and a clear loser. We will never achieve anything positive out of this by trying to be civil.

    January 7, 2010 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  42. Raph

    It was a brutal war. It lasted almost three years. America won because the Philippine resistance was betrayed by other Filipinos. Perhaps, most usefully, it was a war America did not need to be in. America was in the Philippines because it was involved in a war with Spain, a declining world power at the time. The USS Maine was blown up in Cuba and there was war. The Spaniards were easily defeated and the Philippines was "sold" to the US. The war was so brutal that up to this day, the US refuses to return church bells from the site of a massacre that occurred during that war.

    January 7, 2010 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  43. Jhombimon

    Innocents are not alway's so innocent... anyone who Knowingly feeds, hides, shelters, donates too or supports the ones killing our sons and daughters in any way are just as responsible for murdering us as the ones pulling the trigger. But people don't want to believe this may actually be privately condoned by a majority of muslims. Read the quoran as a non muslim and be afraid, and if you haven't read it don't comment till you do.

    I have been told by friends returning from afghanistan that after we build our schools and other projects and leave the area, the taliban just come in and pull it all down. Perhaps we should follow a total war policy.

    January 7, 2010 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  44. Kenneth Pennington

    Read the book "Johnny Got His Gun". Our behavior in the Fillipino war suggests Americans should be terminated.

    January 7, 2010 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  45. CPS

    AK: The Hukbalahap of course became a socialist/communist agrarian reform movement, mostly in Luzon in the north, the repression of which by Frank Lansdale (arguably the model for Graham Green's Ugly American) served as the training ground for psychological operations in Viet Nam later. But to be sure, there was a very anti-Muslim or Muslims as enemy element to US efforts to control the Philippines, particularly once they engaged in Mindanao in the South, something the Spanish had been unable to do successfully for 300 years. [Paul Kramer has done some interesting work on a Hollywood film about precisely this subject, incidentally.]

    But perhaps the most important and troubling legacy of how the Americans engaged with the Philippines was in shoring up the oligarchy of a limited number of elite families [you know many of their names even if you don't know Filipino history: Romualdez (and their cousins the Marcoses), Aquino, Arroyo, Osmena, and the like] who have run the Philippines as their own personal profit making center, ignoring and deflating democratic ideals of the vast majority of people still contemptuously referred to as the "massa." All, of course, while using "democracy" as an organizing principal.

    So, hooking up with and reinforcing local inequalities and social elites in Afghanistan - the "policy of attraction" mentioned above - may not be a good long-term strategy (lest anyone forget the long-term effects of supporting the Shah in Iran.)

    -A rather concerned historian of the Philippines

    January 7, 2010 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  46. Derek

    Society and politicians know nothing of the situataion in Afghanistan, nor does the media. How 'bout we talk less, intrude less, and sacrifice more for those sacrificing it all. Rather we should show support than analyze the given situation critically by drawing false conclusions. Its time for a new optimism America. Shall we leave the days misguidence and fear behind us? The only thing we know about Afghanistan is what the media amplifies and political lies. Why do we humans subject ourselves to such narrow resources of information. If you want to know more about the war in Afghan, go seve in it. You will do America a huge favor by giving support and ending this war sooner. The quicker this is over the faster our boys will come home and stop dying. I wanna see if America still has the "sack" to manage a war.

    January 7, 2010 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  47. kristian

    The overriding and obvious distinction between the two wars is we fought a war of colonization in the Phillipines. We are trying to perserve our own national security in Afghanistan. Failure to acknowledge or even mention this obvious difference pretty much makes me discount this entire essay.

    January 7, 2010 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  48. John Durand

    Having just published a book of the service of my grandpa's regiment in that war that turned into a very different war, I was glad to see some are paying attention to the parallels, and to our nation's seeming inability to learn from the past. The Boys: 1st North Dakota Volunteers in the Philippines.

