U.S. Interventions: Aberrations or Empire?
What is apparent is that the nature of the American government is gradually changing in its fundamental reality. Under the traditional labels of Republican and Democrat, with no innovation other than the contingent circumstances of place and character, the republic is becoming plutocratic and imperialistic. —José Martí, 1889 (in Philip Foner, A History of Cuba; and its Relations with the United States, p. 453)
Daniel Ellsberg, famous for his role in the release of the "Pentagon Papers," recounts an incident which, from the perspective of American intervention in Vietnam, had given him pause for later reflection. It involved a disagreement with a fellow Harvard graduate student, a German who as a youth had served briefly in the Wehrmacht in the closing days of World War II, about atrocities committed at Lidice and other places. To Ellsberg's objections to the latter, "He immediately replied, 'That's because you've never fought guerrillas. That's the way you have to fight guerrillas.' And I said, 'Well, I don't believe that's a justification; there are other ways of fighting guerrillas, as a matter of fact, and I don't believe we would do that.'" (Papers on the War [New York: Simon and Schuster, 1972], pp. 287-88)
The war in Vietnam, especially the revelations of atrocities such as at My Lai, demonstrated that Americans were not as unique as Ellsberg had imagined. We could, and did, "do that." Despite Ellsberg's argument, no one has found another way to fight a guerrilla war, and there have been none in history in which the guerrillas had any degree of support among the population or that did not result in reprisals and atrocities against the civilian population identified with the guerrillas.
As the revelations of Watergate and domestic spying, the repeated falsification of information by the Central Intelligence Agency, and many such abuses of power by government accumulate, one word has continued to appear as an "explanation" of these developments—"aberration." Such an explanation suggests that these are isolated events, and should not be perceived as part of a pattern or process. But how many "aberrations" can be accepted before one is forced to conclude that the repetition of these events reveals the growth of an American Empire, if by that term is meant the centralization of government and abuse of power which some Americans, such as John Adams in 1775, have recognized as central to a definition of empire? (See Adams' Novangius Letters.)
Ellsberg's retort reflected a view held by many Americans, who do not consider this nation an "imperial power" either in the sense of an arbitrary, centralized bureaucracy at home or of military interventionism abroad. His answer also assumed, in addition to a faith that Americans would not commit atrocities, that the United States had not yet become engaged in a guerrilla war. That he could do so indicated a shocking ignorance of American history in one of those Harvard educated "best and the brightest" who was later to lend his analytical abilities to the American intervention in Vietnam.
SOME "LITTLE" ABERRATIONS?
Yet quite early in the Indian wars, especially those against the Indians of the Great Plains late in the 19th century, Americans developed counterinsurgency tactics, including punishment of the population harboring insurgents and reservations to separate them from the warriors. The United States became a leader in the 20th century in intervening to put down insurgencies around the world and in developing tactics to defeat the insurgents (as in Nicaragua in the 1920's, where the Marines introduced the auto-gyro—the forerunner of the helicopter—as a counterinsurgency weapon).
In the numerous interventions prior to the Bolshevik Revolution, "anticommunism" could not be used as a rationale. Admitted imperialists such as Theodore Roosevelt seldom justified their actions before critics beyond referring to "the white man's burden" or the need for "world order." The primary means used in the more than three decades of intervention in the early 20th century was the Marine Corps, an elite group of highly trained volunteers. Since most of the insurgencies were rather small, the Marines were not conscripted, and few were the sons of upper middle class America, there were relatively few protests against such interventions. And little news of the internal dynamics of these "pacifications" filtered back to the American people.
Once in a while someone revealed what was going on—Gen. Smedley D. Butler (the only two-time Medal of Honor winner in combat, who had risen to second in command of the Corps) did so in the 1930's in War is a Racket, detailing the number of interventions in which he had participated and comparing the Marines to Al Capone's gangsters. Of course a denial of empire could be maintained simply by dismissing Butler as another of those "aberrations." (On Butler, see Jules Archer, The Plot to Seize the White House [New York: Hawthorn, 1973], pp. 132-33, 219-35.)
If Vietnam is to be viewed as another of these "aberrations" then it relegates to second place among American "aberrations" the first guerrilla war against Asians, the Philippine Insurrection, which involved the Army for some years, especially from 1899 to 1902. The Philippine intervention, once called "The Great Aberration of 1898" (S.F. Bemis, A Diplomatic History of the United States [Toronto: Holt, many ed.]), did cause a great protest against annexation of those islands to the United States. The protest focused around the Anti-Imperialist League and was led by a number of prominent Americans. One key to understanding the views of revisionists and anti-interventionists such as Charles A. Beard, Oswald Garrison Villard, and Harry Elmer Barnes is to recognize that as young men Beard and Villard were active in the opposition to American policy in the Philippines and Barnes later served as general editor of a whole series of volumes on American Imperialism.
