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. timothyn

    I dont see how the phillipine war offers any lessons. They are two different people with 2 different ways of thinking in 2 totally different terrains. Unlike philipinos, NO empire has ever been able to conquer and colonize the Afghans - they just dont accept being ruled over. And How can being brutal to the Afghan people possibly help us win?? It would only give the Taliban more recruits and turn the population against us even more. It would further turn public/international opinion against us.

    January 7, 2010 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jim Thompson

    Sherman said war is hell. You can not expect to win a war by being a nice guy. Didn't the Russians already try genocide in Afghanistan? It didnt work.

    January 7, 2010 at 7:01 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Dan C

    Sounds to me like the only "lesson" on a "win" here is to get the enemy classified as criminals and get "war" out of the papers.

    This teaches to be in it "for the long haul" like a public restroom teaches aroma therapy. What it teaches is that in the past the U.S. fought against a republic in place, was brutal and called it a "win", and then left with a republic in place. At the same time the author takes the chance to minimize the U.S. shame for committing genocide against Native Americans by using that horror as a reference for how to win, like they "did in the Philippines".

    Don't be surprised when fools take the message for what the author seems to have meant: "Be brutal then call it a win and as far as history is concerned it's a win." Bad comparison, author.

    January 7, 2010 at 6:58 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Peter Druke

    Good to see an US media outlet telling the truth about a brutal American colonialist effort in the Philippines that resulted in 100,000s of deliberate civilian deaths. The reality is the US has been behind a number of efforts to derail democracy – Iran 1952, Chile 1973 come to mind. After the death of probably 600,000 civilians in Iraq through incompetent planning, I shudder to think what we think we will manage to do to Afghanistan. If the Russians and British couldn't pacify the country, I can't imagine the US will be able to – especially with a far weaker understanding of foreign cultures and languages than previous would be conquerors. 46 years may be more realistic that you know.

    January 7, 2010 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Tom

    David one would think a reasoning conservative can accept wrong is wrong. The Philippine conquest was wrong. The U.S. is better for having the guts and insight to admit it.

    That said, the fact the Philippine conquest was wrong has no logical bearing on the U.S. in Afghanistan.

    January 7, 2010 at 6:55 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Troy

    Of course if they don't know life can be better, show them.

    January 7, 2010 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jack Taylor

    For those who are interested in learning more about American imperialism, I would like to recommend the book Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change From Hawaii To Iraq by Stephen Kinzer. It will reveal a history of American imperialism that is eye opening and informative. One point that is worth pointing out is the connection between the military and corporate America, in particuloar, coproate America's quest for new markets and raw materials and the role of our military in overthrowing democratically elected governemnts.

    January 7, 2010 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
  8. logic rules the day

    For those that are denying that the US does not have imperialistic tendencies wake up. Some of you say Afghanistan has no resources, it doesnt matter. Being the supporters and lovers of war I would have thought you guys know that control of strategic space is vital when you have interests. Afghanistan is close to a nuclear armed pakistan = strategic. Afghanistan shares a border with Iran = strategic. Afghanistan has very defensible mountains = strategic, Afghanistan is close to the other 'stans which are increasing their resource extraction = strategic, Afghanistan is close to China, a world power = strategic.

    That all said, as a muslim, I still do agree that the US has a right to be in Afghanistan, because they were attacked on 9/11 and I doubt it was a conspiracy, is it impossible? no but unlikely. They should have the taliban and the rest of the afghans reconcile and negotiate, with the US being a strong backer of the rest of the afghans. Then pull the hell out. At the same time however the US IS imperialistic and should stop giving fuel to extremists. Extremists use the all too real US imperialism for their twisted purposes. But more importantly moderates use the extremists as the only way of countering US imperialism. stop being a hypocrite in dealings with the world and stop with the hidden agendas of political and economic control and resource theft, which includes strategic maneuvering for you right wing ignorant deniers and apologists.

    January 7, 2010 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Craziness

    Governments have been playing the 'Keep them terrified and stupid' game for as long as I can remember. Before the Middle East it was the Russians and Cuba. Do we really need a war to catch one nut case and his gang of radicals? Future wars are already in the planning stages to keep the general population terrified. Iran, Somalia, you name it. Except for instances involving maniacs such as Hitler, there is no sense to the war in Afghanistan or any other country. Past, present, or future. War should be outlawed along with ALL weapons of mass destruction. Period.

    January 7, 2010 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
  10. AARRGGHH!!!!

    There are no true winners in war, any war. But that dosen't mean war isn't worth while.

    In this case Afghanistan is and has for some time been an ugly stain on the surface of Earth. Any place that allows drug farming and trade, slavery, ingnorance of equal human rights, proliferation of distrust and discete among friends and family and lack of respect for others on this planet should be delt with extremely. Their excuses for this way of life are completely transparent and any fool can see it has nothing to do with culture, ignorance or belief. Afghanistan is nothing more that a dark back alley full of crime and destitution and it should treated as such. The media should jump on that point of view and stop thinking that a peaceful resolution is the only way out, that will win this war and send all our loved ones home.

    January 7, 2010 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
  11. AK

    Gregory – what you describe will probably be the blueprint got the future. We do have interests that will call for military activity. But....help the locals, logistics and training, don't get sucked in like we did Vietnam. If they can win it without comittment of a major American force, it was meant to be.

    Situational of course. To do the job right we need leaders smarter than LBJ, Bush, or Obama. Like Reagan and the Weinberger Doctrine, a principle that should be carved backwards on the forehead of every chief executive so he – or she – can read it everytime there is a stop at a mirror.

    One more thing...the war in Afghanistan will be won not by military action alone, but by the work of people like Greg Mortensen, who want to educate the women of that hapless land out of serfdom and into a position where they can influence the culture out of the 8th century.....

    January 7, 2010 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Andy

    At one time wars may have been fought over resources. It might be argued that if the US didn't fight to take over the Phillipines, then some other power would have, (probably Japan). But in today's world of economics, capitalism is king. One doesn't have to dominate the politics to extract or buy the resources. We deal and do business with almost every country on the planet, including the biggest communist state every to exist; China. Why are we in Afghanistan? Because our military needs something to do. There is very little if any threat coming from that stone age country. Al Queda can set up anywhere. Let the Afghanis alone and they will do fine.