    January 7, 2010 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  49. Henry Miller

    The questions remain: What did the US expect to gain from the Philippine-American war, were those expectations met, and were the gains worth the costs? And what do we expect to gain from our involvement in Afghanistan, and are those expected gains worth the costs in lives and dollars?

    January 7, 2010 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  50. Willie

    A better analogy to the present war on terrorism would be the war we have been fighting against organized crime in this country for over 100 years. The terrorists fly no flag or are under the rule of any government. The various organizations that are aligned against us in the Middle East have grievances that are not going to be satisfied, the most notable would be the establishment of Israel, something we are not, or should we ever, turn our back on. The major difference here is that, for the most part, the organized gangs we are up against within our own borders, do not kill innocents unless they are caught in a crossfire. Nevertheless, there are plenty of people who are living in terror within our own country because of these gangs.

    January 7, 2010 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  51. Doug W

    My grandfather was in a US Army calvary regiment in South Dakota when his regiment was sent to the Phillipines around 1901. The letters I have from him describe situations mentioned in the article. Good piece of journalism.

    January 7, 2010 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  52. Jim from Texas

    CW said, "The US also pioneered the use of waterboarding (then called "the water treatment") in the Philippines."

    No we didn't the term was "Chinese water torture" We just cleansed it for delicate palates!

    January 7, 2010 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  53. Bill Mercado

    Spain occupied the Philippines for 400 years and the Americans for 50. Both never suceeded in subduing the Muslims in the southen ilands of Mindanao and Julo.

    January 7, 2010 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  54. Ralph Bierlen

    Three things heavily favored the American troops. First, Filipino insurgents didn't have enough of the best weapons of the times, such as Kraigs and Mausers. Second, the weapon that would level the playing field between Western powers and insurgents wasn't around–fully automatic rifles such as the AK-47. Third, the insurgents received no outside aid such as from Soviet Russia or China. Encourage all with interest to revisit this important, but largely forgotten episode of U.S. history.

    January 7, 2010 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  55. Hunter

    I agree totally with ed (posted january 7th at 2:37) except for one thing. If we were to actually nut up as a country and win this war in afghanistan, we would run the risk of offending the muslim population in the process. Should the muslim population unite and wage war agaisnt the United States, we would have a MUCH BIGGER problem than wasting a few extra resources fighting a politically correct war.

    January 7, 2010 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  56. mike

    overall, it is a good article, but you cannt use past examples of victory to determine your present strategy. every war/ conflict is different and what worked in the past may not be relevant today. with that being said– we can win in afghanstan. Victory is have a compentant ANSF and a less corupt government. The Army has done an excellent job trainnig the ANA and is working with the ANP, but who is training the afghan government. Corruption is more of a threat in afghanistan than the taliban. Until the State department steps up to the plate and holds Karzai accountable we will not succeed. Afghans in the ANA are loyal and most are average soldiers or can see their self interest. In the end, if we want to win in afghanstan we must force the Afghan Government to be less corrupt. Karzai needs to stop making deals with the devil in order to soldifiy his poweler. He needds to tell his brother to stop the NARCO trafficking in the south. and MOST IMPORTANTLY, they need to show afghans that they can provide basic services to their people. As for the "surge" we need more mentors and less FOBBITS in Afgahnistan. GET off the FOB with your KBR food and live the Real Afghan Deployment Experiences. Embeded Training Teams are the Main Effort !

    January 7, 2010 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
  57. Henry

    forget the war, creat a job for americans, not just wasting the american dollar abroad

    January 7, 2010 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
  58. IG

    What an ignorant point of view Mr. Tom. No lasting benefit for US in conquering the Islands of Philippines? You need to look around Mr. Tom. Filipinos are one of the most productive Americans around you. Come visit your local hospital, there you will see Filipino nurses and doctors willing to help you without asking for your appreciation, just doing their American thing helping the needy. They brought long lasting benefit to the US and continue to do so. The topic is Afghanistan and I agree with the writer, winning it by applying the same rules the terrorists applies to us. Give them their own dose of their medicine. Let them all die for their country or beliefs. By the way, I'm a Filipino-American and a US ARMY officer who fought in Afghanistan.

