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. Sun Tzu

    Would we, the American People, be okay with strangers kickin' us off our land?!! Texas wouldn't stand for it! But somehow, we can't seem to understand why all these Arabs are pissed off! Are we really THAT stupid?

    January 8, 2010 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • bob archer

      we don't want their land! isolating iran, a country we have been covertly at war with since 1979 is our main goal in the middle east, to destablize the islamist regime. the mullahs don't like our support of israel and resent any u.s. presence in the region, this was bin ladens complaint as well, how's that worked out for them?

      January 6, 2011 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
  2. HG

    POSTED BY AK: The author does not point out that the main enemy in what was called the Insurrection was not the Roman Catholic population, but the Hukbalahap Moslems mainly centered on the island of Mindinao – a case of history repeating itself for sure.

    The Hukbalahap didn't exist during the Filipino-American war. It existed during the Japanese occupation where Filipinos fought back against the Japanese occupiers. Hukbalahap or Hukbong Bayan Laban sa Hapon – means People's Army against the Japanese. It was not composed of muslim fighters.

    January 8, 2010 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Sun Tzu

    That"s the whole idea '398'! Run for President! The only reason we have an enemy (the "terrorists") is due to the fact that we, the US, has tried to enslave them to serve our policies for over 60 years; beginning with the establishment of a "Nation" (Israel) where Muslims were robbed of their homes and land (PLO-Palestinian/Gaza Strip conflicts) in 1947 to the Afghan-USSR war where we armed the Taliban and helped organize them to fight FOR us to current evemts where we order them to quit shooting now!! If we were to stay out of Middle Eastern issues, the US would be a friend to all Muslims. Then, control of Mid-East oil would no longer be an issue. Why else do we care what happens in the desert? We aren't in China. We aren't in North Korea. Or Russia. Or Iran. We pick on those who cannot defend themselves adequately. See how screwed up America has become? We play by a set of 'rules' and 'morales' founded on _______??? While our enemy is fighting for their own sons and daughters from a US/Israel occupation for over 60 years! Don't they have a right to be pissed? Let's say, "We The People are sorry" and help them? Now that would be a US I could be proud of!

    January 8, 2010 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  4. craig harris

    The Phillipine insurgency has been used as an example for how to fight a counterinsurgency for many years. The strategic hamlets of Vietnam is an example. Obviously the war in Afganistan cannot be fought in the same manner. The idea of riding aroound the country and massacring Taliban controlled villages is too reprehensible to contemplate. The bottom line is that the US military and intelligence folks have no idea how to lick this problem. Historical analogies can be very misleading. The notion that if you don't pay attention to history you are condemned to repeat it is too simplistic. Which history are you going to look at? American? Afgani? History is not a science and it involves limited, not comprehensive kinowledge of facts and motives. Whether it be the misuse of such ideas as a contraMaginot mind set of the 50s or the contraMunich mindset of the 60s. History suffers the same errors of group think as any other discipline.

    January 8, 2010 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
  5. GMF

    Everyone forgets in war you break everything kill all people until they surrender you go house to house disarm them even execute them for having weapons. The politicians have to stay out of the fight and let the military fight the war it is the politicians job to rally the people and convince the rest of the world what we are fighting for as I recall it is to kill terrorist and any country harboring them.so far I don't see us entering the other countries that support them like Iran,Syria, Somalia,etc. So why are we even wasting our time and money if we can't even stick to the main plan and not even agreeing here about what we are doing over there.All we are doing is hurting our self's and we are giving our freedom for which we are suppose to be fighting for to the socialist politicians anyway. So save money and take care of our problems at home and not the rest of the world until we have solved our problem here first.

    January 8, 2010 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Edizer Amandy

    The only similarity that I can see between the Philippine-American war and the current war in Afghanistan is a plain and simple message: LEAVE US ALONE, DON'T MESS WITH OUR LIVES! But the big difference is that the enemies that the US is fighting are not Afghanis as reported but are fellow Muslims from neighboring countries, although, in southern Philippines, an undeclared war is still being fought by the Muslims against the Philippine government and the American forces disguised as participants in a never ending joint military exercises.

    January 8, 2010 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
  7. kyle

    the main differance between the wars was to achieve victory the US had to use the philipinos as slave labor and basic systematiclly kill them and progress only came when the US started building more schools than bombs

    January 8, 2010 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
  8. David Scott

    When the Bush administration decided to ignore international law and invade a peaceful country to overthrow a dictator that was put in place there by the Reagan Administration, they went against every principle that made this country great. Until we remove all our troops from the middle-east, and do something to solve our problems at home, our reputation in every country is ruined. If I could afford to go anywhere after the damage the neoconservative war/profit-mongers have done to our economy, I would definitely say I was from Canada. I invite you to my pages devoted to raising awareness on these important issues:

    January 8, 2010 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
  9. Sun Tzu

    Here's something to chew on; Sadaam may have been a pig but he kept Iran in check! Now that Iran doesn't have a sociopath neighbor to worry about, they can focus on more important things, like: nuclear energy, Hamas, Hezbollah and every other "worthy cause" that may inflict harm upon the US and Israel. Read your Bibles America. The events predicted in there have, are and will come to pass. Are we so blind that we can't even see this? Our enemy are religious zealots! To defeat them, we MUST be too! Simple strategic math, if you will. The water in D.C. must have something in it to make people stupid.

    January 8, 2010 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
  10. Sun Tzu

    Thumbs-UP 388! The US is and has been setting the stage for the world to view Ameericans as hypocrites. They kill so they are terrorists. We (The US) kills innocent people with our "smart" boms and call it collateral damage. We use the metal from delpleted Uranium rods for our bombs (hardens the metal for the "bunker-buster" bombs to penetrate the earth) since 1991 in Operation Desert Shield and children in Iraq are walking around with birth defects because of the radiation produced by the metal in these bombs. This is also "collateral damage" right? The US has hurt more Iraquis since 1991 than Sadaam EVER did!!! 'Iraquis' looks so much like 'Iroquois' (Indian Tribe)...we are good at killing and justifying while condemning anyone else who does the same things as criminal or TERRORIST! And the REASONS why it is OK for the US to be killing just keep pouring in...WE WILL REAP WHAT WE'VE SOWN! iT'S THE WAY OF NATURE, JUST A MATTER OF TIME!

    January 8, 2010 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
  11. Deryk houston

    Comments made in these posting reveal the worst in all of us.
    For example: We can only find peace by being as savage and brutal as we can in order to get control over a countries wealth and people before someone else steals it.
    Unbelievable comments. What is happening here? I believe that it is a sign of complete desperation and greed mixed with fear....mostly fear .....with the realization that one might be guilty of killing people for our own benefit and position of power. I've been following events for years and I have to say this is the most heartbreaking example of humanity.

    January 8, 2010 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
  12. John Milligan

    The phillipine iinsurrection is one of our may warts for sure as we extended America from sea to shining sea and beyond. but what country does not have its warts. we had our fair share for sure and others certainly do did and will. Just look at teh map. Ours in comparison are bad but do not compare. plus we have a pretty unique ability IMHO to learn from our mistakes and correct somewhat our warts.

    Do we create some more warts? For sure. But the US wart self-correcting mechanism is the best. We must always be wary and conscious of our warts but not to the extent of guilt self-paralysis. The Chinese, Arabs, etc need to lear the wart self-correcting mechanism and stop blaming teh Weast, Israel, etc for all their ills if they are ever to become a real player and strong sustainable responsible accountable societies promotive of civilization's better angels.

    The US above all must take the long view and have startegic patience with the rest of the world. Give them all some time. let them work out their warts they have aplenty as we work out ours. The ways a people achieve dignity and enlightenment in government and society are the things that are deepest and most meaninful to their national identies. time, patience and a sober understanding of wart resolving (via a cogent, coherent, internally consistent Grand Strategy) is above all what is needed at the juncture in American History. George Kennan pulled it off pretty well 60 yearrs ago with his Containment strategy and we must find a similar way to get us thru this very dangerous time, filled with very dangerous folks who mean the world ill.

