The Balangiga Bells: Philippine Liberty Bells

The Balangiga Bells arrive in the Philippines [Photo source: ABS-CBN News]

By JoeAm

I’ve started liking those bells, those Balangiga Bells, for what they represent. For a long time, they were an embarrassment for me, attaching my heritage to a symbol of American brutality and the racism that was prevalent at the time. I wished they would just go away and for sure wished President Duterte would stop justifying a close relationship with China today based on American imperialism and brutality of 117 years ago. In my opinion, it is a time warp that distorts the truth of today, and distorts what is best for Filipinos.

As I look at old pictures of the American soldiers at Balangiga, I have a hard time connecting my own beliefs with their acts. They were conquerors at the time, intruders as unwelcome as the Americans were in Viet Nam. That was my war, so I can relate.

The American soldiers, the grunts, the ground pounders and fly-boys of the Viet Nam era were not all well-read people. They were not all lawyers or students of history or philosophers or psychiatrists able to self-examine why they did what they did. They were farmers and factory workers and sales clerks and everyday people who were put in a uniform and shipped to a strange land where they were tough, warlike knights with grenades and bombs and agent orange.

Which might have been used in Samar had it been available.

I am sorry for many of my nation’s acts, in retrospect, retrospect being a very hard teacher. War is its own beast, consuming the innocent on both sides, wrapping many in the bright red cloak of blood, and shipping them home in a box, or as damaged goods. Post traumatic stress syndrome was not even known back in 1901.

The local Filipinos who attacked the American intruders had purpose, an ingenious attack plan, and laid waste to half the American troops. Had it been a tribal army from over the hill, the war would have been won that day. But they had jumped into a nest of rattle snakes, killed half of them, and the rest of the snakes were beyond irritated. They sought the kind of vengeance that is merciless . . . I suppose because that is how they viewed the attack.


Ach, I put my judgments and “what ifs” aside. It is one of those incidents that cannot be resolved without angers and contributing to lack of trust . . . I’d rather have calm and trust. I don’t want to try to unwind the events that led to that fateful few days. I want to hang on to what those bells represent.

That is something we can agree on, I think.

I want to appreciate what they MEAN today, and give honor to the Filipinos who had the courage to jump headlong into the nest of snakes because they could just not stand it any more.

They could not stand the demeaning treatment of their wives and daughters, the arrogant condescension and threats and bullets aimed at their men. They could not stand being under the power of men who had taken what did not belong to them . . . the right of Filipinos to respect and self-determination in their own land.

Americans have never been very good at getting outside themselves, in wars, in other lands.

That helps win, I suppose. Brutality. Authority. Commanding ways. And it for sure promotes losing, as well.

The Balangiga Bells stand for liberty.

Liberty is what responsible democratic nations seek to give their responsible, well-meaning citizens. It is the right to self-determination, fair and compassionate treatment, and respect. It is the right to speak and be heard. It is the right to pursue prosperity and well-being for one’s family and not be stopped by . . . intruders.

Liberty and sovereignty are Siamese twins, attached, one to the other, breathing the same air, pumping the same blood, inseparable.

  • The Balangiga Bells say “no” to Chinese occupation of Filipino seas and demeaning radio calls to Filipino air and sea pilots instructing them to get out of Philippine waters.
  • The Balangiga Bells say “no” to dictators who wish to constrain free speech and fairness in favor of the corrupt and powerful few.
  • The Balangiga Bells say, “thank you” to Americans who have fought side by side with Filipinos, “but we’ll do it our way, or no way.”

The best way for a nation to earn respect around the world is to develop healthy self-respect. With healthy self-respect comes the strength and determination and mature thinking needed to cherish liberty and sovereignty, and do good deeds.

Many Filipino leaders have lost that maturity, and the attachment to high national values that prize liberty and sovereignty. They are mere order takers, doing the bidding of their betters, those with more power. Most legislators are order-takers.

The Balangiga Bells are a reminder that this is not right.

The Balangiga Bells are reminders of a brutal and distasteful time in the past. Yes, but they are so much more.

They are reminders of all that is wrong and unjust in the Philippines today.

And they ring clearly as to how best to move into the future.


186 Responses to “The Balangiga Bells: Philippine Liberty Bells”
  1. Just this video.. from Bob Couttie..

    In a very similar spirit of redemption and honor.

    • BTW what the Americans did to Balangiga is now called “hamletting” in Philippine military jargon. Duterte just spoke about hamletting (cordoning off everything even food to starve out rebels nearby) Lumad villages vs. NPA. Just days after kissing the bells, that scumbag – the collateral damage there is starving even peaceful villagers, and stunting kids – damn.

      • Joe The Kano says:

        There certainly are some similarities between the strategy and tactics of the American imperial/counterinsurgency campaign on Samar more than a century ago and the ongoing Filipino counterinsurgency campaigns in parts of the country today. Not to mention the striking similarities between the hyperbolic speaking habits of General Smith and President Duterte, which Duterte apologists and minions refuse to see.

        And that is so hugely ironic.

        So let’s consider this for just a moment: What would the mainstream Filipino reaction be today if an insurgent group staged a devastating surprise attack on a remote Philippine Army outpost and slaughtered 48 soldiers with bolos as they were sitting down to breakfast? I think there would be outrage, anger, and sorrow, similar to the reaction to the Mamasapano clash in 2015.

        And that’s something people should really think about when they question why the Americans seized the Balangiga bells as trophies/memorials, and why some American veterans were adamant in their opposition to returning them after all this time.

        We’ve all come a long, long way. And that’s also something to think about.

        By the way, a relatively brief and straightforward account of the American campaign on Samar and the subsequent courts-martial is available here:

        Will Duterte ever be held accountable for his many excesses, and for those under his command?

  2. THANKS, JoeAm, Irineo! YES: LIBERTY and SOVEREIGNTY in our troubled world. Down with all self-serving politicos, uphold human rights and human dignity!

  3. NHerrera says:

    My thanks for the current article on the “Bells.”

    This article coming right after the “Vantage Points” article fits like hand-in-globe in this sense:

    – why before, the US held on to the Bells amidst the continuous PH clamor for them (I quite understand the great emotions attached to them by both sides)?

    – why the US’ change of heart (a change of Vantage Point) at this time?

    This may need not be asked, but I will nevertheless: was the Realpolitik of PH embrace of China a factor? An imperative need for the US to recover lost ground?

    Notwithstanding the distraction of the questions I asked above, I very much appreciate the concept of the Bells serving as a reminder and a lesson. A lesson to be applied to the obvious current variant of what happened before — the current “invasion” by another power. It requires a similar emotion but most preferably not the bloody response associated with the Balangiga Bells.

    • Good questions. I know there was a law that had to expire before the bells could be let go, so it may have been considered a war memorial under that law. Veterans from both nations worked to get the bells returned, I think simply recognizing their proper ownership heritage. I doubt China entered the picture, but it didn’t hurt any.

      Indeed, the lesson, and the symbolism, is that liberty must be earned, every day.

      • NHerrera says:

        Thanks for that important point about War Memorial and associated Law. I did a Ready, Fire, Aim sequence. Thank goodness for the other commenters here who do the correct sequence after doing a search. Old age is no excuse.

  4. Joe The Kano says:

    All nations need symbols and unifying myths. The U.S. certainly has plenty. And the Balangiga Bells symbolize different things to different people from different nations and different times.
    But beyond that, it’s important to recognize facts and keep things in perspective.
    For the most part, the Philippine media has failed miserably regarding the bells. Much of what has been written over the past couple months has been sloppy, distorted, mean-spirited, and cringe-worthy. But hardly surprising.

    • edgar lores says:

      Thanks for the vantage point.

    • Hello, Joe, good to see you dropping in here. Yes, I agree local reporting has been horrible. I think the idea of ‘liberty’ is foreign hereabouts, but the bells can help remind that it is under attack both domestically and from overseas.

      • Joe The Kano says:

        And the irony about that is twofold:
        One, Duterte and others, both wittingly and unwittingly, managed to turn the bells and their symbolism into a big distraction from the obvious ongoing slow-motion massacre of Filipino civilians by the very people sworn to uphold the nation’s constitution, rights, and security, and from the ongoing massive sell-out of its sovereignty, patrimony, and future.
        Two, amidst all of the above, he actually managed to maintain some composure and dignity, thus furthering the illusions that the bells have, so far, served more to perpetuate than to dispel.
        Very few people seem to have picked up on any of that, with a few notable exceptions, such as the following:

        • That is more than I can digest for not knowing the truths of anything that the Administration tries to do. I did note in a tweet that the President handled that ceremony in a decent way, his staff’s shuffling aside of priests a minor hiccup. I surmised that he was into damage control and was listening to someone reasonable. A reader suggested Locsin. Or it could be Lorenzana who does not want to burn any more American bridges.

        • popoy says:

          I surmised something subliminal if not sinister (Goebbelian?) in the above link. Read it again and feel bedbugs crawling on your skin like what the EDSA people felt during Martial Law years when newsprints chronicled halleluiahs of heroism against invaders.

          Medical science is still battling and seemed still impotent to conquer once and for all the scourge of the human body when its own troops of proteins against disease becomes auto-immune lethal killers of its own body. Rizal wrote about Social Cancer (theocratic strain) and died by musketry.

          Bloggers who fancies catchy nom de plumes SHOULD MAY BE take note about insidious falsity. A blogger who calls himself Joe the Brit even when he is naturalized UK Citizen but NOT A NATURAL BORN (Englishman, Scot, Welshman, or Irishman) could just be mistaken for being naughty, mischievous albeit felonious.

          I am like: Popoy the Pinoy is truthful and sincere but Popoy is so sufficient Filipino NOT TO BE MISTAKEN for POPEYE the Sailor Man who so American. REALLY? But what’s in a name so asked Bill Shaking the Speare? A lot says the Bible when it named the devil a SNAKE.

          A blogger’s name whatever or regardless, kith and kin, friends and acquaintances, they, all of them, know you are not what you are not which makes it so nice to sleep in the pancitan.

          May kasabihan ang mga Popoy, este mga Pinoy: Lahat DAW ng gubat may ahas, SO TSoH must take note if it considers itself as a political climate change vulnerable rainforest. INGAT.

          • edgar lores says:

            Which link? The blog or the opinion column?

            If the blog is being referred to, it may be that the catchy nom de plume is a bow to Joe Am?

