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. what to do.

    we are fighting a "barny war" we love you... you love us? hippycrats arnt real democrats.... truman was a real democrat... truman + nuke. why did we use the nuke.... to stop our boys from losing their lives. Lets stop being nice and crack a nuke on these jokers who are our enemy. truman was right. truman won. truman was a democrat not a hippycrat/hypocrit.

    January 17, 2010 at 1:13 am | Report abuse |
  2. Bob

    Years ago during WWII, a newspaper article reporting on a tactic used by some to get convoys through extremely dangerous areas. They rounded up the locals and tied them to the sides of the trucks. The enemy knew that by attacking the vehicles they woukd kill family members. The convoys passed through safely. After that time "Politically Correct" policies have been adopted here and changed many of our policies. Regardless of the horrors and devastation they inflict to win their objective we can't emulate our enemies because "our morals better than theirs."
    The tragedy of WWII ended with dropping 2 atomic bombs. today the PC's bemoan the loss of Japanese lives without acknowledgingthat many more American lives would have been sacrificed by invading Japan.
    When you enter a state of war you must annihilate the enemy because if you don't he will annihilate you.

    January 15, 2010 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Tanton Vonuts

    "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) "

    1. The Pentagon plane was a 757
    2. Documented evidence shows that there was wreckage left outside of the Pentagon
    3. The "Loose Change" conspiracy theories have been debunked by

    And please stay on topic. 9/11 was done by Al Qaeda, and everyone must accept that.

    January 15, 2010 at 12:48 am | Report abuse |
  4. sam

    humanitary warfare tactics only work when both opposing sides have humanitary values and morals.flying airplanes into buildings and killing innocent civilians such as 911 in my belief is not very humane,not to mention the violation of civil and religious rights of individuals such as the afghans who merely live in afghanistan who have nothing to do with this war. after all its not the afghans fault that terrorist chose thier country due to the nature of its terrain as thier location to train,plan,and use as a forward operating base to execute thier inhumane ideas. to sum it up the afghan people and its government should not suffer the type of things such as the indians of the plains of the fillipinos endured. as for the terrorist and those who support them the option to me is simple... find em/fix em
    in other words once they are located "drop the bomb" we have a moral obligation to those who cherrish the earth and life itself to ensure they dont have to waste what precious time they have on earth living in fear.

    January 14, 2010 at 9:27 pm | Report abuse |
  5. steve parks

    #1 The unfortunate thing about war is that politics are never separated from it.I admire the Vietnam vets suggestion of keeping it out,but it is virtually impossible.
    #2 If we just go around wiping people out at large,we will not only lose our allies but lose the battle of winning over the population.It would also feed the insurgents propaganda and help them recruit.
    #3 We will continue in Afghanistan as long as the politicians have agendas.I don't buy that this whole Afghanistan thing is simply about the war on terror.There is more and Iraq has a lot to do with it too.
    #4 I support our troops 100%,as a vet myself.However,I do not support our leaders that have ulterior motives regarding this whole thing.They(our gov't)are untrustworthy liars(republicans and democrats alike)and one of these days the American people will see it.

    January 14, 2010 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
  6. superlive

    Look, the reason the US kept the PI after the Spanish War was to use it as a base from which to intervene in China - which they promptly did in 1900. The reason the US decided to grant the Filipinos full indepence later was because the post WW1 isolationists did NOT want it to be used for intervention in a China which was in perpetual conflict with JAPAN. The only reason the Japanese invaded the PI at the start of WW2 was to neutralize the US military bases there to keep the US from using those bases to attack Japanese forces in China after the Pearl Harbor attack.

    January 14, 2010 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  7. John Watson

    The Taliban are already using women and children to blow us and their fellow Afgans and Pakistanis up. So when our drones sport a Taliban patrol, simply follow them to their villages and in the middle of the night, rain Hellfires and Tomahawks on the whole place, The real lessons of 20th century warfare is that it only takes a few Dresdens and Hiroshimas to break the will of the people and end a war.

    January 14, 2010 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
  8. David

    We can always learn from past experiences, but the fact is that an analogy between Afghanistan and Vietnam is much tighter than a similar comparison with the Spanish-American War. The latter lasted only 3 years in an environment in which the dissemination of information was extremely slow by modern standards. I just don't see how that compares the two other, much-longer wars fought during the TV Era, in which images of the front lines and the horrors of war reach every American household on a daily basis.

    January 14, 2010 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
  9. Andrew

    Our goal is not to have Afghanistan become a satellite province of the US. We have no desire to declare sovereignty in their nation, as we did in the Philipines. Our goal is to stabilize the country long enough for the Afghans to be able to police the Taliban on their own. Our goal should be to form the Afghan version of the Philipine scouts. We need to maintain enough access in Afghanistan to be able to role over any new Tora Bora they may attempt to establish, but we don't have to dominate their country. "Defending" a large territory is a terrible position to be in because the attacker gets to choose where and when and how they attack, and can make sure its under favorable terms. Technology is changing things a lot. The ability to use drones to scout without risking human life, our ability to track, locate, and eliminate insurgents is growing. The soviets were pretty effective in afghanistan till we gave the Afghans Stinger missles. No one is giving the Taliban stinger missles, and the Afghans internal defense will grow stronger over time. We win by convincing the Afghans that the Taliban that randomly blow up people in markets are the enemy, discrediting the Quarn desecration lies the Taliban will spread, and getting Afghans who are pissed off their brother was randomly blown up in the market to fight the Taliban. Bait and Bleed the insurgents till their tired of dieing to prevent their own democracy.

    January 14, 2010 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
  10. Erin

    I'm of the 'all, or nothing at all' school of warfare. If we are going to fight someplace, let's nuke the F out of it, or leave it alone. Nuking the poppy fields will destroy current crops, and sterilize the soil, thus elliminating future crops. Without heroin profits, the terrorists will be less able to afford weapons, training, intel, etc. If every time a terrorist blew up one our buildings, or planes, we retaliated by evaporating an entire city, or two, of theirs, terrorism would soon end. They would run out of cities full of jihadic suicide bombers before we ran out of planes, or skyscrapers. We have 487,000 nukes. We may as well put a few hundred of them to good use. Tell the pols to: "either nuke on, or shut the F up!" This half azzed stuff makes munitions makers richer, but helps no one else.

    January 13, 2010 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
  11. antonio

    The Germans committed genocide in the USSR, the French committed genocide in Algeria, the US committed genocide in Vietnam, the Soviets committed genocide in Afghanistan, and the four still lost the war.

    So it's historically proven that Nazi-Communist-Klansmen formulas in the modern world just don't work.

    January 13, 2010 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  12. richard

    As a Viet Nam veteran, I can say the lesson we should have learned by now, is you can not be POLITICALLY correct when fighting a WAR.

    Insurgents who do not wear uniforms and hide in Mosques are not soldiers but Guerillas, therefore the Geneva Convention can not apply. Until we start making the punishment WORSE then the crime, it will certainly go on for a very long time.

    When insurgents are caught, executed them, show it on public tv and cover their bodies in PIG BLOOD... when the 72 virgins are no longer attainable, then it will be very difficult to recruit new fighters.

    If the rest of the WORLD complains, have them send their YOUNG MEN & WOMEN to HELP fight the battle!

    January 13, 2010 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Constantine

    First and foremost, there are many hypothesis about the real perpetrators of the 9/11 incident. We cannot simple make quick assumptions but to take a step by step approach in investigating the root of the cause. Since this attack is comparable to the Pearl Harbor attacks, investigations should be very thorough and there should be an independent committee that should oversee these investigations.

    Secondly, wars are very taxing on the economy. When a bullet is fired, you don't get anything in return but more destruction and death. Counting the costs, it is fool hardy to believe that war will have almost no effect on the long term growth of any nation. The faster a diplomatic solution can be arranged, the better.

    Thirdly, nobody likes war. Furthermore, the professional body of the United States Armed Forces have been fighting in the middle eastern theaters for a few tour of duties. It is very trying for the individual soldier to go through dangers, anxiety, stress for such prolonged periods and it is detrimental to their physical and mental health.