    January 8, 2010 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
  13. A Voice for Reason!

    ....... So what? History is ripe with these examples done by all races, all creeds, and all colors. In evidencing these examples, you aim to promote an emotive response- I argue that these emotive responses are themselves the triggers of future violence.

    ....Wouldn't a better response be to criticize the power which enables sociopath central governments to murder billions?

    Furthermore, This article is a purely propagandistic piece meant to evoke an emotive response. It plays on an (vaguely) American cultural nuance, namely that " History is bound to repeat itself."

    Consider: All war is brutal, but several historians and military experts say the war in the Philippines was barbaric, even by military standards. (What does this sentence mean?)

    The author says: "America won because they killed them all." Later, he contradicts this emotive statement with "The United States also won because it didn’t just rely on military might. They found strong, local allies, historians say."

    I am amazed. Sometimes, the ability of servile scribblers to bend words has you believing in vague and amorphous things such as "Change we can believe in." And yes, I am scoffing.

    January 8, 2010 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
  14. Bianca

    Fight? Win? What for? I am amused by the rethoric of many who are so enthralled by the need to "win", or fear of being called "aunties". This character flow of a nation will cost us all dearly. Just as there was no benefit whatsoever of US winning in Phylippines, there is no benefit whatsoever in US staying forever in Iraq, "winning" and/or staying forever in Afghanistan, or US "winning" in Yemen, Somalia, and fill-in-the-blank blanking other country. All it is is an ego gone mad, being justified by whatever comes along. The egomaniacs will always believe that there will be no security until one more country, one more rock is being held. There is one thing sure: the providers of military gadgets and "contractors" are going to make a mint. But our country could make by far more money trading happily with others - big and small. One can naver prevent foreign nuts from committing a crime; one cannot ever prevent all the domestic nuts from doing same. But by being focused on our self-defence, and on booming trade and partnerships with the world, we would be the winners. There is simply no future for a country that is willing to become a permanent occupier of a good chunk of globe. Empires are always undermined by rebellions, and the rebels will always have the sympathy of any freedom loving people. So before lusting for more "victories", it would be good to figure out what exactly we are fighting for. Not WHO, but WHAT FOR. For it is always easy to find an enemy-of-the-day. It is harder to figure out what on earth are we doing there.

    January 8, 2010 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
  15. Jhombimon

    @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.

    @Dey- No it's only one reason, if you read their material they have many especially that were non muslim. But they are right wars are fought between groups of people not just soldiers. War is horrible and too win one of us will have to defeat the other and I don't mean just afghanistan. I'm not particularly religous but this is a religous war, islam against everone else and islam is the big bully on the block, islam is used to murder and opress millions around the world.Islam is bigger than the west. I believe if we dont destroy them they will destroy us. My only question is which would you prefer? the people of europe and america and thailand etc.. to survive or islam to survive? Look what they do around the world to others in their own nations, 7 coptic christians murdered yesterday in egypt, 3 churches burned in malaysia and that was just in the last couple day's.

    January 8, 2010 at 9:54 am | Report abuse |
  16. Bayani

    Apparently, only the American's are allowed to rebel against their oppressors and declare their own independence 🙂

    January 8, 2010 at 9:53 am | Report abuse |
  17. Jhombimon

    Go!!! Geert Wilder... I'd vote for you

    January 8, 2010 at 9:42 am | Report abuse |
  18. Tony Danza

    how many times do you need to "historians say"? horrible writing.

    January 8, 2010 at 9:34 am | Report abuse |
  19. Concerned

    This was an excellent article and might hold the key to victory in Afghanistan. I'm retired military and supported Operation Enduring Freedom (i.e. deployment to theater) and I can tell you if you are looking for combatants in Afghanistan, it's hard like you article says they blend in. We as US military respect the Articles of WAR, but insurgents don't. Israel deals with this every day, but the difference between Israel and the US military is they try to stick to the rules, but are not concerned if they violate them (i.e. white phosphorus bombs, air strikes etc). The US is to worried about world condemnation where Israel is not, example, “Israel is facing growing demands from senior UN officials and human rights groups for an international war crimes investigation in Gaza over allegations such as the "reckless and indiscriminate" shelling of residential areas and use of Palestinian families as human shields by soldiers." What did Israel do, basically we are not going to comply and we don’t care about what you want. Until the US government (i.e. leaders) gets over this hurdle we will not win in Afghanistan. Yes I know it sounds like I'm a WAR Monger, but history tells all and if you look at reality the American Indian and Philippine wars were victories and an end to conflict. Remember a folk fighting a WAR is dirty, so if you do not get messy you are doing a, "Half Assed" job.

    Thank You
    Concerned

    January 8, 2010 at 9:25 am | Report abuse |
  20. norb

    Interesting article but if we are talking about “winning” I will draw more comparison from the Russian strategy in Chechnya than on this war. In modern day warfare there are some sort of rules of engagement and you cannot just simply go ahead and kill them all as this article said the Philippines War strategy was. In the end, especially when you are a foreign army, you must form an alliance if not an understanding with the right people.

    Coming a little closer in time I could point out to a similar strategy that actually worked out against the insurgents. In the 60’s Castro faced a guerrilla type warfare in the Escambray mountains in Cuba. He simply empty out the mountains of any supporters ( farmers and family members) the insurgents could have and reallocated them elsewhere. He then proceeded with the so call kill them all strategy employing several tens of thousands of his brainwashed army killing and burning everything in their path until the job was done (i.e. the insurgents were wiped out).

    January 8, 2010 at 8:57 am | Report abuse |
  21. Rock

    Ive been to both Afghanistan and Iraq. I have an all expense paid trip back to Afghanistan later this year. Many of you are right about the US strategy being too nice or weak. War is a horrible monster and the US has let two of those monsters out of their cages.

    I applaud President Obama for taking the time to analyze our options and not bending to the pressures from left and right. I personally beliieve that we are doing the right thing and we need to be in Afghanistan. However we need to let the war monster off its leash and kill every single Afghan that gets in our way.

    We have a mission, we have the military might, we have the capability. What we lack in our government is the stomache to use it. As a Soldier I know that Soldiers are capable of taking the gloves off and fighting dirty. I assure you that is what most of us want more than anything. We can and will prvail if given the opportunty to get out of the corner and fight like we want too.

    Stay the course

    Rock

    January 8, 2010 at 8:27 am | Report abuse |
  22. F. Rustique

    By today's standards, what America did against the Filipinos during the "Philippine-American" War comes close to betrayal and genocide. There were no legitimate reasons for the war, other than America's desire to gain territorial power and justify its conquest with imprerialistic idealogy based on racism and greed. We must point out that during the Spanish-American war, Christian, Filipino nationalists with democratic, pro-American principles provided logistical support and intelligence to America to help defeat Spain. In return, American leaders continually promised the Filipinos they would have a chance at self-rule. Instead, those same American leaders betrayed their Filipino allies by signing a treaty with Spain (Treaty of Paris, 1898) and making deals behind the Filipino's backs to acquire the Philippine islands. Had the Filipino nationalists' been allowed to set up their own government, the Philippines would've been a democratic, pro-American one. An independent Philippines in 1898 would not have been a political, cultural, or religious threat to America. War could have been avoided and one-third of the Filipino population, including women and children wouldn't have had to been shot, killed and butchered by Americans claiming freedom for all. As a Filipino-American, military servicemember, I feel that it is my right to be critical towards the government I work for – especially when it comes to history that created me. America is great, but the wars we fight, the deals we make, and the media that covers all action must always be checked.

    January 8, 2010 at 6:44 am | Report abuse |
  23. George

    For anyone who does not know our sordid imperialist history, I provide you this quote from two time Medal of Honor recipient, Marine General Smedley Butler, in 1935.

    "I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents."

    January 8, 2010 at 5:54 am | Report abuse |
  24. International man of mystery baby, yeah!

    Who will the United States invade next, The Duchy of Grand Fenwick!?

