Friday, March 30, 2012

l. 10817 -- “You can be authoritarian in Asia, provided there is an economic tradeoff.”

Benigno Simeon “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr., was shot dead by soldiers sent by Ferdinand Marcos at Manila airport on 21 August 1983, moments after returning from a three-year exile in the US (l. 10268).

All martyrs gain an aura of saintliness, but Ninoy's political statements in life indicate that he shared many of Marcos's concepts about strong leadership (l. 10301). Ninoy once said that, if elected, he would confiscate property and weapons to make society fairer and safer. He also said: “I'll call in the politicians and tell them, 'You guys have plundered for years. Now it's going to change. You follow me – or else' ” (l. 10302). Further, he thought that the people would not object to an authoritarian government, see title quote. As provincial governor, he engaged a private army to dispense crude justice (l. 10429). Looked at in this way, he could be considered not Marcos's antithesis, but rather Marcos's mirror image, opposite in some respects, but nearly the same in others.

Ninoy came from a political family with a history of resistance to US domination. His grandfather was condemned to death (and later pardoned) for shooting American prisoners because, according to Ninoy, “they ate too much” (l. 10340). His father actively collaborated with the occupying Japanese, whom he admired (l. 10343).

Ninoy was an indifferent student (l. 10357). At age 18 (1952), he wangled himself as an appointment as foreign correspondent in Korea for a Manila newspaper. Four years later, he aided in the capture of Huk leader Luis Tarluc, described in the previous post. Like many prominent Filipinos, Ninoy had an idea that the CIA was the secret hand behind all events and often bragged of his CIA connections. Although he was sent by Magsaysay (for whom he also worked) to observe CIA training, several senior agency officials denied that he was ever on the payroll. “We didn't trust him,” one said. “He talked too much” (l. 10380).

Ninoy wed Corazon Cojuangco in October 1954. They were both 21. Ninoy's CIA observation was also his honeymoon (l. 10384). Cory's family were Hakkas who immigrated in the 1890s (l. 10388). Her family fled the Philippines in 1946, where she attended Catholic high schools and universities in Philadelphia and New York (l. 10402). She returned in 1953.

Ninoy was elected mayor of his hometown at age 22. In 1959, at age 28, he became the youngest provincial governor in the Philippines (l. 10425). In 1967, he won a seat in the lower chamber of the Philippine legislature (l. 10430). Ninoy had his eye on the Presidency and said: “I'm going to attack Marcos again and again, and goad him in to denouncing me as much as possible in retaliation. That's the only way I can keep my name in print” (l. 10439).

On the night Marcos declared martial law (22 September 1972), he arrested Ninoy and charged him with subversion, murder, and illegal possession of weapons. He spent seven and a half years in jail, first forgotten, then becoming a symbol of resistance (l. 10448). He was held without trial for three years. When Marcos started a court martial, Ninoy began a hunger strike to demand a civilian trial. He lost 40 pounds. Marcos allowed occasional US congressmen to visit him, but his plight did not interest Presidents Nixon or Ford, or Henry Kissinger (l. 10486) as much as the status of US bases.

In 1980, after long period of diplomatic pressure from the new Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Richard Holbrook and others, Marcos (after ordering the court-martial to sentence Ninoy to death and then changing his mind) allowed Ninoy to leave the country. The precipitating event was Ninoy's heart attack in prison. The Marcoses figured they could make his release look like a humanitarian gesture and save face, and also be spared the bad press which would ensue if Ninoy died during an operation in the Philippine Heart Center, one of Imelda's pet projects (l. 10541).

After recovery, Ninoy engineered, with Karnow's help, a three-year fellowship at Harvard University's Center for International Affairs, during which the entire family lived in Newton, a face-saving away to delay his promised return to the Philippines. In the hospital, he had signed an agreement with Marcos to return as soon as he had recovered and not to criticize the Philippines while abroad. Ninoy denounced an agreement in an August 1980 address to the Asia Society in New York (l. 10554).

In January 1981, Marcos ended martial law, but retained the power to rule by decree (l. 10562). He remained a favorite of Ronald Reagan, who, soon after his election, visited Imelda at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York during one of her shopping sprees. (Ninoy also visited Imelda during this visit.) Vice President Bush visited Manila in June 1981 and praised Marcos's “adherence to democratic principles” (l. 10571). The Marcos met the Reagans during a visit to Washington in September 1982 (l. 10574).

It slowly became apparent that Marcos was gravely ill with kidney disease. He underwent a kidney transplant in 1984 (l. 10593). Ninoy foresaw Imelda seizing power with military backing if Marcos got worse, and felt that he had to go back to the Philippines to assemble a political coalition against her. Imelda warned Ninoy not to return and offered him impressive sums of money to stay in the US. “She told friends that Ninoy would be dead in 'just one hour' if he returned” (l. 10604). A State Department prognosis said: “Assassination is not Marcos's style ... but it is not beyond the capability of some of his operatives” (l. 10607).

After Ninoy left his plane, he was met by three soldiers and steered down a service stairway. There, he was shot in the back of the head. A man in mechanic's clothes, later identified as a member of a anti-Communist paramilitary group called the “Monkees”, died in a hail of bullets at Ninoy's side. The man was blamed for Ninoy's murder (l. 10620). The parody of trials and blue-ribbon panels which followed, convened under a cloud of vague public and private threats by Marcos, did nothing to clarify the identity of the actual murderers.

Ninoy's uncleaned body was displayed in a Manila church in the tropical heat. Ninoy's mother said: “I want people to see what they did to my son” (l. 10672). Women fainted after paying their respects. His funeral was performed by Cardinal Sin and featured an eleven-hour procession of more than a million people (l. 10682). US Ambassador Michael Armacost was “one of the few foreign diplomats to attend the funeral” (l. 10733). Ninoy became the subject of many sermons and vigorous public displays of devotion. Yellow was adopted as the color of the movement.

The ensuing instability caused capital to flee the country, which caused a devaluation in the peso, which caused higher prices, which caused more unrest. “In October 1983, foreign debt had reached nearly $25 billion, up $6 billion over the previous month. Investigating, the bankers found that Marcos had doctored the ledgers to show reserves of $1 billion more than he actually had – and that his regime was nearly bankrupt” (l. 10713). Meanwhile, the US Embassy was reporting an increase in Communist insurgent activity and support (l. 10721). Still, the predictable assortment of American political figures could not bring themselves to change their minds about Marcos, although Reagan was convinced to abandon a scheduled November 1983 stopover in Manila due to security concerns.

Marcos's ceaseless venality eventually chipped away at his Washington support, starting with Secretary of State Schultz, Admiral William J. Crowe (Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff), and Republican Senators Richard Lugar of Indiana and Paul Laxalt of Nevada (l. 10785).

On 3 November 1985, Marcos, in an interview with George Will on David Brinkley's Sunday morning television show, “said that he would hold an election 'perhaps in three months or less.' American congressmen and the news media, he added lavishly, were 'all invited to come' ” (l. 10802). His US TV announcement was how Filipinos learned of Marcos's intention.