REVISIONISM AND THE EMPIRE DEBATE
In the last decade revisionist historians have played an important role in reopening a debate closed off since the early years of the cold war—the question of the existence and nature of an American Empire. Revisionists are discovering that it is not sufficient to focus on specific incidents, even ones as large as American involvement in two world wars or the cold war. The key that links these events and debates together is the growth of empire. That important point was understood by some of the Old Right critics of American "globalism" such as Garet Garrett (The People's Pottage [Caldwell, Idaho: Caxton, 1958]).
Americans fall into three groups on the question of empire. On the one hand there is the anti-interventionism which joins together revisionists, whether Marxists, some, liberals, or the libertarians of the Old Right. At the other extreme are those few Americans, the views of which are sometimes found in the pages of National Review, who defend the notion of an American Empire. (See, for example, J. Bernard Burnham in National Review, Jan. 26, 1971, pp. 77-80.) This article is primarily intended for those Americans, the majority in the middle, who believe that such interventions as Vietnam are mistakes or "aberrations," the result of an effort to "contain" communism and not part of a larger process of empire.
At this point most concerned Americans are very much aware of the repeated deceptions of the public that characterized the whole U.S. involvement in Vietnam. One way to approach the question of whether American interventions have been "aberrations" or part of a growth of empire, is to compare that other "great aberration," the intervention in the Philippines beginning in 1898, with what is known about the involvement in Vietnam.
If the same pattern of governmental deception, lies, and brutalization of American soldiers and the native population is evident, then it would appear difficult to continue to hold the "aberrationist" thesis. If this is not evidence for the growth of an imperial America, what kind of a society is it? What is the nature of its character and the sources of its conduct, that it finds itself enmeshed in two such "great aberrations" within less than half a century?
THE CRISIS OF THE 1890's
Even before involvement in the Philippines, the counterrevolutionary posture of the U.S. government was evident in its policy toward the revolution in Cuba, which erupted again in 1895 after a breathing spell of some 17 years. While opinion among the American people seemed to favor an independent Cuba, the administrations of Grover Cleveland and then William McKinley made clear that a degree of Cuban autonomy under continued Spanish rule was preferable. José Martí's letters indicate that he renewed the conflict before the Cuban forces were ready because he feared the United States might soon attempt to annex the island. Some historians believe that the Cubans would have won anyway, without American intervention, and that the United States intervened precisely because such a victory was probable.
McKinley's approach to war supports that view. A number of Congressmen criticized his war message as "weak" because it made no promise of Cuban independence. The Senate tried to pass such a resolution but the President brought all his power to bear to defeat it. The Teller Amendment which finally was passed promised only that the United States would not annex Cuba. That left open the door for the kind of protectorate which was formalized in the Platt Amendment in 1902. It would not be unfair to say that a "credibility gap" was created between McKinley's motives for opting for war and the reasons for which Congress and the public thought the country was going to war.
The first great victory in the war was not in Cuba, but in the Philippines, where on May 1 Admiral Dewey's ships destroyed the Spanish fleet in Manila Bay. The administration was not as surprised by the action as some pretended. The Filipino revolutionists, led by Emilio Aguinaldo, had asked for American aid a year earlier. Long before Theodore Roosevelt became Assistant Secretary, the Navy Department had a battle plan for action in the Philippines (John A.S. Grenville and George B. Young, Politics, Strategy, and American Diplomacy: Studies in Foreign Policy, 1873-1917 [New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 1966], Chapter X). Dewey had met with Aguinaldo, and the Filipinos cooperated with the Americans.
The Filipinos began to express concern about American intentions when an expeditionary force was ordered to the islands on May 19. Under the armistice terms, signed August 12, American troops occupied Manila, but Filipino soldiers were forced to remain outside the city.
In the meantime some segments of the American press had begun to talk of annexing the Philippines. Though later historians have not always done so, Americans at the time distinguished between "expansionism" and "imperialism" (Marina, Opponents of Empire: An Interpretation of American Anti-Imperialism, 1898-1921 [doctoral dissertation, U. of Denver, 1968], Chapter II). Hawaiian annexation was considered "expansion" even by its opponents. The Hawaiian government, though established in 1893 with some American help, had sustained itself for five years. While a plebiscite would have been the best method of annexation, the government had acquired a certain legitimacy through the passage of time. Opposition to annexation by joint resolution was extensive, but contrary to the views of some historians such as J.W. Pratt (Expansionists of 1898 [Baltimore, Maryland: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1936]), the Spanish-American War probably delayed rather than speeded up the taking of Hawaii. In the case of the Philippines, where annexation contradicted the idea of self-determination for the Filipinos, opponents of acquisition from the very first termed it an example of imperialism.
