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. w00diee

    We need to get out of Iraq and Afganistan. There is nothing to win there for America. Richard Nixon said back in the 70's that we need to reduce reliance on foriegn oil. We didn't do that. These wars are a direct result of that failure. We need to redirect our energy to the long term solution. We enforce our policy by economic means. Let these people fall back to their agricultural and religious backgrounds and we move America into the 21st century. When the global economy causes these countries to intertwine with civilization, then we won't need a war.

    January 7, 2010 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
  2. tom

    - The Philippino war was an imperialistic boondoggle. The difference is that the Americans did far better in the aftermath for them than did the Germans, Portuguese, French and to a lesser extent the British in Africa. The post-colonial results speak for themselves.

    The story says that "laws of war" Americans failed to follow there led to success. I have no doubt that genocide succeeded by simply killing everyone around in what had been deemed unfriendly villages. As some of the earlier posters pointed out, it was not an uncommon practice in wars of the age...But when that happened in South Vietnam, the US lost what support it had very quickly at home.

    The visual media even of that day had a profound impact, as the US demolished the Vietcong during Tet and was wiping the ground up with ARVN forces. But the nightly combat images on the ground, the conclusion by Cronkite that the war was unnecessary and the increase in bodies coming help helped President Johnson decide he'd lost the public confidence and so left office. From there it was all about trying to find a way to get out looking good.

    Afghanistan in many ways reminds me of Vietnam, in the political sense and in the military sense - the tough terrain, the village-to-village loyalty questions, the cross-border issues with Pakistan, the need to win hearts and minds, the cultural sensitivity. Obama is running a huge risk with his own party here.

    If winning wars had been the sole overriding objective, then our most powerful levers certainly would have been used. This is why we see the wars we see today, in which conquering is basically not allowed. It leaves us to fight wars we can't lose instead of wars we win. Unless that changes, America is always going to be stuck in these long slogs. As America by doing so would be seen as hypocritical, it seems most unlikely that it will ever use its full might. With some increase in help from its allies, though, perhaps we'll all benefit.

    January 7, 2010 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Lee

    If you've ever read Ender's Game, the strategy and tactics laid out in that book are very similar.

    January 7, 2010 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
  4. RSJ

    The filipinos were eventually defeated by there own soldiers.
    The Taliban don,t need to win this war.
    They are are a guerrila army and can fight this war with only a few hundred fighters if they need to.
    Be prepared for a long stay there.

    January 7, 2010 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Native New Yorker

    I have to add that the "brutal" tactics Americans used on American Indians, and later, the Muslims in the Philippines (yes, the insurgency was largely Muslim...still is) were learned from American Indians years earlier in New England during the first Indian wars. The Indians may not have won those wars due to tribal rivalries but they knew how to fight and caused the the highest casualty rates American armies have ever experienced.

    January 7, 2010 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
  6. prankster

    It just never ends,does it?

    January 7, 2010 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Duane

    Let us not forget the Balangiga Massacre. Despite the fact that the Philippines is one of America's most trusted allies and would shed blood for them in the battlefield, just remembering events in this war like the Balangiga Massacre committed by the Americans forces over civilians makes Filipinos feel that they want to be Osama Bin Laden.

    January 7, 2010 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
  8. martin wnuk

    I believe there are similarities between vietnam and Afghanistan:

    In Vietnam we used carpet bombing, smart bombs, innovative helicopter tactics, ambushes, frontal attacks, booby traps, artillery, tanks, land mines, assassination, chemical warfare, battleships, aircraft carriers, diplomacy and bribes, everything short of nukes...and we lost.

    the Vietnamese, like the Afghanis, have a long, long history or defeating much larger and more powerful invaders. This has to be taken into account and new methods have to be developed. The key to "winning," whatever that may mean, is to find a political settlement that creates a relatively non-violent country that is relatively friendly to u.s. interests. This would require creating an intense involvement with the people of that country, not so much killing them.

    We had this opportunity in the beginning of the Vietnam war and blew it. Two great book on this subject are "John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam" by Neil Sheehan and "Fire in the Lake: The Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam" by Frances FitzGerald.

    January 7, 2010 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Julio Marroquin

    What do you think about this:

    There should be no war at all...

    But... what if the 9/11 was really an Al Queaeda job, if it is!, a country like US should not demonstrate any fear or weekness, this country has to stand up and fight because else, the next day other people can think that they can do another terrorist act against, so for sure US citizens are being wounded and killed up there by this war... but they are fighting for the honor of his country!

    anyway... what do you think about the content on the link above?

    January 7, 2010 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Mark Wilson

    Extremley interesting, This war has no borders thats what President Bush said one time, if we walk away from Afghanistan it wont stop their, we can not alow the bully to continually beat on the small child. The most important, is to stay focus on the objective. Support the people of Afghanistan and to let them know we will stand with them and fight for how ever long it takes. This war is not just in Afghanistan it's all over the world thats Terrorism for you it has no borders. The people that died on 9/11, in Baili, Spain, London, Mumbai, Iraq etc we can not let their lives die in vain.

    January 7, 2010 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Philip Bernaldez

    USA was not so timid with its expansionist plans at the turn of the century. "Manifest Destiny " surely did not end in California and Philippines was next in this domino. The US military was not that weak as we are lead to believe at that time but a war- weary weakened and splintered Philippine resistance made it easy for them to win this war. The Spaniards used divide and rule to effectively run this archipelago for 400 years and good 'ol USA simply used the same tactics against the Filipinos.

    January 7, 2010 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Troy Henley

    HUGE DIFFERENCE between the Phillipine war and Afghanistan. The Phillipines are isolated islands that make it much more difficult for infiltrators to join or resupply the guirellas. We have constant problems with people from all nations such as Pakistan, US, Iran....crossing over the Afghan border and joining in the fray, then they escape back to the relative safety of the border countries. More like Vietnam war where Cambodia, Laos and China was the place where supplies and people were funneled in.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
  13. bryan

    U.S. Drowns Its Opponents in Blood

    Whenever the colonial subjects of the U.S. fought back, the U.S. drowned them in blood. As Mark Twain commented on the Philippine war:

    We have pacified some thousands of the islanders and buried them; destroyed their fields; burned their villages, and turned their widows and orphans out-of-doors; furnished heartbreak by exile to some dozens of disagreeable patriots; subjugated the remaining ten millions by Benevolent Assimilation, which is the pious new name of the musket; we have acquired property in the three hundred concubines and other slaves of our business partner, the Sultan of Sulu, and hoisted our protecting flag over that swag.