In his Honolulu exile in 1987, Marcos told Karnow that calling the election was the “biggest mistake” he had ever made. He blamed dark forces in the US government and press but did not acknowledge Cory Aquino's role in his downfall (l. 10812).

A quotation from the chapter worth remembering:

“A policy is the blackmail levied on the fool by the unforeseen.” -- Rudyard Kipling (l. 10634)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

l. 10255 -- "This is what power is all about."

This section is about Ferdinand Marcos's rise to power. Marcos declared martial law on 22 September 1972, near the end of his second term as elected leader of the Philippines. He was constitutionally prohibited from running for a third term (l. 9385). Marcos chose to interpret a deliberately vaguely-worded letter, drafted by the US Ambassador, as instructions concerning the circumstances under which the US would find martial law acceptable. At the time, there was speculation that Nixon personally had given Marcos permission to proceed, but there is no evidence to support this claim (l. 9478).

“The Philippine political scene in 1959 was an almost incomprehensible tangle of party splits, personal vendettas and rivalries within rivalries” (l. 9560). The president, Carlos Garcia, was so corrupt that it stood out even against local standards. His vice-president, Diosdado Macapagal, was from the opposing political party. The president and vice-president ran against each other in a 1960 election. Macapagal won (l. 9595). In this election Marcos, a member of Macapagal's party, ascended from the lower legislative chamber to the Philippine Senate.

Macapagal's election did not change the culture of corruption. “Macapagal concocted nationalist issue as a distraction... [H]e expelled number of Chinese, many of them naturalized citizens” (l. 9610). He also shifted the national day from 4 July to 12 June, the day in 1898 that Emilio Aguinaldo declared Philippine sovereignty. Years later, Macapagal said, “... I noticed that nobody came to our receptions on the Fourth of July, but went to the American Embassy instead. So, to compete, I decided that we needed a different holiday” (l. 9615).

In 1965, Marcos abandoned Macapagal's party and gained the nomination for president from the opposing party -- “again illustrating the emptiness of party affiliations in the Philippines” (l. 9620). He was financed by rich Chinese as revenge for Macapagal's policies, and also by expatriate money from the US (l. 9625). Marcos won by 600,000 votes. “About five percent of the eight million ballots were rigged, and roughly fifty people died in clashes – a quiet election by Philippine standards” (l. 9631). Marcos was inaugurated on 30 December 1965, with US Vice President Hubert Humphrey in attendance (l. 9634).

Karnow goes very deeply in Marcos's biography, contrasting it with his claims and throwing Marcos's venality into high relief. This is fairly interesting but not as important to know today as when In Our Image was published. Marcos was academically successful and served bravely as a soldier but later embellished his achievements in both areas to the point of absurdity, as dictators are wont to do. When young, he was tried for the murder of a political rival of his father. He was acquitted by the Supreme Court in 1940, and maintained that his prosecution was politically motivated (l. 9712).

In 1954, Marcos discarded a mistress with whom he had four children to marry Imelda Romualdez, from a poor branch of a prominent family. During Marcos's legal occupancy of the Presidency, Imelda was far from the grotesque caricature she became: in September 1966, the Marcoses made an official visit to the US and received favorable attention from Lyndon Johnson and the Washington press corps (l. 9778). But Imelda eventually matched and perhaps overtook her husband in terms of lying and venality. One of many, many examples in the book: stealing money from a typhoon relief fund to fund an obscenely extravagant wedding for her daughter Irene (l. 9797). Karnow says that, because Marcos was caught in a very public indiscretion in 1968 and Imelda stood by him, he could not control her (l. 10000).

Karnow relates a story from 1984, near the end of the Marcoses' reign: “... we zipped through Manila in her stretch limousine, a squadron of motorcycle police escorting us across the usually clogged city. Noticing that the traffic was blocked at every intersection, I remarked that the motorists must have been waiting for hour in the stifling heat. Tossing her head, she replied, 'This is what power is all about' ” (l. 9810).

Although Lyndon Johnson was charmed by Imelda, what he really wanted was the Philippines to send troops to Vietnam to demonstrate that the war was an international effort. “In the end, Marcos sent only a token force to Vietnam, retaining nearly all the units to build roads and other pork barrel projects in the Philippines just before his next presidential election” (l. 9938), largely with US money. Later, for reasons still unclear, Johnson believed revealing that nuclear weapons were stored at US bases on the Philippines would strengthen Marcos's loyalty. It didn't. A former Johnson aide later said: “The instrument of our policy became the object of our policy. We had to submit to Marcos for the sake of the bases” (l. 9946).

As the end of his second term drew near, protests and civil unrest roiled through the capital and the country. Marcos may have instigated some himself. In any event, he felt that they played into his hands. In January 1971, he dismissed his army commander and Chief of Staff after they refused an order to prepare for martial law (l. 10026). Nevertheless, when martial law was eventually declared, Marcos had the full support of the military (l. 9646). He soon tripled the size of the military and increased its budget tenfold (l. 10083).

However, even paranoids have enemies. Karnow has an interesting story about Sergio Osmena, Jr., the politician son of the last commonwealth president, who tried to hire American hit met to kill Marcos (l. 10039). They were unsuccessful through lack of competence and Osmena had to flee the country (l. 10048).

Benigno S. "Ninoy" Aquino, Jr., was arrested on the day that martial law was declared, and eventually spent years in jail. He expected widespread public opposition to martial law: “I judged Marcos correctly, but I misjudged the people” (l. 10059). Most people seemed to welcome the return of order, the disbanding of the corrupt legislature, the newly-cleaned streets, the confiscated firearms, the increase of law and order. There was a symbolic departure from the US-model government: Marcos replaced the bicameral legislature with a single National Assembly (l. 10073), and discarded the American-influenced 1935 constitution. He spoke publicly of a “rendezvous with Asia”. His foreign minister called Western-style democracy “an alien seed” in Asian societies accustomed to authoritarian rule (l. 10076).

The removal of democratic restraints caused high military officials and Marcos cronies to enrich themselves in many diverse field, including energy (l. 10111) and coconuts (l. 10133). Meanwhile, “[t]he Philippines owed more to the International Monetary Fund than any developing country in the world” (l. 10166), while Imelda engaged in high-profile and sometimes bizarre spending projects, like $31 million on a guesthouse made entirely of coconuts (l. 10177).

After Marcos declared martial law, the long-dormant Huk movement revived and spread to every province during the 1970s and 80s (l. 9987), at times joining forces with the Muslim separatist movement in the island of Mindanao (l. 10191). But Marcos's most articulate and influential critic turned out to be the Catholic Church (l. 10203), lead by Cardinal Jaime Sin, whom Marcos called a “meddlesome friar” (l. 10233).

In 1982, Reagan hailed Marcos as “a respected voice of reason and moderation” (l. 10240), and successive US governments of both parties did nothing about Marcos, citing Cold War expediency, in spite of fears that continue excesses would bring instability and threaten America's interests (l. 10242).

Saturday, March 24, 2012

l. 9380 -- “If we don't take it now, we'll never get it.”