          • I’ve interacted with Joe the Kano here and there on article discussion threads over the years and find that he and I often think alike so presume he has a background and values not too far off the mark from what his name is. Obviously, I don’t care if people use pen names for whatever reason they choose as long as the ideas are earnestly said. Social media are rife with fake people tossing out fake ideas but they are fairly obvious when tossed out in a place which is genuine. Social media are also filled with real people tossing out real ideas that are not worth the saliva that generated their words. It’s all good.

          • Joe The Kano says:

            I don’t know, Popoy. To my American ears, you sound rather Chinese.
            Bahala na.

  5. edgar lores says:

    1. Just now, I had a faint memory of peering at the cracked Liberty Bell, the iconic symbol of the American Revolution, democracy, and freedom. It was commissioned in 1752 and is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

    2. Wikipedia says, ”Beginning in 1885, the City of Philadelphia that owns the bell, allowed it to go to various expositions and patriotic gatherings. The bell attracted huge crowds wherever it went, additional cracking occurred and pieces were chipped away by souvenir hunters. The last such journey occurred in 1915, after which the city refused further requests.”

    3. 1915? Hmm, I think, Dad was just a toddler then… and Mom hadn’t been born yet.

    4. So I google “liberty bell hawaii” and I get this:

    5. It turns out that in 1950, 55 replicas of the Liberty Bell were made and shipped as gifts to every American state and territory by then-President Harry S. Truman and the US Congress. It was presented to Hawaii on July 4th, 1950.

    6. There is an inscription on the bell that says, “Proclaim Liberty throughout all the Land unto all the inhabitants thereof.” It is a reference to Leviticus 25:10.

    6.1. The verse reads:

    ”And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family.”

    7. It all makes sense now. I must have seen the replica on one of our grade school excursions. We returned to the Philippines in 1954. So I have a real, if tenuous, physical connection to the Liberty Bell. It must have been one of the springs of my spiritual connection to the ideals of democracy.

    8. I agree. The Balangiga Bells are liberty bells. And they have returned

  6. Micha says:

    From wiki:

    “Gen. Jacob Smith and his primary subordinate, Major Littleton Waller of the United States Marine Corps, were both court-martialled for illegal vengeance against the civilian population of Samar. Waller was acquitted of the charges. Smith was found guilty, admonished and retired from service, but charges were dropped shortly after. He was later hailed as a war hero.”

    With all the historical background considered, I don’t quite understand the overdose of symbolism attached to the bell. It was a war loot, nothing more.

    • The symbolism is mine only, looking for ways to find patriotic spirit and a possible driver toward civility hereabouts. If it is hypothetical, or a waste of energy, that’s okay. I’m happy that Gemino Abad gets it. There is actually no such popular symbolism here. The Church is happy to have its bells back. A few trolls gave Duterte credit. Miss Universe pushed it all out of sight. I wish more Filipinos felt ‘give me liberty or give me death’, but they don’t. On to the next topic . . .

      • Loli says:

        For me-the Balangiga Bells symbolize another instrument of subjugation. Filipinos were mostly pagans before Christianity, churches and bells became part of their culture. Religion was used by Spain to keep the Phillipines under their rule for more than 300 plus years.
        Indigenous instruments that were used to alert people or gather people are tambuli and conch shells, not bells. I would rather have the Filipinos call out Spain for what it did to its dignity, self esteen, freedom, for looting the country and cruelty, and ask SPAIN to collect the bells to show they recognize and have not forgotten that those bells were tools of subjugation. The Philippines will start to heal when it assertively reclaim what’s theirs. Remembering the impacts of colonization economically, politically and psychologically, and recognizing how they negatively manifest in every fabric of Philippine society is the road to healing. Remembering and not forgetting; Forgiving and not dwelling on victimizatiin is healing. To identify what strengths were enhanced and weaknesses that were made worse by the past colonial rule is to be healthily resilient. The inspirations for freedom for Filipinos should be the indigenous tribes in the north and south who were never conquered.

        • “and ask SPAIN to collect the bells to show they recognize and have not forgotten that those bells “

          I love this view!

          Don’t wait for Spain to collect them, ship ’em out right now! ie. Thank you for these, we’d like our refund now. I wonder like that Indian/UK study below if they’ve accounted for how much Spain really took from the Philippines (I know they were responsible for the original de-forestation in Cebu, Negros, etc.)

          Hell, while we’re at it, return the name back to Spain too! Thank you Philipp II for visiting (vicariously) and exploring. But you can have your name back as well. I propose Magellanese in honor of Lapu-Lapu and Humabon (two frenemies) who killed Magellan and company.

          And I totally agree with the last sentence, I’ve been hammering that over and over on here.

        • Wonderful perspective, Loli, one that makes a lot of sense. It should form the basis of any revised constitution, this deep sense of being ‘our own people’.

        • edgar lores says:

          I agree that Spain used the Cross as an instrument of subjugation.

          Arguably, however, Christianity is a higher form of religion than what was there before. Christianity, in its ethical norms and its mass ritual practices, was a civilizing agent. The paradigm of the son-God, or the sacrificed-son-of-God, still holds sway today. Not only here in the Philippines but elsewhere.

          The tribes in the North maintain the old beliefs although many have converted to Christianity. The tribes in the South hold a religious belief that rivals Christianity.

          Christianity was not only a civilizing agent but also a gluing agent. There was no Philippines before the Spaniards arrived. So there is no going back. The bells are here to stay. They can be rung to celebrate Christian solidarity.

          Philippine church bells were either manufactured locally or cast in Indonesia, Malaysia, Goa, or Macao. [1] They did not come from Spain.

          While the major religions still hold sway, the grip of faith is lessening, driven by individuals opting out or by state atheism (as in China).

          In a certain sense, religion is a subjugation of the mind. It is mental conditioning… that may or may not accord with external reality.

          My personal view is that religion was a historical necessity… and continues to be a social and individual necessity. I am not sure that it can be replaced with secular humanism.

          Definitely, religion can be a gateway to liberation.



          • A. Filipino Christianity came on top of already existing native spirituality.

            B. It is a more successful transplant than democracy and rule of law, it seems. The latter two look like donor organs being rejected by Filipino culture for now.

            C. Religion is emotional while the latter two are rational. Maybe too “dry” for a “feelingero” people. Too little song and ritual?

            • Some notes:

              1. Prof. Vicente Rafael mentions “damayan” as a major aspect in Filipino mass movements, not only Kadamay.

              2. He also mentions the fiesta atmosphere in 1898 Cavite, everyone joyful even under enemy fire, houses opened to strangers like during a town fiesta.

              Filipino unity in 1986 was also fiesta-like..

              Is the drab white classicism of US democracy too cold for Filipinos? Is more of the colorfulness of real Greek antiquity needed? The Acropolis was not white, it was painted in bright colors.

              • Something between Simbang Gabi and fiesta might be key.. thinking aloud.

              • I still say return all the bells in the Philippines, regardless of where cast— tell Spain “TY for these”, “these aren’t ours”; “Then we gift them to you, and good riddance”.

                Then replace with bright neon lights (i guess now LED lights are used) , if they like parties, Vegas is the best model for this (it’s democratic and its noisy, rule of law are the cameras, pit bosses and roaming security ), bright lights, ding-ding-ding sound of tiny bells, and a chance to win a little (not much).

                The church can be replaced, casinos too have colors, lights, fiesta atmosphere, and if its midnight mass , they’re open 24/7.

                Vegas is cool, baby. Cool. 😉

              • If they keep things up, the Philippines will end up as a cheap mix of Las Vegas and Macau, sure.

                With a touch of Tijuana, maybe.


              • “Is the drab white classicism of US democracy too cold for Filipinos?”

                Fascinating question. Filipinos in the US tend to collect in ethnic communities, as do Chinese, Koreans, Japanese to a lesser extent, Armenians, and others. Mexicans occupy huge areas because of their numbers, and there are also Salvadorean, Guatemalan, and other Latino subgroups clustered here and there. I don’t think there are fiestas in the local Filipino communities, but I don’t really know. There are grocery marts with Filipino foods, and a Jollibee or two. I think US Filipinos are active in democratic expression, voting along with everyone else, and some communities have, or have had, Filipino mayors. It is interesting that Filipinos leaned toward Trump in the last election whereas most Asians did not. That little detail suggests you are onto something. They want the spice of authority.

            • edgar lores says:

              Love the analogy.

              1. Christianity had a longer bedding period.

              2. Religion presides more intimately over life’s milestones: birth, christening, confirmation, marriage, and death. It automatically provides context and meaning to life.

              3. Our routines — daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly — involve wider and deeper religious activities: prayer, church service, easter, all saints, Christmas, and your yearly fiestas.

              4. Above all, as you say, the emotional celebrations, the spiritual consolations.

    • edgar lores says:

      1. For me, there are 2 levels of symbolism:

      o The objects — the bells
      o The action — the return of the bells

      2. Per my original post, I associate the bells with the Liberty Bell. They were war spoils, and the war was for independence.

      3. The action of returning is significant in that it says what was taken can be returned to their rightful owners. It says historical wrongs can be rectified and set right. It says enmity can end.

      3.1. Sometime in the future, things that have been taken — the WPS features, the Marcos loot, the Revilla loot — can be returned to their rightful owners.

      • Micha says:

        “I associate the bells with the Liberty Bell. They were war spoils, and the war was for independence.”

        Independence which was not gained or won in that particular war.

        There were no historical account whether they rang that bell when Gen. Smith’s soldiers were turning the place into a howling wilderness.

        The bell itself was taken from the town’s Catholic church run by Spanish friars who, on orders of the Spanish king, ruled and looted the country with oppressive means.

        The sight of our criminal President kissing the bell during the turn over ceremony made me want to puke. That’s the same foul mouthed heathen, btw, who wanted to kill the bishops critical of his administration’s policies.

        Ang saya-saya talaga sa Pinas.

    • NHerrera says:

      In a country [circa 2016+] with no single item that inspires or excites the majority for more than a week or two –such as Pacquiao’s almost monotonous Boxing Wins, or the Philippines Win in this or that Beauty Contest — I can understand JoeAm’s wish for a symbolism which one hopes can inspire. One that may not be enduring but at least last much longer than the excitement of a Pacquiao or a Philippine Beauty Contestant Win. The search and waiting for such symbolism is still open.

  7. karlgarcia says:

    It no longer mattets if the bells were war trophies or loot. It also does not matter if Duterte takes credit.

    What is important is Duterte may be open to renew alliance with America

    I do not trust the Chinese government, but I am still hoping that these world domination power play called full spectrum dominance will end.