    January 7, 2010 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
  13. jre

    So in the late 1800's and early 1900's we won this guerilla war, but it seems that we did not learn much from it as a few years later we went in to another conflict in our own backyard, Nicaragua( located in central america) and we came out loosing in that conflict. They were just as harsh and cruel in that war. Basicaslly the point i want to make is to stop making comparisons to different wars for each is a case by case study. The attocities commited in the us phillipine war were hottible. THE RESULTS DO NOT JUSTIFY THE MEANS!!!!!

    January 7, 2010 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Tom

    AK: I agree with much of what you say in your posts. It seems we do agree the motivation for the Philippine conquest was not sound.

    Sanray: I think you do your ancestors' nation wrong. Marcos took advantage of the cold war to wreck what had been a remarkably stable and vibrant democracy. Sadly, the weak politicians since Marcos was forced out have proved unable to restore the Philippines to where it was after WWII through the mid-60s.

    January 7, 2010 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Ren Car

    David:

    We are not american haters. We hate american policies that involved uncessary death and destruction. If you are a chinese, iranian, cuban, et al, and you say something against your country.. I am pretty sure that you'll be thrown in jail. I am grateful that I live in a country where I can criticise my government's past and present policies without the fear of government retribution. If you are encouraging the people who denounce american foreign policy to go to other countries.. I think it is you who need to go to those countries because you won't hear anyone say anything against their government. You do sound like a commie to me, lol

    January 7, 2010 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
  16. SE

    AK

    Are you a history teacher? If not, guess you are now

    January 7, 2010 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
  17. Master Blaster

    All Of these Wars are the same. America is an Empire and they got their wealth from stealing and killing and they are not going to quit. Freedom is an illusion anywhere America has govern or conquered. We know the truth. All these wars are about Power. What is Power? Land and Natural Resources. Most of those people fighting in the war are fighting because they are MisEducated, poor, and/or feel its their only choice. Some know the truth and are greedy and mostly likely have been living off the benefits of slavery. Those that are for the war Need to Send THEIR OWN DAMN KIDS, THEIR FAMILIES AND THEY NEED TO GO AS WELL.

    January 7, 2010 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
  18. cris Flores

    For the information of all and as far as I can recall from what I studied in Philippine history : "HUKBALAHAP" means "Hukbong Bayan Laban sa Hapon". It means: "People's Army Against Japanese". It was formed by Filipino guerillas in Luzon during the Japanese occupation in WWII and therefore was not "born" yet during the Fil-American War (1899-1902). And the Muslims or "Moros" in the South did not want to be called or associated with the "Huks". After WWII, it was called "Huk" for short, but as pointed out by CPS, it became a Socialist/communist agrarian reform movement.

    January 7, 2010 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Ren Car

    Gregory,

    I agree with you. The US is not in Afghanistan to colonize the country. We are there because it is the breeding ground of the terrorists who attacked us. At least this time, Obama is not motivated by profit unlike Bush and Cheney. We need to eradicate these terrorists (not the muslims as the ultra right wing wackos would love to eradicate) no matter where they are, and we will leave afghanistan when they can finally take care of their own. War is brutal but we have to show humanity and compassion to the afghan people.

    January 7, 2010 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
  20. CommonSense

    Protean,
    Excellent post. Clear, and truthful. This is a very good article because it reminds us of the terrible history of the US.
    The pro-ignorance flag wavers won't ever understand your clearly stated points, but well done explaining the ugly truth.

    "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?"

    Sounds familiar, all you half-wits who voted for Bush in 2004?

    January 7, 2010 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
  21. jon

    Michael Collins did the same thing in Ireland...we Americans don't know history (not our own, not the world's)...so we repeat the same thing over and over again

    January 7, 2010 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
  22. Sizzlack

    The Taliban are content with no win. This idea by some posters here that the US can keep the fight going on indefinitely using drones and no boots on the grounds will cause the Taliban to negotiate is not right at all. The Taliban, and Alqaeda are happy to fight and die. That is more important to them than actually winning. Its the other way around. The US will wear itself out in fighting or if goes on indefinitely it will just keep wasting money that could have been used for more attainable goals. It'll just be like budgeting for infrastructure.

    January 7, 2010 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
  23. Pilloch

    Is it not that the US is the only country in the world that is involved in the most number of wars in foreign shores in modern times?

    How many of its own soldiers has it sent to the graves so far? How many innocent men, women and children has it maimed or killed so far? How many mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers has it left crying for dead loved ones? How much resources has it wasted so far to manufacture guns and bullets?

    How many children has it left hungry and cold without mothers and fathers to take care of them? How many children has it deprived of motherly and fatherly love in exchange for bullets and cannons?

    How many more will it kill? How many more will get killed not knowing why? How can it look at its own mothers and fathers and say it is killing people for their own peace of mind? How can a so-called modern country be so barbaric in its ways and reasoning?

    How can it sleep despite knowing that it has left so many children in the dead of a cold night with the warmth of their mothers and fathers?

    How can it let this happen?

    January 7, 2010 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
  24. Nikolai G

    Peace sells but who's buying???

    January 7, 2010 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
  25. DLU

    Let's see, based on several of the posts here (e.g., Ed on 1/7/2007 at 2:37), the strategy should be: there are no innocent s on the enemy’s side, take the war to the civilian population, kill as many of the enemy, including civilians, as you can, use whatever tactics work as there are no rules for fighting the enemy, and force the enemy into submission as a result of extreme fear and violence. Sound good? To me, that kind of sounds like how people describe the behaviors of groups they call terrorists.

    January 7, 2010 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
  26. dshanske

    This article talks about another war of occupation that we had no business fighting. The Phillippino people were invaded by Spain and then "given?" to the United States for no reason other than financial gain. We need to leave these countries (the Phillippines and now Afghanistan) to govern themselves, and commit to taking care of the impoverished and the needy in the U.S. by building a solid infrastructure with decent jobs in our own country.

    "Terrorist crimes" against the U.S. have been committed by individuals who belong to small fundamentalist groups (much like the Oklahoma bomber). We DO NOT need to be invading their countries of origin and killing their citizens---other than to support our own military industrial complex.

    The military/industrial complex of the U.S. needs to be dismantled. Take the $$$ and invest in technologies in the U.S--or like space exploration. Any corporation that sends jobs overseas should be TAXed to the MAX. Those who create good jobs in this country should receive a tax deduction.

    We have plenty to do to clean up our economy and the environment in the U.S. besides sticking our noses in other countries' business.

    January 7, 2010 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
  27. ALEJANDRO

    MY GRANDPA WAS A PHILIPPINE SCOUT AND HE LOVED AMERICA. HE WAS WILLING TO DIE FOR IT ANYTIME. WHY? HE WAS BEING PAID WELL. IF AMERICA GAVE THE MONEY TO THE PHILIPPINE OFFICIALS, I THINK HE WOULD RATHER JOIN THE REBELS.