    If America keeps waging wars it dosn't know how to win it will exaust it's abillity to keep fighting and won't be able to defend itself or anybody else. Same goes for the terrorists when 98 percent of their victims are muslim, eventually they will lose support from the majority. Polls show their support is already dropping.

    War is like a fire, if you don't put it out it will burn itself out.

    January 8, 2010 at 5:43 am | Report abuse |
  25. Admiral

    The Philippines were just recently conquered by Spain, a superpower. Therefore it was much easier for the US to conquer them again. Afghanistan defeated a superpower and then was allowed to continue to be independent for quite some time before the US attack. There's a big difference. This is not a good comparison at all.

    January 8, 2010 at 4:52 am | Report abuse |
  26. butleraga

    Some food for thought! Why did we as Americans seek to Christianize an already Christian people and why did we seek to civilize a people that were supposedly unfit for self-government? Yea, the civil war ended 40 years prior to this invasion but we as Americans did not collectively accept the equality of different peoples until 1965. I do not know how we as Americans can claim that we live by our ideals when our history has shown that we committed genocide on the Native Americans, invaded the Philippines, and allowed 8,000 people this past year to have died right next to our border (and there's a lot more but that's not the point). If we are truly American than we must learn to accept that America has not always been doing it's best in protecting the rights and liberties of peoples seeking peace across the world. Today, we are being exposed to the failed foreign domestic policies of the past and the "material veil" that has been deteriorating our respect from the international community and crippling our economy. War is a terrible crime that leads to many casualties to the innocent and traumatizes the young. Maybe if we as Americans actually understood how society works could we change our foreign and domestic policies to actually benefit the every day American, but no.

    January 8, 2010 at 4:09 am | Report abuse |
  27. Hello

    Moslem, or any other religous person can be subdued....Holland did that in Mollucas and North Sumatera....be brave, but do not become a abuser of human right....like the enemy does....

    January 8, 2010 at 4:06 am | Report abuse |
  28. Bas

    Wait... is CNN saying the US should be more brutal in Afghanistan and should be willing to kill more civilians?

    January 8, 2010 at 3:55 am | Report abuse |
  29. taiwan binladin

    i'm shocked and chilled on thiese word:Gen. Philip Sheridan: ‘The only good Indians I’ve seen were dead.’’= Gen.Mcrystal ‘The only good Afghanans I’ve seen were dead.’’’you are not facing only taliban but all world moslim even me is angry abt American's atrocity and will not forget even one drop of Afghani blood killed by American.tis page made me realize American's hornor of Freedom,humanity,democricy are perfectly all lies.

    January 8, 2010 at 3:26 am | Report abuse |
  30. Iconoclast

    Yeah, win war at all costs. But that was already tried, and Afghanistan still lost. The Soviets in the 80's, a time of relatively weak technology and less political correctness, employed whatever they had to in order to win. Yes, they killed civilians by the thousands, called artillery strikes on villages, carpet bombing random people, dropping trick bombs on the population, and savagely defeating the enemy through hand to hand combat, paratrooper ambushes, and extensive bombing campaigns. They would've won if the USA didn't get in the way by supporting the enemy with high tech weapons. But, in the end, they still lost and they employed whatever strategy it took to win, even in the 80's. Now how do you suppose the US win this war with everything they got in today's politically correct world?

    January 8, 2010 at 2:39 am | Report abuse |
  31. phneutral

    War is obviously horrible, no matter where, no matter when. Even though there was initial slaughter of the Americans and later of the Filipinos in this early war years later we fought and died side by side fighting a barbaric Japanese enemy in WWII. You will be surprised when you go to the Philippines at how much at home you feel. Despite the exotic differences. The Filipino loves most things American and going to America is the dream of many. They are surprised at how much work there is to maintain an average American lifestyle, as they think all Americans are rich. Many are sorry that when given the chance, years ago to become part of the United States, they voted for independence. From experience Americans and Filipinos are much more alike than Americans and those from the mid-eastern countries. By far the majority of problems with the Moslem Filipino is caused by western missionaries going to places like Zamboanga and trying to convert those of the Muslim faith. Don't do that, they don't like it.
    In the end I think there is a closer corellation to The Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor and the attack on the World Trade Center in our current war du jour, than the early Fil-Am War.

    January 8, 2010 at 2:27 am | Report abuse |
  32. Toty

    Filipino native Negritoes have for years taught American soldiers jungle survival skills in the jungles of Subic during the Vietnam war and after.But before this happened, the Balangiga massacre happened in Samar Island and until now instills ill feelings not only for the murder of civilians but because the US Army has never returned the two church bells that they took with them after the trashing of an entire town! Our family comes from Samar Island and my great grandfather who was still very much alive in the 1960s fondly recalled his days as a 17 year old guerilla who fought the US Army in the 1900s. As a soldier of the losing army, he was given a monthly pension by the US government equivalent to US$0.65 per month at the current exchange rate! I hope the survivors in Afghanistan will learn not to trust the politicans!

    January 8, 2010 at 2:25 am | Report abuse |
  33. Buck Rogers

    Afghanistan is a complex country with familial , tribal and sectarian loyalties coming before one's loyalty to his country and government. What binds all Afghan people together is the Islamic faith which has been a rallying and recruiting tool for Afghan insurgents from the colonial times , through the Soviet war to the current conflict.

    The strategy for Afghanistan can never be simply 'kill them all' , these are a proud and fierce people who'll fight to the last man and bullet.Entire generations have seen nothing but hardship and war.They are phsyically able at high altitudes and can go on very little food for long periods of time. America needs to start understanding the Afghan value system and offer something far more attractive to the people than what the Taliban offers. Currently just offering a democratic way of government and billions of dollars in aid has just fueled corruption with very little money getting to where it's needed most.

    War has become a way of life for most Afghans and most of them will do whatever is takes to survive. They are very stoic and have an acceptance of death as an occupational hazard of their daily lives.

    Instead of forcing a western way of government onto the Afghans the Americans need to start with the building blocks of the country which are the villages and see what wins over the people therein. Instead of showing up and dictating to the Afghan villagers , they need to listen to village elders and provide for the people in terms of what has always worked for them. Often you'll find that many are not even interested in any of the modern trappings but the just the basic neccessities.

    In doing so the Americans need to understand that their brand of democracy will never replace the Islamic belief system that has served as a rudimentary government in the villages for hundreds of years. The Afghans may take the best of what the Americans have to offer and blend it with what has worked for them. In doing so they wil gradually begin to support the Americans more than the Taliban becuase they will lose their suspicion of Western intentions. Once the Taliban loses it's support,it will fade away from Afghan life gradually. Militarily the Americans will also be more successful because the villagers will provide them with truthful intelligence on the ground.

    January 8, 2010 at 2:17 am | Report abuse |
  34. Chris

    As European, I find it hard to believe all the gung-ho pro-war posts here.

    It took two massively destructive wars to beat into European heads that war is BAD.

    What will it take to beat this into Americans' minds who haven't suffered a war in 150 years?

    January 8, 2010 at 2:10 am | Report abuse |
  35. Chris

    JohnD, you think the US spent almost 9 years, hundreds of American deaths and tens of thousands injured, and HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS OF DOLLARS FIGHTING IN AFGHANISTAN TO FIND BIN LADEN AND DEFEAT HIS COHORTS??

    YOU NEED YOUR HEAD CHECKED, F00L!!

    January 8, 2010 at 1:56 am | Report abuse |
  36. Bob

    Amerika's experience in the Philipines is the wrong comparison for Amerika's war in Afghanistan. A much more valid comparison would be the Soviet experience in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

    January 8, 2010 at 1:52 am | Report abuse |
  37. Ned Kelly

    Why look back at the Phillipines in 1902, when we failed to look back at Vietnam when invading Iraq?

    January 8, 2010 at 1:35 am | Report abuse |
  38. Ned Kelly

    Why do we need to look back to the Phillipnes in 1902, when we can look back to the Soviet experience in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Oh,..That's because we supported the side we are fighting now.