    • Micha says:

      His China gambit is a huuge mistake. America is not just going to roll over and cede world dominance to a communist regime. In the pre-nuclear weapons era, a hot war is necessary to settle that question. This time it is going to be settled on the economic front. The arrest of Huwaei executive in Canada to be extradited and face charges for trade violations in the US is a major skirmish in this war, signalling that the agreed truce on tariff is merely a palabas.

      “War is a force that gives us meaning” – Chris Hedges

      • karlgarcia says:

        We could have gained from the trade war through transferring of manufacturing from China, instead they are moving to Thailand, Vietnam and even Myanmar.

        Xi will remain long after Duterte and Trump are gone, so he can see to it that all his plans will be implemented, and he is of course anticipated the fickle policy making of the rest of the world especially the US and its pawn, the Philippines.

  8. I’ve heard about the Balangiga Bells awhile back. I never thought we’d (our gov’t) concede to returning them back.

    This all goes back to my point on Vengeance and Proportionality (four or so threads back?).

    I’ve seen German tanks, Japanese AA guns, etc. oh and pieces of the Berlin wall , that decorate bases and gov’t facilities over here. But if you notice most big item war loots before WWI were pretty small. I don’t think i’ve seen church bells as war loot/trophies ever.

    But as Joe has stated these bells were used in an attack on US troops (that Waller fella USMC was Gen. Smedley Butler’s superior officer and friend when they were in Cavite, here he’s the subordinate officer in this Samar attack/retribution ).

    For a military unit to decide to haul a bunch of bells across the globe , those bells must’ve been pretty important. They signified the attack that befell them.

    So when American troops cleaned up, they figured Hey these are ours now! I ‘m pretty sure they didn’t think of big lofty ideals like Liberty and such, just that they were instrumental in the attack against them.

    They took ’em back home, as symbols of Vengeance and Proportionality (though the last concept is open to argument). No better friends, no worst enemy, that sort of stuff.

    That’s why I’m surprise Gen. Mattis agreed to returning them. It sets a bad precedence , what’s next we return the West back to Native Americans? I just read that the migrant caravan folks are now demanding that the US gov’t pay them $50,000 dollars each so they ‘ll go back to their countries.

    F’ that! When will all this stop? Does the US need to keep on apologizing and paying restitution at every intersection? Yeah, America’s done some heinous stuff, but I’d argue it’s been balance positive more so than negative, the world has enjoyed unprecedented comfort and longer life spans because the US was around.

    Gen. Mattis (Sec. Mattis) shoulda said, nope these are ours now as symbols of our Vengeance and Proportionality. Reminder that we will strike back; reminders to others that we can play hardball too, not just keep on handing out money for the rest of the world.

    Also, that we are not in the business of returning stuff. Right of Conquest is as old as time. but we are also good people, so we’ll have new fancier bells made and given as replacement (we’ll even fix up the church), and we’ll open these old bells to visits by Filipinos especially the townsfolks of Balangiga (we’ll throw parades and stuff even for these visits).

    • Thanks for this alternative view, which makes a lot of sense from an American’s vantage point.

      Going off topic, but grabbing for your thoughts, what do you think about Trump’s decision to pull Americans out of Syria? I see the logic to it, but it rather dumps things on France and Great Britain (at a time when both nations have severe internal problems). It is sure to make America more hated, I’d guess. The military and Trump apparently disagree on the matter.

      • edgar lores says:

        That’s from an American imperialist vantage point.

        • It’s the opposite of “imperlialist”, edgar if you’ve tracked my commentary on here, and tangents perfectly to Joe’s question.

          But it is about Right of Conquest (not the same as imperialist), once gotten, the thing that’s gotten should remain. ex. Would you rather that the state of Hawaii return to Hawaiians and cease to be an American state? Such is progress, you don’t unnecessarily march backwards (unless that backward step garners some return of investment, this case has none).

          On to Syria.

          Joe, early on when I spoke about why I favored Trump over Hillary it was because he understood better what was at stake. Not that he understood the Middle East, but he understood that plunging Syria into chaos was no bueno (Hillary and Obama, hailing Human Rights, did just that freshly after their Egypt and Libyan ousters).

          Syria is minority rule. Tyranny of majority (ie. Sunni fanaticism) is kept at bay. Egypt after American Arab Spring meddling self-corrected. Qaddafi and his Libya is still reeling from our meddling. Once ISIS is gone there’s really no need to stay in Syria (mind you it’s a very small footprint under Trump, special ops mostly, we’re fighting ISIS out of Iraq mostly).

          We shoulda sided with Assad, our values more aligned with them (Christians, Alawites, Shia, Druze, seculars, etc.) than with Sunni fanatics the only winners if Assad regime falls. Iran and Russia are there now; we squandered our influence already over there by always picking the wrong horse in the race.

          And this is the opposite of “imperialist” part, it’s time to pack up and leave the ME. or just leave the very minimum over there (ie. for the Kurds, etc.).

          As for France and UK, they are just tag alongs, I don’t think they have interests in Syria (sure they were responsible for the lines drawn post WWI), but when we leave, it’s as simple as them leaving too, unless they have aspirations like Russia (which I’m sure they don’t). Why stay?

          The Arab Spring could’ve been quelled quietly, but Human Rights got in the way of policy, not knowing who’s who & what’s what in the Middle East and thus made things worst.

          In conclusion, Trump’s leaving Syria is exactly why I voted for him. Let’s get out of there already. Stop waisting our resources, we’ve dumped trillions of dollars over there already, with nothing gained, and we can’t spend a couple of billions to build a wall? We’ve got all our priorities out of wack.

          What’s the opposite of “imperialist”? Yup, I think it’s high time for that now, after a century of imperialism, starting with Balangiga, time to re-focus back home, staring now.

          Let me leave this question, You think the regular folks in southern Samar remembered those bells , probably not. I’m sure people forgot about them in Wyoming as well. It’s politicians and professors, one wanting money, the other some sort historical gratification. But what have they done to better the lives of people in Balangiga?

          You think Syrians and Iraqis will remember all our blood and treasure (to the tune of trillions) lost on their lands? Nope, but I’m sure they’ll find something to complain about a generation or two from now.

          Stop imperialism. Build the wall.

          • edgar lores says:

            America’s conquest of the Philippines was imperialistic.

            1. Wikipedia: “The Philippine–American War ensued, with extensive damage and death, ultimately resulting in the defeat of the Philippine Republic.[32][33][34] According to scholars such as Gavan McCormack and E. San Juan, the American counterinsurgency resulted in genocide.[35][36]”


            2. Mark Twain: “You ask me about what is called imperialism. Well, I have formed views about that question. I am at the disadvantage of not knowing whether our people are for or against spreading themselves over the face of the globe. I should be sorry if they are, for I don’t think that it is wise or a necessary development. As to China, I quite approve of our Government’s action in getting free of that complication. They are withdrawing, I understand, having done what they wanted. That is quite right. We have no more business in China than in any other country that is not ours. 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.”


            • Joe: “Thanks for this alternative view, which makes a lot of sense from an American’s vantage point.”

              edgar: “That’s from an American imperialist vantage point.”

              I agree the America of 1900 was imperialistic; but the America of today (like me) is sick and tired of it, edgar. We want out. Trump wants out.

            • Thank you for this, especially Twain, and the definition of imperialism. Twain does give credence to the idea that there MIGHT have been a reason to try to impose a government on the Philippines rather than let Filipinos determine their future, but he doesn’t know what it is. The central debate in America at the time, coming up during a congressional grilling of Admiral Dewey about the war, was whether or not Filipinos were capable of governing themselves. America’s primary interest was to not let other interested nations take over this resource rich, strategically well located land mass. They were circling like buzzards. Dewey and others were witness to the conniving Aguinaldo and the murderous backbiting being done by Filipino leadership and determined it would be too risky to simply let go. It would take a “teaching” effort to instill democratic principles and techniques.

              Well, as the imperialist America would find over and over again, there is a big gap between the idea and the accomplishment of it when dealing with vastly different cultures. So the teaching failed, as we witness. Filipinos, since getting independence, have not proved the American doubters wrong, and more and more on twitter today I see Filipinos ask the question if Filipinos can even do democracy.

              So imperialism is a process of proactive self interest largely deployed when the world was a smaller place and alliance alignments were free flowing and it was risky to have them in an enemy’s camp. America (and others) spread their influence. America did it though colonies, with considerable dollops of opportunity for self-determination granted to the colonies. Today the world is smaller, national lines are clear, but other nations (China) will not even abide by those laws. What is a nation that believes in liberty and democracy to do? Shrug?

              • edgar lores says:

                And even so, America is now failing in its tutelage at home.

                This is not to detract from the ideals of American democracy.

                It’s to say that ideals are ideas that must be lived.

              • Yes, indeed, and as both Filipinos and Americans prove today, the pragmatics and politics of making democracy work are more an ideal than a perfected practice. It is not easy to live them. Aussies aren’t doing so hot. Great Britain is collapsing in on itself. France is under duress. Germany is drifting right.

                American democracy is a process, I think, an idea in search of perfect practice. On balance, many good things have come from that process.

        • The term “imperialist” needs to be defined, I think. It is commonly used ad hominem, especially by political opponents like the commies (another ad hominem, I know). It is national self interest expressed in the historical moment, I think, and the moment is never as simple as a one-word description.

          • When I hear imperialism, I usually associate that to two things , Joe, commerce and religion. Those are the only two endeavors really that need to expand. Both can be for wealth and profit.

            Military as a force can be subservient to those two forces, but because it doesn’t need to spread, can be as edgar said only for home defense, and can stand alone (no need for business and religion).

            Like Ireneo once said businessmen, missionaries and adventurers make up America. The last can easily pursue his passions at home w/out leaving there’s enough there, whilst the first two driven by similar motivations need to expand, thus impetus for imperialism.

            I don’t care for business and religion (p.s. Human rights, values, morals, however secular , I lump with religion).

          • edgar lores says:



            a policy of extending a country’s power and influence through colonization, use of military force, or other means.

    • edgar lores says:

      That last paragraph is patronizing.

      • Maybe.

        But if you look at the Peace Corps, USAID, our policies, that’s exactly what the US does. Not to mention private aid from the US. We’re always giving hand-outs. My position is , enough already. People out there don’t like it and only blame us after.


        Shut it down already.

        • edgar lores says:

          I come in peace. I am not a soldier; I don’t have any artillery. My weapons are words and logic. I’m pleading with you, with tears in my eyes: if that patronizing last paragraph is not renounced, I’ll cease talking with you.