    January 7, 2010 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
  28. GP

    This is karma. America will never stop paying for its sins.

    January 7, 2010 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
  29. AK

    oops....Russian or German...I meant to say.....

    January 7, 2010 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
  30. Zuma

    After the Spanish-American War there was the Philippine Insurrection. It wasn't a war no matter how much some people would like to call it that.

    January 7, 2010 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
  31. AK

    Tom:

    I am not going to sit here and say that economic motives did not come into play, or that the same things did not happen in central America in the mid-20th century, etc. I spent 24 years in a uniform and would be pretty angry if I thought my life or those of my subordinates were being sold solely for profit and not to secure a defensible border against a credible potential or actual enemy. It was a period of national growing pains...we did stick our noses in where again in a perfect world a 'prime directive of non-interference' would have prevailed. But given the true imperial ethos of the rest of the world at that time, some other nation would have stepped in where we ethically bowed out. And the Phillipines with a Russian or American – or Japanese at that time – orientation....which do you think might've been better for world history? And thank you for recognizing that bottom line, as so many others here refuse – we left, on a schedule, without being evicted, in accordance with the imperative of our overarching national ethics to NOT be a colonial power,

    Read my previous posts. I would love for US largely to bow militarily out of world affairs. I just fear what may fill the resultant vacuums...the 30's, once again, come to mind.....

    This discussion has been remarkably civilized and enjoyable, with few ad hominem exceptions, from what I usually see, and bow out of early....

    January 7, 2010 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
  32. Gregory Dittman

    The U.S. didn't lead the ground war against the Taliban, the Northern Allience did. It was the Northern Allience that shoved the Taliban back into Pakistan. The Northern Allience might have corruption (what government, especially a young government, doesn't have corruption?), but it's a lot stronger than the Taliban especially now that the Northern Allience numbers have grown and the Taliban have grown weaker.

    That leads into another win, the one between Colombia and FARC. Starting in 1964, FARC managed to capture 50% of Colombia by the 1990s. The U.S. tried to supply gear to the Columbian military, but it's military was fillered with poor people which were illiterate, drunk, stoned and went as far as selling their gear, including their boots. The U.S. kept giving them aid. Then something happened in the past 10 years. Their military started to become a strong military and now FARC controls less than 2% of Colombia. Not only did the Colombian military claim stunning victories against a force that had their own military grade aircraft, but were also able to launch impressive hostage rescues and at least one covert mission into Equador which killed a FARC leader and some of his followers. FARC also survived from drug profits and a porous border. Columbia has even freed some of its troops against FARC to fight in Afghanistan.

    Iraq's military had a much shorter time frame to get on it's feet, but they went from running away three years ago to standing up for themselves today.

    Sri Lanka has managed to recently beat back LTTE with foreign aid and a spark, which it has been fighting since the 1980s.

    The U.S. and its allies foreign to Afghanistan will eventually draw down its military and fight the Taliban by supplying Afghanistan with equipment and training. It's just a matter when the Afghan force will be able to handle the enemy on their own. I don't think the U.S. military will be in Afghanistan when the Taliban are defeated there.

    January 7, 2010 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
  33. David

    I am about to fall off of my stool laughing at the PC crowd/American haters who are thumping their chest referring to the imperialistic tendancies of the US and condeming us Americans as evil bullies. To them all, I say move to Mexico/Iraq/Somilia/Indonesia/etc. and live the good life in an abused self-righteous country! In my opinion, any successful country in the world today and throughout history could be considered as imperialistic. Is China practicing imperialism right now?Liberals and idealogues can't seem to get their hands around that concept. If you practice passivism and/or self-defeatism, you will end up at the bottom of the pile. Has America made mistakes? Absolutely! Has our good outweighed our evil and mistakes? Absolutely! This story was refreshing from the standpoint that the referenced war that occured in a time when PC attitudes did not freeze us into absolute immobility and decline. Next thing you know the Nigerians will be shouting racisim over extra screening of potential airline passengers from Nigeria.

    January 7, 2010 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
  34. jhof

    This article wasn't intended to have us defend a war that happened over a hundred years ago. The war in Afghanistan is not a recreational war. It is critical to our survival unless you'd have the country live in a cave with blindfolds and our fingers in our ears. Islamists (and religious fundamentalists of every stripe) seek to annihilate everything (their own included). They see the destruction of life on earth as the fulfillment of the holy writ. Dialog with people of this mindset is pointless. Religion is a near-perfect barrier to rational discourse.

    I was born in the 1950s and THAT America has receded into history. I can't say I understand this country and its current lack of cohesion– where discourse is controlled by televised ass-clowns. It seems to have become (as W.B. Yeats said) "weasels fighting in a hole".

    We don't have to cede civilization itself to these brainwashed lunatics and their flaming underwear. Really. What sort of deity would ask you to set your penis on fire?

    January 7, 2010 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
  35. Troy

    The way to win a war and maintain an empire is simple. Reward your friends, and brutally punish your enemies. Rome did it so did Britian. Make the disparity between co-opertation and rebellion so great that none would choose rebellion. "Make him an offer he can't refuse".

    January 7, 2010 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
  36. Bob

    The Americans had no choice but to claim the Philipines, if we had not taken it the Germans would have. The Germans had a fleet of warships in Manilla Bay waiting to see what America did after the Spanish American War was over, ready to take Manilla if we left it in the hands of the rebels.
    America was built by imperialism. Unless you live in Northern Alaska, every square inch of land we live on was taken by force from the Mexicans and Indians. If America were not an Imperialistic country, all of you who live west of the Appalachian Mountains could kiss your homes goodbye. If it were not for our bold but bloody quest of Manifest Destiny most of America would not be in our hands today. We might has well have kept the Philippines since were still fighting there as part of Operation Enduring Freedom today.

    January 7, 2010 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
  37. Keith

    Just to let CW know that the US did not pioneer waterboarding. The Catholic Church developed it during the inquisition. It was considered so barbaric that the Chinese wouldn't use it.

    History isn't really important when it comes to war. Torture has always been used in war, and everyone has always been brutal in war, including the US.

    The winners get to write the history and if lies are the easiest path our leaders will use those too.