    January 7, 2010 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  59. Gary

    In the end, Filopinos got what they wanted all along – independence. The slaughter of innocents is never justified, for any reason, much less for a war that could have been completely avoided.

    January 7, 2010 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  60. Mack

    We became a world power after the Spanish-American War–we just didn't grasp what that meant at the time. The Colt.45 came into its own cause of this conflict. This war was to defeat a Nationalistic enemy.

    The war in Afghanistan is like a war of Globalization forces against Nationalism. People revert to the simplest way to defend themselves in time of war–tribes/clans/nation uniting against the common foe-us.

    We have good intentions cause the forces of evil reside there, but nobody has EVER won in this country from Russia to Alexander the Great. We set a time-table for leaving & all the enemy has to do is wait until we leave. It boils down to supporting a dictator like we did in Viet Nam to suppress the population. Do we have the stomach for a long war or will the military/big business machine decide for us?

    January 7, 2010 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  61. Protean

    The article nicely ignores the fact that the Spanish-American war was a manufactured crisis thanks to the "remember the Maine!" propaganda disseminated by W.R. Hearst, who owned a majority of U.S. newspapers at the time. His media stranglehold facilitated an artificial war where there was no real enemy, but one based on an on-board ammunition accident on the Maine, which caused it to explode and sink. Much like the manufactured Gulf of Tonkin episode (another Vietnam parallel unacknowledged), the media played a huge role in "building public support" around a war that didn't exist in the first place. After people read their newspapers (owned by Hearst), they buy into this lie and the American empire officially begins. Spain was a paper tiger by this point in history and its claims to the Philippines were dubious at best. All of this was a screen for our nation's business interests to set up shop in a tropic locale to facilitate "new markets". It was a blatant land-grab and so were most of our so-called "just" wars. Mark Twain, among other American literary and social figures, protested this war vociferously. The pattern that should be addressed by this journalist is how "building public support" strangely is synonymous with "believing manufactured lies to make other people obscenely rich". But that wouldn't make us look like good guys, would it?

    January 7, 2010 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  62. Hunter

    Read Joker One. About platoon in Iraq. Gives you a general idea of what our guys will be faced with in Afghanistan. Think a win is only getting afghan military up to speed and we get out. We dont speak the language, understand the culture, and will be killing there relatives. Hard to win hearts and minds. I say give more cash to the warlords and get them to do the fighting and what is necessary ASAP.

    January 7, 2010 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
  63. lo

    we won because they didn't overrun america.

    January 7, 2010 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  64. Canadian

    Jamaica, the war in Phillipines happened 45 years before WW2. At the time, United Stated was not a main power economically. It is only after WW2 that the US became the main power in the world.

    January 7, 2010 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  65. Jacob

    I find many of these comments heartening. It shows me that there are some people left in this country who still know how to fight a war. If a country decides to go to war, as we have, then you go all out. A country at war should not fight as we are, you go in using any tactics necesary to win. Our mindset should be one thing... If you enter a war, you enter it to win, completely and totally. I hope that we realize that before it is too late. For our countries sake, and the sake of civilians overseas. By fighting trying to avoid collatoral damage, we are ending up hurting ourselves and the civilians even more. Our leaders need to find the strength and desire to win that many of the people on this blog have shown.

    January 7, 2010 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  66. Jeffrey Yambao

    I'm very much disagree with Mr. Blake that the war in Afghanistan is the same as the Philippine-American War. Let us not forget what happend on 9/11 when the terrorist bring forth terror to us and not us bringing terror to them. Please don't compare the strategy between the Fil-Am war and the Afghanistan War. Also remember that the Philippines did not start the war but the Americans shoot first and thus start the war.

    January 7, 2010 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  67. Raul

    Philippine won the war, it took more than 35 years by they won and are independent now.