    January 8, 2010 at 1:31 am | Report abuse |
  39. burndisco

    Why is the writer comparing this to Afghanistan? Afghanistan is not a colony of the US, but a evil land of terrorists we are at war against. The writer needs to stop googling and start paying attention to real life.

    January 8, 2010 at 1:21 am | Report abuse |
  40. VIET

    To compare this war and to any other war is ignorant. History does not hold as much value when your enemies are invisible. Even with the guerrilla tactics employed by the NVN and VC the Indo China wars the enemies where identifiable.

    Unlike the Germans, who faught their brainwashed hearts out, US endured and Europe was freed. Unlike the Japanese, there will be noone to signing a document conceding to our demands. We are fighting a voice, a video, a letter A ghost.

    Their propaganda is the only thing ringing in the peoples ears in all this fighting. The answer isn't easy. I feel sorry for President Obama really, these descisions he'll make to shape this war will have long lasting effects.

    January 8, 2010 at 1:17 am | Report abuse |
  41. costas

    People are looking at wrong wars to compare Afghanistan with! History is full of lesons that can be used in this presen day conflict. It is true that many tried to conquer Afghanistan and failed. But at the same time many easily conquered Afghanistan and succeeded in establishing strong states. The Greeks under Alexander conquered Afghanistan, the Persians succeeded, Islam succeeded. These wars, even though they might be very ancient, can offer the West valuable lessons on how to win Afghanistan

    January 8, 2010 at 1:09 am | Report abuse |
  42. Robby Alabado

    At last, the atrocities of the American military forces in foreign lands are now revealed. Filipinos were subjected to military atrocities that were never written much by historians, The island of Samar was turned into a "wailing wilderness' with all the massacres and the murders of all males who were old enough to carry a gun – children included. Hamletting of villages and water tortures were regularly conducted against civilians. Such demonic treatment of civilians will never be forgotten. It has been more than a century ago since the brutal suppression of the Philippine revolutionaries by the American invaders but until now Americans continue to practice such aggression.

    January 8, 2010 at 1:05 am | Report abuse |
  43. Gallardo

    When we have a president that releases Guantanamo prisoners and talks about closing that military prison as a priority do to, as he calls it, "a bad image" among other such inconceivable stupidities. One must ask oneself. Does anyone really think we are going to win this? Of course not. This is no way to fight a war and these are not competent leaders, simple as that. This is all garbage.
    Hell, lets look even further back, we had Bin Laden twice and Clinton never authorized the hit, all to not kill three kids and to not anger some Arab prince whose son was on location, come on, what is this. These fagotness are old, plenty, and are the reason we are where we are today. Yet, Clinton is held as a celebrity and the current unspeakable garbage we have for president is perceived by half the population as a messiah. Until the day that this nation, or its military, has had enough we will continue going down.

    January 8, 2010 at 12:27 am | Report abuse |
  44. Ed M.

    Someone mentioned earlier that Americans did not intentionally target civilians in the Philippine-American War. Unfortunately, this is untrue. In fact, Americans back home learned about the civilian killings from American soldiers themselves who wrote home about their ambiguous feelings after taking part in the killing.

    Here is part of a letter from an American soldier:

    "Immediately orders were received from General Wheaton to burn the town and kill every native in sight; which was done to a finish. About 1,000 men, women and children were reported killed. I am probably growing hard-hearted, for I am in my glory when I can sight my gun on some dark skin and pull the trigger."

    I encourage everyone to read Stuart Creighton Miller's "Benevolent Assimilation": The American Conquest of the Philippines. That has been the best text on the PA War for a long time. It also gives much insight into the mindset of many Americans at the time. Just coming out of the Civil War after African-Americans had been freed from slavery, many Americans were itching to kill nonwhites of any ethnicity. In fact, American soldiers called Filipinos the "n-word" throughout the Philippine-American War.

    January 8, 2010 at 12:24 am | Report abuse |
  45. Benigno O. Austero

    In order to win wars, democracy, freedom and sovereignty being appropriate is not always the option. Blood must be shed, dirty tactics must be employed and all kinds of trickery to win citizens' trust. But nations with great power politically and economically must make sure blood is not present in their palms so as to maintain the balance they are preserving on the world stage. They should at all times maintain a roster of completely-equipped citizens to study and compile all methods and strategies that will be employed by the country to maintain an unblemished reputation. "The end justifies the means", is always the most applicable theory to maintain political dominance. Filipino as I am, already aware of the strategies that has been employed by superpowers which has been recycled althroughout the history.

    January 8, 2010 at 12:11 am | Report abuse |
  46. JohnD

    It is funny how the war in Afganistan has changed and has become some kind of cause. The only reason why the US is still there is because BinLaden is over there. Once he is either caught or killed let's see how much longer we will stay there. Afganistan is a country that has always been at war within its borders we are not going to change any of that, the sooner we get BinLaden the faster we are out of there.

    January 8, 2010 at 12:06 am | Report abuse |
  47. Bob Miller

    Ed, you scare the living hell out of me... I thought this was supposed to be war against terror, not for it...

    January 8, 2010 at 12:06 am | Report abuse |
  48. Madhu S Vashist

    I read lot of brutal comments which kind of indicate very negative picture of humanity and we all tend to see that when we are in US. I am really confused how can you make world more prosperous with negativity (Kill All type of ideas). May be as time changes the rules of engagement change. May be brutality was the order of the day at certain times in certain places or it happens and people regret.

    January 7, 2010 at 11:52 pm | Report abuse |
  49. AK

    "....a 747 Jet Liner can not go through a 16' hole which was made in Pentagon on 911 without leaving wreckage (like huge engines out side)....."

    Bill – I am a retired Air Force officer. I know people who personally saw the jetliner strike the Pentagon. I don't know why I am bothering, because I am sure I quickly will become part of the "9/11 Truther" conspiracy roiling in your mind.

    Wonder of the Internet. Everyone gets their say – publicly. Good for harmless venting. Please continue.

    January 7, 2010 at 11:44 pm | Report abuse |
  50. RRIVERA

    Some people controlling governments wants the oil in Iraq. They also want to the opium from Afghanistan so the Taliban was kicked out because the Taliban forbade the planting of poppies. Now they also want the oil in Iran.

    Why the opium? Controlling millions of people can be done by making them ignorant through inadequate education and/or making them addicted to drugs. Opium, cocaine, etc.

    There was no military intervention from the West to stop Pol Pot from murdering his fellow Cambodians. The same in Lebanon during the recent civil war. The same with the slaughter of civilians in Darfur. Why? There is no oil!!

    January 7, 2010 at 11:22 pm | Report abuse |
  51. An old soldier

    Suggesting that the US strategy during the Philippine insurrection was "Kill 'em all" is a gross mischaracterization. I do not know who LTC Silverman is , but he sure is not an expert on the counter-insurgency in the Philippines. To describe US policy as "near genocide" is a calumny that only feeds the anti-American diatribes that one can read above.
    In fact, whatever one thinks of the US colonial policy towards the Islands (which I would never have supported), the successful counter-insurgency campaign conducted by a relatively small US force is worthy of study. It was the carrot, more than the the stick that led to US victory. Civic action programs directed by relatively enlightened US military and civilian leadership won over the population. Certainly 24,000 soldiers in the field with no significant technological advantage against 80,000 insurgents could not have pursued such a savage policy as "kill 'em all.".
    Further, Mr. Blake's practice of apparently cherry-picking the "several" historians he used to write this is simply bad journalism. I recommend that he peruse recent work by Max Boot or Brian Linn.
    Finally, the "water torture" done by both sides in the PI was not "waterboarding," as conducted against three US captives in the War on Terror. But that is a fact, and many are not interested in facts.

    January 7, 2010 at 11:21 pm | Report abuse |
  52. james s roberts

    Excellent reporting on America's War atrocties aganst indegenious people, in another century, another country. It demonstrates, highlights America can't survive without a War.

    I suspect historians in 22nd Century will view America's imperialistic actions in 20th and 21st century no different than Roman conquest, Ottoman Empire.

    America continues to weld an iron club against any country who disagrees with it.