          • That’s Gen. Mattis, hence my disappointment w/ the Balangiga bells return. I figured , out of everyone in Trump’s administration he’d be the one to say, “Hell no, we’re not returning these!”.

            We shouldn’t be in the business of returning stuff, unless there’s clear return of investment; in this case, the only interesting thing we got in return is DU30 slobbering on our bells. Yuck!. Did he even brush his teeth? Probably not. 😉

          • The “build the wall” statement?

            • edgar lores says:

              As anyone can see, it’s a plea.

              • It’s the opposite (other side of the spectrum opposite) of imperialism, edgar. the Wall. Israel has it, the Vatican too, castles have walls and moats , Australia has the Indian and Pacific.

              • @Edgar, I’m sorry, I can’t match the comments up properly they are firing off so fast. You are objecting to the the idea that America should keep the bells but build nicer ones in the Philippines? That is the patronizing part?

              • edgar lores says:

                1. Let me first give the definition of patronizing.

                gerund or present participle: patronizing

                1. treat with an apparent kindness which betrays a feeling of superiority.

                2. Now, try to read that last paragraph with the definition in mind. From the vantage point of the conquered and oppressed Filipino.

                2.1. There is the claim of “Right of Conquest,” which is a fallacy. It is an appeal to tradition: it must be right because it has been done forever.

                2.2. Then there is the volta: “…but we are also a good people.” On the face of it, there is nothing wrong here if said with the correct tone. The correct tone would be one of humility.

                2.3. What follows sets the incorrect tone. It is a tone of ostensible generosity. Except that it’s not. It is a tone of superiority. It says, “Look! How good we are, how kind. To what lengths we will go.”

                3. I am not objecting to the ideas per se but the base sentiment.

                3.1. The superiority is betrayed in the subsequent imperative responses:

                o “Enough.”
                o “Shut it down already.”

                4. All I can say is: “Thank goodness, some generals have superior reasoning and thought processes.” And this superior thought process was seen in the Marshall Plan for post-war Europe and Japan. And in the return of the Balingiga bells.

              • Yes, well, the views expressed are of LCX and no one else. He remains in moderation for a reason, and for sure, not responding is a legitimate choice.

                I find interesting that this matter of foreign affairs and defense is very much in debate in the US today, especially with today’s announced resignation of Defense Secretary Mattis. After the holidays, I expect to get back to this, as the sands are shifting. I see Secretary Lorenzana wants to take a look at the US/Philippine Mutual Defense Treaty to confirm specifically that contested West Philippine Sea reefs are within the framework of defense. The Mattis resignation will roll through the defense establishment, I think. Terribly upsetting to many.

              • Just a quick thought, still re-reading Francis’ comment. Will reply soon.

                but to edgar , remember where there’s top there’s bottom, so too superior and inferior. The fact remains, there is no parity, not in individuals not in nations.


                The opposite to superior is NOT necessarily inferior , it is in fact not– superior.

                So if one feels inferior , it isn’t IS NOT the result of the superior, but firstly that of the inferior. My point, the inferior is FREE to be or feel superior. But that is not the sentiment I’m expressing above.

                I’m not being patronizing, I’m just echoing our policies and the fact that Americans tend to give, more so than take (i.e. we are good people, to a fault). Of course you’re free to interpret as you please, you’ve already labeled me racist prior,

                I’m just clarifying. For the record.

    • NHerrera says:

      My thanks to Lance, Joe and edgar for the discussion brought about by the posting:

      LCpl_X (@LCpl_X) says:
      December 21, 2018 at 2:54 am

      The discussion comes well to my aging brain bank before the new blog article.

    • Francis says:


      First, I would say right away that—although I am centre-left—I am not a frothing left-wing nationalist who hates everything foreign and Western. I grew up reading stacks of old TIME and Newsweek magazines; when I was a child, I thought America could do no wrong. English is (I have mixed feelings about this) first language. Even now, I still cannot shake away my instinctive preference for America. I consider myself a Filipino, yes—but I also consider myself a part of the West, and I cannot divorce the “Westernized” part of me from the “native” part of me.

      Heck, I’d argue that such a dichotomy is nonsense—but that’s just me.

      So, I am not the typical critic of “American” imperialism.

      “They took ’em back home, as symbols of Vengeance and Proportionality (though the last concept is open to argument). No better friends, no worst enemy, that sort of stuff.”

      An “eye-for-an-eye” morality is valid form of morality, given certain circumstances.

      However, it should be noted that morality looks different depending on which level of society you look. Actions seen at a “societal” level may have different moral implications compared to exactly the same actions seen at a “community” level or an “individual” level. From the perspective of a single military unit, this is a “moral” action. That is a valid argument that can be made.

      It looks different from the societal level, however—at the level of society, the bells represent the booty of a victorious bully. The “anti-imperialist” rhetoric can be located at this level.

      On a personal note, I cannot avoid talking about what is most painful to me about the Philippine-American War, as not only a Filipino but as Westernized Filipino, a Liberal. There were plenty of similarities (for better or for worse) between our two “Revolutions.” For instance—it is worth noting that our “Revolutions” were not really “revolutions” in the bloody French sense: they were coincidentally led in both instances by patrician landowning elite; also: good number of elites in both countries happened to be Masons.

      We also sought your help, as you did seek the help of France.

      That is arguably the most painful point of the Philippine-American War to me; the highest form of hypocrisy—a nation founded on liberal principles, which found liberty in part by the aid of sympathetic foreigners, intentionally colonizing a young nation-to-be in similar circumstances.

      If it is painful to hear, it is because it is true.

      I still like America, but every time I think about that—I just can’t not think about that.

      In short, no matter how “Westernized” I am or how much of a “malansang isda” I am—I cannot, can never shake off that deeply-ingrained hurt. I am sure that the angry nationalists feel even more hurt, if even I can still feel it.


      We choose our morality based on our experience and our ascertaining of the situation at hand.

      @LCpl_X, @Joeam

      I do not mean to offend. I only wish to engage in open dialogue—and in that sense, if I may be frank:

      God has spoilt America rotten. America is the among the most blessed nations on Earth, if not the most blessed. God has given America an almost unbroken line of victories—and while America has suffered defeat or stalemate abroad, it has never thoroughly experienced the feeling of being conquered by an wholly foreign power.

      It is a feeling that many ex-colonies share. It is a feeling that even the Europeans, most of who were colonizers themselves, have experienced as well; the impulse behind the predecessors of the EU (and even the EU itself) was to avoid the vicious, horrendous pain of WW1 and WW2. It is a feeling which deeply touched the Japanese and Koreans; a feeling which drove them to develop their economy, not out of “glory” but out of the mere imperative of survival. It is a feeling that now drives China to compensate their humiliation with rabid nationalism.

      America was blessed. You had the Pacific and Atlantic to set you apart from rivals capable of challenging your might—a luxury which Britain barely had, and Continental Europe never had. China now could only hope to be half as lucky. The Native Americans were soon an afterthought, as the frontier was settled and fueled by a growing economy which was fueled in turn by the frontier.

      “Vengeance and Proportionality.” Might makes Right, This sounds really painful, coming from a nation like that. Many nations—like my own—never had a chance to get “proportional” justice. I wonder how that logic sounds to African Americans, stabbed in the back as the Reconstruction failed.

      (Which leads to another point. There are Americans who understand this feeling of being “colonized” too—such as those from historically disadvantaged minority groups.)

      Sounds like Thrasymachus to me; Justice is the Will of the Strong. Or Thucydides: “The strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.”

      Sounds like Duterte to me. And if one tolerates such logic, what point is this rubbish called Liberalism? Or any other ideology that hopes for something more than the brutish logic of “survival of the fittest.” What is the point of any morality beyond rule of the strongest? What can the weak do? Hope that the strong shall be benevolent?

      I hear so much talk about SJWs. It makes me sick.

      Don’t get me wrong. SJWs are annoying and harmful with their puritanical zealotry.

      However—do not judge a moral stance solely by the behavior of its zealots and adherents. Or am I supposed to say that just as there is no value to be gained from Feminism and Critical Theory because SJWs are so annoying, I can also say that the principles of Roman Catholicism are equally pointless because of the existence of rapist priests or that Evangelical Christianity is also equally pointless because of the existence of corrupt pastors who enjoy a Mammon-filled lifestyle or that virtues that a military holds dear wrong because it has been complicit in too many atrocities.

      The “SJWs” are foolish and idiotic, but the premises and goals of the ideology they claim are at least worth a greater deal of consideration that “it’s annoying” or “it’s impracticable.”


      How does one reconcile with the atrocities of colonization?

      I don’t think the Left has all the answers—and frankly, I don’t think they’re fully aware of that fact; honestly, the Left should probably crib notes from the paleocons to truly understand how to build a just society but THAT is a topic for another dicussion. So I get why some people get frustrated and just throw their hands up in the air. But that’s the thing.

      Enlightenment isn’t supposed to be easy. Nirvana isn’t something you step into immediately.

      I once read this Atlantic article talking about the dangers of meditation. The problem of meditation is that it may lead you to a “Dark Night of the Soul” moment—that moment between worldly decadence and spiritual detachment, where you feel you are completely adrift.

      I think that all this hub-hub—Anti-Fa, the Alt-Right, etcetera—may be preparation for an era with a higher sense of morality, the painful path of recognizing that our society is so broken and so inherently flawed and now that can be genuinely resolved.

      Frankly, I think the Left should crib notes from the religious paleocons more because even a secular interpretation of this process is something….spiritual. Yeah. And I’m an agnostic.

      But just because no one really knows how to do “decolonizations” doesn’t mean it is automatically worth ignoring.

      • Francis, let me get back to you soon, this is a lot to digest. I have to go. But rest assured I’ve read your comment, will think about while out.

        I think there needs some context for my Vengeance and Proportionality it’s part of another discussion and should be read as is, if karl (or others) can find it. This was actually in response to edgar’s self-defense/there than here proposition.

        I’m not proud of what happened in the Philippines either, Francis. And I too agree that America needs some soul searching, when 9/11 happened we were instructed to go back to the malls, forcrissakes!!! There is something amiss.

        But back to imperialism, my point is this,

        Move on, stop blaming us— as you can see we’re as blind, though maybe not blinder.

        • I see Secretary Mattis just resigned, his reason . . . the Trump withdrawal from Syria.


            After Kelly , it was obvious Mattis was next, especially after that “sort of a Democrat” remark by Trump of Mattis awhile back, Joe.

