A reader writes:
I just finished "Imperial San Francisco", and the chapters on the Spanish American War, and the continuing war in the Philippines which followed all sound eerily familiar, especially in terms of the rhetoric surrounding both wars and the war in Iraq.
The war in the Philippines included torture, concentration camps, and at least one general who ordered his troops to kill all women and children over the age of 10. This was in order to bring freedom and civilization to the Philippines. This war "officially" ended in 1902, but fighting went on until 1913- that's 14 years of a very nasty and brutal war.
The shift to guerrilla warfare, however, only angered the Americans into acting more ruthlessly than before. They began taking no prisoners, burning whole villages, and routinely shooting surrendering Filipino soldiers. Much worse were the concentration camps that civilians were forced into, after being suspected of being guerrilla sympathizers. Thousands of civilians died in these camps. In nearly all cases, the civilians suffered much more than the guerrillas.
What we are seeing with the Bush Administration is a reversion to late 19th century American foreign policy- that is, imperialism (annexation of territory to acquire resources - "our resources") disguised as bringing freedom and democracy to the natives.
Just don't tell Bob Kagan. He'll get too excited.
(Photo: Filipino casualties on the first day of the war.)