The Philippines became independent on 4 July 1946. It was the first time that a nation has voluntarily surrendered a colonial possession (l. 8505). The US high commissioner Paul McNutt became the ambassador. MacArthur, in attendance, said to a friend: “America buried imperialism here today” (l. 8518).

A ceremony took place in the ruins of central Manila. The war's devastation made some prominent people on both sides privately consider postponing independence. However, commonwealth president Sergio Osmena spoke for many when he said, “If we don't take it now, we'll never get it” (l. 8532).

Still, the US wielded considerable influence. Following a familiar world-wide pattern, the US favored a thin layer of wealthy people who didn't have contact with the normal life of the country but spoke English and had money. Within this small group, the favor of influential men like MacArthur could mean forgiveness of past sins and elevation to the highest level. In this case, Manuel Roxas, who had stayed in the Philippines during the Japanese occupation, was proclaimed by MacArthur on little visible evidence to have been a resistance leader (l. 8623) and then helped to become leader of the upper house of the pre-independence legislature (l. 8591). With further assistance, Roxas beat Osmena in an election for first leader of post-independence Philippines (l. 8677). However, he died of a heart attack in April 1948, before he could finish his first term (l. 8989).

Meanwhile, negotiations for use of military bases in the Philippines dragged on slowly over issues like who would have legal jurisdiction over American soldiers and even Filipinos working on the bases. After the US threatened to withdraw, the Philippines caved on these and most other issues. The US signed a 99-year lease on twenty-two sites, including Clark Field and Subic Bay, in March 1947 (l. 8745).

Also at the same time, McNutt negotiated a favorable trade agreement, which included pegging the peso to the dollar (l. 8791) and blocking many products from import to the US while preserving the Philippines market for US business. After his Ambassadorship, McNutt went directly to the chairmanship of the Philippine-American Trade Council and became a director of several Manila firms (l. 8819).

Both of the above agreements caused much political dirty dealing in Manila before they were both finally passed (l. 8850). For example, former members of the leftist Huk guerrilla group were excluded from their legislative seats on accusations of fraud (l. 8855), which was seen “as a signal to subdue the Huks. Police, soldiers and private gunman rounded up and often assassinated numbers of suspected radicals in what a US Army historian called a 'near pogrom' ” (l. 8973). The Huks organized again with a new name, the People's Liberation Army, which conveniently could still be shortened in Tagalog to “Huk”.

The extent to which the Huks were under the control of Communists from other countries is probably clearer today than in 1988, when Karnow was writing. It would be interesting to read research on this based on material from former Soviet archives and elsewhere. Karnow believes that Soviet or Chinese Communist influence was minimal (l. 8883, 9005, 9034), and the Huks were generally heroic.

The Huk military commander, during and after WWII, was Luis Taruc (l. 8912). Born into a poor family, he received an education that caused a great interest in American history. He could reportedly recite the Gettysburg Address from memory (l. 8930). But he had to drop out of college for financial reasons and worked as a tailor (l. 8935). He was one of the six deprived on a legislature seat by Roxas. His seat was restored, along with back salary, by Roxas's successor (l. 8993). However, the amicable relationship soon broke down.

Huk violence returned, sometimes in an ill-discipled manner, including at one point shooting dead both the widow and the daughter of Manuel Quezon (l. 9028). When Roxas's corrupt and unimaginative successor, Elpidio Quirino, won re-election in a dubious 1949 ballot, the Huk uprising continued. Taruc later said, “We couldn't have had a better recruiter” (l. 9060). So, as has happened many times since, the US was saddled with a client government that squandered its credibility with its people (l. 9061), and supported it because the US saw the incompetent client as the only alternative to a worse fate (l. 9068).

However, in this case, the Americans were delivered, at least for a time, by the appearance of an adequate alternative. Ramon Magsaysay succeeded Quirino as President but died prematurely in a 1957 plane crash, which (combined with his apparently genuine interest in the welfare of the poor) gave the character of a romantic legend to his career and achievements (l. 9112).

Magsaysay was spotted after WWII as a potential leader by American intelligence operatives, most famously by Edward Landsdale, who was immortalized in fiction in The Ugly American by William Lederer and Eugeue Burdick and (possibly) in The Quiet American by Graham Greene (l. 9145). “Landsdale privately remarked years later that, having concluded that 'Asia needs its own heroes,' he had in effect invented Magsaysay” (l. 9200). With the help of US influence, Magsaysay was elevated to minister of defense, where he mobilized the army to promote fair elections, blunting a Huk call for a boycott (l. 9241).

In 1953, the US mobilized substantial propaganda efforts behind electing Magsaysay President. He won with nearly 70 percent of the vote (l. 9294).

The next year, Magsaysay, working with Benigno Aquino (then a 20-year-old journalist), negotiated the surrender of Taruc, by that time in danger of being murdered by former allies. He received three life sentences and spent 14 years in jail (l. 9314).

However, the day-to-day work of running a country seemed to bore Magsaysay, limiting his accomplishments. He also found his hands tied by various alliances and compromises that he made on his way to the top, and was attacked as an American puppet (l. 9324).

The plane crash that killed him occurred after a long day of heavy politicking, and was blamed on pilot error. “Gossips claimed that the aircraft was overweight with passengers and baskets of ripe mangoes, and some said that the pilot had been drinking. A year afterward, a new CIA man assigned to Manila was told by his boss: 'Find another Magsaysay' ” (l. 9379).

Thursday, March 22, 2012

l. 8496 – “We were out-shipped, out-planed, out-manned and out-gunned by the Japanese from the beginning.”

Long before banks were too big to fail, Douglas MacArthur was too big to fail. For nine hours hearing about Pearl Harbor, MacArthur did virtually nothing (l. 7657). As a result, US forces in the Philippines were taken completely by surprise by Japanese air attacks. Men and planes were slaughtered before they had a chance to get off the ground with an ease that surprised even the attackers (l. 7700). Then and for years afterward, MacArthur shifted blame up and down the chain of command while glorifying himself, and was allowed to do so because the the perceived need for heroes.

At a loss for options, MacArthur dusted off old Washington-generated military plans he once had derided as “defeatist” (l. 7767). He declared Manila an open city and prepared to concentrate the joint US-Filipino force on defending Bataan, an earlobe-shaped peninsula on the west side of Manila harbor, and Corregidor, a mountain island at the mouth of the harbor. MacArthur managed an extremely complicated contraction of all troops to this small area while fighting rear-guard action against the Japanese, a feat that is regarded as genius, even by Karnow (l. 7785).

Corregidor is the size of Manhattan. It was heavily fortified and had a warren of impregnable caves (l 7811). Starting about Christmas 1941, MacArthur's headquarters were there, along with his wife and family, and that of the US civilian governor and his family. Quezon and Osmena also went with him. José Laurel, the secretary of justice, had spent time in Japan and was known to be sympathetic to the Japanese, so he was left behind to manage as best as he could. “Keep your faith in America, whatever happens,” MacArthur warned Laurel, or else, “when we come back, we'll shoot you” (l. 7819). Later, Laurel was chosen by the Japanese to head of the collaborationist government. Benigno Aquino, future father-in-law of Cory Aquino, was named Vice-President.