    Lastly, if the war is to be continued, a leader of exceptional courage is required. Where are the likes of Alexander the great, or Napoleon Bonaparte who lead the charge at the bridge of Arcole? Perhaps a George Washington is needed for America. Someone with the will, the courage, the virtue and the exemplary nature for Americans to follow?

    January 13, 2010 at 9:32 am | Report abuse |
  14. Rob

    Educating women in Afghanistan is the key. When you don't educate half your population you lose out on so many brilliant things that could have been and this in turn holds back your country and culture. I know that education in Afghanistan needs to improve for both men and women, but the Taliban want to leave women out entirely. Education gives people hope for a better future and the tools to get it, this will be a major factor in turning Afghanistan around. As education improves in Afghanistn and the region the Taliban will find it much harder to recruit future Taliban. Another key to winning mentioned in the article is PATIENCE, I hope we have it. I hope you all have a great day love, Rob W.

    January 13, 2010 at 6:28 am | Report abuse |
  15. arvind56

    an educative asticle .since afghanistan is a muslim and a porous state it will be foolhardy to use brutalityyet us should be clear about their aim ,like in phillipines if not us europe wud have occupied but not so in afghanistan.it seems no tangible gains in terms of geo-politic or economic are likely. i personally do not know or understand the future gains for usa by their presence in breakeheart battle field called afghanistan from the times of alexander the great.

    January 13, 2010 at 6:00 am | Report abuse |
  16. Parth

    Someone noted that the fact that the heart of terrorism is in Pakistan & Afghanistan is "absolutely false". Apparently because the leader and bombers are/were Saudi.

    Yes, they were Saudi nationals. Many of the attacks throughout the world since 2001 came from people who went through London, some who claimed British citizenship. That does not make London terrorism headquarters. The so-called attempt to distract us from Saudi "over the last 8 years" may indeed be true as Saudi has a lot of money and money is needed to fund terrorism. But, if you take the time to read and understand my original post, you will note that since the Clinton administration, second term, Pakistan was on the terror list. It came off after 9/11 when the government agreed to help us. Furthermore, again as I noted earlier, and as has been demonstrated over and over again throughout the last 20 years, if someone wants training in terror, they go to NW Pakistan.

    If you want to quibble over whether money is more fundamental to a fundamentalist or terror training is, quibble away. But to live in a fantasy world where we believe that NW Pakistan is, if not the entire heart at least the left ventricle of terrorism, then, well, God Bless You and I guess it takes all types.

    January 13, 2010 at 4:23 am | Report abuse |
  17. Richard Harris

    The danger posed to the helicopters was just as significant since the the helicopter missile launch platform was devastating to the Mujuhedeen when they had no missiles to defend themselves with.

    Wars are won with weapons systems, not left-wing dogma. When we equipped the Mujuhedeen with the superior weapon system, it was a game changer.

    January 13, 2010 at 3:31 am | Report abuse |
  18. Richard Harris

    Correction to typo error. Fixed wing aircraft were unable to fly below 12,000 feet thus eliminating their use in a ground support function.

    January 13, 2010 at 2:34 am | Report abuse |
  19. Richard Harris

    Antonio, you are absolutely 100% wrong. You must not be old enough to have watched that war on TV. I remember seeing news stories depicting how the MIGS were unable to fly below 20,000 feet or else they'd be shot out of the sky.

    Your left-wing anti-war attitude can't rewrite history when the people who are old enough to have seen it are still alive to debunk you left-wing nonsense.

    January 13, 2010 at 2:27 am | Report abuse |
  20. Dave

    The article states : 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." Sounds like "democracy" came to the Philippines but the U.S. wouldn't allow it. Protean summarized what this was was really about.

    January 12, 2010 at 8:49 pm | Report abuse |
  21. antonio

    The Soviets never lost control of the air space of Afghanistan. The Stingers were only a menace to the choppers, not to the Migs and Sukhois.

    The Soviets lost the war because Moscow, with its usual disregard for the lives of its soldiers (more than 15.000 dead), crumbled under the economic and social pressure of that 10 years war.

    The US could go the same way.

    PS: Hollywood can't replace REAL EDUCATION.

    January 12, 2010 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
  22. Richard Harris

    One fact that most people don't seem to be aware of is that the Soviets were slaughtering the Mujuhedeen in Afghanistan for the first phase of the war. The whole complexion of that war changed when we started equipping the Mujuhedeen with Stinger missiles. The Soviets completely lost control of the air from that point on.

    Those people who saw the movie or read the book "Charlie Wilson's War" will be aware of the story behind our equipping the Mujuhedeen.

    January 12, 2010 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  23. Arnie Trinidad

    the philippine american war and war in afghanistan cannot be compared. for one, the philippines was only starting to become a nation that time. it had just won the war against spain. filipinos, although they have declared their independence, had yet to see themselves as belonging to one nation. filipinos had their affinities to their regional groups more than the nation owing to the country's geography (being composed of different islands) and cultural diversity. naturally, it was easier for the americans to subdue them given this weakness. the americans also used "benevolent" tactics such as providing education and health care to the masses, something that spain did not do for the 300 years it colonized the country. the americans also set up government structures in major cities and embarked on extensive public works projects all over the country. these made the americans win the war and not violence. i also only learned about the massacre of balanginga, samar and the other atrocities the americans perpetrated against filipinos in the university and not earlier, which shows that the philippine government has been complicit in silencing the dastardly acts of the americans against filipinos. this is why most filipinos have the misinformed notion that the americans were thoroughly benevolent to us.

    January 12, 2010 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
  24. Troy

    Sorry Gents but there is some confusion here.

    Someone said that the heart of terrorism lies in Afganistan and Pakistan. This is absolutely false.

    The heart of terrorism lies in Saudi Arabia. Period.

    It took eight years of spoon fed sound bites, re-education through 24 hour news and plently of peer pressure to devert attention away from the peninsula, but the fact remains. All those that bombed us, were Saudis. Bin Ladin is a Saudi. The money that finances terrorism comes from Saudi. Al Queda originated in .......you guessed it.

    By the way, they don't have to hide in the mountains of Pakistan, they teach openly in Saudi Arabia at Muslim schools every day.

    America you need to wake up and see the hand you have been played. The people who control your country realize the importants of Saudi and this is why attention was deverted away from Saudi in the first place.

    Why aren't there 100k troops in Saudi Arabia instead of Afganistan.....because our oil is in Saudi.

    Wake up people and do a little homework on your own. Life must be boring to be told what to think and believe all the time. Where is your heart and mind?

    January 12, 2010 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
  25. Parth

    Regarding the article however, I'm not sure what it has to do with Afghanistan at all. The Phillipines was about US Imperialism, period. Now there might be those who are thinking that way with Afghanistan, but that was not the point in being there.

    While our systems may keep us relatively safe, except for underwear bombs, the point is that we are dealing with the heart of terrorism in Afghanistan and northwest Pakistan. This is not news, Clinton put Pakistan on the Terror List during his second term because most terrorists GLOBALLY went there for training. To up & leave whether on the pretense of peace, economics, or whatever other rationalization soothes our conscience, the reality is THE ENTIRE WORLD backed us going there and we are on the doorstep of Terrorism Central. This is not about religion, not about race, simply about the fact that a group of insane people are willing to go to any lengths to destroy. When Gandhi used the non-violent tactic against the British, it worked because at least some of the Brits had a conscience and a soul. Imagine the Jews trying that against Hitler and I think we will understand the chances of Terror Central suddenly having a change of heart and leaving the world at peace.

    January 12, 2010 at 7:50 am | Report abuse |
  26. Parth

    The US went into Afghanistan for a reason and with the backing of the international community. The fact that Iraq distracted and diminished efforts against the Taliban & Al Qaeda is not a reason to walk away from Afghanistan. Furthermore, the past conquests in Afghanistan have been to subdue & conquer. That cannot be the goal of the US. Not strategically, not economically... ultimately, the goal is to do what was not done after the Soviets were chased out by US-backed fighters... the same ones who are now fighting against us because they were left to fend for themselves when our selfish interests were served.