BRINGING ON WAR
Meanwhile, McKinley continued, even after the armistice, to send American troops to the islands. His tough instructions to their commanders, softened in some cases before being posted, only served to heighten the suspicions of the Filipinos. Like Patrick Henry in 1795, with a war just having been concluded, the Filipinos must have wondered what enemy existed in that quarter of the world that 10,000 additional troops were necessary. The President urged the Filipinos to trust him, but their representative, Felipe Agoncillo, was unable to obtain a hearing with American officials either in Washington or at the peace conference in Paris.
In the face of these actions by the administration, and given the momentous issue before the country, a number of leaders in American society called a National Conference on the Foreign Policy of the United States which met at Saratoga, New York, on August 19 and 20, 1898. On the whole the Conference accepted the need for commercial expansion but rejected a policy of imperialism, and so instructed a delegation which, as we shall see, was sent to consult with McKinley. (For the story outlined here see Marina, Chapter III.)
Historians, who for years accepted Teddy Roosevelt's description of McKinley as having "the backbone of a chocolate eclair," have suggested that the President made up his mind to take the Philippines after testing public sentiment on his trip through the Midwest early in October. (See, for example, Walter Millis, The Martial Spirit [New York: Literary Guild, 1931], p. 382.) It seems more likely, however, that he had already made a decision on the question and used the trip to develop public sympathy to that end.
On September 15, the same day he issued instructions to the delegation headed for Paris, McKinley met with representatives from the Saratoga conference. A report of that meeting, not heretofore cited in studies on these events, is revealing. George McAneny wrote to Carl Schurz, who was unable to attend the meeting because of illness, that the President wished to take at least Manila, and probably all of Luzon. When the delegation would not express itself favorably on this idea, the President sought to persuade them. It did not appear he was asking advice but building a rationale for a policy already decided upon. (Sept. 17, 1898, in Carl Schurz Papers, Library of Congress)
The opposition organized as it became apparent that McKinley intended to annex the islands. An Anti-Imperialist League was formed and meetings were held throughout the country. Those held in the universities, where a number of teachers spoke out against the policy of imperialism, closely resembled the teach-ins held over half a century later. These meetings increased in intensity after fighting broke out in the Philippines early in 1899.
Early in December the Senate began to debate the peace treaty negotiated in Paris. The major point at issue was the annexation of the Philippines. At the final vote on February 6, 1899, it was openly acknowledged that the administration had literally bought votes through political favors. Even with this enormous pressure the vote was close, aided by the fighting which broke out in the islands the night before. The attack was launched by Aguinaldo, who had become convinced by McKinley's actions that the United States not only intended to annex the Islands, but that the Filipinos would not be consulted with respect to any plans for the future. It seemed better to attack at once rather than to wait until the American force had grown even larger. (Philippine Insurgent Records, microfilm reel/file 77-1280, National Archives, Washington, D.C.)
Thus the United States found itself at war in Asia, engaged in the first counter-revolutionary effort of the 20th century. While the war continued the American government sent the first of several Commissions which would make the long journey to the islands. Led by Jacob Gould Schurman, the President of Cornell University, who considered himself a "reluctant imperialist" and later moved toward an anti-imperialist view, the Commission soon developed contact with the conservative elements in Philippine society which had long cooperated with the Spanish. The revolutionists, though not all groups were represented, were more representative of Philippine society, and had a heavy Chinese influence among the leaders. (John R.M. Taylor, "The Philippine Insurrection Against the United States," galley proofs, National Archives)
McKinley's use of the power of the executive effectively excluded both the American people and the Congress from any real debate or role in the alternative chosen by the President. Tyler Dennett, himself active in the State Department, many years ago noted that McKinley "created a situation…which had the effect of coercing the Senate" (Americans in Eastern Asia [New York: Macmillan, 1922], p. 631). It is difficult to disagree with that assessment.
The President never framed all of the possible alternatives available in a way that could be understood by the public. Many textbooks recount the story which he later related to some religious leaders about how he worried about what to do with the islands: America could not give them back to Spain, nor let another power take them, nor leave them to the Filipinos. He fell on his knees in prayer, and later that night it came to him that the United States must take the Islands and Christianize and uplift the people. The President, or—if one follows the logic of his story—God, failed to mention one alternative that was pushed by the anti-imperialists and which had been communicated to him by George S. Boutwell, the President of the Anti-Imperialist League: seek a treaty among the powers guaranteeing the neutralization of the islands. (See also Edward Atkinson to William McKinley, Jan. 26, 1899, in McKinley Papers, Library of Congress.)