    January 7, 2010 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
  38. Matt

    Guess it only took only five years for CNN to figure out what many scholars who actually study this stuff have believed for awhile. Check out Warriors and Scholars: A Modern War Reader by editors Peter Lane and Ronald Marcello, (University of North Texas Press, 2005). Everyone is so quick to assert the ghosts of Vietnam into every discussion of Iraq and Afghanistan. Where does our media, and politicians for that matter, get their history?

    January 7, 2010 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
  39. Beyey

    All I know is that the Filipino Muslims in the South were so tenacious fighting the Americans had to invent a gun that could stop their suicide charges that were taking it's toll on American lives. Muslims have this trait that they think they will not die if they wore an amulet of sorts that shrouded them from death when they attacked the American lines just with their machetes and swords. They still died of course but only after taking a few American soldiers with them even after being shot so many times. They had to be stopped in their tracks before they can inflict more casualties.

    Thus the birth of Colt 45 1911 revolver.

    January 7, 2010 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
  40. Ren Car

    One more thing. Although the Philippine-american war was brutal, I am still glad that it was the Americans that took over the colonization of the Philippines from Spain. My great grandfather (I was born and raised in the Philippines) used to tell me stories of the brutality and savagery of the spaniards. The Filipinos were treated like second rate citizens by the spaniards. Many of the Spanish priests (not all) were equally brutal. My great grandfather hated the spaniards so much and, despite the war with the americans, he embraced them. It was the basic american idealism and humanity that my great grandfather kept telling me. He told me that most american G.I's during his time were very generous and kind unlike the spaniards.

    Call it what it is but I have always admired American Idealism since I was little. True, there are nasty, idiotic, ill-informed, racists, and downright stupid americans but they are the minorities. Most americans are truly compassionate and have a strong sense of human decency and/or humanity. The ultra right wing war mongering lunatics do not represent the United States. I am a filipino-american and I am darn proud to be an American!

    January 7, 2010 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
  41. Mike

    Two time Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, Marine General Smedley Butler, warned us that All war is a racket.

    I strongly advise the war mongers to heed this honest man's advice. Read his book, it's free and online.

    January 7, 2010 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
  42. routerdb

    This article is as insane as the "Kill them all"" doctrine that it proposes as a solution to resolving foreign policy issues that are as foreign to peasants in these poor countries as loosing freedom and human rights are to sane humans alive. Equally insane is, the fact that CNN as media giant, watched all over the world has degenerated to this lowest level of horrible journalism without any morals as to what publishing this article is to encouraging this "Kill them all" doctrine.

    When governments turn rogue and degenerate into an ideology that fosters imperialist domination and demoralization of the rest of world, masquarading as world super power; it brings out worst in people that are being dominated. People whose rights to the most value resource (Life) is being taken away. Nobody wins, at least not in the terms any human in their right mind would call winning.

    Let's not forget that humanity will and has always prevailed. A quick look our short history demonstrate this: 200 years of african slavery, did not stop africans from figthing for freedom from their colonial masters carrying out their imperialist agenda. 400 years of colonial domination of peaceful countries did not stop Phillipines, India, Morroco, Ghana, from fighting for control of their destinies. It may not be America, of England, but they their freedom and a right to slef govenance.

    England, France Spain, Belgium policy makers are probably spinning in their graves as to why their "Kill them all" doctrines didn't work. These then super powers may have won tactical battles, but Philippines, India, Ghana and much more – all still got their freedom and independence, Didn't they?

    America may have dropped the bomb on Hiroshima, but all you have to do is look at Tokyo, Kyoto and compare with Detriot, then ask yourselves who really won that war.

    Foreign policy should not be about "Kill them all". It should be about resolving differences without having raise a weapon or have to go to war.

    January 7, 2010 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
  43. Sanray Wright

    I'm a Filipino-American and I have to say that the Philippines is still plagued with corruption and an insurgency with the Muslim separatist in the south.

    The Philippine has a very "barbaric-democracy"compared to western standards.

    Perhaps Afghanistan will be the same?

    January 7, 2010 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
  44. Andrew

    In his book "The Next 100 Years", George Friedman (STRATFOR) argues that the USA has a grand strategy that is so deeply embedded in our nation's DNA that we are often not even aware of it. Our grand strategy is war, in part because we were a nation born out of the fear of losing what we have, and so to protect the fledgling nation, we have continuously fought to reduce our vulnerabilities, and each time we achieve victory we expand the extent of our vulnerable flanks.

    The five goals in the US grand strategy have been:

    1) Complete domination of North America (Louisiana purchase, Texas rebellion)
    2) Elimination of any threat to the U.S. by any other power in the Western Hemisphere (hence, invasion of Mexico, Panama, Cuba, and anti-FARC and Chavez campaigns)
    3) Complete control of maritime approaches to US by the navy to preclude any possible invasion (Spanish-American war, Alaska, Hawaii, secuing the Atlantic during WWII)
    4) Complete domination of the world's oceans to further secure U.S. physical safety and guarantee control over the international trading system (This is where I see the Phillipines occupation fitting)
    5) Prevention of any other nation from challenging US global naval power.

    Essentially, the US is the only nation with both a Pacific and Atlantic coast that has the land mass, economic and military power to control these oceans. All US military action should be understood as fulfilling this "manifest destiny". We are not fighting in Afghanistan to defeat terrorists per se, but to prevent the formation of an Islamist or Muslim empire or coalition, from North Africa to Indonesia, which could threaten our global domination of the oceans and all maritime trade. We will continue to act to "intervene" in nations when doing so would destablize a region enough to prevent such a coalition or power from forming – and thus the US policy is not even to "win" wars in the traditional sense, merely to destablize regions, particularly in Eurasia, with minimum force and loss.

    We are not in Afghanistan to win, and so to speak of "how to win the Afghan war" is to completely miss-understand the real goal – the US is in the middle east and Eurasia NOT to win, but merely to destabilize and prevent any threat to our global domainance. We are the world's largest empire, ever, and every military action we take it to protest that position.

    January 7, 2010 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
  45. SPC Mahoney

    _____ Cavalry Command_____ 60s western movie set during the war. It is a western though, not a documentary.One of my favorite movies EVER! SPC Mahoney

    January 7, 2010 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
  46. Tom

    JHG: The Filipinos in 1899 were clearly ready to rule themselves. The fact is, once the U.S. made clear by violent force it wanted control of their nation, the U.S, was able to run the place with almost completely throug the efforts of the many well educated Filipinos who wanted to live in peace after the horrors wrested upon them. McKinley used the manifest destiny argument to cover up for the U.S. business interests that saw the Island's potential.