    Well, now their stability is in our interest so perhaps that impetus will keep us there. These are terrorists not armies. Perhaps there might not be an end, but if the US says, "ok, make love not war" and JUST LEAVES rather than stays to help the common Afghani, then those terrorists will take over.

    Let's not forget, we went there because war was brought to our soil. And in the process a government that hated women, destroyed ancient Buddhist Relics, and violently-imposed Middle Ages rule was ousted. We are known, as Americans, for our passion and hard work, but unfortunately we are also known for our short attention span.

    January 12, 2010 at 7:25 am | Report abuse |
  27. Maynard

    reading the article reawakened the tales that my elders use to tell me about how the brutality of the "amerikano" in the Philippine Revolution preceded that of the "hapon" (japanese) of WW2. on one level, the article is correct that these 2 conflicts involved "guerilla" warfare. but it ends there.

    Purpose: my country the philippines, was colonized under the manifest destiny and benevolent assimilation doctrines of the USA. afghanistan got invaded purportedly to flush out the talibans and al-qaeda extremists. but wait there's the bush doctrine of preemptive war.

    Geography: we are an archipelagic nation beset by regional loyalties. afghanistan is a landlocked historical crossroad of invading armies. but wait, there's the afghan pashtun, tajik, hazara...

    Subjugation: whole provinces razed to the ground and its local populace decimated. local elites were supported. then some semblance of peace was achieved. afghanistan...whole provinces razed to the ground... local elites were supported. uhm. there goes my argument.

    January 12, 2010 at 7:03 am | Report abuse |
  28. Warren Tolentino

    History should be corrected the Filipinos who bravely fought the Americans should not be called insurgents. These Filipino soldiers are legitimate soldiers established in the first Philippine Republic upon the defeat of Spain. They are the same freedom loving soldiers who had fought the spaniard to drive them out of the country to be able to gain freedom and a chance for self-rule.

    January 11, 2010 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse |
  29. antonio

    The Klan just changed the burning crosses for the internet forums. But it's still the same old genocidal and hateful racism via the now ever-present fauna of armchair warriors that want 7/24-carpet bombings and some nuke mushrooms against those “monkeys” and “untermenschen”... Obviously, from the little comfort of their houses in foreclosure and with all the time of the world that unemployment gives to them, watching the mayhem very far away by internet or cable.

    January 11, 2010 at 8:44 pm | Report abuse |
  30. Paul of Kernersville,NC

    "Hukbalahap" is an acronym for Hukbong Bayan Laban Sa Hapon which was organized during WWII against theJapanese Imperial Army, based mainly in the island of Luzon. And they were not Muslims. Now, more than a century later, after the American occupation, the Philippine Government is still waging war in Mindanao which is Muslim dominated island where the US left without pacifiying the area.I wonder how long would it take to end a total victory on a Muslim Country.

    January 11, 2010 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
  31. Blah blah

    Any differences between the total war strategies suggested here by several people and the tactics used by the Germans in WWII? The article and many comments simply shows that roots of fascism and Nazism are still alive and kicking in the US, thank you very much. History is a very ironic thing.

    January 11, 2010 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
  32. maggi dud

    i am sure that there was a war in Northern Ireland lasting 40 years+
    eventually there had to be negotiations and this was after many years
    of attempts by British soldiers to maintain law and order.
    ther needs to be the same attitude with regard to the afganistan situation.
    while there is the attitude of your god is better than my god we will never be at peace

    January 11, 2010 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
  33. Tony

    The war in the Philippines is still not taught in our schools and most American citizens are still ignorant of it.
    Most of my friends range from liberal to super wacky with a side of toast liberal, and no one is griping about Afghanistan. Other than the stupid mistakes like bombing every other wedding, the occasional funeral, and/or Canadian troops; most folks are saying this is where the terrorist extremists are. "And why did we attack Iraq after 9/11 again?"
    We should have attacked the South of France. They had as little to do with 9/11 any of the Iraqis did and the beaches are really nice.

    January 11, 2010 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
  34. P. Haag

    Let's look back into history... Less than 40% of American colonists agreed that we should have declared our independence from England & fought the crown, during the Civil War then President A. Lincoln had an approval rating of less than 5% & 80% of Americans in the North did not feel the abolishion of Slavery nor the Sessession of states from the Union was a good enough reason to continue the war yet we continued the fight and won the Civil War effectively ending Slavery in the US and then 75 yrs ago most Americans felt no need to get involved against Germany, Japan & Italy even though our economy was 10 times worse than what we experience today, thousands of civilians were killed daily if not weekly, facist goverments were invading every country that stood in their way and the world was in a spiral towards oblivion. If it were not for the bravery and stubborn nature of our fore fathers engaged in each of these US actions our country would be a much different place today & quite possibly may not have still been a country. We need to stand fast, we need to push these extremists out and eventually if our will is united we will prevail bringing our boys & girls home once again all while making our world a much better and safer place to live!!!

    January 11, 2010 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  35. antonio

    Another genocide committed by the US against colored people.

    January 11, 2010 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  36. requiem

    All americans have to stay united in this Afgan War.

    January 11, 2010 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  37. the G-man

    Nuke them all that will stop the problem and save money in the process it sound barbaric but if the USA doesn't want to fight it right and stay the course then save US soldiers life's and drop a big bomb that is cheaper in the long run who cares what the rest of the world thinks I know it will never happen but why not southern Afghan go BOOM Iran go BOOM !

    January 11, 2010 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  38. asher77

    america needs to have a god like mentality that though the enemy canattack us the cannot win the war, in the end blessed america will win. positive at all times.

    January 11, 2010 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  39. Angelo

    I agree that this was a poor analogy. Tactically, they may prove some point. But the two peoples are different. Filipinos were constantly colonized while Afghans were resiliant to colonization. Filipinos feel inferior to conquerors while Afghans do not trust any country and will fight.

    I don't blame that Filipinos had an inferiority complex towards conquerors; after all, Spain treated them like slaves and indios for more than 300 years. That's a long conditioning.

    Finally, Filipinos have guerillas that want to defend their country. Afghans have idiots who want to spread horror around the world in the name of Allah.

    So there's not direct basis between the relatedness of the two wars even after all the evidence put out by this article. Afghans cannot be trusted and their faith erratic. Filipinos are harmless and their faith structured into Catholicism. They are two different peoples.

    January 11, 2010 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
  40. Animus

    As it is typical with the modern media, CNN has invented a war that never existed. This was the Spanish-American war which technically concluded under the Treaty of Paris of 1898. Spain was to cede Puerto Rico, Philippines, Guam and lesser islands to the United States. Cuba was sold for to the US for 30 million dollars. The Philippinos wanted independence from the US and this is why the insurrection lasted for so long. There were more Philippinos dead from 1898 till independence from the US than the 300 plus years of colonial rule by the Spanish and that in itself speaks volumes.

    January 11, 2010 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
  41. Vinnie From Indy

    I weep for America!

    It is evident by so many posts on that many of my fellow Americans are so ignorant of their freedoms, history and the rule of law that they would eagerly and wantonly commit murder on entire populations.

    This article is nonsense form beginning to end. Many posters have correctly pointed out that the war in the Phillippines was infinitely more about American imperialism than helping the Philipinos achieve a democracy.

    The one question glaringly ommitted from the article is whether we should be fighting this war at all.

    The War on Terror is a scam! Are we really so afraid of guys in caves with boxcutters that we would destroy ourselves and millions of others in the process? Are our institutions so weak that a guy that blows his scrotum off with explosives in an airliner causes us to repeal the Bill of Rights?

    Wake up America! You are being lied to and manipulated. Bring our troops home!

    January 11, 2010 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
  42. Tony

    Stu is right. An invasion and occupation only become a war when the indigenous people resist and repression/atrocities follow. Why would the the Phillipinos and Afghanistanis not resist US aggression? Freedom and democracy from 10,000 feet is what America is hawking (with spectacular failure) in Afghanistan.

    January 11, 2010 at 8:49 am | Report abuse |
  43. John

    Lesson unlearned: War is stupid!