    And so, by these Providences of God–and the phrase is the government's, not mine–we are a World Power.

    In the 1900-1903 war to conquer the Philippines, the U.S. killed more than 1 million people. In the midst of that war, U.S. Army General Shefter said: "It may be necessary to kill half of the Filipinos in order that the remaining half of the population may be advanced to a higher plane of life than their present semi-barbarous state affords."

    January 7, 2010 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Martin

    This war also laid the justification for Japan to expand when it went to war with China, citing the same reasons that the US went into the Phillipines. The question then is, who will use the same reasons we went into Afghanistan and Iraq?

    January 7, 2010 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Nick Danger

    Every poster here with the 'Kill 'em all" mentality has obviously never been drafted nor volunteered to carry a rifle and protect a nation. Draft dodging (legally and illegally) seems to create these chicken hawk types (like Dick Cheney) that are all for a war they won't have to spill blood in. Real soldiers have a distinct distaste for war.

    You win a counter insurgency by the bomb you DON'T drop, and the person you DON'T kill.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
  16. Cicero

    Oh, I forgot, but luckily two comments I read above reminded me – Americans are the most neurotic, self-debasing, self-hating people in the world. How do you win a war against someone who doesn't have these same feelings, who don't believe that war is not necessary, and who doesn't think that they deserve to live in peace and harmony with their neighbors – instead they deserve to annihilate their neighbors and rule over the remains? The self-hating American who believes that his countrymen deserve to be butchered because of what the US government did, or is supposed to have done, will not only never win this war, they will become tools of the terrorists and help THEM win it.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  17. greg

    Further proof that EVERY war is a Holocaust and the truth is the first casualty.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  18. Jean

    Everyone should read "the Imperial Cruise" by James Bradley for an account of this horrific war.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Norm

    We have military leaders and teachers passing on the same failed tactics over and over through the decades at West Point and other training academys and then we wonder why one war looks like another and so on. We need a fresh approach to killing our fellow man.
    The same old tactics just aren't getting enough bloody results.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
  20. AK

    CPS – I understand the co-opting of the influential families to maintain stability. It ain't what we would accept here, but may be all we had to work with over there.

    I far prefer the US evolve to a Swiss-like model of international relations. Simplify, make stuff, be your banker, otherwise, stay out of your business. Don't know if we can get there from here, but maybe the American century just past, and the beginning of the next, wil have given us a bellyfull.

    Then again, we tried that in the 30's. I suppose there wil always be a Hitler waiting in the wings to fill the vacuum – and piss in our Wheaties.....'sigh....'

    January 7, 2010 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
  21. Xasthur

    I commend you CNN for providing an accurate history lesson to the people of a chapter of U.S. history rarely taught. It's part of the backdrop to the war in the Pacific. The U.S. expansion in a brutal war in the Philippines, the annexation of Hawaii, combined with newspaper reports about U.S. bombers rolling off assembly lines and how they could be used to burn Japan's paper cities that the Japanese were aware of, and laws like the one that banned all Asians from entering America after they let them build the railroads. These things gave Japan more justification to pre-emptively strike U.S. military bases at Hawaii than the U.S. had to pre-empt Iraq.

    I don't think Afghanistan is comparable to Vietnam where we could just destroy the country and leave and win the major objective. We didn't get the maximal objective (a U.S. client state), but the U.S. got the major objective which was to destroy the country. In Afghanistan and Iraq the U.S. cannot leave without having some kind of control because these countries are too important strategically, yet they cannot just destroy the country like in Vietnam.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  22. Jhombimon

    Some people have posted comments that imply we have a choice in this war? the enemy want us all dead, you your children and your mother and father, disengaging from them militarily will not stop them from coming for us, the world has become to small with too many easy way's to kill. I believe those who think we can talk our way out of this one are nieve. This war is less over foreign policy and more over religion. They want us the most but they want the europeans too. For instance al-queda wants to reclaim spain. You not wanting to die and never personally offending them ( you offend them just because your not muslim) will not stop them from killing you.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  23. Rob

    Afghanistan is a mirror of countless wars before it. The problem with brutality alone, aside from morality and ethics, is that if it is not brutal enough it simply provokes more resistance. Even in Imperial Russia in the late 19th/early 20th centuries, the long Bolshevik struggle for revolution, which included terrorist suicide bombers and assassins, nearly collapsed several times when Imperial Security forces infiltrated and destroyed its leadership, and the letters between Stalin and Lenin are punctuated by anguished discussions of these periods. But at every nadir, some act of brutality by the Tsar's government would radicalize new elements of the population – and the Bolsheviks were back in business. It's happened countless times in countless struggles, and Afghanistan is no different. And unless we're willing to be as brutal we were in the Phillipines or with the Plains Indians, or as the British were with the Afrikaaners (damn the ethics and morals) a strategy is needed that destroys the Taliban leadership without radicalizing new elements in Afghanistan or the broader Arab world against us. You really don't have to make them our friends – we just don't need new enemies willing to die for the cause and the opportunity to kill us.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  24. andrew

    no one has the balls to do the job
    if you droped a few bombs on iran and said 1 a day until we have bin ladens head i think in a week you would have half of al queda dead

    January 7, 2010 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
  25. eberhard wiesheu

    LET ME CORRECT YOUR ERRORS:
    1.
    Total US casualties from 1902 to 1945 were 16,000.
    2.
    USA never won that war . It resulted in a status quo till Japan conquered the Philipines and McArthur escaped Japanese in 1942 in a boat without his boots.

    3.
    In 1945 Truman realized that the Philipines were lost forever after the defeat of McArthur in 1942. He wisely gave up US claims. The Dutch were not as wise and indulged in an orgy of disemboweling over 100,000 Indonesian civilians on a single day. In the end the Dutch were kicked out by people who had eyewitnessed the defeat and degradation of the Dutch by the Japanese.

    4.
    It was the war with Japan and the Japanese occupation of the Far East that terminated formal colonialism and changed the history. So Dutch, British and French were booted out of the Far East.