In February 1942, Quezon, Osmena, and the civilian governor left the island to establish a government in exile. Quezon gave MacArthur a half-million-dollar cash gift, which he accept in defiance of regulations (l. 7882). At the same time, he was showered in gifts and honors in absentia in the US.

Meanwhile, Australia lay under threat of Japanese attack, so threatened to remove its troops fighting in North Africa. Roosevelt agreed to take up Australia's defense, and named MacArthur to head the effort. He departed Corregidor on 11 March 1942 (l. 7925).

In late March, the Japanese received an influx of fresh troops and closed its grip on Bataan. On 9 April, the Americans crossed the Japanese lines to discuss terms for the surrender of troops of Bataan. The Japanese would accept unconditional surrender only. The American commander agreed. It was the largest capitulation of American forces in history (l. 7981). The transport of an enormous amount of prisoners to inadequate camps devolved into the Bataan Death March, during which as many as ten thousand men died from disease, malnutrition, and wanton brutality (l. 8020).

The Japanese drove the Philippines into the a state of chaos during the war by a mixture of brutality and stupidity. The Japanese attempted to grow cotton for the home market instead of sugar, with ruinous results (l. 8166). They shipped the remaining gold and silver reserves to Japan and printed worthless money, causing inflation and associated problems, including a widespread black market and general breakdown of law and order (l. 8185). All of the above was further aggravated by numberless episodes of cruelty by the occupying Japanese.

The strongest indigenous guerrilla movement was a coalition of communists and socialists named the People's Anti-Japanese Army but called the “Huks”, a shortened version of their Tagalog acronym (l. 8211). Relations between the Huks and the US armed forces during the war was lukewarm but each side helped the other. After the war, the US favored non-communist/socialist groups and arrested Huk leaders, which led to further Huk rebellions later. Ferdinand Marcos claimed that he commanded a guerrilla movement called the “Noblemen” in northern Luzon, but in 1986 his claim was revealed as fraudulent by an American scholar (l. 8236).

On 19 October 1944, the first ships of an invading American fleet reached the eastern island of Leyte, not far from where Magellan landed in 1521. Quezon had died in upstate New York the previous August, so Sergio Osmena, now commonwealth president, accompanied MacArthur in a lead ship (l. 8275). There is a famous photo of Osmena and MacArthur wading ashore. The US Navy stomped the Japanese in the battle of Leyte Gulf, destroying much of Japan's naval power, an accomplishment that in retrospect can be attributed in equal parts to good luck and superior firepower (l. 8312). There followed slow land drives and island-hopping under very difficult monsoon-season conditions. Japanese soldiers were exhorted to fight to the death. At the end of the campaign, two hundred thousand Japanese had died, compared to eight thousand Americans (l. 8359).

On 9 January 1945, the US, led by MacArthur, launched an invasion of the main island of Luzon (l. 8385) at the same place the Japanese had chosen. The landing was uncontested but there were major battles on the way to Manila. The first columns reached the outskirts of Manila on 3 February (l. 8416). Soldiers freed skeletal US military and civilian prisoners.

The Japanese overall commander in the Philippines declared Manila an open city, but in the end the city became a battle zone. Although the overall commander was later convicted for war crimes in this matter, Karnow places the blame on his underling, the commander of the naval force (l. 8432), who ignored orders, bombarded the city from the harbor, and sent sailors ashore, who committed atrocities (l. 8445). By mid-March, the city was reduced to rubble by the artillery shelling of both sides and was abandoned by the Japanese (l. 8470). Further fighting was necessary to capture Corregidor, where two thousand Japanese and scores of Americans were killed in a suicidal detonation of an underground arsenal (l. 8479). Remnants of the Japanese army were still staging ragtag guerrilla actions elsewhere in August when the word came that Japan had surrendered.

MacArthur presided over the formal surrender on 2 September 1945 on the battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay. No Filipinos were present.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

l. 7630 -- “it's the orders you disobey that make you famous.”

The title quotation was made by MacArthur during his duty in France in WWI, and referred to his decision to disregard his regulation uniform (l. 6945).

Like recalling your childhood sweetheart, thinking about the first public figure you really and truly loathed, with every fiber of your being, can make you feel young and vigorous again, and as such is a great joy. For me, that role is filled by Richard Nixon. Karnow was from the previous generation, so he had Douglas MacArthur. Karnow strives mightily to be charitable, but cannot resist the deliciously damning details, which pretty quickly swamp the redeeming features.

Nevertheless, Karnow reports that “[t]o the Filipinos, he was nothing less than superhuman” (l. 6862). The chapter starts with a long set piece at the beginning of the chapter about MacArthur's last visit to the Philippines in July 1961, which Karnow covered as a correspondent for Time magazine. He was received as a hero, with war veterans in their old uniforms lining the root of his motorcade, women holding up uncomprehending babies to see him, a long farewell speech in a public park, etc.

Douglas MacArthur was born in Little Rock in 1880 and attended West Point (l. 6914). His mother lived near the school during his time there and generally smothered him for the rest of her life. He graduated at the top of his class in 1903 and was assigned to the Philippines, where his father was military commander. Assigned to desk duty in Manila, he (untypically for Americans there) socialized with Filipinos, meeting future leaders Manuel Quezon and Sergio Osmena (l. 6928). He contracted malaria, returned to the US, and after recovery worked as an aide to his father, who was touring Asia on official business.

He returned to the Philippines in 1922 (l. 6933), in command of a recently-reduced infantry brigade, a reflection of the more isolationist mood in the US (l. 7027). Since well before that time, and continuing until the eventual Japanese attack, private US government studies showed that the islands were indefensible without an enormous investment. If investment was not forthcoming, the best next alternative was withdrawal. Since neither of these alternatives were politically palatable, the US for decades did nothing.

After another short tour in the US, MacArthur was appointed US commander for the Philippines in 1928 (l. 7086). He unsuccessfully lobbied to be appointed civilian governor the following year. In 1930, he again returned to the US. Hoover appointed him to US Army Chief of Staff.

While in the Philippines, MacArthur (already divorced) acquired a mistress, a half-Scottish, half-Chinese vaudeville and movie star named Isabel Rosario “Dimples” Cooper (l. 7124). He installed her in an apartment near his office in Washington, under the mistaken impression that she wouldn't go outside and no one would notice them. He became unpopular after using force to clear out the Bonus Marchers in 1932. When MacArthur threated to sue some unfriendly newspaper columnists for libel, the columnists' lawyers told him that Dimples would be called as a witness. MacArthur dropped the case and paid Dimples $15,000 to return his love letters. Dimples eventually drifted to Hollywood, had bit parts in a few movies, and committed suicide by drug overdose in 1960 (l. 7190).

