6.20.2004

The first neocon?

I have long said that Iraq is not Vietnam, it's the Philippines stupid!

In the 1890s Spain was a decrepit old empire who was having a hard time holding onto it's possessions. Have you ever seen Citizen Kane? Well, Kane was based on William Randolph Hearst, the newspaper magnate who sold papers by sensationalizing or just making up stories of Spanish atrocities in their territories. This was called "yellow journalism" and although the subject was usually Cuba, it was enough to get the American public angry enough to fight the Spanish-American War in 1898. You could say it was a war of liberation, freeing people from under Spanish rule.

The Filipinos had been fighting a revolution against Spanish when the US won. When America sent troops to annex the nation a year later, the rebels turned their attention on us and it started a war that lasted until 1902, though some guerrillas held out until as late as 1906.

Some Americans, such as Mark Twain, were against annexation from the start and some found irony in the fact that we wanted to rule their country although we had fought to free them from the Spanish just a year earlier, but general public opinion was that the Filipinos actually wanted to be a part of the United States. I guess the public didn't think to ask what the deal was with all those guerrillas defending their homeland at first, but after news of American atrocities started coming in, support for the war dwindled.

The result was a failed attempt at annexation which cost the lives of 4,000 Americans, 20,000 Filipino soldiers, and an astounding 250,000 to 1,000,000 civilians.

Neocons have lofty ideas but are almost always poorly understand history and as a result there are many parallels between the Philippines at the turn of the century and Iraq today. Many things are different too, but one thing that has always shocked me is how closely related the things being said were during both wars. Sometimes you can take huge texts on either subject and trade the names of the countries and no one would know the difference.

Thanks to an article by Murray Polner at the History News Network I have recently become acquainted with Indiana Senator Albert Beveridge. He was Senator during the war in the Philippines and an outspoken supporter. His speeches and writings on the subject are downright frightening at times for their blatant statism, empire worship and racism. He was obviously a man who thought God had given America it's gifts and that we should use them to invade the Philippines, steal it's resources, and run the country as our own because government is a beautiful thing and the savages who lived there weren't smart enough to do it.

It is again amazing how closely the things he said are to the things being said today of Iraq. I googled his name and took a few minutes to pick out just a few quotes from the first two hits. I don't have time right now to find more than just these few, but I have heard every single one of these things from neocon apologists for over two years now.
The Opposition tells us that we ought not to govern a people without their consent. I answer, The rule of liberty that all just government derives its authority from the consent of the governed, applies only to those who are capable of self Ā­government. We govern the Indians without their consent, we govern our territories without their consent, we govern our children without their consent. How do they know what our government would be without their consent? Would not the people of the Philippines prefer the just, humane, civilizing government of this Republic to the savage, bloody rule of pillage and extortion from which we have rescued them?
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The military situation, past, present, and prospective, is no reason for abandonment. Our campaign has been as perfect as possible with the force at hand. We have been delayed, first, by a failure to comprehend the immensity of our acquisition; and, second, by insufficient force; and, third, by our efforts for peace.
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Those who complain do so in ignorance of the real situation. We attempted a great task with insufficient means; we became impatient that it was not finished before it could fairly be commenced; and I pray we may not add that other element of disaster, pausing in the work before it is thoroughly and forever done. That is the gravest mistake we could possibly make, and that is the only danger before us.
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A lasting peace can be secured only by overwhelming forces in ceaseless action until universal and absolutely final defeat is inflicted on the enemy. To halt before every armed force, every guerrilla band opposing us is dispersed or exterminated will prolong hostilities and leave alive the seeds of perpetual insurrection.
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It has been charged that our conduct of the war has been cruel. Senators, it has been the reverse. I have been in our hospitals and seen the Filipino wounded as carefully, tenderly cared for as our own. Within our lines they may plow and sow and reap and go about the affairs of peace with absolute liberty. And yet all this kindness was misunderstood, or rather not understood. Senators must remember that we are not dealing with Americans or Europeans.
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Mr. President, reluctantly and only from a sense of duty am I forced to say that American opposition to the war has been the chief factor in prolonging it. Had Aguinaldo not understood that in America, even in the American Congress, even here in the Senate, he and his cause were supported; had he not known that it was proclaimed on the stump and in the press of a faction in the United States that every shot his misguided followers fired into the breasts of American soldiers was like the volleys fired by Washington's men against the soldiers of King George, his insurrection would have dissolved before it entirely crystallized.
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It is believed and stated [by our enemies that they] have only to fight, harass, retreat, break up into small parties, if necessary, as they are doing now, but by any means hold out until the next presidential election, and our forces will be withdrawn.
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All this has aided the enemy more than climate, arms, and battle. Senators, I have heard these reports myself; I have talked with the people; I have seen our mangled boys in the hospital and field; I have stood on the firing line and beheld our dead soldiers, their faces turned to the pitiless southern sky, and in sorrow rather than anger I say to those whose voices in America have cheered those misguided natives on to shoot our soldiers down, that the blood of those dead and wounded boys of ours is on their hands, and the flood of all the years can never wash that stain away. In sorrow rather than anger I say these words, for I earnestly believe that our brothers knew not what they did.
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Mr. President, this question is deeper than any question of party politics; deeper than any question of the isolated policy of our country even; deeper even than any question of constitutional power. It is elemental. ... God has not been preparing the English-speaking and Teutonic peoples for a thousand years for nothing but vain and idle self-contemplation and self-admiration. No! He has made us the master organizers of the world to establish system where chaos reigns. He has given us the spirit of progress to overwhelm the forces of reaction throughout the earth.
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Do you tell me that it will cost us money? When did Americans ever measure duty by financial standards? Do you tell me of the tremendous toil required to overcome the vast difficulties of our task? What mighty work for the world, for humanity, even for ourselves has ever been done with ease? Even our bread must we eat by the sweat of our faces. Why are we charged with power such as no people ever knew if we are not to use it in a work such as no people ever wrought?

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