    January 7, 2010 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  68. LEO PREZ

    Interesting observation, and doctrine: Kill them all, declare victory, stay 40 yrs, then leave everything the same way it was before, then go back back later, send helicopter so the puppet government official in place can leave, taking with him billions of dollars he stole from the country.

    January 7, 2010 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  69. my2cents

    it used to be in the olden days the wars were fought by all the people of a civilization who were able to fight; those who were not able to fight or deemed fit to be warriors were removed from the trajectory of battles by their own people. Now-adays, the line of "us against them" is more muddled. You have people in a country who have no desire to fit "the enemy" or are taken advantange and coerced by the very people who run their country. So the ethic questions stands true today as it always had throughout the history of humankind: If there are innocents amongst the people, who desire peace and not to fight, and these innocents are being exploited by the very ones who rule them, why should they too die and suffer? Clearly the leaders are already making their lives "hell" – why should a more "advanced" power who recognizes this do the same?

    January 7, 2010 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  70. Stephen

    Or we could take page from the British experience in putting down resistance in colonial India, fight like hell and win a battle then buy off the resistance... all we need to do is fight a major surge offensive in conjunction with an all out bombing and intelligence offensive in the Afghan-Pak border area followed by overtures to a ceasefire...cede control of the mountainous tribal areas to the Taliban with tribute paid to not grow poppies and to not attack the few cities and provinces perviously controlled by the Northern Alliance in their last civil war, we secure the cities and keep some civilization there, we let the Taliban keep their craziness to the mountains and we can probably "get out" or massively reduce our presence after 10 years of "peace"...

    January 7, 2010 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  71. Bob horton

    I think this is a poor example to use in comparison to the Afghanistan conflict. While it was a guerilla war fought far afield, the press was not as up to date with what is going on now. In influencing the public at home that is the main problem for President Obama as it was for President Bush. Being just as cruel as the opponent may win the war in the short term, but will no doubt foment such hatred in many Muslims and others that do not like the U.S. that we will be facing constantly increasing terrorist threats from many areas that we have not yet faced. We must understand that Afghanistan is not a country that has a history of central government. Our alliances and policies must be centered with the tribal leaders as that is the center of the culture. Additionally, if we continue to display disdain over the way that we look upon the Afghani people and do not do more to curtail any appearances of unjustified civilian casualties, then the Taliban will simply use any instance of this to forment unrest and increase their own support and recruitment. Russia, England and others have all tried to "control" Afghanistan with no success. We need to look at those lessons and learn. Other conflicts may offer lessons that can be applied, but the unique geography and resilience of the Afghani people make the study of the previous conflicts there more important.

    January 7, 2010 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  72. Dficic

    There can be no victor from any war. There is no score board, no ref, just body counts on both sides. So we are civilized? What have we learned over the past few centuries. Will this period of time be looked at as the 'Dark Ages' in the millenium to come?

    January 7, 2010 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  73. Doug

    One thing that I think is being overlooked is that the Filipinos probably had far less access to weapons and supplies then their counterparts in Vietnam and Afghanistan.

    January 7, 2010 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  74. terrell mitchell

    i for one never understand how war and politics share the same field... to involve politics in a war is just wrong because the nature of war is brutual and once dipolomacy fails thats all we have left..... americas idea that a war can be won without the brutality that is war will lead to a big misunderstanding and failure on our part.. how is the enemy supposed to fear you when they know your more worried about looking bad in the eyes of others... to me for us to be able to win the war in afghanistan requires us to match if not exceed the brutality shown by our enemys...only then will america be taking seriously in the eyes of those that choose to try and harm us....

    January 7, 2010 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  75. Allen N Wollscheidt

    A huge difference has been overlooked in regard to Afghanistan.

    We can pursue that war INDEFINITELY without a single American boot on the ground via drones.

    The Taliban must be brought to understand the fact that if we choose, they simply CANNOT win no matter HOW LONG they perservere. That understanding will enable the start of a negotiated settlement.
    .