    January 11, 2010 at 8:23 am | Report abuse |
  44. Del

    This a great article, so that the American public of today will realized and know the brutal and savage tactics that their forces have employed on the Filipinos during that time. It has been said that the population of the Philippines during that time did not increased due to that savage war. An American General even ordered his troops to kill every Filipinos aged 10 years old and above. That General was famous for his lines "Want you to kill and burn, the more you kill and burn the more it pleases me...." The American president during that time if I'm not mistaken is William Mckinley. The war commenced after the Philippines was sold by Spain to the US for 20Million dollars. Our forefathers that time simply wanted independence. But much has changed since then. Our country may have suffered during the US-Philippine war but America was able, in my opinion, to regain the trust and confidence of majority of all Filipinos later on. America contributed greatly in our country's educational system.Improved the judicial system and instituted reforms in the economy. Our countries even fought side by side against the Japanese during WW2. I guess this article is more suited to America's situation in Iraq rather than in Afghanistan.

    January 11, 2010 at 4:54 am | Report abuse |
  45. butleraga

    CNN is actually one of the most reliable news networks available to the public (but of course this is my sole opinion). Sure, this article was poorly thought out in trying to relate these two wars but at least they actually try to encourage the viewer to think analytically about issues instead of "assuming, blaming, and complaining" such as other news networks I know. But yes, history is full of peoples going to war, unknowingly, for the corporations and economic interests on the agenda. I do not know why we went to war with the Philippines, Vietnam, or Iraq but I do know why we are in Afghanistan. If people were not so caught up in the negativity of journalism and bias maybe we could all learn to think for ourselves and for the good of the nation!

    January 11, 2010 at 3:06 am | Report abuse |
  46. James J

    They told Americans they were in the Philippines to civilize and Christianize its inhabitants, historians say.

    The Catholic University of the Philippines (or simply UST or affectionately, "Ustê". Filipino: Unibersidad ng Santo Tomás), is a private Roman Catholic university run by the Order of Preachers in Manila. Founded on April 28, 1611 by archbishop Miguel de Benavides, it has the oldest extant university charter in the Philippines and in Asia.

    # Harvard University, founded in 1636, claims itself to be (v.i.) "the oldest institution of higher education in the United States". The claim of being "the first university" has been made on its behalf by others.[1]

    January 11, 2010 at 2:41 am | Report abuse |
  47. Perplexed

    So to win in Afghanhell, Obama, the Nobel Peace Prize winner, has to create a genocide there. Then the same in Iran, Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, Sudan, Nigeria, Indonesia and all other countries with islamists extremists. Its already been done in Irak by the Bush dynasty, and this country has at least 30 years of rebuilding, if nothing happens to counter that, which is doubtful.

    I think its completely wrong to compare with any other wars, its not even guerilla, its completely a new kind of warfare invented by islamists extremists leaders. Explicitely designed to defeat the american military. The exact thing happened in Vietnam, the vietcong leaders designed strategies to defeat americans and they succeeded, although at an immense cost.

    Those islamists extremists glorified themselves in suicide missions, and they consider muslim civilians who die in their own attacks as a sanctified sacrifice. The cost of their victory, death of civilians, economic devastation, has absolutely no importance to them. Their numbers are growing steadily all over the muslim world.

    Their basic armament is man-made bombs, which are getting more and more sophisticated, be ready to be surprised with new kind of bombs, such as radiological bombs. The recent attacks inside bases in Texas and Afghanistan surprised me a lot, and so did the failed attempt on an airplane.

    Yemen is now clearly a new front, and by the end of 2010, other fronts will emerge clearly, threatening governments of these countries. Increasing youth population without jobs in the muslim world, extremists education/training, and presentation/perception of America as an attacking enemy will catalyse the terrorism cancer to frightening levels.

    January 11, 2010 at 12:49 am | Report abuse |
  48. Anonymous

    Wow, my history teacher made an assignment out of this article.

    January 10, 2010 at 11:56 pm | Report abuse |
  49. Wildcat4

    Industrialize countries needs a war in the Middle East to stabilize the oil price and thanks to the Americans for leading the war. Without war in that region the price of oil will be dictated by the OPEC member countries. Do you know why most of the industrialized countries joined the war? Because if OPEC raises the price of oil to a level where their economy will suffer, the world will suffer and there will be chaos. We all know that when there is war people/soldiers die and in my opinion the end justify the means. Was in the army before and not afraid to die for I have chosen that profession to serve my country without reservation. I envy the armies that are fighting in Afghanistan today for they are well equipped, fed and paid. Soldiers who complain when assign in conflict area are cowards and should not have joined the force. The Taliban and Al Qaeda’s only advantage to us is their courage and will to fight. We can win this war with good leadership, intelligence and tactics. In the 70’s and 80’s the IED was used by the Muslim extremist (rebels) in Jolo and Basilan, Philippines but we were able to neutralize it with good leadership, intelligence and tactics. Please remember these 3 words: Leadership, Intelligence and Tactics.

    January 10, 2010 at 10:05 pm | Report abuse |
  50. stu

    I am so tired of mouthpieces for the right and corporations, like CNN, who outwardly LIE about history. This was not a "War" in the Philippines (a Spanish Colony before it became an American colony after the "war") but an "invasion", just as the "war" in Vietnam was an invasion and the "war" in Afghanistan was an invasion. It is about colonisation, it is about profit, it is about US corporate interests and greed at any costs. It does not fall under all of the myriad reasons one goes to "war" with another country or American Exceptionalism or Freedom or liberty or any of these other misused terms. It would be remarkable if CNN actually told history as it was and not rewrote it for the sake of propaganda, thereby, further perpetuating the utter ignorance and carelessness of the American population; who is fed daily on such garbage and lies. CNN whilst people lose their jobs daily for reasons out of their control, can you not do your job as journalists for just once?!

    January 10, 2010 at 7:15 pm | Report abuse |
  51. arm

    I am glad this came out. I was just explaining this to students from South Korea and Slovakia and nobody knew about this struggle from the Filipino people.

    The disparity of US dead and Filipinos dead is astounding if you have a "kill them all " strategy.

    January 10, 2010 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
  52. duriancandy

    Did you know that an american died in 1898 in Philippines because he was taking rest under the shade of the durian tree, not knowing that durian fruit is as deadly a mace with spike thorns. Native found him with a durian fruit nailed on his head, it fell frm the tree. Too bad

    January 10, 2010 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  53. Cesspool

    Sent by God, Mike Steel is our only hope

    January 10, 2010 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  54. Cesspool

    It is a shocking revelation to be reminded that americans so blindly follow any leader willing to offer up more burnt toast. It is even more offensive that the majority of americans including veterans already knew the solution before so many soldiers might have died and did not offer it. More alarming is the thought that we might behave as nazi henchmen did during world war 2 and not think that like the Bismark, this nation might sink too. China executes corrupted CEO'S, here shareholders that have more power then ordinary citizens reward their every misdeed. If you think that our great nation could win a war of genecide then you like must like the though of war with China.

    January 10, 2010 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  55. Vic

    Very interesting article and discussion.
    The West (Brzezinski and Reagan) missed a historic opportunity by helping the radical muslims with their fight with the secular government of Afghanistan and the Soviets. Under the Soviet influence, Afghanistan flourished – compared to before and after. If the US kept out, the post-1970s generation of Afghans would have been educated, secular, and definitely non-radical. (Radicals would have been killed, like in Central Asia in the 1920s). In the 2000s, Afghanistan would have been just like another -stan to the north, say, Uzbekistan – not particularly spectacular, but not dangerous and minding its own business.
    So, it was Reagan and John Rambo who screwed everything up in that part of the world.

    Another point: in my view, there is little in common between the Philippines and Afghanistan as a military theater. For those who a weak on geography, Afghanistan is not accessible by sea as, say, Vietnam or Iraq, so supplying an army is very hard. Only the Soviets could do it effectively, but even for them it was expensive.

    And yes, brutality was a natural thing for the Soviets, and so before the US began supplying muslim fighters with high-tech weapons and training then, Soviet occupation worked. Despite brutality (which was as bad as American in Vietnam or elsewhere) it won the hearts and minds of many Afghans along the way because it provided the population with schools, hospitals, electricity and even took one dude into space.

