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Why Do We Still Have War Booty from the Philippines?

August 30, 2018 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

Many Americans view their country as a national Virgin Mary,
blameless and without sin. When Washington intervenes abroad, even
when visiting death and destruction on foreign peoples, it is an
act of righteousness on behalf of the Lord.

Yet for those on the other end of U.S. bullets and
bombs—think Yemeni schoolchildren killed by Saudi aircraft
armed, refueled, and guided by Washington—America looks like
anything but an avenging angel. The tragic reality is that myopic
policymakers are turning patriotic military personnel into war
criminals for venal ends.

Yemen is not the first such shameful moment. Many conflicts in
our history were foolish, counterproductive, and shortsighted.
Several were justified by fraud and lies. Yet most retained at
least a patina of moral justification, no matter how infirm in
practice. For instance, while Eastern financial interests pushed
for war to protect their abundant loans to Great Britain, President
Woodrow Wilson probably did believe that preserving the right of
Americans to travel unmolested on British ships—armed reserve
naval cruisers carrying munitions through a war
zone—constituted a righteous cause.

Three church bells were
pilfered during our horrible war there. But politicians and the
military refuse to give them back.

No such moral veneer can be applied to the Philippine-American
War, waged more than a century ago. Indeed, most Americans probably
are not even aware of that conflict. They are taught that Teddy
Roosevelt and a few other guys, some of whom were on ships,
defeated the murderous Spanish Empire and freed Cubans and
Filipinos from horrid oppression. What came next is barely
mentioned in most civics texts.

It turns out the Filipinos were already fighting to liberate
themselves, and led by Emilio Aguinaldo, they undertook an armed
insurgency against their Spanish overlords. Still, President
William McKinley was focused on Cuba, pointing to atrocities by
Madrid’s forces to justify America’s war against
Spain—which, of course, in no way threatened the U.S.
Madrid’s policies were dreadful, but no worse than
Washington’s treatment of Native Americans. Nevertheless,
American sanctimony was on full display.

Even if we’d had legitimate cause to
“liberate” Cuba, the Philippines was separate, largely
ignored by William Randolph Hearst and other “yellow
journalists” who stirred up war fever. But for many American
imperialists, the Philippines was the real objective. It offered a
base for Pacific naval operations and could act as a station on the
way to accessing the presumably limitless markets of China.

So Washington sent the navy under Commodore George Dewey to the
island archipelago. Dewey brought Aguinaldo from Hong Kong, where
he had been in exile, to the Philippines, to undermine the Spanish
authorities, and his forces quickly gained control of several
provinces and helped invest …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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