    January 7, 2010 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
  47. oldbear

    What most of the comments seem to be missing, is that this current dust up is a war of idealogies and cultures and that both sides seem to believe they are right and superior. given this mind set, there will be no winners, only dead and crippled, and of course the individuals who always profit from any war, justified or not, the businessmen and women who suppply the sinews of all wars.

    January 7, 2010 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
  48. Tom

    AK, provided you are comfortable putting a price on the soldiers who lost their lives conquering the Philippines, then yeah, the agrcultural goods, minerals and timber the U.S. took out of the Philippines in the names of a fortunate few individuals was highly lucrative (especially so for those fortunate few).

    Democracies aren't about sending soldiers out to die for money though. The U.S. promised the Philippines independence during the Spanish American War and went back on that promise afterwards when interested parties realized what they could get out of the place. A lot of good men and women died to help those people profit.

    To its credit, the U.S. finally did the right thing and gave the Philippines its independence. But there is no glossing over the war. It was a dirty affair grounded in lies and deciet and inspired by greed.

    January 7, 2010 at 6:05 pm | Report abuse |
  49. Jerster

    We will never "win" the war in Afghanistan as long as our soldiers are sent to a court martial hearing for allegedly punching a major terrorist during his arrest. I can under stand not wanting to kill innocents but let’s get real. War is war if they were on American soil they would kill anyone who got in their way...oh wait they did. Have we forgotten who caused 9/11?

    January 7, 2010 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
  50. rev.spike

    And we did not hear about this in school... because???

    January 7, 2010 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
  51. Kelly

    Jamaica: Say what? Post number 2 is almost the best representation of ignorance I have ever read.

    January 7, 2010 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
  52. Michael Bauman

    We lost the war on terror back in 1964 when we did nothing against the then new PLO for savagely killing Mr. Klinghoffer on the Achille Lauro by dumping the wheel chair bound man over board. At the time most of the terrorists were in the Beka Valley in Lebanon. Had we carpet bombed their locations, it is doubtful we'd have a war on terror today. Instead Yasser Arafat, a mudering thug, gets the Nobel Peace Prize years later. Absurd, but it shows the lack of will and the lack of real thought. "War is peace"

    January 7, 2010 at 6:03 pm | Report abuse |
  53. Ren Car

    It may be true that all wars is brutal; however, not all soldiers are brutal. The japanese in WWII were brutal. So brutal that they would toss up babies in the air and catch them with their bayonets. Any war is brutal because of the killings. But I still think that the typical american soldier has morals, dignity, and compassion not to resort to brutality that other nations resorted to. Americans whose mantra is KILL KILL KILL or KILL THEM ALL are savages and the so called pseudo-christians.

    January 7, 2010 at 6:03 pm | Report abuse |
  54. Dan

    Why cant people who want to fight wars go back to the close encounter warfare. Go out there and lineup across from your enemy and go at it. No, nowadays, more or less there is no face to face contact between warring peoples. They fight by dropping bombs on cities with civilians or blow up cars near civilians. Stop being cowards, if you want to fight, kill other people who want to fight no civilians,

    January 7, 2010 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
  55. DEY

    @Jhombimon
    you said "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."

    unluckily this is what the terrorists are saying is why they should kill American Citizens because we are providing support to our soldiers. Just ironic that you feel civilizan s can be killed for this yet I am sure you don't approve of terrorist attacks against fellow americans.

    January 7, 2010 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
  56. Paul Lessard

    To really understand how the US succeeded in this conflict one must look at General "Black Jack" Pershing and the tactics he employed. He did not tread lightly and he instilled great fear in his enemies.

    As has been stated, all war is brutal and it seems that the biggest handicap we have with our current wars in Iraq and Afganistan is that we continue to limit and hinder the power and expertise of our military leadership.

    We are currently fighting an enemy who appears to place no sense of value in the sancity of human life, who does not diferentiate between combatants and noncombatants, and who believes that their cause supercedes all other cilvilzed conventions.

    We have consistenly failed to take the initiative and because of this lack of resolve we are always reacting and have miserably failed to instilled a sense of fear and terror in our enemy. I think we have military leaders like Pershing today -we just need a governemnt and a people who have the backbone and resolve to support them and let them do their job.

    January 7, 2010 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
  57. John Milligan

    We used the Soviet "Kill All" Strategy in the Phillipines. We've learned that lesson. Our COIN Strategy now is sophisticated and designed to learn about, rely on, and use the locals. Totally the opposite of what went on in the Phillipines. Still IMO the very very best we can do in Afgan is to give the perception that we have not lost. If we can do that then THAT in itself would be a "victory". albiet not in the traditional sense. Think Balkans 1948 and Korea 1952 on. That is the applicable historical analogy.

    January 7, 2010 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
  58. MA

    US wanted to occupy the Philippines because US wanted to establish a business district in Asia. At the time, the Philippines was doing well economically. Please note that as early as 1565 the Philippines was already engaged in International Trade via Manila-Acapulco galleons, or Manila Galleons.

    January 7, 2010 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
  59. m.potts

    I find this fact of this war interesting due to the fact my father was white and my mother is filipino and that there was a time this government not only committed genocide towards it's native americans but chose to commit this very same genocide towards the people of the Phillipines.I know due to my racial background,but other people of this generation should keep in mind of this war to examine very carefully what exactly the U.S. government's true agenda in this country and hopefully our Government will respect this country's secular customs unlike the U.S. Government's in 1899-1902

    January 7, 2010 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
  60. Wentao

    It chills my blood to see all the comments. I wish people from other countries can't understand what you guys are talking about.

    January 7, 2010 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
  61. Tom

    IG your response makes no sense. Filipinos could have emigrated to this country and made their great contributions without being violently conquered, just as the Irish, Swedes, Chinese, Scotts, etc. have. The Filipinos should have been able to do so without the U.S. betraying its Filipino allies in the Spanish American War (You have learned Dr. Jose Rizal's story, correct?) and conquering when they promised its independence.

    January 7, 2010 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
  62. Pete

    Let’s get something straight right away. We won that “War” because we waged War. What we have now is not war, it is some ridiculous blend of nation building and fighting but I would not call it War.

    If we would be waging a true War, then we would be killing 1000 of them for every 1 of us. Men, women, children, it does not matter. That is war.

    What should we do? Pull everybody out of both Afghanistan and Iraq. I don’t give one hoot about them and their future. We don’t owe them anything. But if they so much as shoot one American, we nuke one city. It’s really simple. That’s War. Then we say to them, next it will be Mecca. They will cease and desist very quickly on this stupid holly war.