    January 10, 2010 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  56. Manuel Rodriguez

    American Colonists used hit and run tactics during the American Revolutionary Road. Hit and run tactics are used throughout history, and will continue as long as mankind exists. The war in the Phillipines happened because they tried to gain independence from the US. The motive for the war was different (we tried to squash independence). Many US and Phillipino soldiers knew each other. They worked side by side on a daily basis, until the war. The war was unfortunate. The Phillipines rightly demanded their independence. The political chain of command at the time was unwilling to give them independence. After the war they US sympathy swayed toward the Philipino cause. They were granted independence after the war.
    Today we are told, we are at war in retaliation for the 911 attacks. Not to squash Afganistan independence.

    January 10, 2010 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
  57. Michael

    I like to start by stating in blunt terms how unprepared, and more importantly how unaware the US was after 9/11. The feeling of time was of great optomism with the nearly half cenury battle against the evil empire eneded with the colapse of communism in Soviet Russia. The military was being scaled down, but more importantly was the militray still tooled to fight a world war with lines, and tank and air battles. Although more emphasis was placed on special ops forces, the fundamental culture in the military was fighting mass battles. As an american I like to feel we're invincable, that no one can defete us. This is complete ignorance. Do we honestly think any country on this planet would commit their forces to a major land battle. It seems the whole world understads the lessons from our past wars. To defete the USA just bog their military down into a guerilla war. The axiom that states those who don't learn from history, are doomed to repeat it has become a cliche. A buzz word, telling us all that this occured before, and we'll do this or that this time and win. I'm not the most knoledgeable person in regards to historical guerilla conflicts, but I'm not aware of any example where a army has ultimatly won this type of conflict. I understand that the US had to respond after the 9/11 attacks, and had to do more then launch a few cruise missiles at an empty terrorist camp. Now that we're there we can't pack up and go. After Vietnam the US has earned a reputaion of giving up when the true reality of war surfaces. WE MUST WIN AT ALL COSTS!

    January 10, 2010 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
  58. kradschutze

    So the lesson to be learned is just "declare victory and leave"? Other than the fact that they are insurgencies against an occupying army, there is nothing related between the 2 conflicts. I could spend an hour listing all the differences, but I've already spent too much time I'll never get back reading this editorial. The person who wrote it is an idiot.

    January 10, 2010 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
  59. J.M.Miaco

    Enough is enough about war,comparison of past and present events will not do any good.The world today is more educated and supposed to be civilized,but there's one thing missing to all of us and that is love and respect to one another.Greed and corruption is the price of human success and that will annihilate us all.To American government,secure and strengthen your own country internally,you had given the Al Qeada and Taliban a bloody nose already,cut your losses and get out of Iraq and Afganistan. AMEN

    January 10, 2010 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
  60. Santiago

    Reading some of your comments, seems pretty obvious some of you are willing to commit any atrocities just to win this war. Let me tell you, even if the US military did that, (at least on a big scale, lets not fool ourselves thinking they havent done anything "bad" over there), they wont win. Unless the US is willing to erradicate all life in Afghanistan, I really doubt there is anything they can do that the Soviet Army, the British Empire, Alexander the Great and Ghengis Khan didnt tried before. The afghans will prevail, simply because they are willing to fight to the last one. Something which your country wont do.

    January 10, 2010 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
  61. DOJ

    It's very interesting how the author framed the issue of war between the US and the Philippines and the supposed war between US and Spain but i beg to differ on the author's interpretation of the history of war between US-PH and US-Spain. For one, the so-called US Spain war that happened in the Philippines was nothing more than a show-the US paid Spain money as per the Paris convention for Spain to secede occupation of the Philippines to US, to save the "face" of Spain, they staged a so-called war in Manila bay between US and Spain....while the "victory" of US in the Filipino-American war was not so much because of tactical advantage of the US military but more so because of the backroom negotiation between the ruling elite and the state apparatus of the US, while strain of nationalism still remain in some pocket areas in the Philippines and there are some resistance of US occupation, the general perception was that after the declaration of independence from Spain after 1898, most of the people are less enthusiastic to start another full blown war with the US, primarily because of the propaganda perpetuated by the ruling elite purporting US to be allies (which we know is not the case)

    January 10, 2010 at 8:01 am | Report abuse |
  62. Marco van Lieshout

    A very interesting read. I'm glad it points to another origin iso the everlasting "it's going to be another Vietnam". Because it isn't: the country, the people, the history and the (present) time all differ.

    Another often heard comment is that it's a war between modern man and stone age man. But that's careless thought: just because they have no (wish for) television, shiny cars and fast food doesn't mean they don't live in this age and time. They are very modern thinkers and adapt without problem to any modern gimmick thrown at them. Look at how they integrate their culture and modern communications, like cell phones and video.

    What is the same throughout all these wars, is that public opinion matters. So Obama will have to fight a public relations war and present a very clear vision of how he is going to finish things in Afghanistan. The worst thing he can do, is follow day to day emotions and hold back, whatever direction he chooses.

    One thing is clear: just walking away is not an option. A lot of people here in the Netherlands feel that we should abort, but I'm sure that's a no go. If only because you can't just leave the country in turmoil now that we lit the fuze of change.

    A deeper problem is psychological. Somehow modern (western) man thinks that he can fight a clean war without getting hurt. So he uses bigger machines and remote weapons and he distances himselve as much as possible. But real troops on the ground mean everything, as Dutch troops are proving day after day. Tough warriors, now even patrolling in the city on mountain bikes to show their confidence. That's a message that is understood, no doubt. "We don't have to kill, but if necessary we will, without a doubt."

    Our opponents keep things simple: for them it's very personal and they attack wherever possible. If necessary across borders, on our home ground. No worries about public relations. Just getting the job done.

    January 10, 2010 at 6:58 am | Report abuse |
  63. Liam

    In history is always the religious fundamentalists who love war... be it the Christian rantings i see on God tv or the fundmentalists in the mosques.....

    January 10, 2010 at 5:46 am | Report abuse |
  64. gino

    At that time, the philippine population was estimated between 5 -5.5 million. 200,000 died, some said 500,000 were killed. We never killed any American until they invaded and occupied our country. So dont compare Afganistan and the Philippines

    January 10, 2010 at 3:00 am | Report abuse |
  65. Cathrine

    I'm one of 1.2 billion Catholics in the world and with the exception of shameful episodes in our past, no one is running around screaming about us. You can't tarnish an entire religion for the acts of some. Fundamentalism in the issue and it doesn't matter if you're Christian, Jewish, Muslim or Klingon.

    What catapulted Muslim extremists into my frame of reference was of course the horrific events of 9/11 and sadly the effects of that are here to stay. No war is going to change that. It’s like making a path in the middle of the desert, you can be vigilant and sweep the sand away to keep it visible, but as soon as you leave the sand will cover it up again.

    As an Australian I strongly supported sending our troops over. Now I just want them back home – no one can win this war.

    Cathrine

    January 10, 2010 at 12:05 am | Report abuse |
  66. comrade

    afghanistan is diffrent coz the taliban army are well funded.

    January 9, 2010 at 11:35 pm | Report abuse |
  67. Craig P

    Its highly unfortunate that any war needs to be fought. It seems from the beginning of time humans have resorted to killing one another to resolve differences and for what?. That life can continue as it always has? The inclination to do away with our only understanding of what exists and that at the service of human governance that realizes its own weakness and strives to attain supremacy at the expense of its rival only serves to cause confusion. Enforcement of what is good is defined through the seeking of truth. The enforcement of laws that protects those who are seeking the truth needs to be done in this world. I prefer not to call this war or police action or even ghenocide as that gives credence to those involved. What it is can be deduced to is a cumulative effect of those not seeking truth as it pertains to the varrious situations.

    January 9, 2010 at 9:13 pm | Report abuse |
  68. Russell

    Well very soon, we will be able to fight our wars without losing a single American. Drones will transform into semi-autonomous versions of F-35's, A-10's, Abram's and Bradley's. Big Dogs and Talons will sit patiently waiting days or weeks for threats, jump up and spray the area with machine gun fire and cluster bombs then report back to base for resupply. For insurgents, the only targets will be American machines, not American soldiers.