This alternative was clearly understood by some of the leaders in 1898. McKinley chose to ignore it, probably because he wanted complete freedom of action. Such an alternative would have fit in well with the Filipinos' own fears of either German or Japanese intervention, a concern shared by McKinley and probably the single most important factor affecting his decision. Had the United States gone to the Hague Peace Conference in 1899 with such a proposal the whole tone of that Conference might have been changed. (See Calvin D. Davis, The United States at the First Hague Peace Conference [Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1962].)
The Philippine Insurgency, as it came to be called by the United States, turned out to be a far more costly adventure in men and money than the "splendid little war" of 1898. After initial success, the U.S. Army encountered considerable difficulty as the Filipinos began to resort to guerrilla warfare. In the end the United States, with its program of "benevolent pacification," as it was called, had to build the same concentration points for the population—"Reconcentrados"—for which it had criticized the Spanish in Cuba. This led to a war of attrition and destruction in which thousands died. Few prisoners were taken, and the water torture was employed to gain information from captured Filipinos. On their side the guerrillas dealt with collaborators with the Americans by slicing off their lips so that they might never talk again. (Richard E. Welch, Jr., "American Atrocities in the Philippines: The Indictment and the Response," Pacific Historical Review, May 1974, pp. 233-53)
The War Department's own statistics suggest that one-sixth of the people on Luzon—about 616,000 persons—were killed or died of disease within the first two years of fighting. Although anti-imperialists protested the atrocities, few American soldiers were ever brought to trial. The American people did not become as troubled as they did later with Vietnam, probably because the American soldiers who were getting killed were volunteers, not the conscripted sons of middle class America.
APATHY AT HOME
The U.S. Army, composed in many cases of immigrants and blacks, had been fighting counterinsurgency war for years in the Indian wars of the Great Plains. Many of these same troops and their commanders were sent to the Philippines. It is ironic that even the Army has omitted studying the history of its intervention in the Philippines. While Algeria and other counterinsurgencies have been studied, Capt. John R.M. Taylor's multivolume study of the Philippine Insurrection, in galley proofs, lies buried in the National Archives. (The irony here is that Taylor tried repeatedly, into the 20th century, to get the study published because he felt it might some day be of value to the Army. The letters on this story are in the National Archives. See also John T. Farrell, "An Abandoned Approach to Philippine History: John R.M. Taylor and the Philippine Insurrection Records," The Catholic Historical Review, Jan. 1954, pp. 385-407.)
How was the American army able to win in the Philippines what was denied it in Vietnam? Despite the protests of the anti-imperialists, the average middle class American was relatively isolated from the tragedy of the war, which received much less coverage in the press, magazines, or books. Philippine nationalism was in its infancy so that the Filipinos suffered both ideologically and organizationally. Finally, unlike North Vietnam, the Filipinos were deprived of the aid of another power. The Japanese at first sold them guns and sent advisers, but the latter were withdrawn in the face of American pressure. (Philippine Insurgent Records, microfilm collection 719, reel 8, National Archives)
It seems clear that guerrilla wars by their very nature must lead to reprisals against the population in which the guerrillas operate. Any nation which prides itself on a belief in the right of self-determination must ask itself whether or not such interventions inherently contradict this value.
HUSHING THE OPPOSITION
The government consistently harassed opponents of the war in the Philippines. Reporters were ejected from the islands and the mails were tampered with. The War Department kept files on groups protesting the government's actions, e.g., the Bureau of Insular Affairs kept track of anti-imperialists (file No. 14085, National Archives). (This has never been noted in previous studies of the anti-imperialists.) That opponents of the war could only be labeled "disloyal" rather than sympathetic to communism made the protest of the 1890's different from the witch hunts which have accompanied other protests of 20th century American foreign policy.
