The US and the Philippines

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Contrast the arguments of those individuals who supported U.S. control of the Philippine Islands after the end of the Spanish-American War with the arguments of those who opposed American acquisition of the Philippines. http://www.historyisaweapon.com/defcon1/zinnempire12.html https://ashp.cuny.edu/savage-acts-wars-fairs-and-empire-1898-1904 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1f_1TF3rA8 https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=2&v=4tAgg3OCtls

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Those who argued in favor of American control of the Philippines did so from a mixture of self-interest and idealism. The idealists genuinely believed that the US government was saving Filipinos from Spanish colonialism, which they compared negatively to the supposedly more benign American rule.

Ironically, American statesmen such as...

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Those who argued in favor of American control of the Philippines did so from a mixture of self-interest and idealism. The idealists genuinely believed that the US government was saving Filipinos from Spanish colonialism, which they compared negatively to the supposedly more benign American rule.

Ironically, American statesmen such as President McKinley, in justifying US control of the Philippines, used much the same kind of self-serving rhetoric as Spanish colonialists. The Americans, like the Spaniards before them, believed the Filipinos to be racially inferior and therefore incapable of self-government. Furthermore, Southeast Asia was becoming a more strategically important part of the world for the United States, and it was widely felt in Washington that there was simply too much at stake to allow the Filipinos to go it alone, thus potentially jeopardizing American interests.

Opponents of the policy argued that, whatever the rhetoric, the US government was simply replacing one form of colonialism with another. Whether it was the Spaniards or the Americans in charge, it made no difference: the Filipinos had been robbed of the ability to make their own decisions and forge their own destiny as an independent nation. The United States had been founded on the basis of an anti-colonial struggle for liberty, and yet now American forces were actively involved in suppressing the natural desire of the Filipino people to run their own affairs. The Filipinos, like Americans themselves, were endowed with inalienable rights, one of which was the right to self-determination. Yet the McKinley Administration was taking that right away from them, in complete contravention of the spirit of the American Revolution.

Isolationist sentiment—never far from the surface throughout American history—was also hostile to US control of the Philippines. Isolationists invoked George Washington's famous warning against foreign entanglements in his Farewell Address in support of their position. The McKinley Administration had no business getting involved with such far-off places, they argued, as these places did not have a direct impact on American national interests, contrary to what the government might say. Colonies had become an increasingly expensive burden for the European powers to maintain, and there was every reason to think that the United States would experience much the same problem in due course. Isolationists insisted that, in implementing such a policy, the potential cost in blood and treasure would be way too high.

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The United States' plan to control the Philippine Islands led to mixed reactions across the country. Those who were opposed to the idea protested against the United States forcing its culture and system of rule on people who wanted to remain independent. People who were against imperialism also noted that the nation’s army would lose many of its people and cost the country a lot of money, all for a cause that was neither fair nor just.

Those who supported the acquisition of Philippines argued that it was part of the US mandate to expand its borders. They argued that forcing their system of government on aliens was not something new, as it had already been done in Alaska and Hawaii. Moreover, Theodore Roosevelt argued that colonizing the Philippines was the best way to access the Chinese and other Asian markets.

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The decision to keep the Philippines was quite controversial. McKinley himself stated that the United States could neither give the islands back to Spain nor let any other European country have them. According to McKinley, the people there were not fit for self-government and they would need tutelage from the Americans in order to learn good governance. One of the Filipino leaders, Emilio Aguinaldo, was outraged by this statement since he helped the United States fight against Spain. His insurgent war in the region would be more devastating in terms of lives lost than the Spanish-American War.

Others came out in favor of annexation for various reasons. There were those who saw valuable naval bases in the Philippines and these islands could be instrumental in getting to the lucrative Chinese market. Others wanted the islands for national prestige alone--they wanted the United States to take up Kipling's "White Man's Burden" and spread it all over the Pacific. The people who were against annexation also had valid points. Given the violence of the war against the Filipinos, some including General Nelson A. Miles claimed that annexation was making the United States into a nation of barbarians. He compared United States's abuses in the region to those committed by Belgium in the Congo. There were also those who saw the infrastructure needs of the islands as too great and that they would ultimately be a losing enterprise. Still others took a more racist approach and stated that they would block any potential Congressman from the Philippines due to the color of his skin. Even though those in favor of annexation won, it was not without some controversy.

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