Thursday, July 17, 2008

Same Old, Same Old

Over a hundred years ago the United States decided to flex its ambitions for empire building. After decimating the native populations in near genocidal wars, Uncle Sam scanned the horizon for new conquests.

Sam saw a lot of Spaniards in juicy little foreign hot spots sitting ripe for resource exploitation.

All Sam needed was a good excuse to start up the new war for glory and empire. As luck would have it, in 1898 the battleship USS Maine happened to be anchored in port in Havana. Kaboom! There was a massive explosion and the ship went down, killing many American sailors.

The cause of the blast was later found to be accidental, but the Spanish were conveniently blamed.

The Hearst corporate media cheered, "Remember the Maine!"

And very much like our neo-con imperialists of today, who eagerly anticipated the 9-11 attacks to trigger their war for glory and empire, the budding military industrial complex urged President McKinley to declare war on Spain.

Interestingly, both triggers for the Iraq War and Spanish American War had nothing to do with the countries we attacked. We wanted war and that’s what we got. And since God is always on America’s side, who cares about the little details?

After we whipped the Spanish we moved in to occupy the newly “liberated” Philippines. Imagine our shock when we were not actually greeted as liberators. We occupied their country and began to impose our rule on them. Of course we generously offered to set up a friendly and compatible government that suited US interests.

Well, son of a gun, those Philippine ingrates went and started an insurrection against us. Soon over four thousand American troops were dead.

The American imperialists were shouting “Stay the course”, or whatever the equivalent phrase was a hundred years ago. It doesn’t take much imagination to infer that those Americans who didn’t share the enthusiasm for the counter-insurgency were probably called appeasers, or un-patriotic, or other applicable contemporary appellations.

But patriotism took another form, too.

There was a courageous American writer who stepped forward to fill the vital role of conscientious dissent.

That man was Samuel Clemons. Here is what Mark Twain had to say about this particular foreign misadventure.

“There is the case of the Philippines. I have tried hard, and yet I cannot for the life of me comprehend how we got into that mess. Perhaps we could not have avoided it -- perhaps it was inevitable that we should come to be fighting the natives of those islands -- but I cannot understand it, and have never been able to get at the bottom of the origin of our antagonism to the natives. I thought we should act as their protector -- not try to get them under our heel. We were to relieve them from Spanish tyranny to enable them to set up a government of their own, and we were to stand by and see that it got a fair trial. It was not to be a government according to our ideas, but a government that represented the feeling of the majority of the Filipinos, a government according to Filipino ideas. That would have been a worthy mission for the United States. But now -- why, we have got into a mess, a quagmire from which each fresh step renders the difficulty of extrication immensely greater. I'm sure I wish I could see what we were getting out of it, and all it means to us as a nation.”

"A quagmire," he says! Why that..that LIBERAL!

We can imagine what Republicans would have to say to Mr. Clemens if he were here today. “They hated us for our freedom! We had to fight the Philippine Insurgents over there so we didn’t have to fight them over here in our towns and cities! Why do you hate America?”

It never ends.


Anonymous said...

And the Iraqi insurgency, just like the Filipino insurgency, will take it's toll on us and lead to the same conclusion: Our withdrawal. Native insurgencies will never be squelched with brute force. For every one we kill, we create 10-12 new ones. Will we never learn?

Good post BTW.

jmsjoin said...

we will be repelled once again! The underhanded reasons for us going to war always comes back on us and it will this time too. Seems like today the media as complicit to the war mongering. I am so sick of the underhanded crap. We the people and our good intentions I trust but I no longer trust the Governments reasons for war or misuse of our good intentions to follow their selfish course!

Daisy said...

How right you are, sir.

Mauigirl said...

It's positively eerie how similar this was to where we are now. And if you substituted different countries for those mentioned in Samuel Clemens' essay it could have been written today. The U.S. never learns from the past.