    January 7, 2010 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  76. Wes

    WOW! So USA is actually an imperialist state for more than 100 years..bummer! how we have managed to fool people in believing that we are not an imperialist state....amazing power of media!!

    Wes,
    Atlanta, GA

    January 7, 2010 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  77. Dennis

    This is where the American Military learned Water Boarding from the Spanish and used it extensively on Philippine citizens. This is where our imperialistic drive went international and continues to this day. Then we wonder why a lot of the world doesn't like us.

    January 7, 2010 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  78. Matt

    The article forget to mention some of the same tacktics where used in vietnam, and did not work.

    January 7, 2010 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
  79. Robin

    Jason, It reminds me of a old Country song by Bobby Bare,,,THE WINNER... something like....I left this guy nursin 7 broken bones but he only broke 3 of mine so that makes me the Winner!!

    January 7, 2010 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  80. bvilleyellowdog

    Afghanistan is long lost. Leave now.

    January 7, 2010 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  81. AK

    That's right – the Phillipines is a stable republic, not without problems, but on the whole a positive contributor in the family of nations. And for those who scream 'imperialism,' one to which we granted independence after WWII, where don't have a piece save for the military cemeteries, and militarily left when we were asked to leave. I'd call that a success story.

    The walk-away alternative future might not have been so pretty.

    January 7, 2010 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  82. jdog

    just another example of US imperial past over domination of another country for it's resources....

    January 7, 2010 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  83. Robin

    To be clear I am not advocating the tactics used there. However if we push harder with the military, there will be colateral damage..cilvilans. If there is enough of that they might be willing to give up the terriost hiding within there confines. It has amazed me, and this is a clear indication for what we are really up against, that no one has given up Bin Laden for the amount of money on his head. That would not be true in America!

    January 7, 2010 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  84. cw

    The US also pioneered the use of waterboarding (then called "the water treatment") in the Philippines.

    January 7, 2010 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  85. Joe Black

    "The military don't start wars. Politicians start wars."

    January 7, 2010 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
  86. Bryant

    I laugh at every comparison to Vietnam and whatever conflict we are currently engaged in. I remember just a couple of years ago everyone was screaming about Iraq being just like Vietnam. And now Afghanistan is just like Vietnam. Ignorance. How about the only thing that is like Vietnam is Vietnam.

    January 7, 2010 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  87. Daniel

    The same strategy was followed during the Anglo-Boer war in South Africa (1899-1902), The local Boers fought a very successful guerilla war with assistance from their families on the farms, until the British scorched the earth and placed all women and children in concentration camps.
    It seems to work, but that was before television and quarterback generals fought our wars.

    January 7, 2010 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  88. Pam Carroll

    We could always use the lessons that were learned in the past.

    January 7, 2010 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  89. Jason Griffitth

    So let's see . . .We fight for a few years, declare victory, continue to lose soldiers for another 46 years, and then leave and let the Philippines have their independence. That is winning? Sounds great . . .

    January 7, 2010 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  90. Drew

    Back then we took land from the people that were living there and kept it for ourselves. Now we are war to take land from one group of people and give it to another group people and leave. There is no comparison.

    January 7, 2010 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  91. Scott

    Finally, CNN, an honest look at what's going on in Afghanistan, and what it's going to take to win. I hope you haven't realized that too late.

    January 7, 2010 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  92. Tom

    Depressing but not unexpected to read that pro-war U.S. politicians leveraged religious ignorance to sway the public. How little things have changed in 108 years.

    One might also point out that save for a few private fortunes made (recklessly) extracting minerals and timber, conquering the Philippines brought no lasting benefit to the United States. A lot of soldiers died in the conquest, died holding the place, and were there to die when Japan attacked for no good reason.