            I want be clear though that we aren’t heavily in Syria, we have folks working out of Jordan and North Iraq (aka South Kurdistan). People need to stop talking about Syria like we’re there in large numbers.

            The Russians and the Assad regime are cleaning up (they’ll have to renegotiate with Syrian Kurds); we’re not leaving Syria, especially not as a vaccuum, ala Obama’s Iraq withdrawal. We have a very minuscule presence there.

            So the question is are we leaving Iraq, with the new state of the art big US embassy there, I think not. Though personally I ‘d wanna leave that hell hole too. All of it.

            Syria did not need the US; we were there for ISIS only not some delusion of nation building.

            • Right. I should do a separate posting to give this it’s due. I know half the world is shocked by the Trump action as allies were left out to dry with no advance indication. If the idea is right, the execution, it seems to me, leaves a lot to be desired, if we believe it is in the nation’s best interest to work with allies (I am of the Mattis persuasion on this).

              • On that point, I too agree with Mattis on the value of allies; but I’m with Trump that these alliances have to be renegotiated, we’ve been carrying too much of the load for so long.

                Whether Trump’s negotiating skillz will work or not, remains to seen. But he’s now effectively tossed Wall funding to DoD. Question: is DoD in the business of making walls?

                We made walls in Iraq and Afghanistan, so why not here? For home defense? It’s a great move no matter how you cut it.

                Also, I noticed Jared and Ivanka are back in the picture, pushing for prison reforms.

              • I will refrain from addressing the immigration issue here because I want to address it in my first blog after the holidays. I’ll write an article to the point, as it is wonderfully complicated. We can all roll up our sleeves on it, with you representing the America First POV. I shall release you from moderation on the strength of your posts in this discussion, but ask that you avoid button pushing, dominating discussions, and offering up topics your pollyanna host does not like to see populating his public space.

      • It is wrong to consider anything an individual says as representing the “American” view. Not me, not LCX, not Secretary Mattis, not even Donald Trump. This idea of “Vengeance and Proportionality” is just an idea, an opinion of one or a few, not a national policy. I had not heard it until LCX mentioned it, and certainly it is nowhere enshrined in the American Constitution. It is correct to be critical of it, but it is incorrect to label it “American”.

      • “How does one reconcile with the atrocities of colonization?”

        This was my point when I asked edgar if he walked around with a stick of sharks teeth when he was in Hawaii.

        Of course not is the answer. Why? Because he enjoyed a fine sewage system, water works and electricity, and good schools and roads too. There was no need to walk around with a stick of sharks teeth. He enjoyed civilization.

        It wasn’t all “atrocities”, Francis, was my point. Just as an individual has the choice to either focus on the negative or the positive; nations and peoples too have this same choice.

        The opposite of superior isn’t inferior, it’s not-superior. The feeling and/or becoming inferior is secondary to the initial choice of not-superior.

        As for Vengeance-Proportionality, here’s the full thread, you may scroll up or down to read its entirety,

        My point here was that edgar’s premise is (and has been) easily co-opted again and again, so better to justify using easily understood concepts harder to make murky. That way politicians and manipulators of society will find it much difficult to prosecute, pulling heart strings, to call for violence.

        Be clear. I argued for clarity. Dispense with too lofty thoughts.

        And yes you are correct, just as Ho Chi Minh and Fidel Castro pleaded for our Founding Fathers’ ideals, their pleas fell on deaf ears when with real Americans.

        But to Joe’s point above (in response to edgar), please don’t over-romanticize Filipino revolutionaries as wide-eyed damsels in distress only to be raped by Americans. Before the Americans were in the picture they were already stabbing each others’ backs; even as far back as pre-Spanish times.

        The back-biting attracted the force that befell them, same with Native Americans and Africans who ended up here (they were captured and sold by other Africans).

        Compare the Philippines to Thailand the only country in SE Asia (or Asia for that matter) that escaped colonization, they had a monarchy still today they revere their royal family as a nation united through and through; was the Philippines as unified, could it have stayed intact as Thailand?

        We’ll never know of course. My point here is the law of magnetism. Weakness attracts strength; prey predator, bully victim and so on. But unlike the British (India) and the French (Haiti) and other European colonizers, Americans attempted to include not subjugate.

        I know I know, good intentions paved roads to hell and all that good stuff. But American colonization was completely different from others.

        (Which leads to another point. There are Americans who understand this feeling of being “colonized” too—such as those from historically disadvantaged minority groups.)

        Again comparatively speaking, they do pretty well.

        Mainly because the idea of America is that of inclusivity , granted the ideals before was “Send me your tired, your poor…” , is now more like “Send us your most talented, creative and economically viable…”. But if you can pull your weight and make something of yourself,

        that’s basically the only requirement to be American. Plenty of Filipinos do that here, Francis. Most are in high income brackets, I don’t think they did that by feeling inferior or colonized. They just got to work.

        “The Native Americans were soon an afterthought, as the frontier was settled and fueled by a growing economy which was fueled in turn by the frontier.”

        From the time of Squanto at Plymouth Rock, to Lewis & Clark, to actual genocide of California indians (as oppose to relocations) at the end of the Wild West, this was all hard work. There was no single gov’t policy, the West as won one town at a time, one piece of real estate at a time, one shot at a time.

        Whole tribes and nations perished, but those who surrendered though defeated in time had the opportunity to re-group and become economically viable (ie. from casinos now the marijuana industry).

        My point, opportunity is still for the taking like the pioneers of old. the soul-searching part I spoke of earlier is that corporate interests are squashing those pioneer/frontier virtues, instead encourage us to be more dependent on cheap stuff (usually made in China).

        Now that’s anti-American. that is the enemy, not China per se, but made in China, the dependence on cheaply manufactured goods while paying double or triple the price its worth.

        So get past edgar’s inferior-superior, get past colonization-decolonization, atrocities/civilization, and just focus on being self-sufficient and self-reliant (self-starter, self-love, self-sacrifice, self-anything really), that’s basically how to be an American.

        • My, my, sir LCX, I read every word and find this to be a most eloquent epistle. If there were a place to sign, I would add my name, but all I can do is thank you for doing a difficult task in a clear and passionate way. Well said.

        • Micha says:

          “There was no single gov’t policy, the West was won one town at a time, one piece of real estate at a time, one shot at a time.”

          The Louisiana Purchase which include present day 15 states was a gov’t policy.

          • A very unpopular one, Micha.

            One President Jefferson took a lot of heat for. He obliged Napoleon and Napoleon needed money back in France. Alexander Hamilton and more disagreed, they were anti-imperialists; but Jefferson saw only a good deal. The Spaniards tracked Lewis & Clark, to try to find and kill them, they never caught up.

            Yeah, the purchase was Jefferson, but it took individuals to colonize ’em is my point. If Napoleon didn’t sell and Jefferson didn’t buy, you’d have the British up north and Spanish down south vying for the lands. In the end, it all would’ve still been America (US of A) given what transpired in the 1800s, just with more Spanish names.

        • Germany was lurking in Manila Bay and was driven out by US and UK forces in 1898 – they did get the Carolines and Marianas, so who knows what deals were made? If the US had left the Philippines to Germany, far worse stuff might have happened..

          There was the Herero genocide which took place early 1900s, which the Lutheran missionary above tried to prevent but failed. His great-grandson (my cousin and yes he is our common great-grandfather) was active not just in getting his diary published but also in pressuring the German government to give back skulls taken back then. Taking skulls is almost a pagan kind of act.

          Germans BTW are missionaries, businessmen and engineers. The brother of Johannes Spiecker, Friedrich Albert, was on the board of a number of engineering firms. He helped electrify Cologne, but also pushed for the colonization of Namibia way back in 1888. It is never that simple. My cousin in the Intro of our great-grandfather’s colonial diary gave a clear picture of the mentality in those days, including his many prejudices.. but still a good man compared to his adversary Lothar von Trotha – chemrock would know him.

        • “Because he enjoyed a fine sewage system, water works and electricity, and good schools and roads too. There was no need to walk around with a stick of sharks teeth. He enjoyed civilization.”

          The other side of Empire is of course vae victis, Dear Optio_X

        • Francis says:

          “Dispense with too lofty thoughts.“

          Society does not exist. Only persons.

          That is actually an arguable philosophical position—but it is not automatically true.

          We can agree to disagree here, as our foundations are different.

          Though, the thing is, “stuff of the imagination,” like nations, etc. somehow exist—or a lot of people believe they exist—therefore, we can’t avoid dealing with them. But I digress.

          I will only say that people are aghast that grave crimes commited by persons can have statue of limitations, but that if those crimes were commited by nations—the notion of a statue of limitations exists.

          True, the Filipino Revolutionaries were not damsels in distress. That doesn’t make the imperialistic actions of a liberal republic any less hypocritical.

          “America did a lot a good,” is no pass for some heinous behavior. Say, Priest X did a lot of good works too. Or: Director Y directed some great films. Doesn’t excuse the scandals they were involved in.

          Don’t see why nations should held to some different standard up there.

          It may be easier to forgive, if sincerity is seen. Which is why symbolism (and godforbid, emotions!) is not some lily-livered pansy afterthought, but damned important.

          Sincerity in symbolism. The Germans and the Japanese said sorry—but no one has much qualms with the former and everyone still has issues with the latter because:

          At the Warsaw Ghetto, German Chancellor “dropped to his knees.” Meanwhile, the Japanese just coldly hand you cash.

          The United States should be praised for handing the Bells—it is truly a heartfelt gesture.

          “So get past edgar’s inferior-superior, get past colonization-decolonization, atrocities/civilization, and just focus on being self-sufficient and self-reliant…”

          Detachment is a luxury, a privilege.

          And “get past” is wrong. I would say, “integrate.” “Remember, so that you may learn.” Imagine ex-criminals telling you: “get past my crimes.” No. Even if you are forgiven, you remember so that you no longer repeat them to the best of your ability.

          If one really wants to stop or minimize American imperialism (a stance of yours which I strongly sympathize with) then teach them the lessons of a bloody past.

          We hold people to that standard—to learn and remember mistakes, especially the gravest. Again, I simply don’t see why nations shouldn’t be held to a similar standard.

          We can always agree to disagree, but—and I don’t mean to offend and say in this is purely good faith—there is a reason the world finds America overbearing.

          It is both a virtue and a vice, that exceptionalism. Yet, in the end, you are also passengers on Planet Earth like the rest of us.