    January 7, 2010 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
  63. Jack Lowe - MI

    I disagree with the premise that brutality played an important aspect that led to the US victory (?) in the Phillipines. In fact from, "The Genaral's General" a biography of Arthur MacArthur (father of Dugout Doug) I was struck by the similarities of MacArthur's pacification program and "vietnamization."

    January 7, 2010 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
  64. JNG

    I believe that the goal of the Americans at that time was to free European colonized countries as stipulated in the Monroe Doctrine. When the Americans came to the Philippines in 1898, they came with the sole purpose of backing the freedom that these Filipino revolutionaries had long been craving for since they have been seeking reform from a country that had colonized them since the 15th century. What the Filipinos did not realize when they declared their own independence on June 12, was that they have been ceeded to the United States through the Treaty of Paris. This alone rose both conflict and tension between the two contries – the Filipinos felt a sense of betrayal. The reason for not providing full indepence was due to a report presented to President Mckinley indicating that the country is not yet ready to stand on its own; and to abandon the country is taking one step down from the American honor, thus leading to the Philippine – American War.

    So how does a country establish/ build a nation that has been through so much repression? That is what the Americans had in mind, it was basically to establish a strong government system patterned to their own with strong legilative and cabinet members from both parties that could actually inspire others to think the same way, to have the same ideals in order to build a better and stronger nation.

    Although the war was a very high price to pay, it had also brought along good things. Americans had brought in the educational system which the schools in the Philippines patterned today, they also provided vaccinations and medicines that was unavailable to the country at that time.

    The war is a very high price to pay considering the high death rates and the physical and emotional trauma that the soldiers would go/ have gone through. It is true, individually we would think that going into a war is not really the best option. But war has been part of history dated as far back as 12,000 years ago. But what is the commonality of all the wars drawn by history? It is basically to establish a geo – political system as each opposing party fight for their own ideals and beliefs. Most are probably thinking that the United States should not intefere with the jurisdiction of other countries. However, if not one interferes what will happen then? How will this country be able to establish itself and operate with its full potential? Afghanistan, I would think, needs guidance and assistance from the super powers. They cannot be let go until these countries sees that they can actually stand on their own two feet.

    Indeed the present could actually learn something from the past.Not from the military tactics but what the future has to offer. What the United States is probably doing is to establish a better frontier for Afghanistan. To eliminate all barriers that could hinder them to become a better nation (such as drug trades and human rights violations), the same way that they have helped aided the establishement of the Philippine Republic.

    Maybe if that is the case, everyone should try to see where President Obama is coming from – lets wait until after 18 months before all violent reactions. He probably has a good reason enough to send more troops out.

    January 7, 2010 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
  65. Barry Connolly

    The war in the Philippines had a far higher death count than mentioned here. It was also a clear case of military and territorial expansionism on behalf of the US. It's no wonder that many historians feel that the US and Russia were essentially doing the same thing that Britain had attempted in earlier times. It's really tragic how few people are aware of their own country's brutality and myth-making. If Castro was the head of the Philippines we'd never hear the end of it but we support the current thugs in power so little is heard.

    January 7, 2010 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
  66. Dave

    The population of Afghanistan is a region that only seems comes together when an outside government tries to impose it's will there. Other than that it's been in low level tribal wars for centuries. Why anyone would expect a viable government, that fairly encompasses the entire population, within a handful of months or years is beyond me.

    January 7, 2010 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
  67. Steve

    "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."

    Say John, what continent is Afghanistan on anyways?

    January 7, 2010 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
  68. Rob

    "just another example of US imperial past over domination of another country for it's resources...." SERIOUSLY? Wow, this makes no sense. Typical of lefties who haven't a clue what they are talking about. WHAT RESOURCES?? Afghanistan is a rock pile – they have no resources (except maybe herion). I have no problem with people who disagree with the war, provided they have a legitimate reason, it's people who say stupid stuff without any real idea what the heck they're talking about that bother me.

    January 7, 2010 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
  69. Jake Wie

    Since we don't have any natural predators, War serve no other purpose other than human population control.

    January 7, 2010 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
  70. Guy Sudan

    A similar brutal strategy of near genocide has not worked for the Israeli's as they have oppressed the Palestinians over the years.

    January 7, 2010 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
  71. kjohn

    Ah yes.. Yet another proud moment in our past. No wonder I can't still can't visit my wifes home in the P.I. without worrying about being kidnapped or killed. Of course I'm not stupid enough to believe that a war 110 years ago is the sole reason but the words "geneocide" and "America" in the same sentence? After living overseas and seeing the results of decades of Anglo-European colonilzation on developing contries I think the dumbest question I hear is "Why do other people hate us? And for all you gung-ho sabre rattlers getting ready to pounce. I am 11 year vet of 2 armed services and served our country in the first Gulf war so "stick it" in advance. I've earned my opinion.

    January 7, 2010 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
  72. Mark

    US won the war against the Phillipines, and then gave it back in 1941. So what's the point of fighting in the 1st place? We fought Japan and now we're friendly. We fought in Vietnam and now we're friendly. So what's the point of War??!!

    January 7, 2010 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
  73. Mike

    [q]The Afghans have to learn that we are right...just like the Filipino's did. If logic won't convince them the sword will.[q]

    Just like the Vietnamese learned. Right?

    17 war years later and we've got zip but coffins and headstones.

    Why aren't you over there teaching them this lesson tough guy?

    January 7, 2010 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
  74. Pippi

    Winning the war against al Queda in Afghanistan or Pakistan or Yemen seems hopeless. But if we don't try, won't their efforts to kill us at home just get stronger and better organized and more frequent? This is Obama's dilemma. This is our dilemma.

    January 7, 2010 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
  75. Frank Gainsford

    All these wars have been fought out side of america. what happens when the war is taken to america?

    In the past this would have been impossible, how ever today there are Expats from many countries living within america, and many are simathetic to Afganistans. In theory there is already a strike force within the American population.

    Todays technolgy is something really unapreciated by many, and many remain uninformed by choice, but the majority of people remain uniformed due to the sneaky practices of all governements who censor oublic opinion in many strange ways.

    What I am trying to say is that the average westener does not understand and appreciate the religious and socail aspects of Afghanistan, but they are willing to make comments about winning or lossing a war that can only be won by destroying the Afghanistanies religous and social structure, and replacing it with something that the indigenous people will find attractive enough.