In 1934, Quezon visited Washington and got MacArthur appointed as military advisor to the autonomous Philippines, with the promise to build a Swiss-style army of a core of Army regulars with a reserve of civilian conscripts (l. 7204). He returned in 1935, accompanied by his mother and a staff that included Dwight Eisenhower, then a Major. Quezon was by then president of the commonwealth and was “primarily preoccupied with preserving his power” (l. 7221), out-doing the colonial master in terms of the good life while talking the talk of social justice. He visited China and Japan as a chief of state, but “in 1936, ... Roosevelt denied him permission to attend the coronation of King George VI of Britain as an independent ruler” (l. 7235).

Meanwhile, the worldwide depression rolled back a lot of the progress that the US had made in education and standard of living. A steady series of brushfire rebellions and violent uprisings occurred (l. 7307). Eisenhower was assigned to create a Filipino army out of nothing with little budget, and when he brought the bad news, MacArthur blamed him, while reporting (in 1936) that “progress ... has exceeded original anticipation” (l. 7336). However, Quezon listened to Eisenhower and understood that the Philippines could not defend itself from Japanese invasion.

Quezon travelled to Tokyo in June 1938 (l. 7364), with a plan to get a formal pledge to respect the neutrality of the Philippines if the Philippines could get the US to move up the date of independence. The plan went nowhere, because neither the US nor Japan wished it to. Japan has its eye on the Philippines raw materials.

At that time, 30,000 Japanese lived in the Philippines, mostly in Mindanao (l. 7442), and the Japanese officials in the Philippines devoted time and energy to cultivating anti-US sentiment.

When the problem became too obvious for even Washington to ignore, MacArthur was promised accelerated delivery of materials (planes, ammunition, etc.), but much of it turned out to be substandard and too late (l. 7557). Still, MacArthur made public statements of optimism and privately said that the Japanese would not attack until April 1942. He was wrong.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

l. 6851 -- “The Ins are generally conservative, the Outs are always radical – until they get in”

Karnow argues that the US effort to build an Asian Mini-Me in the Philippines failed in large part because the US failed to understand the culture. In 1901, Taft wrote that the US owed its sound government to the central place of the New England-style town as the essential building block of democracy (l. 6046), and that this should be transferred to the Philippines. More important for Filipinos is the clan, Karnow says. Political parties are politically identical vehicles for the interests of one clan's interests versus the others, i.e., for prestige and enrichment at the public trough (l. 6049). In many cases, parts of the Philippines are controlled by the same clan today as 100 years ago. For example, as of 1988, the Abelada clan has controlled island of Mindoro for well over a century. An official remarked: “Feudalism, that's what we have here. We have feudal families, feudal landlords and feudal politicians” (l. 6088).

Taft also felt that most Filipinos were unfit for the right to vote except for a handful of landowners and taxpayers. No more than three percent of Filipinos were eligible to vote in any election in the first decade of the 20th century (l. 6108). Taft later lamented that Filipino officials failed to understand that “office is not solely for private emolument” (l. 6122). Upon his departure in 1913, he wrote that a swift American departure from the Philippines would bring “a chaos of ever-recurring revolt and insurrection” (l. 6127).

However, by 1905, a ban on agitation for independence had been lifted. The thin layer of politically-active Filipinos became increasingly nationalistic (l. 6141). Two leaders emerged, both of whom eventually became President of the Philippines: Sergio Osmena and Manual Luis Quezon y Molina. In Karnow's sight, Osmena was more heroic and admirable but sober, but it is Quezon, flamboyant and charismatic, who is honored more frequently to this day, including having a major thoroughfare in Manila and a city adjacent to Manila named after him, and having his home province renamed in his honor (l. 6150).

Quezon led a very colorful life from the start. He trained as a lawyer. As a 20-year-old, he witnessed Dewey's defeat of the Spanish fleet and the sham battle for Manila three months later (l. 6226). He fought against US forces until, sent by his insurgent commander, he travelled under US military escort to confirm the capture of rebel leader Emilio Aguinaldo with his own eyes (l. 6237) while Aguinaldo was imprisoned in US military commander Arthur MacArthur's palace in central Manila. Quezon was imprisoned for six months for murdering American prisoners, but then released for lack of evidence (l. 6241). Before age 30, he became the first Filipino to defeat an American in court (l. 6287). In 1905, with American support, he was elected governor of the province that now bears his name (l. 6291).

In August 1907, Filipinos who were eligible voted for the first freely-elected parliament in Asia. A party of bickering factions, lead by Osmena and Quezon, captured 58 of 80 seats (l. 6309), in defiance of a more conservative party favored by the American administration. Then-Governor James Smith (Taft left in 1904), however, “in an analysis valid then as today, shrewdly perceived 'the only genuine political parties' in the Philippines to be the 'Outs' and the 'Ins'. As he wrote to Taft: 'The Ins are generally conservative, the Outs are always radical – until they get in' “ (l. 6332).

The new legislature's first act was to unanimously pass an American-drafted resolution pledging the body to obey US law, implicitly recognizing American supremacy (l. 6348).

In its original law regulating US, Congress authorized two non-voting members of the House of Representatives for the Philippines. One was chosen by the US governor, the other by the Philippine assembly (l. 6390). Quezon became the assembly's appointee in 1909, and remained in Washington until 1916 (l. 6395). He became a well-known character and an effective advocate. He acquired the nickname “Casey” after a visit to New York, where a Tammany Hall pol claimed Quezon to be descended from an Irish exile of that name (l. 6401). His maiden speech in the House contained a mild plea for independence: “Ask the bird, sir, who is enclosed in a golden cage if he would prefer his cage... to the freedom of the skies and the allure of the forest” (l. 6408).

The control of the US House of Representatives passed to the Democrats in the 1910 mid-term elections. The committee in charge of the Philippines was now headed by William Atkinson Jones of Virginia. As of the time of the book's writing, nearly every town in the Philippines has a street or park bearing his name (l. 6415). He was anti-imperialist and pro-independence, sponsoring a bill (which Quezon drafted) to give the Philippines independence in eight years. Hopes were raised even further by the election of Woodrow Wilson to the Presidency in 1912. But his cabinet was split on the question and Wilson was unsure how to proceed (l. 6453).

Wilson decided to appoint a new governor, in part to indicate a change in policy. The new governor was a New York congressman named Francis Burton Harrison (l. 6480). He was very popular and, 15 years after his tenure as governor, was the first American to be made an honorary Philippine citizen. He was buried in Manila following his death in New Jersey in 1957 (l. 6492). His popularity came in part from a program of replacing American bureaucrats with Filipinos. During his eight years, the number of Americans employed in the Philippines government shrank from 3,000 to 600. Of course, not all the new indigenous civil servants were angels, and the local expatriate community was not at all pleased (l. 6519).

Meanwhile, Jones championed a new Quezon-drafted bill which gave the right to vote to all literate adult males, established a senate, and increased the responsibility of the legislature. The bill was deliberate vague on a timetable for independence. It passed the House in 1914, but languished in Senate committee for 16 months (l. 6551). The Senate eventually approved and Wilson signed it into law in August 1916 (l. 6572). At that time, no other Western power had conceded autonomy to a colony, or promised it independence. However, momentum towards independence slowed considerably when the newly-appointed Filipino head of the central bank nearly drove the country's economy into the ground in an orgy of corruption, for which he was eventually jailed (l. 6615).