    January 7, 2010 at 11:20 pm | Report abuse |
  53. Bob

    ED.. I found you post very interesting and absolutely right. War is Ugly and should be avoid if possible, but if it comes then it should be fought (they is no gentlemen or ladies, you hunt down and kill the enemy and you do what it takes to bring your men home. You sound like you served, so you know no soldier want war because they are the one who have to fight it but if it comes they don't want to fight it with their hand tie behind their back by some congressman or president that never served a day in their lives.

    January 7, 2010 at 11:18 pm | Report abuse |
  54. shera

    Julian wars over gaul led tothe destruction of the Roman Republic. So could these global war led to our fall. They drain treasury and moral compass. Americans like short wars or periodic wars. We are now a very slippery slop; WE should find an answer that allows a growing middle to gain political power in these countries. Military victory does not seem to be answer to ending this conflict in the the third war. Only the ability to educate and enhance the life of people may have chance to end this cycle of violence-

    January 7, 2010 at 11:12 pm | Report abuse |
  55. shera

    Julian wars over gaul led tothe destruction of the Roman Republic. So could these global war led to our fall. They drain treasury and moral compass. Americans like short wars or periodic wars. We are now a very slippery slop; WE should find an answer that allows a growing middle to gain political power in these countries. Military victory does not seem to be answer to ending this conflict in the the third war. Only the ability to educate and enhance the life of people my have chance to end this cycle of violence.

    January 7, 2010 at 10:52 pm | Report abuse |
  56. TS

    This article is an American's perspective of the war on Philippine soil in the turn of the century 1900. I do not trust the statistics. Where did the US State Department get these facts? Who were their sources? Ask any Filipino and they will disagree with everything passed off as fact in this article. The Spanish-American war is known by Filipinos as the Mock Battle at Manila Bay. The country was passed on from one colonizer to another. Filipinos always say 300 years of Spain and 40 years of Hollywood.

    The American Occupation of the Philippines were good times. Infrastructure and growth came,education flourished. The guerilla insurgence was limited to rural areas.

    There are always two sides to a coin.Do not believe everything you read, specially the ones passed off as facts.

    January 7, 2010 at 10:50 pm | Report abuse |
  57. BritinColo

    To all you folks talking about dead pigs etc:
    Sheiik Hassan Youssef of Hamas has stated that only the soul goes to Paradise, and it
    does not matter what happens to the body; in fact suicide bombers and other 'martyrs' are considered so pure that, unlike other Muslims,their bodies do not even have to be washed before burial (good thing too, a lot of them are in very small pieces!).
    Next 'brilliant tactic', anyone?

    January 7, 2010 at 10:29 pm | Report abuse |
  58. AlexanderGF

    Given the people in the mountain region 2 weeks to head south to tent cities, whomever is left use neutron bombs to obliterate any living thing, then salt all of the poppy fields so they can never grow anything ever again.

    Otherwise, this should be a European war, most of the drugs coming out goes to EU and Russia, left them fight and die for it as well as finance it.

    Bring the US troops home and along the Mexican border and go after the Columbian and Mexican druglords and gangs..

    January 7, 2010 at 10:25 pm | Report abuse |
  59. Victoria Heim

    The wars in Iraq and Afganistan involve religion. The Americans are fighting to protect
    their livlihood. Muslims are fighting for beliefs. We will be like the Soviet Union
    and their long stay there. Education is still the Pathway out of Proverty and
    out of these wars.

    January 7, 2010 at 10:22 pm | Report abuse |
  60. RRIVERA

    Bill G,
    As a naturalized American I fully agree with you. I noticed this lack of knowledge of history way back in 1971 when I came to the States. For years I asked why the school system fails to educate Americans. It was last year I came to the conclusion government wants it this way to make it easy to make the great majority to believe what government says. In other words, an ignorant population is easy to manipulate. Just look around us.

    I studied American history when I was in grade school and high school in the PHILIPPINES.

    January 7, 2010 at 9:52 pm | Report abuse |
  61. Han

    what is Vietnam and Afghanistan but a country which lots of people are eager to live in Peace. In the past, the earth was hurt by war and war. and now Wars still exist. some has said that if you want to live in PEACE let's fight to get it. I'm not an expert in analizing which idea is right and wrong. One thing I know is that PEACE can get if we stop now. if we fight that will never end even it look like ending. A president inaugurate his ministry and said 'CAN DO IT'. Yes PEACE can get if we look back and stop NOW, RIGHT NOW

    January 7, 2010 at 9:28 pm | Report abuse |
  62. David R Harris

    War is war. death is death, blood is blood. there all the same but some are bigger than others.

    January 7, 2010 at 9:22 pm | Report abuse |
  63. Archie L

    War wins on ideas and proper application of technology. The Taliban was doing quite nicely before 1992 not because it was winning on the heart and mind of the people. Heart and mind is only relevant if your enemy is educated and has a functional memory. So that is a bad idea. Election is only meaningful to a stable and educated population. So that is a bad application of technology. Stable society is only possible if every Taliban supporters is dead. If they are captured they should be subjected to Sharia Law. That means head off. If they renounce it publicly they will be tried and sentenced properly. All internal combustion vehicles are banned. All permitted vehicles will have licence plate painted on roof or they will be blown up from air. Movement of combatants, ammunition and explosive at donkey pace will render them ineffective. Search every villeger for trace of explosive on clothes and on hands. Cell phones are only available to licensed individuals to stop them from being used as remote trigger on bombs. Most roads and foot trails are not covered by foliage. Air supremcy rules.

    January 7, 2010 at 9:18 pm | Report abuse |
  64. RRIVERA

    In addition to my previous comment:

    Dewey attacked an ANCHORED Spanish fleet whose sailors were fighting rebels from midnight. Likely the ships had few men on board. A new graduate of Annapolis commanding the fleet would have won the battle of Manila Bay.

    Many of the rebels were armed with captured Spanish Mausers.

    The Philippine-American War STARTED when one night an American guard on a bridge in San Juan, a suburb of Manila, shot and killed a Filipino soldier who was guarding the other end of the bridge for failure to identify himself as he walked towards the American supposedly to light his cigarette. The two armies were camped for months on opposite sides of the river. Was the American soldier ordered to shoot any Filipino crossing over to the American side to give Washington reason to start a war? You figure it out.

    January 7, 2010 at 9:08 pm | Report abuse |
  65. Bill

    Is it not a matter of common sense that those so called hijackers who flew planes into buildings should have died.

    But it does not matter even if some of them are alive and well and pinching themselves to figure out the truth after watching US mass media.

    Is it not a matter of common sense that the criminals who committed 911 told Americans that a cave man did it, so there is no need to investigate before cleaning up the crime scene.

    Christmas bomber got on the plane despite the fact that his family was telling the CIA for months that he was up to something. Same CIA figured out in 3 days after 911 the names of 19 hijackers.

    Even when CIA says that it has no evidence that a cave man did 911, Americans still believe that he did it because Dick and Bush say so.

    January 7, 2010 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |
  66. AK

    By the way, for Tom and others who cling to the imperial-only theory of American actions in the Philippines, I suggest you read The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power, by Max Boot. It clearly documents an American antipathy towards economic exploitation that was so strong, that Congress passed legislation barring large landholdings by Americans. While some economic advantage may have been gained by interaction with elite Phillipine familial oligarchs, this action was a clear expression of the anti-imperial nature of the American character and intention for the administration.

    January 7, 2010 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
  67. Thor E.

    The Americans tortured the Filipinos in the Philippine-American War. The Americans used, if not pioneered, waterboarding and such. It is well documented. If all Filipino freedom fighters were equipped with the weapons the Americans had been using, the Americans will surely lost the war. The Americans even invented the Colt M1911 pistol because their Remington can't stop the attacking Moros in the South! Filipinos are one of the bravest and fierce warriors in the world.