          I admire the ideals of America—and I also like to think that a humbler America, an America honest with its virtues and flaws, would truly make the world a better place. Far better than it is now. A humbler America, that’d be like heaven to my ears, to the inner liberal in my soul—better than Xi’s China, no doubt.

          Aye, the socialists would call me a big fat dummy but a boy can dream…

  9. The resignation letter from U.S. Defense Secretary Mattis is required reading for those who wish to play witness to the tensions that define American foreign policy and defense policy.

    • NHerrera says:

      Thanks. Secretary James Mattis’ thoughts — on Foreign and Defense Policies — are very clear and concise as expressed in that resignation letter.

      • Yes, it is a short but loud statement. I wonder how Republicans are doing these days, whacked first by the Trump decision to withdraw from Syria, followed the next day by a respected Secretary’s resignation. They are usually pro-military.

        • ps, Trump certainly behaves as a pawn of Russia.

        • NHerrera says:

          US Sen Pres McConnell is in tune with Mattis on recognizing Russia as a foe.

          On another news-worthy US item, especially at this time of “chaos” in the US, here is the picture of the DOW plunging about 15 percent from its peak of the year of 26828 in October to 22860 on December 20. Not a pretty picture to welcome the New Year.

          • NHerrera says:

            The question now seems to be: not what Trump will do next but what the influential and majority Republicans will do.

            • Trump’s legal woes are mounting. When he goes against the Republican grain, he risks setting the scene for a favorable response to a democratic initiative to impeach based on the legal argument, with Republicans holding the (unstated) view that VP Pence is infinitely more reasonable than Trump. Trump is threatening to shut down govt over the Mexico wall funding. He is just killing Republicans and on the way to turning the Senate . . . and possibly the White House . . . over to democrats in 2020. Man, what it would be like to be a fly in the offices of key Republicans, listening in. . .

          • The pain is palpable for those of us with US stocks in our retirement funds.

    • Micha says:

      The Death of Global Order Was Caused by Clinton, Bush, and Obama

      There is no question that Trump places little value in democracy, human rights, the rule of law, or other classic liberal values, and he seems to have a particular disregard for America’s democratic partners and a soft spot for autocrats. But it is a mistake to see him as the sole—or even the most important—cause of the travails now convulsing the U.S.-led order. Indeed, the seeds of our present troubles were sown long before Trump entered the political arena, and are in good part due to foreign-policy decisions made by the administrations of former Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.

      Think back a quarter century, to the beginning of the “unipolar moment.” Having triumphed over the Soviet Union, the United States could have given itself a high-five, taken a victory lap, and adopted a grand strategy better suited to a world without a superpower rival. Rejecting isolationism, Washington could nonetheless have gradually disengaged from those areas that no longer needed significant American protection and reduced its global military footprint, while remaining ready to act in a few key areas should it become absolutely necessary. These moves would have forced our wealthiest allies to take on greater responsibility for local problems while the United States addressed pressing domestic needs. Making the “American dream” more real here at home would also have shown other nations why the values of liberty, democracy, open markets, and the rule of law were worth emulating.

      • I can’t seem to find a hook to argue about, other than observing that running the US is awesomely complex. Every interest has a free voice and some are louder than others. Naming responsible presidents is a lot like naming the best NBA basketball player ever. One gets hung up on the lack of accepted conforming popular standards and the realization the game has changed, too.

        • Micha says:

          But most people are hung up on Trump. Yes he is awful and disgusting and deplorable but he did not came out of a vacuum. He is the inevitable product of those who came before him.

          Policies have consequences.

          The hallowing out of middle America as a result of neo-liberal friendly policies of Clinton, Bush, and Obama leads to the hijacking of populist sentiments by Trump.

          • I think he is more the product of Russia and our immature use of social media and pollution of the political landscape by commercial interests, but I know you look at it through prisms that I have not yet discovered.

            • Micha says:

              That Putin helped him got elected, no doubt. But should the American establishment cry foul over that when they too openly helped Boris Yeltsin seize power in the former USSR?

              The CIA had been propelling dictators and drug lords in Latin America, Eastern Europe and Asia.

              The bigger point is that no matter what Putin or Facebook does to influence the outcome of elections, it wouldn’t have been effective if the messaging does not resonate with the voters themselves, because it was the voters, especially those in the rustbelt area, who are on ground zero of de-industrialization and joblessness and economic suffering caused by the neo-liberal policies of Clinton Bush and Obama.

              • I’ll let LCX take up the debate on those points if he wants to, as I find a certain futility to looking back to try to realign what history books have misaligned and where I don’t know the details, but know they are likely very much different than what most people see. The. neo-liberal argument is also too broad-brush for me. There are reasons for policies that need to be understood within the context of the events that shaped them. I personally think Jerry West was the best basketball player of all time. He was magic before Magic, he was a shooter before Curry, and if he couldn’t dunk like Jordan, he could certainly slice and dice the court like no one before or since, and play defense along the way

              • Micha says:

                Abolition of Glass-Steagall Act, NAFTA, Citizens United, Powell Memo unleashed, Koch funded ALEC legislations, Labor Union busting, bailing out of Wall Street crooks and banks, QE for bankers but foreclosures for homeowners, tax cuts for the already rich, the export of American industry to low labor cost countries, corporate deregulation…

                These are some of neo-liberal policies adopted during the presidencies of CBO with severe consequences for the overall health of American polity.

              • Each of those matters is incredibly complex and putting them on a list is akin to the drug lists compiled by Duterte that recite no evidence, just accusations that someone made. Who, we don’t know. Take any one of them and maybe we could agree on the role a president played or did not play. I don’t care to do that as it doesn’t pertain to the Philippines. If you care to lay out the history and context of any one of them, maybe I’d respond in kind with a rebuttal. But you have to show evidence before pronouncing guilt, I think.

                Historians tend to rank Obama very high as an effective president, Clinton in the upper quartile, GW Bush poorly, and Trump dead last. Lincoln generally tops the list. Reagan scores highly. It seems unreasonable to me to broad-brush blame three presidents for Trump.

              • Micha says:


                First you hinted that neo-liberalism is too broad brush for you to comprehend so I gave you specific examples that represent neo-liberal policies under the Clinton Bush Obama terms. Those are not arbitrary misrepresentations.

                The repeal of Glass-Steagall Act was signed into law by Bill Clinton in 1999. The Bush tax cuts mostly benefiting corporations and the wealthy took effect in 2001 and 2003. The bailing out of criminal bankers through QE was the policy response of Obama to the 2008 financial crisis. What evidence are you asking for? Those are all on record.


                Neo-liberalism is the 20th-century resurgence of 19th-century ideas associated with laissez-faire economic liberalism and free market capitalism. Those ideas include economic liberalization policies such as privatization, austerity, deregulation, free trade and reductions in government spending in order to increase the role of the private sector in the economy and society.

              • You have the knowledge and passion, please teach. I do not have either, which ought not be cause for derision. Like on MMT, you are preaching something but have not yet reached me the congregation. I also don’t listen to street preachers or others who expect me to follow them to heaven on faith.

              • “I’ll let LCX take up the debate on those points if he wants to,”


                Would you rather the U.S.S.R. have won the Cold War? if yes, then we disagree; if no, then we can quibble on the finer points of Cold War strategies.

                Is Trump a Russian agent, who knows. He definitely has Russian money, after banks refuse to loan him theirs. But one thing I know is he is only loyal to himself (and his family), a guy like that will not tend to operate under lofty notions and ideals.

                Russian meddling with America is as old as post-WWII, we meddle with their affairs. But did they get Trump elected, i’d say you’d have more leverage arguing that Russians cause Hillary voters to go to Bernie or sit it out; the Rust Belt votes though one can connect the NRA-Russian connection was

                simply Democrats voting Republicans, union types, ie. it wasn’t so much 2nd Amendment or immigration, but a repudiation of NAFTA. You don’t need the Russians for that, just visit the Rust Belt.

              • Micha says:


                The FP article is making the point that there’s a linear progression leading to Trump. He did not just came out of the woods proclaiming a slogan. That he resonated with the voters is because they have had enough of the false promises under Clinton Bush and Obama. You could see that in the hallowing out of working middle class families in Detroit, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia and elsewhere.

                The global order envisioned by the west is now dead, kaput, collapsing. That is because it cannot be sustained in the home turf. The pain and suffering of American families will have political consequences. What we’re having now instead is Cold War 2.0 with China.

              • Sorry, I jumped in w/out reading the article.

                But now having read it, it’s one of those hindsight is always 20/20 writings, though I agree w/out Obama there would be no Trump, Trump was a reaction to hopey/changey but still making chaos in the ME and not doing things in the rust belt; and w/out W. Bush there would not been Obama, we got sick and tired of shooting from the hip God wants me to do this policies. w/out Clinton there would be no W. Bush, w/out Bush Sr. there would be no Clinton; no Reagan no Clinton; no Carter no Reagan. Goes up and down.

                The fluctuating is American democracy at work.

                My main fault with the Clintons and Obama was their too much focus on human rights w/out really understanding the ME, that Saddam, Assad, Mubarak, Qaddafi, etc. are/were essentially Dutch boys,

                Leave ’em in place unless they pose an imminent threat. It’s for the better.

                In this regard, the neo-libs and neo-cons both connected making full circle of their flawed views of the world. It’s like both met in the worm hole and spewed chaos upon the ME, giving China free rein.

              • Your views align well with DFA Secretary Locsin here, a brash firestorm who people either detest or appreciate for his cutting through the bull roar with loud language (on Twitter). I personally take his brash stuff as hyperbole, or words for effect, and try to understand his diplomatic positioning, which I think is pretty sophisticated.

              • Micha says:

                There’s always that fork in the road thing. If, instead of bailing out the criminal bankers, Obama took the direction of helping homeowners, we would not have most likely gotten Donny J.

              • That’s more a question for chemp I suppose, the logistics of bailing out criminal bankers (less) and that of bailing out not-so-innocent homeowners (more)— at the height of all this there were folks, plumbers and strippers, folks w/ bad credit , who owned 3 homes.

              • Micha says:


                I am not responsible for your education. If you wish to learn or understand, there’s always the free and open online resources for your perusal.

                My guess is that you’re just feigning ignorance on the subject of neo-liberalism because it makes you uncomfortable – that criticism of the same conflicts with your long held view about the world.

                That holds true on the subject of MMT vs. the orthodox view of government finances. Both does not require Einsteinian genius to comprehend. It’s just that…

                “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” – Mark Twain

              • Well, as is common among people who make assumptions, they are blowing smoke and who knows what they are puffing. I am under no obligation to research, become knowledgeable about, and enter into debate about a topic of interest to you but not to me. I live in the Philippines, write about the Philippines, and understanding the pros and cons of Glass-Steagle is about the last thing I care to work on. Preach away, brother (or sister), preach away! But I ain’t listening.