Meanwhile, Quezon returned to Manila to a hero's welcome in mid-typhoon and elected to lead the new Philippine Senate (l. 6588). Osmena remained leader of the lower chamber until 1923, at which time Quezon maneuvered to replace him with a protégé, Manuel Roxas y Acuna, who eventually became the first President of the independent post-WWII Philippines (l. 6647).

After that, Quezon polished his nationalist bona fides by quarrelling with the various US governors who came after Harrison. But there was no movement towards independence in the 1920s.

Finally, in January 1933, Congress passed, over the veto of lame-duck Herbert Hoover, a bill which accorded the Philippines independence in 10 years, during which time they would be a self-governing commonwealth (l. 6760). Quezon had sent Osmena and Roxas to negotiate the bill and now saw that he would be eclipsed as a nationalist hero. So, Quezon got the Philippine Senate to reject the bill, and then went to Washington himself and got Congress to pass a nearly identical bill a year later (l. 6786). Quezon's bill was approved unanimously by the Senate and he defeated ancient nationalist hero Emilio Aguinaldo in September 1935 to become commonwealth president (l. 6789). A new constitution was also approved, which differed from the US model in giving the executive wide power, including the power to declare martial law, which Marcos invoked 35 years later. Quezon stressed the difference between the two concepts of government: “The good of the state, not the good of the individual, must prevail” (l. 6797).

The commonwealth was officially inaugurated on 15 November 1935. Guests of honor included Vice President John Nance Garner, Secretary of War George Dern, and a newly-arrived General Douglas MacArthur (l. 6809).

Saturday, March 10, 2012

l. 6021 -- “unconscious victims of modernity”

Five hundred American school teachers arrived in August 1901 on a ship named the Thomas. They became known collectively as “Thomasites” (l. 5194). They acted as a proto-Peace Corps, and left behind a rich collection of writing, diaries, and letters home, chronicling the ups and downs of teaching in a far-off land and providing a rich vein for historians. “Within the first three years, twenty teachers died of dysentery, cholera, or smallpox, six were murdered by bandits, and one blew his brains out” (l. 5404). Thomasites have a Wikipedia page as well as many articles on the Internet documenting their experience.

The US put the Philippines under the control of the “Bureau of Insular Affairs” in the War Department, and made certain that the word “colony” and its variants did not appear in official documents.

The US also embarked on other unorthodox actions, including redistributing former Catholic lands, effective legal reform, local autonomy, and compulsory English-language instruction. (Mr. Dooley: “We'll larn ye our language, because 'tis easier to larn ye ours thin to larn oursilves ye'ers.”) The population doubled between 1900 and 1920, and the literacy rate climbed from 20 to 50 percent (l. 5231). Eventually, the Philippines had the highest literacy rate in Southeast Asia (l. 5304). Education of women caused conservative Filipinos to term their youth “unconscious victims of modernity” because they could be seen “walking out alone” with “a handbag under the arm, just like bold little American misses” (l. 5347).

Education (l. 5504) and infrastructure building (l. 5580) followed familiar paths, starting when someone would come in with a great overarching idea. When the idea failed to produce the promised spectacular results, a new visionary arrived on the scene with a new Big Idea to replace it. While no scheme fulfilled its promise, there was a slow but steady increase in desirable outcomes (in addition to educational improvements, there were more roads, better harbors, increased railway mileage, cleaner water for more people, lovelier cities, freer press, et al.). However, there were always examples of inappropriate schooling, unwise road construction, graft, poor central planning, and so on, and to this day there are people who live without electricity, plumbing, and other conveniences of modern life.

Taft brought in experts to impose order on the patchwork of Spanish, Mexican, and US currencies then abroad in the Philippines (l. 5569). Battling US partisans of gold and silver every step of the way, Taft eventually introduces a dual currency of gold and silver pesos, each worth fifty US cents (l. 5573).

Improvements in health brought by American doctors were remarkable. Smallpox and cholera were virtually wiped out and malaria drastically reduced. “By 1914, the year after Taft left the presidency, Manila's death rate had dropped to twenty-three per thousand population – nearly half of what it had been when he first landed in the city” (l. 5569).

For reasons not always altruistic (e.g., special interests looking to limit cheap imports), Congress limited land acquisitions by Americans to 35 acres for individuals and 2,500 acres for companies (l. 5860), which sabotaged the traditional colonial pattern. Even influential US rubber companies found themselves unable to purchase enough land to begin a profitable operation. Occasional successful attempts to circumvent the law (including one which involved land Taft had bought himself and sold at a great profit) brought big headlines and Senatorial outrage (l. 5900). The law also had the unintentional effect of concentrating land ownership more completely in the hands of the indigenous elite, a group of approximately 60 families that retained power at least until the time of the writing of the book (l. 5917) and probably still retains it.

At the time, the US had high tariffs on foreign goods, which caused some legal hand wringing. Were the Philippines part of the US or not? As part of the 1898 treaty, Spanish goods in the Philippines were subject to the same duties as US goods (l. 5952) for 10 years, so it was agreed that duties would not be reduced until the decade had run its course. The Supreme Count further muddied the waters in May 1901 by delivering a decision that said that, for tariff purposes, Philippines was neither “foreign” or part of the US, meaning that Congress had to specifically legislate on this topic (l. 5954). In 1909, as a tiny part of a contentious larger debate on trade and tariffs, Philippine products were granted duty-free access to the US (l. 5987). By the 1920s, American was buying nearly every ounce of Philippine sugar and coconut oil (the latter used to make WWI-era explosives), and most of its tobacco and hemp (l. 5992). However, the benefits of free trade did not often trickle down to the average person. Later, Filipino politicians charged that free trade was a device to increase economic dependence on the US (l. 6015).

Monday, March 5, 2012

l. 5190 -- “... we propose f'r to larn ye th' uses of liberty.”

As pointless and bloody fighting wore on into the year 1900, both the civilian and the military leadership of the American colonial adventure in the Philippines changed. President McKinley sent Ohio federal judge William Howard Taft to set up and administer civilian control, and General Arthur MacArthur became supreme military commander. Taft later became both President and Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court. Arthur MacArthur was the father of General Douglas MacArthur.

In spite of both being politicians from Ohio, McKinley and Taft met for the first time only three months earlier (l. 4455). They were both Republicans, and professed opposition to international adventures. Taft had no special knowledge of Philippines and was taken by surprise by McKinley's offer, made in the presence of the Secretaries of War and of the Navy (l. 4463). Initially reluctant, Taft responded to appeals to his sense of adventure and intellectual challenge, as well a virtual pledge of a Supreme Court seat (l. 4475). Taft, later promoted to governor, remained in Manila for four years and later declined repeated offers by Theodore Roosevelt (who had once aspired to the governorship himself) of a Supreme Court slot (l. 4479).