    January 7, 2010 at 8:47 pm | Report abuse |
  68. Bill

    What a shame it is that most of "Americans" do not even have common sense to figure out that a 747 Jet Liner can not go through a 16' hole which was made in Pentagon on 911 without leaving wreckage (like huge engines out side)

    On top of that they believe that the LIERS always tell the TRUTH.

    i.e. Bush/Cheny, who did not even feel any shame after the whole world became aware of their LIES about WMDs in Iraq, are telling truth about 911.

    People even do not have the common sense to figure out how Building 7 (like other buildings fell straight down exactly like Demolition) got demolished when it was not even hit by anything.

    Next time when Republicans will tell them that another high rise got demolished because a Somali left a burning cigarette in a washroom, they put signs in their windows to invade Somalia and legislate away the remaining civil liberties.

    Thanks to the mass media's brain washing and brain messing.

    January 7, 2010 at 8:45 pm | Report abuse |
  69. butleraga

    It's hard to compare the similarities between these two wars because you have to pay attention to the events that led to conflict. One thing that can be said with certainty is that both these wars could have been prevented and lives could have been saved [both foreign and domestic] if the United States had chosen more common sense foreign policies.

    After the Spanish-American War the United States should have allowed the peoples of Cuba and the Philippines to collectively handle their affairs instead of pressuring for American economic interests. During those times America was not fully committed to the prosperity of Cubans or Filipinos. The people of the Philippines were not looking for a foreign nation to replace Spanish colonialism which is why they fought for the sovereignty of their country and even Cubans decided they were discontent with American interests and allowed Castro to take lead in their "revolution."

    It is clear that in Afghanistan we are not facing a direct culture or nation, but instead, we are facing the collective efforts of a discontent radical organization that operates in multiple countries throughout Africa and Asia. This discontent can be related to Cuban and Filipino resistance towards imperialism, however, they have no clear goals or purposes for their actions except for the annihilation of western civilization and innocent lives. Not that American interests have not also been ignorant in how we handled the Philippines, or the Middle East for that matter. The difference is that in Cuba and the Philippines is that the people wanted to decide what was best for them and the terrorists we face today are completely against progressivism and modernization.

    The fight in against terror will take a long time and we must be patient. Indeed, the key to winning this war is by capturing the hearts and support of the Middle Eastern people so that they may take the lead in deciding what is best for their countries. Right now economic interests and terror organizations are deciding the plans and future for those peoples and we must show them that we are supporting them for their own progress. The pursuit of happiness is a long and perilous road but can be achieved through compromise and understanding. President Obama had it right when he said we must engage the international with "mutual interest and mutual respect."

    January 7, 2010 at 8:40 pm | Report abuse |
  70. AK

    Jose – 'ignorance' is a powerful statement about you since I agree with a lot of what you wrote, the characters and chain of events, save for your absolutism on the adoption of the .45 cartridge. Guess if I am ignorant than....well, you see where I am headed

    I also corrected my use of the term Huk, etc.

    And it was General Leonard Wood who gave the order to reduce Bud Dajo by force. Many 'noncombatants' were killed for precisely the same reason they are being killed today, because the 'combatants' – in this case the Moros – leavened their ranks with their women and children in the Bud Dajo crater, making them targets of the Americans massed assault fire along with the (nominally) adult male warriors. Not much difference between that and using children and deluded woman as homicide bombers. Which is why the work of people like Greg Mortensen in Afghanistan is so important – women need to be given a sense of value so they and their children won't forever be misused in such manner.

    January 7, 2010 at 8:32 pm | Report abuse |
  71. N

    No this is not how the Philippines war was won. In 1901 we captured the main leader of the Philippine Insurgency Emilio Aguinaldo, He then signed a document urging his followers to give up the fight and then declared allegiance to the US. Also, in 1901 William Howard Taft was appointed governor of the Phillipines. He soon started constructing roads, schools, bridges and other public works projects. This gave the Fillipinos jobs and a better life than they ever saw under Spain and thus a loyalty to the US.

    This building infrastructure and investing in the occupied country is just he sort of strategy that General David Petraeus (former commander in Iraq and now commander of US Central Command encompassing Iraq and Afghanistan) had come up with that successfully decreased violence in Iraq.

    Further the Soviets already tried to kill everything in Afghanistan during their invasion of Afghanistan in late 1979 to 1989 and failed miserably.

    Come on people do we really want to use a strategy that Soviets tried to use and then failed at!

    January 7, 2010 at 8:32 pm | Report abuse |
  72. James P

    I personally think that trying to compair the current war in Afghanistan to other wars is a futile gesture of academic posturing. Despite being able to draw situational comparisons between a multitude of different conflicts, Afghanistan always has been and always shall remain unique for several reasons. Firstly, not the British, the Russian or even the Mujahadeen (foreign followers of Islam who volunteered to fight the Russians in Afghanistan) have been able to overcome and break the will of the Mujahaddin (home fighters), that Afghanistan proudly spawns. The last of these groups, the Mujahadeen, are in fact are rumoured to be directly involved in the creation of the Taliban, and not through an ideological commitment to Islam, but instead through the rape, pillage and murder of Afghan civilians after the end of the Afghan soviet war in 1989, and through the Afghan populations need to defend themselves against these roaming groups of foreigners who seemed determined to do as much damaged to the communities they came across as the Russians did.

    Secondly, the use of tanks, aircraft and any other form of technology are almost negated by the barren and rocky terrain of this most harsh of countries. The committed troop levels, including all of the NATO forces in country at the moment do not add up to a tenth of the true levels needed to engage the insurgent forces on all fronts and in fact can only take and hold small tracts on strategic land, which is soon withdrawn from (in a direct comparison the Vietnam era) and retaken by insurgent forces. With crumbling support for this conflict in the committed NATO countries (some of which only provide non-combative troops), the required man power levels to even be able to complete any of the stated objectives will be hard, if not impossible to reach.

    Thirdly, and probably most importantly, are the Afghan people themselves. Afghanistan is made up of several different tribes of peoples, who are deeply committed to the Wahibi Salafi form of austere and hardline Islam, as well as to their fellow tribal members. Honour plays a large part in the society there, and not to side with shelter and give support to a "Brother" would be seen as a massive betrayal within this complex society and would have many far reaching repercussions for what is essentially seen as a betrayal. Match this with a minority, western supported puppet government that is riddled to its core with corruption and features some less than salubrious War Lords, who make millions a year from the poppy harvest and you have a potent mix for civil unrest, dissatisfaction and civil war. Although the Taliban regiem was harsh and authoritarian, they also had a great deal of public support and brought unity to this broken land that had been shattered by the years of conflict it had endured. Also, contrary to what is a common misconception, the Taliban were no lovers of Osama bin Laden and his "Al Qaeda". In fact it is well documented that they were poised to hand over the "Sheik" to the American's just before President Clinton launched a cruise missile strike on the country and therefor changed their mind. Creating any sort of wealth in this barely fertile land is a constant struggle and contributes to Afghanistan's lack of any sort of gross domestic product other than the illegal poppy/opium trade. For many who work in this area, the poppy trade provides the only sustainable income they can get and the destruction of this trade only proves to further alienate the population even further.

    I wish I knew what the answer was, but the policies of the Bush/Blair administrations have put all those countries who are participating in the war in a CATCH 22 situation and left the leaders of the following administrations with an unimaginable nightmare of growing complexity. They cannot pull out as they would lead to an all out civil war, but to stay will mean years of guerilla fighting in a hostile environment. To get into the further complexities of this situation would take all day, but I personally believe only with a far greater understanding, some blue sky thinking, negotiation and with compromise on all sides can any headway be made towards a peaceful future for this historically troubled land.

    January 7, 2010 at 8:31 pm | Report abuse |
  73. William

    "1900s War?" The level of ignorance you assume on the part of your readers is frightening.

    January 7, 2010 at 8:25 pm | Report abuse |
  74. JP

    Hey CW:

    The US invented "water boarding" in the Philippine War and then passed the idea
    back in time to the Spanish Inquisition (where it's use was first documented). That's some trick!!!

    Of course, it is not well known that the US used waterboarding during the Philippine War. People need to know this and other things in our past if we hope to understand how we got to where we are right now. The Middle East remembers the horror of the Crusades, so they will certainly have some recollection of more recent history as well.