              • I do drop off this article for others who wish not to take the view of the anti-neo-liberal preachers on faith:

                View at

              • edgar lores says:

                Thanks for the article.

              • Micha says:


                See, you’ve already come up with an online article. It’s not that difficult or complex a subject to understand. You might have picked one that more or less validates your political world view but that’s beside the point for now.

                And since you’ve also brought up the subject of MMT, it’s a timely backgrounder on what the fools in Washington are doing now re the prospect of a gov’t shutdown.

                The buffoon in chief is having a temper tantrum and wants to hostage the spending bill because he wants his beautiful wall down south. It’s not that they want to shutdown gov’t operations because they cannot afford the proposed budget. Affordability is no longer the issue. Money, or the lack of it, is not a problem – a validation of MMT premise.

              • I think that’s the article Micha read. I scan it and I see lots of complaints but no proposed solutions. So I tossed it out my virtual window and re-read the article touting the gains brought to us by neo-liberalism. 🙂

              • edgar lores says:

                Karl, thanks for the counterview.

              • Micha says:


                You see, we could have buckled right down to discussing the pros and cons, the negatives and positives, the criticisms and the apologia instead of wasting time and bandwidth trying to explain it to you because you’re feigning ignorance of the subject.

                Anyway, thanks both to you and to karl for the links…excellent resource for better understanding. It’s unfortunate that you’re not open minded on the criticism part.

              • A person who gets consumed by the criticisms becomes wrinkled and grouchy and slumps about with a dark cloud overhead throwing shade on decent people. A person obsessed with solutions dances happily down the walk knowing he has contributed to the well-being of others and the clouds part in his honor.

              • karlgarcia says:

                Thanks to your discussion.
                At the end of the article, the author wants a new system to be formulated.
                I guess just get all the good parts and throw away the bad parts. Maybe the system will be called Michaism in this part of the blogosphere called TSoH.

              • There is no system, I think. The neo-liberal tag is like name-calling, it tries to boil a complex, living organism down to one word so that people can complain about all the gizmos that seem misaligned on purpose. There is left, there is right, and there are economists. Mostly their outputs are guesswork and happenstance.

              • karlgarcia says:

                That very much summarizes it.

              • Micha says:

                A person who’s not open to consider criticism scratches his head in bewilderment on why Hillary Clinton lost and blames Putin and Facebook instead. 🙂

                The neo-liberal solution has already died back in 2008 but was resurrected by Obama’s socialist QE.
                That’s socialism for criminal bankers and free market capitalism for the rest of the hoi-polloi. Socializing costs, privatizing profits.

                Neat, huh?

              • Kindly stop trolling me on this. If I am not responsive to your arguments, move to another person and engage with them, or go to another forum that is more attuned to your American social political passions. I’ve explained why I am not interested (I write about the Philippines), shown there are alternative views to your own if others wish to take them up (the link), and suggested LCX or someone else to interact with. I do not scratch my head about Clinton, and am not bewildered. So you spread lies. Keep it up and you can be the designated person dumped to moderation now that LCX has earned his way out.

              • NHerrera says:


                The Earth is flat, very very flat! And I can prove it via neo-einstein theory of relativity. Sorry, it’s a new (neo) hot item, still unpublished. You can’t google the full theory yet. If you do, you will come right back to this TSH page. 🙂

              • Micha says:

                Long thread.

              • NH,

                Neo-lib and Neo-con are essentially the same. Neo-liberalism is more a European term, while neo-con more USA specific.

                when I critique both, I do so not via economics (i’m more versed in Gnosticism than economics as you know), but via what happened in the ME.

                Neo-cons (W. Bush, Cheney, Rice, etc.) rammed thru with their policies.

                Neo-libs (Clintons, Obama, Power, etc.) didn’t ram with the military, but via dog whistles of human rights, and this and that.

                Both were about nation building (at least in the Mid-East, though as Micha’s mentioned world-wide too), one prefers from the outside in, the other inside out— soft power and hard power.

                Iraq and Afghanistan = neo-con

                Egypt, Libya and Syria = neo-lib

                All = chaos

                What’s weird is both won’t touch Saudi Arabia. hmmmmm, I wonder why? 😉

              • p.s.

                Trump is neither. That’s why it’s so interesting to watch. He’s like the two President Roosevelts rolled up into one.

    • edgar lores says:

      Finally got to read it.

      Like this part: “Similarly, I believe we must be resolute and unambiguous in our approach to those countries whose strategic interests are increasingly in tension with ours. It is clear that China and Russia, for example, want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model — gaining veto authority over other nations’ economic, diplomatic, and security decisions — to promote their own interests at the expense of their neighbours, America and our allies.”


  10. edgar lores says:

    Just to be clear, I was not talking about America’s superiority as a colonizer.

    That is just a deflection — a strawman argument — of the issue of patronization I raised.

    And to be doubly clear, the patronization was not exhibited by a country.

    • edgar, I understood completely nothing to clarify, you implied that I was speaking with an air of superiority— which I always do. But not because I’m imperialist or racist is my retort above, that comes simply from knowing I’m more right here (there are times I’ll admit when I’m less right, or that I know nothing at all, like chemp’s banking stuff or Micha’s fake money stuff).

      But this patronizing stuff, I feel, is interpretation. So i’ll leave that open. Though it segues perfectly to Francis’ :

      “We can always agree to disagree, but—and I don’t mean to offend and say in this is purely good faith—there is a reason the world finds America overbearing.

      It is both a virtue and a vice, that exceptionalism. Yet, in the end, you are also passengers on Planet Earth like the rest of us.”

      That Americans are overbearing I know very well. I’m sure Joe too knows this. That’s why we don’t tend to frolick together abroad I noticed. I also stay clear of Americans abroad. Have you seen surfer/yuppy Americans abroad, they’ll apologize for being Americans, but are more annoying when they start complaining about the hot water, and flushing toilets.

      Your fat Mid-western types who go on cruises or travel only to Europe, won’t mind too much if there’s no hot water/flushing toilets, but they’ll talk your ear off. Then you got your business/finance which I lump in with cowboy hat wearing oil folk you’ll find them in oil rigs and other exploratory 3rd world concessions, worst than the military they have more buying power.

      Blacks and Hispanic Americans (your “colonized” Americans) will screw every girl in sight if left alone abroad, how’s that for colonizing actions.

      My point, yes Americans are really overbearing. I agree it is both vice and virtue, but that is also the reason I’m pro-Trump, and all in with Make America Great Again, Francis, we’ve done the world a lot of good, but no one appreciates it (not the U.N. not 3rd world countries, not non-Americans) , so why I agree

      to build the wall and just leave the world alone, focus only on re-making America. He’s the first President since FDR to do this, make an about-face. And in all of my analysis on Trump “he’s sort of a Democrat”, more so than Republican, we’ll see when Jared and Ivanka come back (which it seems they are poised to).

      So on this, Francis, we don’t have to agree to disagree, I completely agree with you! 🙂

      As for all passengers of Planet Earth, I did pen this blog:

      Nations saying sorry, I completely disagree with. Individuals are free to apologize. Because…

      “America has no permanent friends or enemies, only interests”

      ― Henry Kissinger

      The Philippines doesn’t need (shouldn’t want ) our apology that’s an inferior’s move, they only need to focus on their own interests, and how to get others to align with them, and how to strategize to quell opposing interests.

      If she really feels so offended by America and the existence of America and her past crimes, then the Philippines can strategize towards American downfall. Focus on interests, not collecting apologies.

    • “If one really wants to stop or minimize American imperialism (a stance of yours which I strongly sympathize with) then teach them the lessons of a bloody past.”


      If you track thru history what the American military has done from way back to the Indian wars to Philippines to the Banana wars, to WWI to WWII, then Cold War maneuverings, to post-9/11 wars, there is a clear trajectory of humanitarian operations and tactics.

      Which no doubt trickles down to the lowly Private.

      And why myself and Joe had this long discussion on the drone wars awhile back, (scroll up and down it’s a long thread).

      Basically, Joe’s defending Obama’s drone wars as cleaner and simpler and safer; while I argue for humanitarian reasons, ie. if you wanna kill, kill in person (and more importantly kill the right person). Some bureaucrats pushing buttons in D.C. is not how America should conduct its wars. Nor should it be outsourced to algorithms.

      These are the lessons of our bloody past, mainly Proportionality was my focus in the discussion. I hope you read it.

    • “Detachment is a luxury, a privilege.”

      Let me ask you this, Francis, do you personally know a relative, friend or loved one, affected by American policies or subjected to American atrocities in the early 1900s to say mid-1900s, pre-WWII ??? If you do, say a great-grandmother killed at Balangiga or Cavite, or other parts by Americans, you have every right to internalize and personalize these pains and emotions of victimhood.

      You need to memorialize and make their plights a legacy. If no personal connections, then like me and many others here I’m sure, you are by definition also detached.

      If you’re detached you can either manufacture some emotional connection and demand apology, feign offense, or simply go about improving yourself, your family and your nation. Don’t look back. Move forward. That’s slave morality, become master morality per Nietzsche’s definition.

      I mean it’s good to study history and stuff, just don’t manufacture these feelings of hurt, that was 100+ years ago, Francis. Detachment is a luxury, take advantage of it. Don’t look back!

  11. karlgarcia says:

    Here is a short read of the strategy of the US in the early to mid-20th century according to George Friedman.

    “From Sea to Shining Sea… Now What?

    Again, defense required offensive measures. The first step occurred in 1898, with a coup d’etat in Hawaii that gave the US the only significant anchorage that could threaten the mainland. At the time, ships ran on coal, and they required coaling stations to refuel. With Pearl Harbor in American hands, no ship from Asia could reach the Pacific Coast of the United States.

    In the same year, the United States went to war with Spain, seizing Cuba and the Philippines. The seizure of the Philippines gave the United States the first offensive base in the Eastern Hemisphere. The seizure of Cuba made certain that no power could close off the exits from the Gulf of Mexico, and therefore New Orleans.

    Yet, the United States retained a primordial fear of Britain because it was the dominant naval power in the world, and although the US was building a substantial fleet, the British still dominated the Atlantic. In spite of neutralizing Cuba, the Bahamas could still block one exit from the Gulf of Mexico. It symbolized the American fear.