    January 7, 2010 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  93. AK

    This article misses the mark in a few places, but is spot-on in most and is a real case of 'why didn't someone bring this up about 2002'? The author does not point out that the main enemy in what was called the Insurrection was not the Roman Catholic population, but the Hukbalahap Moslems mainly centered on the island of Mindinao – a case of history repeating itself for sure. The co-opting of the population was certainly a decisive factor in the campaign. But the most key aspect of the success was a more mature American society recognizing its responsibility for 'you broke it, you fix it' no matter how long it takes – even 46 years. If child-man Bush had any understanding of history he would have sold this Afghan strategy (and stayed the hell out of Iraq) to the American public, who I firmly believe even in their sometimes solve-it-in-an-hour sitcom-befuddled cultural stupor would have understood and accepted. Obama needs to figure this out right quick and either decide, quit his pseudo-intellectual waffling, that is exactly what we are going to do or get the hell out now. By the way....to the majority Protestant population of the early 20th century US, there was no dichotomy in 'Christianizing' a Catholic nation. To this day., evangelical Protestants don't consider Roman Catholics to be Christian, more heretics to be sure. As a Catholic living in Colorado Springs, the nations 'vangelical 'city on the hill,' I know, quite personally.....

    January 7, 2010 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  94. Jhombimon

    The united states is not capable of winning the peace in any war! We can win battles only. Any one who knows history , knows that no hostile nation has ever been pacified through being nice. Atrocities are unfortunately part of the process, Which is why wars shouldn't be fought unless it is life or death. The war on terror is. We shall lose which could be fatal for our grandchildren, because we do not stoop to our great grandparents level and we do not hold a country accountable militarily for the actions of its citizens.

    January 7, 2010 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  95. Steve

    War is never good, ask anyone who has actually fought in one. But if you're going to fight one, do it with all your might and get it over with. It's typically "Governments/Leaders" that disagree with each other and then use the military to resolve thier differences. Most "common" people get along with each other on a personal level.

    The old saying of "Fight fire with fire" is very much a real thing. And yes, it is brutal but until all people think/feel alike you have to be as bad and brutal (or more) as your adversaries.

    January 7, 2010 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  96. Ron Stein

    For an excellent account of the Soviet experience in Afghanistan see Artyom Borovik's "The Hidden War".
    It appears that we may be condemned to repeat the mistakes of the past.
    Additionally–an excellent fictional account is Steven Pressfield's account of the Afghanistan invasion of Alexander the Great.
    Ron

    January 7, 2010 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  97. Ed

    In any war the goal has to be to defeat the enemy at any cost and in any way possible. There is no such thing as "values", "justice", "civil rights" or "political correctness" when fighting a war. You win and ultimately control the enemy you are fighting by defeating them so completely that they no longer have the ability or desire to fight. Only at that point will there be peace.

    There is no winning of hearts and minds, there is no negotiating, there is no mercy and there is no civilized behavior. War is hell and you do not win and sovle a problem unless you make the enimies world a living hell. You do whatever you have to do to accomplish that goal. You kill whatever you have to kill to accomplish that goal. If a Nation does not have the guts and determination to win, then it is their world that will turn into the living hell.

    January 7, 2010 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  98. Sean

    The main differences between the current wars and those past ones we were able to win are the ROE. In the past the ROE were created with the pure intent to win. Todays ROE are designed to have as little collateral damage as possible and has nothing to do with the intent to win a war.

    January 7, 2010 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  99. Jamaica

    The war ended in our favour because of the WWII where we were a main supplier for weapons, metal, research and currency at super high interest rates for the nazis. From this we developed cars, ibm computers, construction industry, food industry using petrochemicals and culture through people being rich enough to have a past-time.
    Now, if someone needs something they go to China – oil exploration, metal, investment money and research. War will make us weaker if we do not diversify our development.

    January 7, 2010 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  100. David C

    This was a very interesting read! I hadn't heard about this war the United States had been involved in before. Asa a Canadian, we were involved with the Boer War in South Africa at the time. It was interesting to hear that the war in Afghanistan could be won, but we will need more patience (than we probably have).

    January 7, 2010 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
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