О насVOSTOK Magazine - это первое независимое медиа об обществе, культуре, истории и политике стран Ближнего и Дальнего Востока. Мы пишем обо всем, что кажется нам важным и интересным.
While the British Empire had been dominant in South East Asia for many years, a new competitor began to emerge at the turn of the 20th century. The United States (U.S) had been engaged in a brief war with Spain during the late 1890’s, which after a decisive U.S victory, resulted in numerous American territorial acquisitions. Arguably, the most important of these was control of the Philippines, a group of Islands in the South China Sea. U.S interest in these islands predated the results of the Spanish-American War, despite their capture in 1898 being described as a “stunning surprise” by many media outlets and the domestic political establishment. Indeed, U.S interests were keenly aware of other imperial powers that were envious of this territory, including the British. For this reason, a massive public relations campaign against so called “anti-imperialist” Democrats was undertaken by the American Republican Party and the interests it represented; a process spearheaded by Assistant Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt.
Despite some domestic opposition to total American control of the Philippines, the Roosevelt faction eventually persevered. The occupation began to spread beyond the bases in and around Manila. It would not be long before the entire archipelago was captured; although American control was, at best, spread thin. The Filipino resistance that had once been marginally aligned with American troops against the Spanish quickly realized the imperialist intentions of the United States. After the capture of Manila, sporadic resistance became an annoyance for the new American occupiers. More troops were deployed; so many that there were lapses in battle so great that some soldiers grew anxious, itching for battlefield action. One soldier remarked in a letter, “We haven’t done anything but wait around. I don’t like it….” As the anxiety amongst the soldiers grew, opportunity for atrocity grew as well. One American soldier, Charles Wyland of the Washington Regiment, was unnerved by what he had seen on one such occasion, writing, “I have seen a shell from our artillery strike a bunch of Filipinos, and they would scatter through the air…arms, legs, heads, all disconnected…such sights would make our boys laugh and yell…a white man seems to have forgotten he is human.” The similarities between the American occupiers in the Philippines and their British counterparts in India were vast, both infatuated by the intense nationalistic fervor of the time. There was an important distinction; the concept of the Philippines not as merely a colony, but as a “new frontier” for an ever growing American empire; a manifestation of destiny.
The American occupation of the Philippines had, by 1901, become a more contentious issue domestically. That changed in late September of the same year. An American garrison at Balangiga was ambushed and routed by guerilla resistance fighters in a surprise attack; 42 American troops were killed. A swift and brutal retaliation followed, and the event was used to justify a new surge in American military reinforcements. Indeed, domestic media such as The Call reported a later, substantially less serious attack in the following manner; “Another Fresh Disaster for American Troops”, despite the fact that only three American soldiers were killed in the attack referred to in the article, at Luzon. The American response to the sudden increase in resistance was, in a word, barbaric. In response for the death of one Corporal near Bohol, a Captain Andrew S. Rowan summarily executed one Filipino believed to be responsible, and subsequently razed two local villages to the ground. Crimes of this nature are similar to those perpetrated by the Nazi S.S in Lidice, Czechoslovakia in response to the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich; at the very least the practice of destroying entire towns is quite similar, even though the exact death toll that resulted in the massacre at Bohol will likely never be known.