    5.
    When Mao conquered all China in 1949 modern history of the world began.

    6.
    This is the summary of colonial warfare from the OIpium War of 1839 to the exit of th USA from Vietnam.

    7.
    With the emergence of Iran as the only state with smallpox bioweapons already deployed in Europe, Israel and the USA the Bush's dream of reconquering Persia as in 1941 was not fulfilled. It merely resulted in national uprisings in Iraq, Afghanistan and the civil war in Israel between the Torah-practising truly semitic oriental Jews and non-semitic Ashkenazim convertees subjugating the sephardims from 1948 to 2006- 2008 where military disobedience by the sephardim soldiers terminated Ashkenazim's dream of conquest of Arab land.

    8.
    I deeply respect the Great Abraham Lincoln for his assertion that "NO ONE CAN FOOL ALL OF PEOPLE ALL OF THE TIME". May God bless his soul in Heaven.
    Eberhard Wiesheu
    Heidelberg
    German Lutheran Protestant Church

    January 7, 2010 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
  26. Scott

    Okay, I understand where everyone is coming from on both sides of this argument. However, there is one thing else to consider. When we fought the Filipinos in the end of the 19th Century, how many of them lived in the US? Now that we have so many Muslims in our society, unleashing this sort of tactic will anger those that live here. Just destroying one of those countries, no matter how far away, would cause a war right here on our own soil. Who wants that?

    January 7, 2010 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
  27. Cicero

    Civilizations evolve and the tendency is to become more "civilized." Historically, "civilized" nations have had a great deal of difficulty when it comes to fighting societies that are less "civilized." The US vs. Native America; USSR vs. Afghanistan; Great Britain vs. the Mahdi; to name a few. History is full of stories of "civilized" nations being destroyed by "barbarians." The Greeks were subjugated by the Macedonians; the Persians by the Arabs; Rome by a horde of barbaric tribes and clans; the list goes on and on. We are now at "war" with a society that is willing to be much more "barbaric" than we are – they strap hidden bombs on themselves and walk into weddings or fly planes into buildings of what we consider "civilians". To this enemy, there are no civilians, only toools to be used to promote more terror. They train their children to hate and they use terror, rape, and kidnapping to achieve their "political goals." Can we ever win?

    If we reversed our tendency to become more "civilized" and returned to a world where we were willing to kill them all, let God sort them out, and gave our own people sixty acres and a "mule" to emigrate we most certainly would. I even believe that there is a faction in the US that would love to turn the military might of the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force loose on Afghanistan. Then again, history has shown us that only the Afghans want to live in Afghanistan and they have neither the will, the desire, nor the ability to prevent their country from being a training ground and stronghold for people who hate Americans, America, and all it stands for. The British couldn't get their people to move there, the USSR couldn't create a Soviet Afghanistan, and I'd be willing to bet you couldn't get a decent-sized small town's worth of Americans to move there.

    But, to use the terms of the enemy, America has grown "soft" and "weak." We won't do what it takes to destroy our enemies and win this war on terrorism. We are foolish enough to believe that we can win a "peace."

    When the Visigoths came roaring out of the north, Rome tried to give them citizenship, grain, land, and "culture" in order to save the Western Empire. It didn't work then, what makes us think it will work now? To a Muslim who's armies have been embarrased on the battlefield, who sees all Americans as enemies, who believes in Allah to the point where he (or she) is willing to blow up women and children with their suicide bombs, bringing them "democracy" is an insult.

    Never fight a war you cannot win. We are in our fourth administration, at least, since this war began and we are no closer to even defining what a "win" would be. We are not willing to return to the days of Rome when a victory meant complete destruction of the enemy; we are not willing to return to a day when victory meant rounding up the indigenous population into camps and taking over the country we conquer; we are not in a war where we can defeat the enemy "army" on the battlefield and force the enemy to surrender; so tell me, how do we win this war?

    Perhaps we "win" like we did in Vietnam – just get the hell out. Or like we won in the Phillipines – remain at war for 50 years and then get the hell out. Or like we won the Cold War in Europe – just keep feeding the machine and stay on the ground till the enemy collapses from the weight of preparing for the fight. I don't think any of these are going to work.

    Some modern theorists define "victory" as eliminating the opponent's will to fight. We are a nation of many different people who want many differents things but we all generally agree that war is a bad thing, killing civilians is worse, and occupying foreign lands is anathema. Say what you will about our government or the industro-military complex; I believe these things are generally true of the average American citizen. Our enemy is a small band of single-minded zealots who don't believe that their god has any type of peace other than total domination of the infidel in mind. Our people watch CNN every day and are appalled when we kill a single child as a result of military action. Their people couldn't care less what CNN has to say and are exhiliarated when their military action kills a hundred of the children of the "Great Satan." They shoot their AK-47s into the sky and whirr their tongues when Americans die.

    How do we win?

    January 7, 2010 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
  28. Stephan Holland

    Sounds to me it was a one sided declaration the war was over. And 46 years later the US gave the fillipines what they wanted in the first place. The US ended up with 4200 dead in a 3 year span and 46 ongoing years of soldiers still dying. The Fillipines had the longest breath and got what they wanted in the end... So tell me again please..who won?

    January 7, 2010 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  29. Ed M.

    Americans actually killed between 1 and 2 million Filipino civilians in the Philippine-American War. (The figure of 200,000 was made up by a general in the early 20th century and has always been incorrect.) This is a genocidal Holocaust approaching that of the Nazis. No matter what the number of civilian deaths, even one is too many in a war that is not undertaken to protect Americans in any way, but rather to take by force the homeland of another people. I find it amazing that Americans hate Hitler so very much, yet look how many Americans in the above comment thread are so excited about slaughtering hundreds, thousands, millions of unarmed women and children. For what? So you can put your flag on a map. Murderers. You are disgusting. No wonder the world hates you.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  30. Robert

    One lesson I learned from my father that I shall never forget is that there are no good guys in war.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  31. hotdoginbuns

    Funny thing, this is how this war started:

    Over a few drinks in a quiet Guam US military base:

    General 1: If you had all the power whwere would you strategically go to next?

    General 2: I would attack Philipnes and push East.

    General 1: That is rediculous, I would go west through Panama!