    It should be added that the threats the US faced were not theoretical. Besides the threat from Mexico, the British still controlled the area north of the United States, and Britain was much more powerful than the United States and imperially ambitious. The United States remained suspicious of British intentions in the northwest, but also harbored a fear of both an offensive south toward New York and a blockade of the East Coast.

    Neither of these came to pass, but the American strategic culture was to assume the worst case and generate potential responses. Interestingly, as late as 1920, when the United States was preparing war plans to confront potential enemies after World War I, one of the plans outlined the defense against a potential British invasion down the Hudson Valley.

    This fear of the British was not addressed until World War II, when London needed American destroyers to protect convoys heading for Britain. The United States gave them the destroyers… but at a price. The British had to permit the United States the use of all of their naval bases in the region—in Newfoundland, the Bahamas, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Trinidad, Antigua, British Guyana, and Bermuda. Given American resources, the ability to use the bases was the ability to dominate them.

    Lend-Lease, as it was called, essentially was the British surrender of their naval facilities in the Western Hemisphere to the United States. It transferred control of the Atlantic on a line from Iceland (occupied by the US in 1940) to Bermuda to Trinidad. This gave the United States control over the Atlantic approaches to the US (once German U-boats were dealt with) and effective control of the Caribbean. With this, the United States achieved its defensive goal of controlling the maritime approaches to its territory.”

    • Yup, Iceland is a crazy place. Weird.

      • karlgarcia says:

        You lost me at Iceland, what about it?

        • Homogeneity makes the place weird, karl. There’s a US Naval air station there.

          • karlgarcia says:

            I see, thanks.

            Based from the article, some of the US bases were formerly of the U.K.

          • karlgarcia says:

            The U.K. first displayed their Naval strength by decimating the Spanish Armada.

            After kicking the Brits’ butt in 1776, the US planned to match Britain’s Naval strength, and it accidentally happened when Britain asked for US help during the two world wars and the US able to acquire all the base of the UK that is of strategic importance.

            I guess they got interested in the Philippines because we are near HK and Malaysia two prime assets of the U.K. for trade in the Indian Ocean. ( maybe military access too.)

            It was not until WW2 that the US grinded their military industrial complex teeth.

            As to the British Naval strength, The UK’s naval weakness was exposed in the Falkland wars.

            • There’s no mention of Teddy Roosevelt in that article, but he played a big role in the US Navy’s rise too, karl.


              Theodore Roosevelt was among his era’s most influential naval strategists, who thought about the overall planning for the U.S. Navy, its use as a military and diplomatic force, and the movement and disposition of the Navy’s assets. For decades, he strove tirelessly to transform the Navy into a highly capable instrument of an ambitious agenda to turn the U.S. into a great power. He made his first contribution as a young amateur historian in the early 1880s and continued to influence U.S. naval strategy right up to his death in 1919.

              As an undergraduate student at Harvard, Roosevelt started a serious study of the naval aspects of the War of 1812. He tirelessly pursued primary sources, including official papers and other original documents. He completed two chapters of what became The Naval War of 1812 while still at Harvard and finished the book in 1882 at age 24—in time for the 70th anniversary of the then-obscure war’s start. Prior to Roosevelt’s work, serious studies had pegged the cause of the conflict as the failed U.S. foreign policy designed to avoid war, particularly war with Great Britain. President Thomas Jefferson’s isolationist foreign policy had been lauded, and historians tended to ignore the naval operations and focus on the land war.

              Roosevelt’s ambitious book redirected scholarship about the war in several ways. He brought it prominence. He focused attention on the exploits of naval officers, most notably in frigate battles on the Atlantic and small boat heroics on the Great Lakes. Most importantly, Roosevelt started to articulate a theory that America’s greatness depended on the robust deployment of sea power. This vision caught the attention of Rear Admiral Stephen B. Luce and Captain Alfred T. Mahan, two important naval leaders and strategists whose own efforts would influence generations of diplomatic and military leaders. Luce, Mahan and Roosevelt quickly recognized their common cause and cooperated to promote a navalist ideology that saw America’s great power destiny in the establishment and use of a blue-water fleet capable of operating in deep ocean waters.

              As Assistant Secretary of the Navy in the feverish days following the sinking of the USS Maine in 1898, Roosevelt found opportunities to apply his theories. As acting secretary for only a few hours, he mobilized the navy for war with Spain. He ordered supplies and ammunition, sought support from Congress to recruit more sailors, and ordered the North Atlantic and Asiatic Squadrons to prepare for war. Roosevelt’s aggressive actions set in motion the machinery that soon would lead to the conquest of Cuba, Guam and the Philippines. By that time, Roosevelt himself had assembled the Rough Riders and joined the land war in Cuba.

              As president for nearly eight years, Roosevelt strove tirelessly to develop the navy as the “big stick” of an increasingly ambitious U.S. foreign policy. Working with Congress and the service itself, he increased the size, armament, amour, speed, efficiency, and overall capacity of the Navy and its vessels. The squadron system gave way to modern fleets, with coaling stations. Roosevelt deployed naval assets to cultivate American power, including in 1903, when he sent naval vessels to ensure that Panama would secede from Colombia—paving the way for the Panama Canal, which enabled the US Navy to concentrate its battle fleets quickly. Shortly thereafter, he earned a Nobel Peace Prize by successfully mediating the end of the Russo-Japanese War in 1905 at the Portsmouth Navy Yard with the deft support of key Navy assets. Roosevelt’s deployments culminated in the cruise of the Great White Fleet, 16 battleships of the Atlantic Fleet that sailed around the world between December 1907 and February 1909 —sending a clear signal that the US had global reach and ambitions.

              Roosevelt’s legacy as a naval strategist is linked closely to the rise of the U.S. as a great power. More than any other individual, he was responsible for creation of the modern, blue-water U.S. Navy and its deployments to promote an ambitious foreign policy—in the Caribbean, Asia and ultimately in Europe.

              • karlgarcia says:

                Many thanks for the good read

              • sonny says:

                @ LC & Karl

                Invite to read this article about Theo Roosevelt and what might have been:

                Click to access 87916f_11f264dab72f4b9a837d7e1a4926dc21.pdf


                In 1900, one of history’s significant “might have beens” is worth noting. Theodore Roosevelt had returned from Cuba in 1898 as a national hero and had won the governorship of the State of New York, although by a narrow margin. As
                his very active two-year term came to an end, he had established his credentials as a “Progressive” Republican and, much to the consternation of the conservatives, had become quite popular and visible nationally. However, the Republicans in New York badly wanted to get rid of him and his reformist ways, and he was facing uncertain prospects for reelection. Friends and supporters pressed upon him the idea of becoming a candidate for
                the Vice Presidency, following the sudden death of its highly-respected incumbent, Garrett Hobart. But Roosevelt was lukewarm to the idea,viewing it as tantamount to political exile. (read on, worth it) …

              • karlgarcia says:

                Thanks for that aUncle Sonny.

              • sonny says:

                You’re welcome, Neph. 🙂

              • sonny, karl… have you guys seen Bombshell on Netflix?

                That frequency hopping stuff still blows my mind (though they have counters for this now).

                Hedy puts to shame this new generation of #MeToo , show business has also been both literally & metaphorically about prostitution, whether youre asked to show some skin to titillate or straight to doing the dirrrty w/ the ugly/gay producer, it’s the same ball park… crying over spilt milk seems an absurd after thought, ie. you gave to get, get over it.

                Same as over there, young leading men have to engage in homosexual acts to be on screen or simply in scene. it’s the devil’s game but playing is still voluntary. I’m wondering now if Hedy and Hughes mind melded , and what would’ve happened if their brains did not get the better of them.

                As the end user and beneficiary of her invention, frequency hopping, I had a new appreciation for her after watching said documentary; but respectfully I’m still very much interested in the ways and means she won those parts and how Hollywood was in those days, the process of it all.

                she is a hottie,

                I’m a big fan of hidden geniuses or geniuses that just fell thru the cracks of public recognition, sonny. If you have more do share.

              • sonny, like i’ve said Trump is like the two Roosevelts combined. maybe not as smart, but gut-wise the guy seems spot on, that you can’t teach. I’m sure Trump is no reader, he’s a do’er.

              • Everything he said yesterday about being “suckers” I betcha was in everyone’s mind in that venue (from the officers that hand out globs of money to the buck private tasked with training Arabs) . While the media here spins it a totally different way. But I assure you everyone would be asking, WTF are we doing here?

                So Trump’s message, we’re not losing anymore blood and treasure for these guys, seem spot on. He knows his audience.

            • karl, great read… but i’d go farther back on the US Navy’s international footing that’s pre-1812 and post-1812,

              Remember around that same time Napoleon (before being big) led an expedition to Egypt which Lord Nelson chased after, playing tag, then destroyed Napoleon’s fleet whilst ashore; navally speaking that all culminated in Trafalgar.

              While that was happening, US navy and American ships (or American cargoes) were being accosted in the Med. the first foreign special operations mission was led by an Army officer and a contingent of Marines, collecting and creating a local army for a competing bey (brother of a sitting one). That’s the “shores of Tripoli” part of our hymn.

              From then on out the importance of a far-reaching Navy was stamped into consciousness, but Mexican War and Civil War happened, people tend to forget, so all this had to be re-learned (your articles). Around this time the Philippines would be engaged in the Galleon trade, silver from Argentina/Bolivia/Chile/Peru, shipped to Mexico, then to Philippines, then to China, and all Asian goods back to Mexico.

              Barbary piracy would be similar to piracy concurrently going on there around this time, which actually still persists east of Sulawesi now, Singapore still has to worry about it today, but in small scale not the big nationwide rackets of old.

              But yeah,

              Barbary wars is the first place to look, karl.

              • karlgarcia says:


              • Given the location in question, karl (and sonny). I wonder where all this fits in and the seeming auspiciousness of this treat today,

                Happy New Year, fellas (I truly appreciate your thoughts on this, military and history and military-history over the years). 🙂

              • karlgarcia says:

                Thr Carribrean and Indian Ocean ( Captain Philips ) had their pirate movies, Has that straight near Malaysia had its movie, LCX?

              • karlgarcia says:

                Happy New Year LCX, and all !
                To answer my own questions on the movie about pirates in the straits of Malacca.

  12. Re colonialism, the example UK-India shows that many views are possible, including the railway India got from the British and this:

    Still, better not always just complain about the past but just do things better..

    In 30 years, when Filipinos beg India to save them from China, will they be petty and insist to “stop calling us Bombay first”?

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