    Thus we will be able to fight wars for decades or centuries (no joke here), with the only limit being how much money we want to spend and how long the enemy can hold out. (and since nearly all that money is spend here in the U.S., as high-paid jobs designing, building and operating the machines, it boosts our economy to get involved in ever more "wars" w/o the fallout of body bags.)

    You may be laughing due to the "Hollywood" effect, but DARPA and the Pentagon see that replacing soldiers with machines solves all the issues of waging war on someone else's soil. And universities and companies all over the U.S. are pushing hard to solve the technical problems and cash in on the next military industrial complex.

    Military robotics is advancing as rapidly as computers. Autonomous and semi-autonomous supply vehicles will be here in 5 to 10 yrs. (Thanks to DARPA prizes.) Fighting vehicles a few years later. Drones are already here and have taken over the most high risk (politically, if not physically) tasks of killing. ATV size killing robots will be ready for full deployment in 10yrs or less.

    ...And it looks like our Pakistan war will be the first fought remotely.

    If you are still alive in 45yrs (the time since Vietnam), you probably won't even know we're fighting 8 wars simultaneously, other than the big paycheck your engineer wife brings home, and the occasional news report with video of another ROV kill taking place. All in 3D HD on the "Live War" channel.

    Hey, and won't the Somali pirates be surprised when they board a ship only to find a pack of armed Big Dogs on board. (And the pilot steering the ship from his home in Denmark.)

    January 9, 2010 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
  69. Russian

    How did the Soviets fail miserably? They killed over 1 million afghan and foreign mujahids for a loss of a brave 15,000 soldiers. In my opinion, that's the greatest victory in history. They only withdrew for political reasons. I wonder what would happen if Russia currently supplied the Taliban with shoulder fired SAMS, much like the CIA did back in the 80's. The US would be decimated. Maybe Russia should consider this.

    January 9, 2010 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
  70. Jonbal

    America is a good friend only if they have behest interest to take to the other. This article is not new to us because it is being taught in schools in the Phils. This is one of the saddest story of the Phil-US relation. One historian says that the war erupted on a bridge of San Juan where an american soldier shot down a filipino for no reason. And at the same time the Phils is struggling to found its independence from its colonizers. America today thinks that we are still living in less 20th century, they are acting like they are the police of the universe which is not. Drop Afghanistan and Iraq, these war are just a waste of everything and I'm sure many people and nations will support you....

    January 9, 2010 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  71. NJR

    interesting article.....I say kill them all and let God sort e'm out. Whoever your God is. war is hell and the enemy needs to feel it befroe any "hearts and minds" are changed

    January 9, 2010 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
  72. Manny

    So, the American Phillippine war was colonializm and US present in Afganistan must also be Colonializm.

    January 9, 2010 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
  73. Benjamin Dover

    Speaking as a former officer, there are 2 solutions in Afghanistan:

    1. Scorched earth destruction, or;

    2. Leave and let them bury themselves into the stoneage again.

    Why should we care? Our resources and money will not improve the situation in this extremely corrupt and backward environment. It is intractable. Either we kill any opposition or we leave. It's that simple. Since we can't kill them all, we must leave.

    January 9, 2010 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
  74. Brian Horton

    Every war is like and unlike the last. The one commonality to all are the deaths. That being said we NEED to really adapt to the type of conflict that we are engaged in as well as adapting to the unique facts of life in the Afghan region. History cries out to us to examine the past in this conflict – Though it is a ridiculous sidebar – note that even in the new "SHERLOCK HOLMES" movie that the Afghan campaign is mentioned in reference to the Dr. Watson character – this is an area of conflict that has gone on for centuries and, there are no clear victors unless one considers the Afghan people to have survived as a
    victory in and of itselt.
    The United States military has to step in and step in HARD. I am tired of hearing that
    our troops lack artillery and air support or that the "ROE " prohibited fire support. We need to put "boots on the ground" and bring "death from above".
    We also absolutely need to adapt to the fact that life in Afghanistan is a tribal//village
    centered life. Though we do, indeed, need a good, strong centralized government – we must also accept the fact – and work with the local level leadership – If we do not – we will fail.
    We must also seek the full cooperation of Pakistan into the border areas where so many opponents all too easily disappear into when the need arises.
    The outcome of any conflict is always in doubt and we must NOT come to believe that our "technical" superiority will provide a victory here. The Soviets learned that lesson.

    January 9, 2010 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
  75. Randy

    I.m sorry, but the American government is solely responsible for the situation they are in.
    Going into Afghanistan was an understandable, and responsible decision.But, abandoning that war to go after Iraq's oil was typical American, we want it, so we are going to take it. You deserve to lose in Iraq. The rest of the world is really getting tired of the American government's habit of starting "stuff" and not finishing it. There is a lot of talk from the USA to get out of Afghanistan. I say, get out of Iraq and go finish your "stuff" in Afghanistan. My fellow Canadians are dying. Dying in a situation created by the American government. Let's all hope and pray that President Obahma has more comon sense then George Busch did.

    January 9, 2010 at 10:09 am | Report abuse |
  76. jansen

    The Philippine-American War of 1903 lasted until the capture of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, our countries first ever president. They won the war technically. If you will study the history of the Philippines you will see that its not only they use the militatry to conquer us or in the words of the former US President "assimilate" the Filipinos,but they use peaceful means like providing humanitarian support like medicines, doctors, educators and the gift of democracy. After the capture of Gen. aguinaldo, other wars are raging in the Phillippine Islands. For example, the Moro War in Mindanao. They see Americans as conquerors thats why they defended themselves. But Filipino leaders true to their love for their countrymen accept American help. In short, Filipinos love to fight for their country, for our country, thats why after the Taft Commission was sent to the Phillippine islands, they brought back civilian government and then on Filipino leaders participated in order for their countrymen to be protected. Love of God, Countrymen and Country are the main reasons Philippines never became like war-torn Afghanistan. If these things should be applied to Afghanistan in order to stop the war, it may be wise to study these. Learning from the past may become a key to the present. In order to achieve the present the past I think may be revisited.

    January 9, 2010 at 9:33 am | Report abuse |
  77. KC

    The decisions/situations facing President Obama and President Johnson about a Military operation passed from the previous administration are very alike. Johnson was faced with being called a "War Hawk" if he fought a full scale war in Vietnam and a "yellow coward" if he stopped all operation. What you got was a middle of the road and ineffective strategy. President Obama is facing the same situation and seems to be making the same mistakes- War is an all or nothing proposition.

    January 9, 2010 at 9:02 am | Report abuse |
  78. Alf Z

    The Geneva Convention applies to legal combatants, not for criminal who will cutoff the finger of anyone who votes in a free election (and that’s a mild example).

    Fanatics of any religion (any!) that attack civilians to terrorize the population into complying with their view of a bible, their perspective of right or wrong, must never be allowed to exist or rule over a nation.

    The only result that will come out of such a place will be a nation that will deny the basic human rights of its people. i.e. “The sun must never touch the skin of a woman”. What kind of barbaric place is this, and how can we live in the west and allow such an evil nation to exist on our planet? What ever happened to the belief that man was created by God with some basic rights; life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Does this only apply to people in the west? Would today's' world turn a blind eye to Nazi Germany, because it was not our problem, our continent, our nation? Would we voice our opposition at the UN, recall our ambassador, and only act if it affects our "interest or people"?

    If the "civilized world" was so righteous when standing up against apartheid in South Africa, how can we now say that we are willing to tolerate people living under the oppressive rule of “religious leaders” who applaud arranged marriages of girls under the age of ten! Or behead a woman because she did not put-up enough of a fight against a rapist. Women have no rights in such a place. Where are the feminist who marched for the rights of women around the world? Or are some women less deserving of basic freedom and rights than others?

    Look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself if your mother, sister, daughter, or wife was living over there, would you do everything within your power to defend them. We are a world family and Apartheid against women is not tolerable!

    Stand up and be counted; we stood up against Nazi’s, Communist, Apartheid, let us now stand up against fanatic Islamist; support president Obama.

    Never forget, these fanatics attacked up first, not the other way around.