    After a small fight General 2 wrote a letter to the USA Navy asking for troops to be sent to the philipine isllands, without the authorization of the president. Confused, the military leaders sent the request and troops and boats entered in the philipi9nes and the war started as we know it...
    True story. Read a history book.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  32. Buck

    We should pull all our troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq immediately and bring them home to shore up our borders, AIRPORTS - and maybe assist the CIA when needs be.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  33. TA

    AK

    The Huks did not exist at this time frame. The Huks appeared in the 1940's. And their fight lasted till about 1954. They were insurgents, comprised of peasant farmers, fighting for land reform and centered mainly in the central plains of Luzon.

    And it was an Imperialist act by the US. If you conquer a nation for it's resources that's what it's called. India, Malaysia and Indonesia are all stable republics. Maybe you should tell them that what they experienced under their colonial masters was not Imperialism. They too got their independence after WWII.

    We are in Afghanistan to supposedly hunt for Bin Ladin and defeat the Talban, This is the place where even Alexander the Great almost lost. Maybe we should do what he did, a little brutally here and there to pacify the natives, marry off some of our generals to locals to strengthen alliances, then fight our way through India before swinging back into Iran.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  34. Jebediah

    Many people will think this article discusses an American war that they have never heard of because CNN is referring to a portion of the Spanish-American war as the Phillipine-American war, which is misleading. I assume the point was to surprise people by making them think that this was a hidden, unknown war.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  35. pariskos

    It is obvious from reading all the comments that everyone has a different version of history, but no one really knows exactly what happened, which in some ways describes History as it is: a compilation of memories from various sources usually tainted due to political and other aspirations and affiliations. We will never know the absolute truth of what really happened then but we can try to understand the lessons that could be taught through these exercises of memory.

    I think Obama is making a mistake in sending more troops. My humble opinion is that they should all come home, spend all their energy and money to supporting this country that has been to the brink of collapse for the past few years due to gross. This is as pointed out, a was almost impossible to win, and even if we do do that, very dubious that it will bring any tangible results in any near future that will have relevence.

    Extreme ideologies derive from fear. Extremist feed their minds from conflicts and only a non conflict approach will dissolve their distrust and fears. No one would support allowing them to bomb us, or plot against us, but by depleting our resouces in futile wars we make it easier for the them to hit us at home and give them far more many reasons than they already have. In essence we prove their point, their propaganda why should more young man and woman of this world become extremist and risk their lives to fight the "tyrant" called world power USA. That is in a nutshell how they see it, and we are playing their game to exhaustion. Not a very smart strategy. In the meantime, 1/5 th of the world is starving, does not have clean water nor adequate medical attention. Not that the rest is doing so great but at least we get by almost unscaffled.
    Remember folks, we in the USA are amongst the top 5% of this world when it comes to standard of living. We have to help the rest not create more distrust.
    Peace.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
  36. AK

    Frederick – thank you for the compliment. Now...I let my anger show through at ex-president Bush over what I felt was his personal war of vanity to avenge familial issues rather than a prudent use of force in the national interest – a conceit that transcends even my ardent and usually partisan conservatism. As for Saddam and the A-bomb....several points. There is absolutely no evidence anywhere that he or his minions could have engineered a device capable of a nuclear yield. And even if...what could he have done with it save surreptitiously give it to terrorists? Again...Saddam was not enamored of Al Qaeda or related ideologues, doubtful if he would have put such hard-won power in their hands, knowing what would have happened when it was traced to them. Iran is about to develop their own bomb....ok Frederick, now what do we do? Ahmadinejad and the mullahs scare me a lot more than Saddam and his crazy sons – who I firmly believe were more concerned with consolidating internal power than spreading radical Islam – ever did. I don't think the Chinese are going to buy enough Treasuries for us to finance an 'on-to-Teheran' campaign.
    Oh…as for the .45 thing. The adoption of the GI 1911A1 was just as much a result of the Thompson-LaGarde tests as experience in the Philippines. One lesson garnered there was that NO handgun – including the old Colt SAA pushing a 255 grain lead bullet backed by black powder – is a reliable stopper against an opponent motivated as your correct description. What did work was the old trapdoor Springfield and the first use of the 1897 Winchester ‘Trench Gun.’ Probably why Pershing – with his Insurrection experience – ordered them up for service in France.

    Final thought...I wonder me how many so-called 'imperial powers' begin their occupations with the stated goal of vacating their "imperial" charge once the territory in question is deemed capable of self-government? Which is EXACTLY what we did in the Phillipines – from outset to completion. A historical fact that canot be denied by even the most spittle-flecked historical revisionists – and it don't sound like the classical definition of imperialism to me.

    It is what we to commit to in Afghanistan. That, or leave.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  37. Mark Neal

    Read "The Imperial Cruise" by James Bradley to get the gruesome rest of the story. The reason Congress and the the American public did not revolt against such barbarous behavior by the troops, was because Teddy Roosevelt kept all the details secret. The book does not paint a pretty picture of Roosevelt or his secret war in the Phillipines.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  38. Don Patchie

    Since we don't know how to fight a war I would agree with what acesh posted. Plus of course spend our resources here at home instead to better ourselves and our security. If Muslims don't want us, fine; let them out of here and don't take anymore of them. Who needs their oil. We can do with what we have here at home. Oil, Wind, Solar, you name it we got it. Again, if we can't stomach War and kill the bastards, let's go home and mind our own business.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  39. Michael Jasper

    Please ask youselves why is America in two political wars? Why did Al Quaeda strike the Twin Towers? Work back from there and find the answer to all this garbage. Could it possibly be our involvement in the Middle East conflict with Israel and the 4 million displaced Arabs?

    January 7, 2010 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
  40. Stephen Brock

    The U.S. involvement in the Philippines began as part of the Spanish-American War and turned into a long counterinsurgency; however, President McKinley selected William Howard Taft (future US President) to become the first US civilian Governor. Taft and his military commanders began a slow and tedious process of fighting a counterinsurgency and developing local, provincial, and a national government from scratch; furthermore, a Philippine Constabulary (state police) and the Philippine Scouts (army forces) were established and trained by the US Forces to slowly take over the fight. This is very similar to what we have done in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    The US Government slowly but surely turned more responsibility and authority over to the Filipinos. The original concept of President McKinley and President Theodore Roosevelt (and Philippine Governor and later US President Taft) was to create an American style democracy in the Philippines and grant them independence. The threat of Japanese invasion from 1907 until 1941 changed US strategy and forced the US into defending the Philippine Islands (and later losing them and liberating them).