    January 7, 2010 at 8:23 pm | Report abuse |
  75. Jimmy in Chicago

    While I can see some parallels between these two wars, there is one major distinction that needs to be made: We went to war in Afghanistan because the country was attacked on 9/11. The people of the Philippines did not initiate an attack on the US that required the invasion and occupation of their country.

    January 7, 2010 at 8:18 pm | Report abuse |
  76. Bill T

    Do we really even want to "win" the war in Afghanistan, or just get the fighting to stop and the enemy to back off of us? Big difference. Winning means we take full control of all we can see. I don't know of any American or any policy that wants to occupy Afghanistan for 1 second longer than it takes to knock the al-Queda down. We don't need to "win" to do that. A truce, if possible, might be enough. We don't need all of Afghanistan under our heels. We just need enough Afghanis willing to not let al-Queda flourish. That is a hearts and minds problem, not a territorial one.

    January 7, 2010 at 8:15 pm | Report abuse |
  77. Philie guy

    Its not ignorance Bill G its about reality and the truth. War is a terrible think and you can't make it a nice honorable competition by setting rules and expectations.

    If we want to win in Afganistan we need to be willing destroy the Taliban's ability to fight their war on their terms.

    They are willing to die for what they believe in, Americans are not.

    If we are not willing to unless the terror of war on the terrorists we might as well leave now and forever admit defeat.

    January 7, 2010 at 8:15 pm | Report abuse |
  78. Andre

    This war can only be solved through peace, love, jelly beans and gum drops.

    January 7, 2010 at 8:13 pm | Report abuse |
  79. Philie guy

    Let the millitary win the war.

    When the politicians fight a war the war is destined to be lost.

    You can't expect the millitary to win a war with one hand tied behind their backs.

    We tried this in Vietnam and lost the war because the politicans faught the war in Washington and not in Vietnam.

    The same exact thing is happening this time around.

    January 7, 2010 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
  80. Bill G

    Wow! Our American ignorance is frightening! As I read the comments, I find that only a few understand the historical realities of this conflict. Damn shame. Ok, get a book – several books. Not revisionists, but the really academic historians. Maybe we all should study more before we pontificate facts that are just confused pipe dreams. Dudes!

    January 7, 2010 at 8:03 pm | Report abuse |
  81. Bob

    What all of you who want to pull out of Afghanistan are forgetting, is that once we leave the Islamist militants who attacked us will simply return and give or take a few years we will be right back where we were in 2001. The same thing occured in the Philippines, once the Americans pulled out the Islamist insurgancy reappeared due to the power vacumn that followed our withdrawl, and guess what we now are back fighting the same insurgency we had defeated 100 years ago. Once we decide to take someplace we should stay there, or else we will simply have to go back.

    Goryo:
    We sunk the entire Spanish Asiatic Squadron at Manilla Bay, i would hardly call that a mock battle. You are thinking of the battle in Manila city that occured afterwords.

    January 7, 2010 at 8:01 pm | Report abuse |
  82. Nick in Jersey

    Wars are not won by gentlemen but rather leaders that are willing to commit their millitary to bringing their enemies to their knees.

    Example: We often think of George Washington was a hero and honorable man however did not fight the revolutionary war according to the rules of war followed by the european powers. He used guerilla war tactics, had Indian villages burned to the ground and burned and pillaged the homes of known American loyalists.

    Good old Ab Lincoln burned the south to a crisp and blockaded them (our current follow countrymen) into starvation.

    FDR authorized the daylight raids on Germany bombing and burning whole cities to the ground.

    Need we forget about what we did to Japan but we will always convince ourselves that those Japs deserved what they had coming.

    One Liberal named Woodrow Wilson committed 250,000 American troops to fight a purely European War in 1917. We lost over 55,000 men in less than two years of fighting and what did we get out of winning world war one?.....Nothing. We got a depression and a handful of fascist thugs. Lets not forget we also got a colonized Middle East by defeating the Ottoman Empire.

    As I stated only terrible leaders win wars; only Stalin could have beaten Hitler.

    January 7, 2010 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
  83. Mike

    The idea that Afghanistan is somehow critical to US survival is just plain uninformed.

    It's for the pipeline and that is all.

    If the US somehow manages to effectively occupy and subjugate the Afghans, what's to stop ubl from setting up shop elsewhere?

    Symmetrical vs asymmetrical war is a losing proposition.

    Ask the Brits from the 1770s and 1780s.

    January 7, 2010 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
  84. larry

    islam is now the problem of the century. any were dominated by islam, that is always the problem. islam was established in voilence, and voilence have been their identity. i see this as the end of the world is comming soon. and this will be caused by a particular islamic group. look at how islam have inflicted hunger in all part of africa, nigeria by the north in power, somalia, and many african nation.
    islam is a dead religion . america have to use any means to end the war with islam so that the world will be at rest. the repulican should stop politicizing this war for the sake of american people. i love america so dearly, this is the only country that gave light to black nations in there land. america should win afghan by all mean, the world know that this will not be archieved without civilian blood.
    AMERICA SHOULD RISE , WAR IS WAR. it dosent matter who died but to win is the major goal . to win islamic estrimist. thanks, GOD BLESS AMERICA.

    January 7, 2010 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
  85. Jose Anghari

    AK speaks out of ignorance. The Philippine American-War was conducted from 1898 to 1902, the HUKBALAHAPs did not emerge until the Japanese Occupation of the Philippines right after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941. The name says it all "Hukbo ng Bayan Laban sa Hapon" (Hukbalahap) or literally "People's Army Against the Japanese". And the Hukbalahaps were definitely not Moslems (or Moros, as Philippine Muslims from the South are known), they are largely Capampangans from Pampanga and other Central Luzon provinces which are around 300 km. away north from Mindanao, the home of the Moros.

    Simply, the Moros or Muslim Filipinos were never known to be Hukbalahaps in either the Phil-Am War of 1898 or the Japanese Occupation during World War 2. They were a force and class of their own. The famed .45 calibre cartridge was invented precisely to stop rampaging (juramentado) Moros who tied rolls of cloth around their bellies to control bleeding even after receiving several shots from Krag rifles. "Juramentados" usually killed several American soldiers before they are themselves killed.

    But for all their fighting prowess, the Moros eventually succumbed to the Americans, the first foreign power to be able to subdue them. This war should be distinguished in history as a war in its own right distinct from the Philippine American War. It should be known as the Philippine Moro-American War. The Moros were never part of the Spanish Colonial Philippines. They remained autonomous and undefeated by the Spaniards until the Americans came with their Howling Jake Smith Policy of "the more you kill and burn, the more it pleases me."

    The Philippine Moro-American War culminated with the capitulation of the Sultan of Jolo and the refusal of his subjects to accept his decision. They trooped to Mt. Bud Dahu and there set up a final stand against the Americans. Hundreds, if not thousands, were massacred by the Americans in Bud Dahu. Men, women, children, old people. This is still the famed American scorch and burn policy at work in Moro Philippines. The Americans owe the Muslims in the Philippines long time, and big time.

    As for the Hukbalahap, after World War 2, it eventually metamorphosed into the HMB, or the "Hukbong Magpapalaya ng Bayan" or literally "People's Liberation Army", the armed wing of the Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas or the old Communist Party of the Philippines. The HMB continued to kill soldiers of the Philippine Constabulary, successor of the Philippine Scouts as substitute of the American soldiers in America's war against communism.

    January 7, 2010 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
  86. enoon

    The article is interesting for mentioning the historical Philippines invasion. However I find the author's insinuations very disturbing.

    It starts well with the provocative title "Past war offers Afghanistan lessons. And it's not Vietnam". Wow, that's cool lets see which lessons and war are these. Oh the Philippines invasion. Few people know much about it, curious. So lets see which are the lessons for Afghanistan.