    January 9, 2010 at 8:26 am | Report abuse |
  79. Alvin Cesar

    Very interesting story. The US kept a War Trophy or War Booty for this Philippine War. The Balangiga Bells.
    On September 28, 1901, the villagers of Balangiga ambushed Company C of the 9th U.S. Infantry Regiment, while they were at breakfast, killing an estimated 48 and wounding 22 of the 78 men of the unit, with only four escaping unhurt. The villagers captured about 100 rifles and 25,000 rounds of ammunition. An estimated 20 to 25 of the guerrillas had died in the fighting, with a similar number of wounded.
    In reprisal, General Jacob H. Smith ordered that Samar be turned into a "howling wilderness" and that any Filipino male above ten years of age capable of bearing arms be shot if they refuse to surrender. From the burned-out Catholic town church, the Americans recovered three bells which they took back to the United States as war booty. The 9th U.S. Infantry Regiment, however, maintains that the single bell in their possession was presented to the regiment by villagers when the unit left Balangiga on April 9, 1902.[5] Smith and his primary subordinate, Major Littleton Waller of the United States Marine Corps were both court-martialled for illegal vengeance against the civilian population of Samar. Waller was acquitted of the charges. Smith was found guilty, admonished and retired from service. ( from Wikepedia)

    January 9, 2010 at 8:14 am | Report abuse |
  80. Rob

    It is interesting hearing all of the to and froing that is going on. It all comes down to the fact that war is nothing more than sanctioned extreme violence. ROE's and public sentiment are often a manifestation of what some within a society thinks should be the representative of a nation's self-image. One has to wonder who gave them the right to prescribe courses of actions when they are ignorant of the reality that soldiers face. Read Robert Leckie's "Helmet For My Pillow" if you want to see how major the gulf is between those at home and the soldiers in the active combat zones.

    If you want to read how a counter insurgency should be fought then I invite you to read how the British manage successfully to quell Malasian Communist terrorists. It was simple he took their "pool" of support and they could not longer blend intoo the villages nor blackmail the villagers for suppot. Whole areas were depopulated and the residents were put into heavily protected hamlets where they went on with their lives. They were protected by continuous patrolling and operations against the geurillas. The troops dod not retreat into base camps every night instead they stayed out in the busf for weeeks. Their ability to deny support and to take the fight to the terrorists cleared the insurrection up in about 36 months. I guess that George Snatayana was right when he said that the only think we learn from history is that we fail to learn from history.

    January 9, 2010 at 4:08 am | Report abuse |
  81. gerry

    brothers killing brothers.. there will be a time where there will be tears in heaven. Stop Wars! Peace & Love are the essence of God. Remember that... White House!

    January 9, 2010 at 3:49 am | Report abuse |
  82. Richard Cavosora

    Yes, the US won the conventional Philippine-American War by1902 despite the ambiguity of its citizens, but for the next 39 or so years, it had to fight numerous revolts and unrest (much of it in Moslem Mindanao) as it proceeded to COLONIZE the archipelago. It annexed the islands both as a trading post and as a strategic base from which to project its power in competition with England, the Netherlands, and Japan. It was so good at it that by the end of WWII, the Pacific Ocean was practically an American lake (which to this day is somewhat true). The US had a geopolitical strategic interest in colonizing the Philippines which is right smack in the center of major trade routes of Asia, and the Empire of Japan gambled most of its resources in the Philippines because of this, suffering its greatest land and naval defeats in the islands in WWII.

    The US is in Afghanistan for a different reason: to prevent a fundamentalist Islamic movement from taking control the region. Is it worth COLONIZING the region (or its modern version in the form of internationally-funded development programs) to prevent a nuclear 9/11 scenario? Do the Afghani and Pakistani elites have common cause with the US like it had with Filipino elites of the 1900's?

    The Philippines as a colony was a NET ASSET to the US economically up until after WWII, when rebuilding a devastated colony would have been costlier to the American tax payer and after the local elites had expectations of total national control, Nowadays, Afghanistan is simply a NET LIABILITY from a purely economic viewpoint, but I guess that is precisely the cost of US national insecurity. Our US leaders have decided that the benefit of preventing such a horrifying scenario is worth the cost at a time of great economic distress.

    January 9, 2010 at 3:14 am | Report abuse |
  83. Michael

    As a former U.S. Military member and a current resident of the Philippines I can tell you that the War is still going on from 1902. Everyday there are casualties that stem from those same guerrillas. The U.S. Military is STILL here (as training consultants, HAHA) and some have recently been killed by a roadside attack. The Philippines will be at war for another 100 years.

    January 9, 2010 at 12:44 am | Report abuse |
  84. AK

    "...sigh..."

    "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."

    I corrected my use of Hukbalahap in a previous post. The Moros who turned 'Juramentado" were the main opponents in the Insurrection. Moro is Hispanicizing of the term 'Moor" – the same Moslem fellows who occupied Spain for quite a while, were eventually expelled, but who provided interesting memories for the Spaniards. Apparently not sufficiently nightmarish enough for them to refrain from inflicting the same colonizing philosophy on others.

    And please don't say the US was colonizing the Philippines. A US President, reacting both to a report that the Filipinos were incapable of self-government and the 19th century Western cultural imperative to 'take care' of 'our little brown brothers' (as well as preclude other-power interference in what was seen as a strategic node vital to American maritime interested) is what triggered the intervention. Overuse, perhaps, of executive power – sounds familiar I am sure. But it happened, and second-guessing whether or not the Occupation was a force for eventual good could, well, engender hundreds of responses on a news site, right? But one thing is for sure...regardless of the brutality in suppressing the Moros, the association created a cultural bond between America and the Philippines, one that made virtually certain a great American sacrifice in freeing the Philippines from Japanese occupation. So....at least some of the 'sins' – if one so chooses to consider – of the occupying force were later expiated in American blood, this time in sacrifice rather than suppression.

    January 8, 2010 at 11:12 pm | Report abuse |
  85. freeman

    Americans hardly know about the Philippine American War because of its savagery and brutality amounting to GENOCIDE. It is a shameful war that took half of the population dead resembling the holocaust done by the Nazi against the Jews. The Balangiga Massacre is an example of this savagery where every filipino aged 10 years old in the Province of Samar and above were killed upon order by the US military The Philippine at that time is already a civilized country with several universities in existence even older than that found in the USA. The country is a republic pattern after the USA with a president and a parliament. President Emilio Aguinaldo (a freemason) was elected by the parliament and has a functioning cabinet. The war took the lives of many educated and patriotic filipinos and the Philippine never really recovered from this tragedy.

    January 8, 2010 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
  86. Jim Wilson

    I love all the people calling for brutality and savagery. ie: The only way to end a war is to kill them all.

    The same hairbrained morons probably stand up and proudly salute the defeat of Nazi Germany, on the basis that we are superior.

    We have a fifth column in our midst – the fascists, totalitarians and warmongers who have abandoned Christian principles of war for barbarism and immorality.

    January 8, 2010 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
  87. GMF

    Israel has a right to getting back their soil Sun Tzu the Arabs have been trying to take from them for thousands of year even thou they all come the same father Abraham I believe in God of the Jews and I pity the fools who messing with Gods people.

    January 8, 2010 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
  88. Alden

    In comparison to the American – Philippine War and with today's war in Afghanistan, the US won the war in the Philippines when the hearts and minds of the Filipinos was first won. Filipinos saw that Americans was different from the Spanish who deprived the country from education, economics, and religious diversification. Any nation could never win a war in a country without winning the favor of the civilians. You can win the battle but not the war. Example, Russians failed in Afghanistan with its brutality to the Afghan people. It's hard to win the war Afghanistan because it's a Muslim country and the Islam religion believes that any people that are not Muslim is an enemy according to the Koran. The war in the Philippines prevailed for decades not from the Roman Catholics who wants independence but from the Muslims in Mindanao. Even today, the war with the Muslims in Mindanao continues long after the Spanish colonized the Philippines. I'm afraid Afghanistan would be like Mindanao. If I were Obama, I'd bomb Iran's nuclear program first to show muscle to the terrorist in Afghanistan. It will serve as deterrent.