    The success of our long term committment to the Philippines is evident with our relationship with the Philippines since 1941. Together American and Filipino forces defeated the Japanese on the Philippine Islands, and paved the way for true Filipino independence and sovereignty in on July 4, 1946. The Philippines remain an important ally and economic partner to this day, and we are currently assisting them in fighting terrorists cells in the southern islands of Mindanao.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
  41. Shane

    Have u ever thought why people outside US hate us?? Not just Muslims, how abt Europe ?? Once you fight them, kill them and they NEVER forget that. You think Germans and Russians are our friends? I don't think so, because the were defeated and always look for a chance to pay us back. You can't bring peace by fighting, it's ridiculous to say that we are fighting for peace.

    How abt Indian Americans ?? Yes we killed them too. This is our(Americans) fate to suffer, because we killed innocent ppl for no reason, and our grandchildren would suffer too. Why don't we send our leaders to the front line instead of them giving speeches and living luxury lives ?

    War is an evil, and it eats people. Nothing good can happen in the end of a war.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
  42. Fred

    And the bombing of Japan dnd Germany into the sone age was not brutal? Perl Harbor, Hiroshima, Dresden, the Baatan Death March – these were not brutal? All war is brutal. The danger lies in those that sell the idea that we can have a nice clean war. Dont believe me, ask anyone one whos been in one.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
  43. CJM

    See people? It's easy! All we have to do to "win" in Afghanistan is to exterminate hundreds of thousands of civilians, mow down women and children. All we need is to become terrorists ourselves!

    By the way, we are STILL fighting in the Phillipines now.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
  44. viking

    I can't stand the fact that the US has had (for many decades now) a belief that our military is some kind of international police force. Fighting a "war" is not like breaking up a riot in a Chicago street.
    Our police are around to patrol and keep the peace while protecting the people with whom they intermingle.
    The military, in my mind, is the straw that broke the camel's back. Diplomacy has failed so now all hell must be unleashed. Going to war with one hand tied behind your back is not only stupid but irresponsible. Using the same or worse tactics of your enemy is the only way to win. Taking the moral high ground and letting the white house order troop movements, make tactical decisions, and other things they should keep their noses out of, hamstrings the military and subsequently prolongs the death and destruction. If the US declares war, then the camel's back has been broken. Flip the switch or not (go to war or not)... but once that switch has been turned on, let the military determine the best way to END IT.

    If you have ever owned a gun for self protection, you learn that you never shoot the weapon at another human unless you intend on taking his life. Otherwise, you may loose yours. If we continue to make war appear more palatable and less horrific, it will be easier to go to war in the first place... and it will be harder to end it.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
  45. JP

    Do we really think the terrorists will stop if we leave Afganistan? We may have to kill them all. And you know what? I'm OK with it...

    January 7, 2010 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  46. Nikolai G

    Garr, War be the Devil's game thus ye must play by the Devil's rules.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  47. DS

    In the Spanish-Philippine conflict America fought beside the Fhilippines as allies. The Filipinos had taken control of all but Manila from the Spanish. Spain agreed to stage a fake battle against the Americans and lose to the Americans, then surrender ONLY to the Americans. After this, the Americans turned on their allies, the Filipinos who they were supporting, and negotiated a contract with Spain to recive the Philippines as an American holding. Nice Job America! One more example of why nobody wants America fighting wars on their land. You don't liberate, you confiscate!

    January 7, 2010 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  48. John Jazwiec

    This is a very interesting article. But is fails to answer one basic truth – win or lose – do civilizations prosper or decline by fighting wars around the world. The Greeks could not, nor could the Romans or the Ottomans or Germany. They all over-reached and declined because while they were using their treasure fighting wars while the rest of the world moved forward.

    The one thing I agree with in warfare is that what Von Clausewitz said "the military most willing to part from the politicians wins". In my opinion you are either fighting a war with rules or are more savage then your enemy.

    In my mind that means staying out of the Middle East and telling their governments, be it Iran or Yemen, it is your job to keep bad people out of our country or be it military or citizen – you will be bombed with nuclear devices. This lets us use our treasure and tell the world that it is their responsibility whether to protects it"s citizens or we just have to push a button we have already paid for – the complete destruction of their country.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  49. Jessica

    Just so we can all agree now, finally – 9/11 was justified. War is brutal. LIVE WITH IT.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  50. ltl

    I find it interesting that no mention was made in this article about who the U.S President was at the time and ultimately responsible for the savagery.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  51. bern

    to AK

    Hubalahap is never a moslem organization and evolved long after the phil-am war. HUKBALAHAP stands for HUKBO NG BAYAN LABAN SA HAPON, a guerilla organization against the japanese which later on evolved further into a communist/socialist organization. i should know because one of its founding members is my unlce – luis m. taruc

    January 7, 2010 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  52. Mike

    Read THE IMPERIAL CRUSE byJames Bradley to see the extent of the slaughter we inflicted on the Fillipinos in that war.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  53. Jeremy

    And we napalmed entire cities during WWII. Won that war too. People dwell to much on their bodies in it's current state. We're only temporary. Death is but a beginning. Once you can let go of that your view of this world will be much more clear. In other words if we need to get barbaric to preserve our own soul, so be it. There's a much bigger war going on that most of you are too within your own selves to see. Thus causing you to see these people as one in the same with you and I. Their bodies have no value to them as well. Until we as a people understand that as a whole, we will never win a war again.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  54. Mike Wiggins

    Read up on how General Pershing handled the Phillipine Moros (Islamic) people who were fighting against the Americans. There is more than one report that Pershing threatened that any terrorists they killed would be executed and buried in pig skins. Just that threat alone was enough for local mullahs to capitulate.

    Hmmm. Maybe we SHOULD allow history to repeat itself!

    January 7, 2010 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  55. Cindy MN

    Back in 1899, we wanted to OWN the land.
    I dont think we want to OWN Afgan. Atleast, the everyday person.
    ...but the US Goverment,..?? (Not the President,..the GOVERMENT
    of the USA.)