    Reading through one finds two main such "lessons":

    1. "But the U.S. military responded to the guerrilla 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"

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

    After that the author adds a section with the usual lame disclaimers "oh no, of course we could not do that today, oh it would not be a good thing" but it goes against the meat of the text and can be safely ignored. So we are left with stark genocidal so-called lessons on "how to win in Afghanistan": be brutal, kill then all, including intentional murder of all civilians we may catch".

    Is THAT it? Allow me to mention these are not even original, dear author. Hitler said just as much in his Lebensraum policies implemented by Himmler's SS. Have you ever heard of Babi Yar?

    A shame on the American military minds if the best they can come up with to win this war started by Bush is to follow Hitler's "wise" policies but against Muslims. What did the US fought WWII for?!

    Sheesh!

    January 7, 2010 at 7:53 pm | Report abuse |
  87. R duane

    JP: Nice post. But Custer's troops were cavalry. They carried a 45-70 trapdoor carbine. Miles's troops carried the rifles, and the Native Americans hated them because they had much better distance than the Winchesters the Natives used. US army Infantry/native American fights in the west were very rare given the Native's mobility. The Wagon Box fight is the only one I can think of. Anyway, the Phillipines war is memorable if only because it added the terms boondocks, puntang and 'to run amuck' to our language!

    January 7, 2010 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |
  88. Joe

    I found it interesting that the American government in early 1900's maintained support for the war in Phillipines largely through ignorace, racism, and demonization of war oppoments. Are these really good motivation and justification in order to "have more will to win than our opponent?

    Same racism and ignorance is now surfacing in the comments about the Afghanistan war. Do we really need to resort to these terrible prejudices in order to "have more will to win"?

    Taking out these prejudices, do we still have the same will to win? I hope we do, otherwise we should not be there.

    January 7, 2010 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
  89. AK

    Celsams just about said it all......thanks and may your immigration to America be a frutiful one,

    And may Afghans of the future be able to say the same thing, long after we have gone. If not, then that is what I would call failure.

    January 7, 2010 at 7:36 pm | Report abuse |
  90. Matt

    The problem is our granola eating starbucks drinking society!!
    These terrrorists attacked and killled innocent american people. They continue to try and attack amercans ie Shoe bomber, Christmas bomber. We cannot leave until we root these rats out and kill them. Their shaningans would be ten fold if we pull out early.
    Send an overwhelming force over there and start kicking down "cave" doors.
    We commited to eliminating these terrorists, so just commit to it and give our military what they need to get the job done.
    Its time to Re-Awaken The Sleeping Giant!!!
    I like many of the comments about using brutaltiy. If that is what it takes then do it. Enough of the feel good crap!

    January 7, 2010 at 7:33 pm | Report abuse |
  91. Ruth in Ohio

    If we have learned from previous wars.......why are we still in a war.?...evidently we have not learned much.....

    January 7, 2010 at 7:30 pm | Report abuse |
  92. celsams

    Americaa was able prevail in the war by improving the lives of ordinary Filipinos. They set up the infrastracture in government, education,publicworks,transpotation and etc. There were jobs,food,sense of order and security in the whole country.

    I remember my father's story about the good life they have during they call, " American Time". This story will be passed again and again to future generations.This is what I told my kids. This why I decided to immigrate to America.

    These basic ingredient of peaceful transition is applicable to any conflict in any part of the world. May America be successful this time.

    January 7, 2010 at 7:26 pm | Report abuse |
  93. Bill

    To all those brutal force fans – Did Soviets not use brutal force in Afghanistan? And what was the outcome.

    Have u heard of Faluja, Iraq. Watch some videos of the brutal force which was used by US Army in Faluja. Result – It started insurgency which killed 5,000 US Soldiers and injured 40,000. Afghanistan is not a bunch of Islands nor was Iraq. They are surrounded by Muslim countries. The situation did not change in Iraq, until America started buying out the people who were killing Americans.

    No matter how much u hate Islam, it tells 1.5 Billion followers to go and help those Muslims which are being BRUTALIZED.

    Did these facts bring any brutal force fans to senses

    January 7, 2010 at 7:25 pm | Report abuse |
  94. goryo

    The Americans did not defeat the Spanish during the war, they paid 'em a nice hefty price and did a mock battle in Manila Bay!!!!come on guys!

    January 7, 2010 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
  95. Bob Mercado

    The US missed it. Bin Ladin was targeting the US economy.

    January 7, 2010 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse |
  96. daniel

    Well as a veteran and an ancesteral victim of our genocidal country.
    We live Chiracua Apaches live on. Slowly we meet our foes present.

    January 7, 2010 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |
  97. Bob Mercado

    Al Qaeda does not have to win militarily or in any battle. They already won the war by starting the fall of the US economy and by the sheer number of kills.

    January 7, 2010 at 7:17 pm | Report abuse |
  98. J P

    The reason the US was victorious in the Philippine Insurrection was because of our will to win at any cost (as poster Ed has already noted). It was succinctly summed up at the time by the following little ditty:

    “Under the bright and starry flag
    We’ll civilize ‘em with a Krag”

    The Krag referred to here is the US Army’s Model 1898 Krag-Jorgensen bolt action rifle. The 5-shot .30-40 Krag was the standard issue infantry weapon of the day having replaced the earlier single-shot Model 1873 .45-70 Trap Door Springfield (carried by the 7th Cavalry at the Little Big Horn).

    I always liked that little ditty, and though I never got to implement it myself during my two-year all expense vacation to scenic South East Asia, I have always remained enamored of it. And after 9/11, even more enamored of it than before.

    The only way we will ever win is to be more determined to kill them than they are to kill us.

    SP5 J. Phillips
    US Army 70th Aviation Detachment
    Korat Royal Thai Airbase 1969-70

    “They also serve who only stand and wait” – John Milton

    January 7, 2010 at 7:10 pm | Report abuse |
  99. AK

    SE – I wish. I have taught college-level national policy and am working on MA #2 (public administration) ...but the teaching thing as a career just barely eluded me. I simply love this stuff, and enjoy a spirited and civilized discussion free of indefensible and indefinable absolutes, and of 'libtard'/ 'republithug' epithetfiizing (I just invented the word... )

    Plus it's a boring day at work..... 😉

    January 7, 2010 at 7:10 pm | Report abuse |
  100. R duane

    Nice to see some people are thinking but boy do you have your history messed up! The two wars are not at all comparable. Brian Linn's book, The Phillipines War, is the best place to start. It is not tainted by politically correct nonsense and will show the errors in this story and many of the comments made here. The United States took the Phillipines by default. Dewey was sent to Manila Bay on the outbreak of the war to destroy the Spanish fleet before it could threaten the west coast. The Phillipine nationalists were fightng to free their country from the Spanish. When Dewey sunk the Spanish fleet, he effectively ended Spanish rule but had no troops to occupy Manila. He led Aguinaldo, the defacto leader to believe that America would recognize Phillipino independence and he encouraged (allowed )them to take control of the city. However, the Germans and British followed Dewey into the Bay and made it clear, as did Japan, that the Phillipines were not going to remain independent. America was stuck and sent troops from the west coast (many of the troops,as noted here, were volunteers from plains states and were vetrens of the Indian wars which were savage wars and they brought those experiences with them) to occupy the city and the country. Spain ceded it to the US in the peace treaty. Aguinaldo justifiably felt double crossed, fighting broke out (the US did not shoot first), and the war started. The war against the Moros in Mindanao and other southern islands was an entirely seperate matter which lasted for the US until 1905 (it continues to this day for the Phillipines). The war was ugly with attrocities on both sides, but eventually the US realized that non-violent tactics worked best, the fighting stopped, and the Fillipinos became allies and fought hard to help the US against the Japanese in WW2 (they also saw what really ugly colonization looked like) and the US voluntarily granted them independance in 1948 after much of the ww2 destruction was repaired. We remain friends to this day. AFGHANISTAN IS ENTIRELY DIFFERENT. p.s. If you do not think Afghanistan can be occupied, read any book about Timur the Lame's military battles. He had no problems with Afghanistan but I am not advocating his tactics. The British lost one battle there, and then figured out how to control it without much loss of life.

    January 7, 2010 at 7:06 pm | Report abuse |
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