McKinley's directive to Taft instructed him to “bear in mind that the government they are establishing is designed not for our satisfaction, or for the expression of our theoretical views, but for the happiness, peace, and prosperity of the people of the Philippine islands, and the measures adopted should be made to conform to their customs, their habits and even their prejudices” (l. 4514).

Mr. Dooley had a more jaundiced set of instructions: “Poor dissolute uncovered wretches, ye miserable, childish-minded apes, we propose f'r to larn ye th' uses of liberty. We can't give ye any votes ... but we'll threat ye th' way a father shud threat his childhern if we have to break ivry bone in ye'er bodies” (l. 4518).

Taft had a frosty initial meeting with MacArthur, who had just been elevated to military governor. MacArthur remained in a large palace in central Manila and assigned inferior housing and office space to the newly-arrived civilians (l. 4534). MacArthur is portrayed as a pompous racist martinet, with a certain redeeming sense of soldiers' honor. He had no patience for the “hearts and minds” measures that his predecessor (l. 4553) had instituted and viewed all native as implacably hostile (l. 4561).

Nor was Taft a model of political correctness, most famously for repeated references to the natives as “our little brown brothers” (l. 4619). He aggravated MacArthur by maintain a more optimistic attitude, defying MacArthur's obstructions, and setting up a de facto legislature. The most powerful weapon of the last was the power to collect and distribute money (l. 4599). Unlike the previous committee, this one contained no soldiers. However, like the previous committee, this one consulted exclusively with elite high-born Filipinos, many of whom confirmed the estimate that the mass of Filipinos were abysmally backward (l. 4606) and needed US protection.

Taft attracted some members of the elite into his administration, which enabled him to govern with a comparatively light touch. These native cooperators naturally varied in quality and open-mindedness. They have been roundly abused by more recent Filipino historians (l. 4640) as traitors. Taft assisted in the founding of an elite-dominate political party, the Partido Federal, which formally started business on Washington's birthday, 1901 (l. 4679), to the accompaniment of brass bands and paper-maché eagles. The party enjoyed a monopoly on political patronage jobs, which attracted supporters, but also was seen as too close to the Americans, which repelled supporters. Taft also banned opposition parties (l. 4685).

This strengthening of the dynastic wealthy family has consequences to this day. Ferdinand Marcos smashed the oligarchs' power 70 years later in order to reward his own cronies. The dispossessed dynasties later helped Corazon Aquino oust Marcos. Corazon Aquino's husband (in 1968) characterized the Filipino elite as “an entrenched plutocracy” (l. 4710).

As the conflict wore on, Aguinaldo gave up occasion attempts at conventional warfare in favor of full-time guerrilla tactics, including improvised booby traps and leaving evidence of tortured prisoners. MacArthur declared martial law in December 1900 and used cruel tactics more frequently. In 1902, a Massachusetts veteran testified in the US Senate about the use of the “water cure”, wherein the victim was forced to drink and then forced to vomit enormous amounts of water (l. 4780), or had salt water quirted up his nostrils.

A key aspect of Filipino response was the control of the population, either through intimidation or sympathy. Suspected American collaborators were treated brutally. There were also well-documented cases of rebel leaders settling personal scores by accusing people of collaboration with Americans (l. 4800).

Aguinaldo and other rebel leaders looked with wishful thinking on the US Presidential elections of 1900, hoping a Democratic victory would aid their cause. The Democratic party platform stated: “No nation can long endure half republic and half empire.” But W. J. Bryan lost handily to McKinley (l. 4829).

The next American to be thrust into the spotlight was Brigadier General Frederick Funston. In late March 1901, Funston led a daring raid by local hill tribes disguised an Filipino partisans, lead by US officers disguised as prisoners, into the stronghold of Emilio Aguinaldo, capturing him. Thomas Edison recreated this incident in his New Jersey studio to showcase his newly-invented movie camera (l. 4896). Funston enjoyed a period of celebrity. Aguinaldo was treated respectfully and invited to MacArthur's residential palace,to Taft's dismay. Aguinaldo soon issued a proclamation urging Filipinos to put down their arms and quietly retired to his family mansion. During WWII, he broadcast pro-Japanese propaganda, and was later pardoned. After receiving back his sword, he died on 6 February 1964, just before his 95th birthday and exactly 65 years after the outbreak of war against the US (l. 4913).

Karnow contrasts the Filipino fight against the US with the later Vietnamese fight. Karnow says that, on the surface, the Filipinos a had better chance of winning, in terms of number of men, firepower, etc., but lost because of poor leadership. Aguinaldo “failed to offer genuine change to the Filipino masses” (l. 4849). He deprived the vote to the enormous majority of people and “ignored the country's appalling agrarian problems” (l. 4966).

The increasingly heavy-handed tactics of Arthur MacArthur and his successor, Major General Adna Romanza Chaffee, led to a two-sided cycle of mayhem and revenge, including a massacre of over 40 American soldiers by Filipinos in Balangiga on 28 September 1901. A “howling wilderness” response eventually drew unfavorable press coverage in the US, which led to courts-martial. In the subsequent trials, the highest levels of authority managed to avoid responsibility, and one mid-level soldier had his career ruined (l. 5152).

With leaders captured or neutralized, the wind went out of the sails of mass organized resistance, although hill tribes and southern Moro movement continued to plague the occupying forces for another decade (l. 5169). The war ended officially on 4 July 1902. The war had cost the US $600 million (in dollars of that period). The official US toll was 4,234 dead and 2,818 wounded Americans, and approximate 20,000 Filipino soldiers killed.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

l. 4436 -- “simple massacre and murderous butchery”

Private William Walter Greyson, 23, from Beatrice, Nebraska, gained an unlikely place in history on Saturday, 4 February 1899, when he shot the first Filipino in what Americans later called the “Philippine insurrection” (a phrase now considered an American-contrived term of condescension for a war of liberation). Greyson was proud of his achievement and later (unsuccessfully) petitioned the War Department for a cash bonus (l. 3761).

Up until this moment, Philippine commander Emilio Aguinaldo “repeatedly pulled his troops out of contested territory rather than the provoke the Americans” (l. 3780). Over the following month, the US forces rolled first over the Manila area, then elsewhere in Luzon (the island on which Manila is located), and finally other islands, with a ferocity that promoted the title comment from a British resident.

The commanders on the ground experienced problem which are sadly more familiar to us through more recent conflicts. Commanding General Elwell Otis found he could win battles, but not hold territory, causing him to issue rosy report of progress followed by requests for more troops (l. 3837). In 1899, sixty thousand Americans were serving in the Philippines. The next year, it was 75,000 – three-quarters of the entire US Army (l. 3879).

Otis managed to be both unpopular with his high-level staff for mismanagement and his rank-and-file soldiers for perceived timidity in battle (l. 3908). The press disliked him for using his control of the single telegraph cable out of Manila as a method of censorship, inflating enemy casualty figures, and threatening authors of unfavorable journalism (l. 3915). However, Otis realized that the war had a “hearts and minds” aspect, and introduced public health, education, rule-of-law, and local government programs in an effort to win public favor (l. 4057).