    January 7, 2010 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  56. george roth

    hey you forgot one thing it took the marines etc to get flag back in place today the people in dc have no spin or much of anything else it is very simple find them kill them

    January 7, 2010 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  57. ValSor

    No comparison. Most Filipinos shortly after the end of the Spanish era, only knew how to fight with agricultural long knives called bolo and wooden spears mostly made from bamboo, while the American Scouts kill at range with their rifles. Talibans on the other hand are well exposed to weapons technology and their use through their training camps.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
  58. bobdevo

    So the lesson to be learned from our colonialist imperial war on the Philippines is that we MIGHT win in Afghanistan if we "KILL THEM ALL"?

    Thank you CNN for sharing this idiotic drivel.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  59. Pickerkeeper

    We are more civilized now than in the past. We will only win this war by redefining the word "win" – or like Nixon in Vietnam by "declaring victory" and bringing our troops home. Resorting to genocidal tactics to win a war will make us lose our values.

    But what is this war really about? Security or Greed? Why did September 11 happen? Why do they hate us SO MUCH? Are we at war with Islam? Is this a 21st century crusade started by Bush? Without honest answers to these questions, it may be a 100-year war and we may as well bring back the draft.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  60. Alex

    There's a lot of warm feeling for scorched earth tactics amongst the commentators here. I guess this springs from a general affinity for the concept that whatever worked in wars past is good - and winning wars is an inherent good, however done. As an outsider I can only guess at two causes for this: a love of so called practicality that is blind to all ironies, and the continuing idolization of the militarist ethic. You say if only someone untied your hands you could do all that was "necessary" to make your enemies submit - like in the Boer war, the Philippines, or any other "nearly genocidal" victory. How the public, much less the international community, comes to view such an actions is a concern you cannot quite understand. It is simple though, anyone would be disturbed to have cold blooded killers amongst them - much less be asked to sympathize with their ends.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  61. Jessica

    The more I learn about humans, the more I feel content to know there is in fact, no God at all. Its not the fact that humans do such awful things – its that most of its done in the name of religion...and most christians at least, sit by and accept and support it.

    That just seems 100% against what Jesus taught...

    I mean seriously think about it, does it make sense that for eons Muslims, Christians and Jews have been battling over who's right, who's got the real GOD?

    or does it makes sense if people REALLY BELIEVE that they'd be so insecure as to having to convert EVERYONE ELSE?

    so, naturally I must conclude that either A) there is no GOD or B) there is a GOD and heavens fairly empty.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  62. Jeremy

    historians say... historians say... wow brutal article to read. Terrible writing..

    With that said why not get barbaric?! THey show they could care less about civility. Maybe if we opened it up a bit the rest of their population may plead for them to stop. Nuke it... why not?

    January 7, 2010 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  63. Jhombimon

    "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!!"

    I agree with this comment. Isn't it better to ofend someone than kill them?

    January 7, 2010 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  64. N.J Glover

    We should remember that at the time of the Spqanish American War, the British were engaged in a counter-insurgency (war) in AFghanistan. A young Winston Churchill, chronicles it in "The Story of the Malakand Field Force 1897" over the same locations mentioned today.

    He notes the depredations of the "Talib-ul-ilms" , a host of wandering students and their reputation for rapacity and tyranny. It is strange that I have read no one has mentioned the the connection of this group to the present Taliban.

    This portion of the world has no industry except subsistance farming and drug production. Modern transportation provides a market to support the latter which inturn supports a lifestyle of low level banditry and feudalism little changed in essence since Alexander marched thru this country two millenia ago. Churchill notes in his summary, that Silver is a more useful weapon than Steel in controlling this area.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  65. Scott A. LeMert

    John Blake seems to have missed that in the twentieth-first century, the court of world opinion is the greatest weapon of war. Can we really suppose that the world will allow us to be the new U.S. Taliban from the West? We have already committed our own war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan the the world has required of us a heavy price in lost credibility. How do blow a hundred-thousand Muslims to bits and call it mission accomplished? There are a billion more out there waiting to form an opinion about us. Bullets alone do not justify or win wars.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  66. The Truth

    The military is only the pointy end of any war. Wars are wage with the military, government and population each must contribute for a war to be won. While the governement and military may need to adjust what they are doing the third piece of the triangle needs to play their part. The population, or also known as Americans, are failing and are a big reason why this war is what it is. Do you think every anti-war protest is helping or hurting our enemy? Do you think the constant demand to end the war and bring the troops home is or is not giving the enemy the courage to keep fighting? The article and people keep bringing up Vietnam there North Vietnam won because they directed their efforts against the American population. They never beat the military in the field, they never outmanueverd the government they attacked and beat the American people. The same may, hopefully not, be the same here our enemy will not defeat our military but they are beating the American people. I will say to America what we say in the military, suck it up and get back into the fight.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  67. Jimbolina Monkeychicken

    I think this comparison is interesting, but lets not forget...

    We went there in the first place because an extremist Islamic regime had taken over and was providing safe haven for terrorists like Osama Bin Laden to attack us. In this respect the Philippines and Vietnam for that matter, are no comparison.

    Our objective by Bush was take out the terrorists, and put in a new government that will prevent a replay when we leave. Fortunately, Obama recognizes that this is the necessary Plan A. Apparently he has set up a Plan B, which is "OK, maybe it will be cheaper if cleaning up the mess takes too long to leave and come back repeatedly with bombings and invasions and then leaving."

    Certainly, you can argue if Bush had done it that way before we would be better off now. It might have played out like this: We invade, take out repressive tyrannical regime of Taliban, then we leave, locals have chance (and heavy US support) to rebuild a government of their own that isn't shooting women in burkas publicly and so on, and maybe it wins popular support and taliban shrink and stay out of power, much easier to pick off when they become troublesome. Or maybe we leave and Taliban take over again, when they come back to power we bomb them right back to their caves (as bombing is one of our strong points after all) and repeat and rinse, until the Afghani's realize taliban = anarchy, famine, disease, and death, and get a backbone and fight them off.