    January 8, 2010 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
  89. Blake

    To switch away from the war for a moment and turn to the terrorist on the Christmas flight to Detroit – why not just ask the Israelites just how they have been able to protect their country and their Airline from terrorist attacks. As far as I know, there has never been a plane bombed either coming into Israel or leaving it in the last 30+ years. I am told that you can't even get into the terminal prior to being cleared.

    If there is a system out there that works, why not use it?

    Now as far as Afghanistan is concerned – get every soldier to read "Three Cups of Tea" and complete what Greg has started – the war will soon be over. He has proved that the Pakistani- ans as well as the Afghans would sooner not fight if they are shown a clear reason not to – only the Taliban want mischief and they soon pack it in when they run up against Greg's lot! Without guns either.

    The British accomplished almost the same result with the same tactics in Malaysia when they put down the Communists after WW11

    The lessons are all out there – we just have to look and listen

    January 8, 2010 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
  90. John Milligan

    Above all what is direly sorely needed is a clear cogent prioritized and consistent delineation of what is and is not in our National Interest and reflect that in a decent sustainable bipartisan Grand Strategy (ala Containment in the Cold War). The biggest threat to the US comes not from al Qaeda, Iran, China, Jihadis, etc but from our lack to delineate a Grand Strategy that reflects clearly cogently our true and vital national interests on what we want to be in the world and what we want to be and do in the 21st Century, My Hope is that Obama can pull it off much lke Truman and Ike did 60 years ago against a similar virulent socio-ideological threat. Until we do though, I am worried!

    January 8, 2010 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  91. Imran

    anyone heard about Geneva conventions; human rights ..anything like that around here? or we are keen to replicate Attila the hun; chengez khan and their like

    January 8, 2010 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  92. James Blevins

    Re getting tough with Afghan civilian Muslims: As one reader pointed out, IF you antagonize (piss off) the entire 1.2 billion Muslims in the world, LOOK OUT! I remember a poll that showed 83% of muslims in the US would perform acts of violence/terrorism/sabotage if so ordered by their clerics. Add to that the Timothy McVeighs (ordinary citizen sympathizers) of the US and the world and you have a serious problem.

    If you have millions of Insurgents in most of the major cities of the world, there wouldn't be
    enough loyal troops to maintain/restore peace. Better think twice (or 50 times) before you
    attempt mass coercion/murder ala the US/Filipino war.

    January 8, 2010 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  93. Alistair

    The war in Afghanistan will eventually be wan by the party that have more stamina and can hold its breath longer. Afghans men are at their best when they are fighting, and they are fish in water they don’t need to hold their breath. What a shame for people who join the arm forces in the western world, they must be desperate, lost soles….think.

    January 8, 2010 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  94. Chris

    Regarding WWII and the US bringing freedom to Europe.

    The US definitely had an important part in bringing freedom to Europe from the Nazis but by the time the US got involved in the war it had already turned against the Nazis on the much more important Eastern Front.

    Two stats that will blow your mind and put WWII into perspective:

    ***Germany used 85% of their men and military resources against Russia***

    ***Germany lost 88% of their men fighting against Russia***

    Does that clear WWII up?

    January 8, 2010 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  95. Chris

    Funny how Americans think that the other side's soldiers are brainwashed but would not apply this to their own side...

    January 8, 2010 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
  96. dowell of philippines

    its very interesting story.its the very first time i heard. i love to share this to my countrymen.

    i feel sorry for the 200,000 filipino civilians who lost their lives. they were not lucky to live due to the brutal tactics employed by the US forces during the war but anyway history is history and it remains as history.

    althought i am not againts the US lead wars to eliminate al-queada and taliban in iraq and afghanistan (eventhought its very clear that US wants only the oil in iraq), still the iraqi and afghan civilians are very lucky to live with their lives while the war is on-going beacuse US and allied forces canot employ brutal tactics to win the war due the watchful camera of the reporters who rolled 24/7.

    January 8, 2010 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  97. BZD

    A quick summary of some comments:

    War means WAR!! Against an insurrection/insurgency this means genocide.

    So, if we win by killing everyone in Afghanistan, what is the cost to us, and what are the spoils? From what I can tell the spoils or gains are quite small and cost of fighting there quite high (in excess of $1 million per year per soldier).

    So, what is the point of that? We might as well be fighting on the moon.

    January 8, 2010 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  98. butleraga

    It sounds like everybody here who wants this war to be fought as a real war must watch too many movies or play too many video games! Yes, in times of serious war of defending one's beliefs must be fought to win at all costs but the last war to really reach that intensity was World War II. I mean seriously! Religious war! Killing civilians because the insurgents blend in is NOT right! Why don't we just go ahead and drop a nuclear bomb on them if we want to take it that far!

    What we are trying to do is to stop these militants from attacking innocent civilians both over there and on our own soil, to capture Osama Bin Laden, and to be an example of democracy, happiness, and success. The goal of this war is to stop this radical belief that we are imperialists imposing our views upon others. Yea, they have civilians hiding terrorists but maybe because they are their sons, brothers, cousins; muslims like asians have much stronger relationships with the family and community, believe it or not, and they may disagree with what they are doing but they are not going to hand over family.

    What we need to be asking is why are these young men choosing to help their own people in death instead of through life? Suicide is not the norm for most people studying Islam. I repeat that this is not a Holy War! This is a war of a discontent radical organization that has seen western policies not benefit the people of these regions and want to reshape the world for their own purposes. The goal is to stop and hinder them as much as we can while still holding onto our beliefs and values that made America the strongest and best country in the world. We must be the beacon of light for all those lost in the darkness of ignorance, hate, and greed.

    January 8, 2010 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  99. Troy

    One more thought about the WILL for brutality. The Japanese realised very early on that they would lose the war with the US. Thier goal was to drag it on and make the loss of life on our side so great that we would sue for peace, without an unconditional surrender. The proved that they were willing to die for their "honor", not just thier sodiers but thier "non-combatants" as well. We bombed the crap out of Tokyo, and many other cities, yet the people felt that enough of them survived to balance out the Americans that died to be worth fighting. As horrible as the A-bombs were, and yes we are STILL the only nation to use such weapons, they proved to the Japanese that we had the capacity and the will to commit the genocide of the Japanese race. We did not have the desire to do so, else we would have. Also we proved that we could destroy them at will. This horrible conclusion is what forced the Japanese government to give us thier unconditional surrender. A bit like Machiavelli's "kind to be cuel", yes but human nature has not changed much from his time to ours. For those who disagree, may I suggest a careful reading of this arguement from "The Prince".

    January 8, 2010 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
  100. Paul

    I think Buck Rogers (post 369) has it right, if only there were enough intelligent, patient, culturally well-versed people volunteering in the US to make it happen (surrounded by the best damn security force possible). For all those that state that the "kill them all" strategy will work, I'll grant it is the EASIEST way to get a quick turnaround, but it won't buy lasting peace (only lasting resentment).
    Perhaps another useful way to think about the civilians in Afghanistan is that the occupier (the Taliban) has built a culture of fear in the civilian population (just as the Viet Cong did in Vietnam) that forces them to harbor insurgents (or pay a severe price – killing of family members, etc). Granted, there are "civilians" who believe in the cause of the Taliban, but I suspect a great many don't. Now, consider the analog in WWII in France or Italy – the Nazis and other fascists as occupiers, promising severe penalties for those who didn't cooperate and rat out resistance members and Jews. Was the right strategy for us to come in and to kill all the civilians? NO! But in WWII, we could actually easily distinguish the aggressors from the civilians (most wore uniforms, and many spoke German). I get the feeling that because we're so unfamiliar with language and customs in Afghanistan, and because we're fighting an enemy that does not wear uniforms, we're all too ready to "kill 'em all".
    I know that war is hell, and mistakes are made and civilians die. But I also believe that we're better than we were in the Phillippine-American War, if we'd only think with our brains (hard for many Americans) instead of our balls, and get to understanding (and leveraging) the underlying cultural differences so we can give something the warlords and the civilians actually want (NOT a flush toilet and cable TV and Christianity) to woo them away from the Taliban, to generate some actionable and accurate intelligence, and to rat out Osama and his associates.

    January 8, 2010 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
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