    In our current day and age with high tech information dispersal ssystems this is impossible, as there are just too many social and religious moddels to choose from and once you start there will be arguments about which model to use and the war will flare up again.

    To win a war one needs to remove the media and do the war thing in quite. reason is war is bruatl, savage and extreme destruction. no person should ever be exposed to war. I was there and still have problems sleeping, even 30 years later.

    Too many simpathetic people at home will bring the war home, Once this happens then what happened on september 11 in 2002 will be used as a lesson, and many more attacks on american soil will folloow in such numbers that america would become one big war zone.

    scary thought, but something one really needs to consider.

    January 7, 2010 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
  76. Nina

    Another similarity, apart from the "water cure" (i.e. waterboarding) that someone mentioned before, that was used in this conflict, capture Filipino fighters (detainees) were shipped to Guam in an encampment, along the lines of Guantanamo Bay.

    An article in the Feb 25, 2008 New Yorker from the "Annals of American History" gives a very good background on the water torture used in Philippine-American War, comparing it to the debate about our current conflicts.

    In American history books this conflict used to be referred to as the Philippine Insurrection (in the USA), in Philippine history books it was called the Philippine Revolution. It's always interesting to see perspectives.

    January 7, 2010 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
  77. James Fischer

    I do not have time to read every post, but I must express my extreme disappointment at the the subtle bias CNN demonstrates again. Yes, about 200,000 Filipino civilians died in a cholera epidemic from 1902-1904. The US government and the Army sought to control this plague and save Fillipino lives; they did not cause it or promote it. It happened because the disease spread through the population, just like it often did in the US at the time! You do not help intelligent debate when your author suggests they "died from violence and famine during the war." This implies a deliberate attempt by the US and the Army to target and kill civilians. The US did not do this.

    January 7, 2010 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
  78. James E. Deykes

    Genocide is an unthinkable, unallowable prospect. Any official willing to perpetrate such a tactic should be labelled a war criminal and has no business bearing any rank or stately honorific. Warfare would be best left to the fanatics–religious or otherwise–if innocents did not stand to suffer from the indulgence; no one should have to endure conquest or warfare, least of all those people who wisely care for their lives sufficiently to devise alternatives.

    Anyone eager to sell the life of his neighbor, child, or even his enemy for anything short of the most basic human rights and freedoms is no rightful citizen of this world; it is our collective duty as global citizens to educate and aid others so that demagogues, hatemongers, and imperialists cannot fan the anguish and fervor of the ignorant, persecuted, or deprived. The only people who welcome war are the ones who do not pay its costs.

    January 7, 2010 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
  79. AK

    TA – you and I will agree to disagree. The Brits were forced under duress to leave India and just about everywhere else they planted the Jack – including this continent. We SCHEDULED our departure from the Phillipines, again, something no other imperial power has ever done, an exit interrupted only by WWII. Deny if you will but it is simple historical truth. And I am sure the Phillipines resources we 'stole' added immeasurably to our national GDP from 1900 – 1941.....

    As for my use of the term Huks.....let's just substiutute Moros and Juramentados, shall we....?

    And Ed M......thanks for your observation. And find a nice rolling donut....

    January 7, 2010 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
  80. hortense

    The Afghans have to learn that we are right...just like the Filipino's did. If logic won't convince them the sword will.

    January 7, 2010 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
  81. FatSean

    This is a war of choice. Fighting in Afghanistan doesn't help anything except the military contractors.

    If you think the war in Afghanistan is so important, go enlist and help out. Chickenhawk warmongers who talk a tough game but won't actually go help out are destroying the America I know and love.

    January 7, 2010 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
  82. kenneth

    Despite the loss of more than 50,000 young men and women in the Vietnam War, our political leaders and the vast majority of mainstream media obviously have been unable to learn from that fiasco.
    Two things must be considered if we want to succeed in the current Afghanistan War:
    1- Try not to build up our forces in any country since it will soon be seen as invaders or occupiers by local people.
    2- No need to have journalists embedded in front lines. Our soldiers are well-trained and we should trust our commanders. Troops are there NOT to protect journalists but to fight the enemy. They need all of our supports to get the job done as quick as possible, that is to win the war and go home with their families.

    January 7, 2010 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
  83. Pastor Steve

    I fully doubt today's liberal minded America would tolerate the past "Only good Indian is a dead one" position in any war. But that is exactly how we win or loose wars. And it is precisely why we ought to avoid wars at every cost. If a nation is going to go to war, then a nation must be prepared to be the butchers if they want to win. They must do so at any cost, especially the cost of the enemy. Rome's empire was built that way and maintained that way. If we want an empire...I don't, and I do not want these wars either.

    January 7, 2010 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
  84. Angry Pinoy

    Actually over 1 million Filipinos died in that barbaric war of imperialism...

    1 million out of a population of 9, so basically the Americans came over, and slaughtered over 10% of the population.

    They wouldn't have left if WWII never happened either <- directed at one of you Neo Con a**holes.

    Also you guys think the British would have let China take Hong Kong back after 99 years? If the Chinese didn't have the power to completely annihilate any British invading force today?

    January 7, 2010 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
  85. freddy

    is the war still on?

    January 7, 2010 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
  86. Burntfries

    "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 personally find this offensive and troubling; would government officials and army officers approve of such bloodshed if there was nobody watching their backs?

    January 7, 2010 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
  87. Joanna Smith

    The US did not win the Filippino war. Their goal of colonizing that country failed in the end, after 46 years, but it failed, and all those lives were lost because of animalist mindset of politicians back then. The US will not be able to win the war with the Afghans like it did 100 years ago. Even if the US declares victory after killing so many people, the hatred towards America will never go away from that region of the world and the flames will catch the US sometime in the future. The best solution is to figure out why the Afghans / Taliban / Al-Qaeda hates. Take care of the cause of this hatred, and everything will be fine.

    January 7, 2010 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
  88. Mike

    Funny how all you armchair liberators failed to read the article or just read what sounded good to you but:

    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.

    January 7, 2010 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
  89. Gnana

    To bridge the disconnect - war initiated by "Governments/Leaders", for purely political and economic reasons, I strongly advocate part of "Governments/Leaders" officials advocating war, to be placed in the battlefield. High level officials just don't understand the pain and sufferings of civilians and soldiers. They just outsource their military force to resolve their differences. War is one form of genocide.