    Right now all those folks who have it better because we are there can still hate us, and check out, and passively support whoever shows up with guns, which makes it a lot more like Philippines and Vietnam.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  68. C.LEE

    War is too important to be left to the politicians.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
  69. Jae In

    It does occur to me that the major difference between the war the US fought in the Phillipines and the war we are currently fighting in Afghanistan does have a significant difference not mentioned in the article. Geography. The Phillipines are a group of islands and thus, eventually you can corner an enemy by employing the tactics listed in the CNN article. Unfortunately for us, Afghanistan is a large land-lock country with neighboring countries that can and will supply both sides of the war. So unless we can secure the border of Afghanistan completely with 100% awareness of when anyone attempts to cross into and out of the country, the tactic of separating the enemy from the native population would be difficult, next to impossible.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
  70. Bob

    Kudos to CNN and the author for posting this article. The Filipino War is one that the US media and schools conveniently sweep under the rug because it's a national embarrassment and disgrace. Yet it lasted longer, and involved far more deaths on all sides, than the much more widely discussed and familiar Spanish-American War. Like many nations, Americans prefer to forget their nasty wars of the past - the conflicts in which we weren't the good guys. If we want to understand and successfully navigate this increasingly interconnected world, we need to start learning our *real* history, not the sanitized, mythological version taught in public schools.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  71. Mike NYC

    "The best thing to do is give them what they want" ... the problem James Hotz .... is that they want us dead. Sorry – i'm not QUITE willing to give alQaeda that just yet!

    January 7, 2010 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  72. Jack

    I lived in the Philippines for years and while the elders still talked of that war via stories handed down by their elders, the memories were by far outweighed, and favorably so, by those of Gen. Douglas MacArthur, who vowed to return after US forces were evicted from Bataan in the early days of WWII.

    But 1898 was a universe away from 1941, which is another universe again away from 2010. Afghanistan is a black hole, and not comparable to RP in any way.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  73. AlexOnCNN

    Not sure why this article was written. The Phillipines were a Spanish colony in the middle of a revolt by the natives. The Phillipine Islands had been colonized the same way Ireland was colonized by England.

    The Phillipine Islands were then ceded "surrendered" by Spain to the United States. It would be the same thing as England losing a war to Russia and giving Ireland to Russia during the the height of the "Irish uprising". Instead of "Englishmen" killing Irishmen it would be Russians killing Irishmen.

    If you want a more meaningful comparison, look to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and don't waste your time reading about an ancient conflict that has nothing in common with the current conflict.

    Today's conflict centers on religious ideology (it is about resources but sold on ideas of freedom and religion). Religion has been, is, and alway will be, used to manipulate the ignorant. As long as there are uneducated people in the world, there will be those who control them with religion.

    Demons and angels and heaven and hell...you're kidding right?

    January 7, 2010 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  74. MarianVillaroman Roessling

    I am a Filipino. My family migrated in the US 25 years ago. The comparison of the Philippine-American war and Afghanitan war is a kind of a far argument. The first thing is, this is of an ideological origin, winning the support and fighters of Arab countries. Second their technology, expertise, communication process are far more advanced than the rudimentary knives of the Filippinos back then. This comparison has a very elementary foundation.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  75. Ed Moore

    In a war, any war, the civilian death toll is always a multiple higher than military deaths. War is hell and to those that haven't experienced it they are the ones yelling the loudest to go to war. With all of these violent video games we now have a population that thinks killing is okay. Does anyone really believe hip hop is non violent? That's another topic...Nuf-Said!

    January 7, 2010 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  76. Larry

    I agree whole heartily that we need to do everything necessary to win this or any war we find ourselves in. We need to make sure the troops have every possible thing they need to fight to win from a BB gun to the latest hardware fresh off the line. We need competent commanders who are willing to call in a nuclear strike if they think it necessary. But there is one thing we don’t need; politicians. Once the dogs of war have been loosed, don’t get in their way. They are trained to kill anything that is trying to kill them. There is no such thing as a limited war. If one of ours is killed in action, we should level an entire village. If we find out another country is aiding our enemy, they automatically become our enemy. Without a doubt, we have the best trained, most well equipped military there has ever been. We can be anywhere on this planet within 24 hours with enough force to level a mountain. But if our fighters and commanders are shackled by mealy mouthed politicians, then we have already lost. War is dirty, inglorious and inhumane. Our military should be feared for the atrocities that we will bring down. Instead we are ridiculed because of spineless, flip-flopping and downright embarrassing politicians.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  77. Trond

    The war in the Philippines was never won by the US. True, it was declared a victory, much like we seem to have declared victory in Iraq. And I guess in 2010 or so Obama will declare victory in Afghanistan. The bloodshed in Iraq goes on, as happened in the Philippines for decades (which the article does point out). It may no longer be American blood which is shed, but if our definition of victory simply is that we have conquered the enemy when we no longer suffer casualties among our armed forces, then it seems to me the shortest route to a decisive victory is to transport our armed forces as far away from occupied territories as possible. To say that the war is won, but the killing goes on, is a little like saying that the recession is over, but you'll remain unemployed.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  78. jonathan werbel

    This was also the last war in which American military officers were in fact prosecuted for torture. The torture of phillipine prisoners was a very hot topic in america at the time, and the outcome strengthened our determination, for a time, to not engage in torture. Yes, it was in fact water-boarding.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  79. Explorer

    Is there any other country left which US didn't invade? Come to think of it, US is geographically the most secured country in the whole world but history's chapters find them in wars across the globe...interesting!

    I pray that people of this great democratic nation realize that this blatant show of muscle is just creating more dissatisfaction and extremism.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  80. T. E. Billingsley

    Wes: Who did we fool into thinking we aren'y an imperialist nation? Only the American public-the rest of the world knows better! "Why do they hate us?" Not because we're good but because we replaced Lumumba with Mobotu,

    allende with Pinochet, Mossaddeq with the Shah'
    all the while mouthing our devotion to "Democracy"

    January 7, 2010 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  81. Eric

    One thing that's never been explained to me is how an "imperialist" superpower is a bad thing. Canada and the United States only exist because of an 'evil imperialist power'. To be big, to be strong, there must be a certain give and take. It's not always pretty but it's life, how much of it is pretty? The democrats only win when the republicans lose. You can't have your cake and eat it too, if the US wasnt an 'imperialist' power for 100 years, I'm willing to wager a LAAARGE amount of money the majority of the people reading this who are in the US wouldn't be there. I'd also be willing to wager the US's size as well as their scope internationally would be relative to Canada's. If not less (since Canada's is helped by having such a power next door).