At the same time, Otis felt himself plagued by a Presidential commission of civilians, who held hearings in Manila. The commission never left the capital. Its witnesses were largely Western residents of Manila. The few Filipinos who testified were members of the elite, who favored US rule and said that resistance was the work of a handful of malcontents (l. 4010). Commodore Dewey, although a member of the commission, attended none of its meetings and did not read its reports. Otis also shunned the commission and tried to have them recalled (l. 4031). The commission raised the hopes of moderates but had no lasting effect.

These well-intentioned acts, however, were no match for the steady drip of cruelty, massacres, illegal killings, torture, and reasonless destruction of property, often caused by the inability from telling friendly foreign national from unfriendly (l. 4093). Filipino forces melted away in the face of organized political might and then attacked days later when US soldiers were relaxed and off-guard.

Aggressive newspaper coverage brought the horror home to the US and turned public opinion against the war. One newspaper survey of returning veterans found that 62% of officers and 93% of enlisted men were against the war (l. 4109).

In spite of fierce combat, US forces controlled no farther than 30 miles from Manila (l. 4117), and military hospitals overflowed with soldiers ill from tropical diseases. But the Filipino side was plagued with disunity, as when Aguinaldo had one of his most successful generals killed (l. 4150), so victories could not be consolidated and capitalized upon.

As the war ground on, McKinley and allies decided that the administration of the Philippines had to be placed under civilian control. In January 1900, McKinley summoned a Cincinnati federal circuit judge, William Howard Taft, to Washington to ask him to take on the job.

l. 3735 -- “Why is President McKinley's mind like a bed?”

“Because it has to be made up for him before he can use it” (l. 3343).

Like more recent military adventures, the US enthusiastically declared victory and patted itself on the back too early, ignoring signs that more trouble lay in the future. McKinley later said: “If old Dewey had just sailed away when he smashed that Spanish fleet, what a lot of trouble he would have saved us” (l. 2819).

McKinley reflected the national ambiguous attitude toward imperial adventures. Eventually his public statements and postures drifted toward favoring a prolonged US presence in Philippines, with occasional public backsliding and much ineffective private mind-changing. US decision-makers on the ground correctly discerned that they had no clear instructions from Washington on how to act. As a result, each made decisions according to his (never her) requirements and world-view, often acting at cross-purposes with other commanders. Statements of colonial disinterest were followed by attempts to put as much territory as possible under US control.

Commodore Dewey summoned exiled insurgent leader Emilio Aguinaldo from Hong Kong in mid-May 1898. What exactly happened during their first meeting is disputed. The translation may have been inadequate. Dewey apparently kept no notes and did not even report to Washington that the meeting took place until five weeks after it happened. McKinley may have learned of the meeting from newspaper reports. Here and elsewhere, Dewey had the habit of revising his memories to fit the situation (i.e., testimony before the Senate) he found himself in (l. 3035). Aguinaldo's memoirs maintain that Dewey expressed uncategorical support for the insurgents and that America “needed no colonies” (l. 3024). At the end of the meeting, Dewey alleged told Aguinaldo: “Go ashore and start your army” (l. 3052).

By mid-summer, insurgents had overrun many Spanish garrisons and had taken 3,000 prisoners. Fourteen miles of trenches (l. 3068) had been dug around the old city wall of Manila, where the remaining Spanish sheltered in increasing dire conditions. Aguinaldo ignored advisors urging caution and commissioned a national anthem, a flag, and a declaration of independence, the last of which he read in a public ceremony on 12 June 1898. The document was signed by 97 Filipinos and one American, a visiting businessman from Shanghai. Dewey ignored the invitation to the ceremony, explaining that it was “mail day” (l. 3109).

Meanwhile, additional troops, usually freshly recruited in the US, were gathered and dispatched. On the way to Manila, the first convoy captured Guam easily after discovering that the Spaniards there were unaware that a state of war existed (l. 3170). The arrival of boatloads of American soldiers naturally created suspicions that the US was in the a Philippines for the longer term, and that Dewey and other leaders had shown bad faith in previous talks.

American military commanders wished to attack Manila's old city and capture the besieged Spaniards there. The problem was that they could not do so without attacking or overrunning the insurgents who now surrounded the city. The American commanders tricked the insurgents into withdrawing from a sector of the perimeter by promising (but never delivering) cannons (l. 3246).

The besieged Spanish realized their situation was hopeless. They wished to make the best of it by surrendering to the Americans. They very reasonably felt that the Americans would be more merciful, and less reasonably felt it more honorable to surrender after something resembling a struggle. The two sides agreed secretly on a charade (hidden from the nominally-allied Filipinos). Like most conspiracies, it occasionally went off the rails. For example, when a US commander gave his gunners deliberately incorrect target coordinates, the gunners (no doubt voicing salty sentiments about the competence of management) assumed that a mistake had been made. They corrected their coordinates and made several direct hits (l. 3289). Similarly, some Filipinos joined what they thought was a genuine fight, and alarmed Spaniards responded by shooting back.

The Americans who died during the battle for Manila were the first US combat causalities. A few days later, Manila learned that the US and Spain had signed an armistice the day before the battle.

There ensued peace negotiations in Paris, from which the Filipinos were systematically ignored and excluded. It became conventional wisdom from pro-imperialist that the US must take control over the islands to prevent evil European powers from taking over. Example: Acting on a baseless report that Filipinos were thinking of welcome a German prince as a monarch, some German warships steamed to Manila, getting everyone's undies in a bunch (l. 3318). By this time, McKinley had completed his journey from pacifist to expansionist, later telling Methodists missionaries that he had arrived after prayer at the conclusion that it was the US's duty to educate, uplift, and Christianize the Filipinos (l. 3399). Under the provisions of the treaty, Spain surrendered the Philippines to the US in return for 20 million dollars.

Meanwhile, insurgents attempted to both engage in public displays of honor for American and its troops (whose short-term protection they still hoped for) and prepare for possible hostilities. Local conflicts threaten to blossom into international incidents. Insurgent leadership hoped for the best and made friendly noises while also attempting to quietly control territory and arm themselves.

The fight for Senate approval of this treaty was long and hard. Many powerful and influential people were still firmly against foreign entanglements. McKinley bartered judgeships and other patronage. The treaty passed only by the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Garret Hobart (l. 3682).

Interesting details:
  • The US Consul in Hong Kong at that time, Rounseville Wildman, agreed to purchase weapons and ammunition for the insurgents. Wildman accepted a 117,000 Peso down payment but never delivered. He disappeared in a shipwreck in 1901 and is “honored today in a commemorative plaque ... in a State Department lobby” (l. 2979).
  • From a newspaper column of Peter Finley Dunne: “ 'I know what I'd do if I was Mack,' said Mr. Hennessey. 'I'd hist a flag over th' Ph'lippens, an' take in th' whole lot iv thim.' 'An' yet,' said Mr. Dooley, ' 'tis not more thin two months since ye larned whether they were islands or canned goods.'  (l. 3444)“