The US and the Philippines

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What are the pros and the cons of the Philippines' annexation by the US?

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Greg Jackson eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Pros for the United States

  • The United States was able to use the Philippines as a coaling station for its warships, extending its military reach into the region.
  • The United States took advantage of the many natural resources of the Philippines, namely rubber and nickel.
  • Imperial bragging rights were also something the United States gained. This was a coveted territory by many European imperialists. As the colonial power in charge of the Philippines, the United States got to compete as a serious player with the other New Imperialists of the time.

Cons for the United States

  • Many Filipinos were very resistant to US control. Soon after annexation, a large insurrection began in the Philippines, which led to a bloody and costly war.
  • The annexation of the Philippines led to discontent in America as many felt that the country had no legitimate claim over the territory. They argued that imperialism went against American ideals of liberty.

Pros for the Philippines

  • The Filipinos had struggled for many years to rid themselves of Spanish rule. Some initially welcomed the United States as a liberator from Spain.
  • Unemployment had been a serious problem in the Philippines under the Spanish. The US occupation brought in new jobs and helped bolster the local economy.

Cons for the Philippines

  • Many Filipinos saw the United States as just another colonial overlord. What they wanted, and initially hoped for, was independence. Being annexed by another foreign power was a humiliation to them.
  • The United States exploited many of the natural resources of the islands along with its labor. As such, the Filipinos had little control over their own economy.
  • There were many atrocities inflicted upon the Filipinos when they resisted imperial rule. Hundreds of thousands of civilians died during the insurrection against the United States.
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thetall eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Since the pros and cons for the US have already been addressed, I take this opportunity to address the pros and cons for Philippines with regards to the annexation.

There are numerous benefits the Philippines would have enjoyed due to the US intervention, among the notable benefits include:

The freedom from the Spanish: The US was opposed to the Spanish form of governance. The Spanish were brutal and this forced the US to intervene. The victory by the US over Spain at Manila bay ensured freedom for the Philippines.

Protection from other empires similar to Spain: After Spain was defeated other nations such as Japan and Germany were interested in annexing Philippines. The style of governance by these countries would have taken Philippines back to where it was with Spain. Apart from protection, the Philippines would also benefit from military training and equipment to improve their defense.

Employment opportunities: Philippines would benefit from the establishment of a trade hub by the US. This trade hub would have provided numerous employment opportunities and economic development.

There are negative implications of US annexation of Philippines and these include:

Loss of sovereignty: The Philippines wanted to earn their independence in order to plan and make decisions for their future without external interference. Achievement of this objective would be hindered due to the annexation.

Culture interference and distortion: Some of the cultures and traditions of the Philippines were opposed by the US. This eventually would lead to the loss of cultural memory in Philippines. 

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Michael Koren eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The United States wanted to become a world power around 1900. After the Spanish-American War, we gained possession of some of Spain’s colonies. These included Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines. There was some debate about controlling the Philippines.

There were advantages to controlling the Philippines. We needed military bases around the world if we wanted to be a world power. We had few possessions in the western Pacific, so controlling the Philippines would help our military. We needed bases where our ships could resupply and refuel. This would allow our military to protect our world trade and to be used as a military base in case of war.

We also could trade with the Philippines. We were looking to expand our trade, and controlling the Philippines would allow us to do this. We wanted markets where we could sell our products, and we wanted to get resources cheaply from any colony we controlled.

Disadvantages to controlling the Philippines were seen very quickly. The people of the Philippines wanted to be independent. Thus, we had to fight them for several years. This proved to be costly in terms of life and dollars. Even without a war, the cost of running a colony was significant. There were people who felt we shouldn’t undertake this expense. Other people felt it was wrong for us to control a group of people that wanted to be independent. They felt it went against the ideals of our revolution.

There were positive and negative reasons for annexing the Philippines.

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I assume you are talking about the pros and cons for the US, not for the Philippines...

The major pros had to do with economic and military power.  By taking the Philippines, the US had access to its resources -- things like sugar, pineapple, and rubber.  Also, having more of an empire made the US look like a world power.  Finally, it was thought that the Philippines could be a military outpost from which the US could project power in Asia.

The immediate cons had to do with the loss of life and the monetary cost of the annexation.  Many Americans died fighting the Filipinos and much money was spent.  Much later, it turned out that holding the Philippines was a military liability.  At the start of WWII, the US did not have enough military equipment or personnel to defend the Philippines and so the fell to Japan.  The US later felt it had to retake the Philippines, again at the cost of much blood and money.

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