    January 7, 2010 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
  90. M. Gutz

    During the Philippine-American war, America not only brought soldiers and military administrators to the islands but also physicians, engineers and educators – physicians who treated wounded Filipino fighters, engineers who built roads, bridges and dams, and educators who brought American books and taught the Filipinos to speak the english language. The educational system in english was made universal. Community development followed through learned American songs, dance and parlor games. Hence the indoctrination of the Filipinos masses to the American ways.

    January 7, 2010 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
  91. Jason

    To Sean,
    Don't forget, today all potential threats have the ability to cause great harm directly to the United States, whereas in the past ,(before WWII), no nations, or groups of people had this ability. The changes in the ROE are not completely based on a modern perception of acceptable war and morality in a democracy as I think some critics might believe, but also on this very valid possibility that there are repurcussions today that simply did not exist previously, again, before the middle of the 20th century.

    January 7, 2010 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
  92. marty

    all these comments are interesting but the one citing our brutality and the economic reasons for our conquest of the Phillipines is correct. WE are an imperial power providing great rights to our citizens and plundering other cultures to ensure our economic viability. Racism has abetted this process throughout our history. In the case of the War on Terror the only way to win is slowly and consistently over long periods of time defending ourselves while trying to delegitimize the extremists so they lose any support even in their own countries. The idea that we should threaten nuclear annihilation is attractive and might deter but do we really wish to kill tens of millions of children and women in the process most of whom are not violent. Would that not make us genocidal maniacs?

    January 7, 2010 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  93. Charles

    46 years of war in Afghanistan will not fly.
    Maybe we could let the Taliban have the country, in exchange for commitments to fight international terrorism.

    January 7, 2010 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
  94. RRIVERA

    The Philippine Revolution of 1893 forced the Spanish Colonial Government to negotiate with the rebels by promising to institute reforms on the condition the leaders will leave the country in exile. After the leaders left, the government reneged on its promise. The leaders in exile in Hong Kong met with some American officials including Commodore George Dewey to plan their return to the Philippines. Unknown to them America has plans to colonize in Asia. Eventually, May 1, 1898 was set as the day the leaders will return on board Dewey's flagship. Word was secretly sent to rebel leaders in the Philippines to attack military and police camps at midnight before the morning the American fleet will be in Manila Bay. On that morning of May 1, 1898, the American fleet attacked the anchored Spanish fleet, suffering one casualty-a wounded sailor. The Spanish Colonial government surrendered. The Philippines declared independence on June 12, 1898. Alas, unknown to the new republic, the United States bought the Philippines, Guam, and Puerto Rico from Spain for $20 million as part of the settlement to end the war between the two countries. Now, Washington was faced with the problem of claiming an independent country as its territory-- an ally in the war against Spain. The solution is to start an armed conflict with the new republic. In American history this conflict is presented as part of the Spanish-American War.

    This war would have been a quagmire for America had it not been for a murder of a very popular general in the revolutionary army– General Antonio Luna. Antonio Luna, a marksman, studied military science in Germany. He disarmed the soldiers of Emilio Aguinaldo because they will not take orders from him. Aguinaldo, unschooled in military science, planned a revenge by inviting Luna to meet him in a church to settle their differences, and to bring no weapons. That fateful day Luna rode to the church and handed his pistol to his aide. As he walked up the stairs Aguinaldo's men came out of hiding, shot and hacked Luna to death. This treachery infuriated a company of soldiers from Macabebe, Pampanga province. They offered their services to the Americans to track Aguinaldo, who was eventually captured tied to a tree naked for three days with no food or water and nests of red ants dumped on him. He was not killed because it was a condition the Americans want.

    Gen. Antonio Luna was a good friend on my great-grandfather who was in the revolutionary army-– Capt. Pablo Rivera.

    If it was not for Gen. Luna's murder, the United States would have found itself in a war it can not win. What is the proof to this claim? Gen. Douglas MacArthur's soldiers in Bataan and Corregidor held for more than three months without food, medicine and ammunition, disrupting Japanese war plans for Australia and forcing Japan to divert forces and valuable supplies to the Philippines. This enabled Allied forces to regroup, Australia was not invaded. MacArthur's soldiers won the war in the Pacific.

    RRIVERA

    January 7, 2010 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
  95. Doroteo Arango

    The war in the Philippines is only one example of a futile interventionist war. The same terrible mistakes the U.S made in the Philippines were repeated twice in Nicaragua in 1912 and 1926. The U.S. had to withdraw using the same tactic of declaring victory and marching out when in fact these were major defeats. The brutality used in Nicaragua was comparable to the brutality used in the Philippines. These were costly wars that at the end resulted in absolutely no gains.

    January 7, 2010 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  96. Rich

    Correction AK, the Hukbalahap was actually formed during WWII. They were Communist, not Muslims.

    January 7, 2010 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
  97. Paul

    Look, wars last forever now-a-days because of bleed heart liberals. Go in kill everything that stands up to you. If civilians get in the way, thats just too bad, thats the way it is. War wasn't meant to be all nicie-nice...

    January 7, 2010 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
  98. Tomek Jankowski

    Actually, a more interesting comparison would be the 1960s Malay War Britain fought against coalitions of communist and anti-colonial guerrillas - a successful counterpoint to the American Vietnam experience.

    @Michael Jasper
    : The Middle East's troubles are much older than Zionism or Israel, and have more to do with the way the Ottoman Empire disintegrated throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, and how the various European powers reacted to the opportunities that afforded them (e.g., Russia in Caucasus and Central Asia, the Anglo-French Sykes-Pycot Agreement, etc.

    January 7, 2010 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
  99. Branko

    The article mentions this:

    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.’’’

    WHY IS IT THAT WHEN US AMERICANS COMMIT BARBARIC ACTS ITS CALLED "NEAR GENOCIDE". OH AND BY THE WAY WE ARE ALWAYS RIGHT.
    HOW MANY CIVILIANS DEAD IN IRAQ?
    WE ARE IN WAR THERE BECAUSE MR BUSH INVENTED THIS WAR.
    WHEN WE SHOULD HAVE BEEN LOOKING FOR OSAMA BIN LADEN IN PAKISTAN OR MAYBE EVEN NEW YORK!

    IT WOULD BE A MIRACLE IF WE EVER FIND WHY DID 9/11 HAPPEN, AND I MEAN THE TRUTH.

    January 7, 2010 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
  100. alex

    It's funny how when Bush was president CNN libs used to call Iraq and Afghanistan wars unwinnable quagmires, but when Obama took over completely changed their position. 46 years in Philippines? McCain mentioned 20 years in Iraq and got in trouble. Double standard? Yes, always!

    January 7, 2010 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
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