    The article is dead on, in order to win a war a country needs to get its hands dirty. Theres no 2 cents about it. However if the people clearly don't have the stomach for it, then its a losing battle. Time to go home. Its a shame what once was the US's greatest strength will eventually cause it to slip back from being the power in the world, but a country is only as strong as it's citizens are resolved.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  82. Bill G

    The article is quite selective with the facts that it includes, and this makes any conclusions drawn highly suspect. This war was undertaken in a far different time, in a vastly different place, with different motives. You can't take history in isolation and come up with valid observations across the board. The article smacks of an opinion piece vs an academic expose. Come on CNN! You have to do better in story depth and selection!

    January 7, 2010 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  83. acesh

    How about instead of killing everyone in the mid-east (which is the end result of what many of you are advocating with your "brutality for the win!" blabbering) we just isolate them. Don't deal with them in any way, allow no travel to or from, allow no shipments to or from... yeah become energy self-sufficient and just let them rot. Why would you rather kill everyone? IGNORE them and make your own world better without them. No.. that takes too much work and discipline and thought.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  84. isabel

    Please be informed that Philippines/American war before has a big/huge different compared to Afghanistan war today, Filipinos are not traitors and will never volunteer themselves to kill other people. Never in the history that Filipinos wore a bomb and kill others never.
    Please research more because Filipinos even love Americans and other nationality or other people. GO and visit the Philippines you will find out and fell how we treat other Nation.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  85. Tanya

    Robin says "no one has given up Bin Laden for the amount of money on his head" that is because they fear their own more than us as they perceive us as weak. Someone currently working in the area told me a week ago... the non-radical population will align behind whoever they think will win... We either decide to win and give it all we have or GET OUT NOW!

    January 7, 2010 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  86. Matthew

    Well I think there was a war called WWII. The last time we actually won a war. There were a lot of brutal tactics used there. We deliberately fire bombed our enemy's civilians. Carpet bombing. Nuclear bombing! That was brutal. Hey, what a minute, "war" is brutal. The term "war" usually implies brutality on both sides. Right?

    January 7, 2010 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  87. Terry

    One important thing left out of this article is this. A U.S. commander & his men during this war captured a group of Muslim fighters. The commander had all of the captured Muslims shot & buried with the bodies of pigs in a mass grave except for one. The sole surviving Muslim was released with a message to take back to the other Muslim fighters that they would be buried in the same manner

    January 7, 2010 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  88. darren

    I hear a lot of people saying basically if you are at war you kill or be killed. Well, the Islamic people who slammed planes into the WTC believed they were (are) at war. So if I use that logic 9/11 was justified since they are killing the enemy, whereever they may be. What stupid logic you people have. No wonder the world hates the USA.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  89. Daniel Kusrow

    What about the British military in Iraq beginning just after World War I, they were there into the late 1940s, and used some equally brutal tactics (earlyRAF aerial bombardment of villages) to pacify the local resistance. I fear this will be our time frame models (not ROE models) for Iraq and Afghanistan. Does the U.S. military want to spend another 15 or 20 years in both these countries even on just a training/assistance basis? I have to agree this was a very sophisticated article for CNN. Too bad we don't see more reporting and analysis like this on all the networks.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  90. bill

    Bring our boys home.

    I thought Obama was going to do this , but.....

    January 7, 2010 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  91. Antonio Gonzalez

    Killing all the afgans population. Why?

    January 7, 2010 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
  92. Cyg

    This article continues to prove that behind every major war, including ours in the present day, there is big corporate business that is driving it. Get them out of the way, and peace can be achieved. Peace now, conduct safe trade later. Sad we can't learn that lesson, among many others, in the last 100 years or the next 100 to come. And we're top of the food chain...?

    January 7, 2010 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
  93. prit

    It's disconcerting to see so many Americans here that want to win a unnesscary war by any means possible including commiting genocide. All the while lecturing the rest of the world on civilized behavior...it's not wonder the rest of the world doesn't think much of them.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
  94. jorden

    How come they don't teach this war in public school? They can shove usless information down our throats but the real history is left un-taught, thats american politics, Kill them all, yes this is extreme but our enemies will mutilate and torture us without so much as a thought for our well being, so in turn why must we be the bigger man when they are the ones who want to erradicate us from this world. Tell the civiliians they must not harbor our enemy or they are our enemy as well. We need to be as ruthless as those who want to see us burn, strike fear into those who are fear. Those who want nothing more then the destruction of America should recieve nothing less than complete destruction. He who has the bigger stick shall win, unless you can't swing that stick for fear of your own followers punishing you for trying to protecting them. What is wrong with this country? why must we always live in fear?

    January 7, 2010 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  95. Gee Wizz

    If all the effort that went into fighting wars was directed towards tolerance, patience with the goal of understanding the perceived enemy, then there would be need for wars. Winning a war through fear, more weapons and a willingness to be as brutal as necessary, does not conclude that the winner was right, ethical or moral in his mission. A Japanese philosopher once said : "Once you draw the sword you've already lost the battle". Never were truer words spoken.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  96. Tom Penn

    Someone please explain to me how getting hardnosed with an enemy willing to die is supposed to scare him.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  97. griff

    "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."

    FYI: Hukbalahap (Hukbong Bayan Laban sa mga Hapon) or Troop Against Japanese appeared during WW2 and not during Philippine-American War of 1898-1902. That guerilla group surfaced because of their fight against the Japanese, hence, Hapon (Japan/Japanese). The guerillas were mainly from the Island of Luzon and not from Mindanao. I doubt there was any Muslim group in Hukbalahap.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  98. AAW

    Google "Policy of Attraction".

    January 7, 2010 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  99. james hotz

    Afganistan is the dumbest thing I ever head of. And so the al Qaeda just moves some place else, and these terrorist are like looking for a needle in a hay stack. The best thing to do is give them what they want, like Ho Che Ming, you can't win a gurrilla war.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  100. Steve Consilvio

    There is only one thing that will win a war: Peace.

    We can get to peace the hard way, or we can get to peace the easy way.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
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