The American people never did have a chance to make a clear choice about the policy of imperialism. In that sense the election of 1900 resembled that of 1964. William Jennings Bryan did not explore the issue in 1900 and find it "stale," as one historian has suggested (Thomas A. Bailey, "Was the Presidential Election of 1900 a Mandate for Imperialism?" Mississippi Valley Historical Review, June 1937, pp. 43-52). He gave only one real speech on the subject, the purpose of which was to secure the votes of the independent anti-imperialists. Much of the speech was written by Erving Winslow of the Anti-Imperialist League, and Bryan read it in a monotone so that reporters had to ask him to speak up (The New York Times, Aug. 9, 1900). It is impossible to say whether Bryan could have won in 1900 had he made the issue imperialism rather than Free Silver. Possibly it would have made little difference. On the other hand, judging from the response of the many young delegates at the Democratic convention, imperialism was not the stale issue it was thought to have been. Bryan apparently stressed it only long enough to secure the votes of the independents who met in August and, on the basis of that speech, endorsed the Nebraskan.
The minimal program of the anti-imperialists had always been to secure a promise by the Government that the Filipinos would be given their independence some time in the not too distant future. Had Bryan really pressed the issue of empire, it is possible that McKinley might have decided to make such a promise so as to undercut the appeal of the Democrats. The President did mention to his Secretary, George Cortelyou, that he had such a plan in mind should he need to use it. Bryan's failure to stress the issue more vigorously once again made it possible for McKinley to hold all the policy options and to hold back from making a promise of independence.
The anti-imperialist protest was made up of more than just the older Republicans of the Mugwump tradition. A number of young progressive leaders such as Senator John F. Shafroth of Colorado were members of the Anti-Imperialist League. Some of them, working in the Congress, were instrumental in pushing through legislation in the years after 1900 which greatly liberalized American colonialism in the Philippines and Puerto Rico. The fact that these men in the Congress had been members of the earlier protest has not generally been acknowledged by historians. It is true that some anti-imperialists, such as Senator Ben Tillman of South Carolina, based part of their opposition to acquisition of the Philippines on an antipathy to black people in this country. On the other hand, Moorfield Storey, the president of the League during most of its existence, was one of the founders of the NAACP. Carl Schurz and others thought democracy impossible in the tropics, but that was a geographical, and not a racist argument.
HISTORIANS AND THE ANTI-IMPERIALISTS
The main reason that 20th century liberal historiography has not found the anti-imperialists as "relevant" as one might have expected is probably that many of the "aunties" were laissez-fairists who coupled their protest against imperialism, as did William Graham Sumner, with a much larger general critique of statism. That approach has little appeal for those who hope to increase the power of the State.
A real dividing line in the anti-imperialist opposition to empire came in the atrocity investigations held by the Senate in 1902. Those who pushed that issue, such as Carl Schurz and Moorfield Storey, realized that they had cut themselves off from dialogue because they were viewed as "extremists." For the "national honor's" sake, it was not nice to get into the investigation of mass graves and killings. Later on, a number of "front" groups were used to get the message across, groups such as the Philippine Independence Society, headed by a more "respectable" anti-imperialist, President Charles Eliot of Harvard. (See Marina, Chapter V, for anti-imperialist activities after 1900.)
It is certainly true that there was a large overlap between the anti-imperialist and peace movements. For some, however, such as Andrew Carnegie, it was a way to avoid the hard confrontation of the atrocity question. To satisfy some Republicans he withdrew his $5,000 financial support of the atrocity investigation. The peace movement was a much safer proposition! It was like motherhood; no one could be against it.
It used to be commonplace for liberal historians to comment upon the excessive gloom of the anti-imperialists. In the light of what has happened in the last decade or so, it is not so certain that the anti-imperialists were wrong in their assessment. Consider the observation of Moorfield Storey:
When Rome began her career of conquest, the Roman Republic began to decay.…Let us once govern any considerable body of men without their consent, and it is a question of time how soon this republic shares the fate of Rome. (Quoted in Maria C. Lanzar, "The Anti-Imperialist League," Philippine Social Science Review, 1930, p. 9)
THE GROWTH OF EMPIRE
The parallels between U.S. interventions in the Philippines and Vietnam suggest that such actions have not been temporary aberrations, but rather part of the organic growth of an American Empire. The numerous interventions of the 20th century simply provide additional evidence for that interpretation.
Elsewhere I have suggested that the internal process of empire, the growth of a centralized, bureaucratic State, is even more fundamental than imperialism, the ofttimes foreign policy of empire (Marina, Egalitarianism and Empire [Menlo Park, California: Institute for Humane Studies, 1975]). The problem of the origins of empire and imperialism reveal the stress points and the limitations within which libertarians can have a dialogue or cooperate with some parts of the radical left. Such radicals see imperialism as the inevitable result of capitalism. They have a profound dislike of the free market, and their solution to the crisis of empire is a neomercantilist or socialist state. Libertarians view the process of empire as developing out of a growing statism, both internally and in foreign policy. The libertarian solution is, therefore, the opposite of that of the radical left—to curtail the power of the State and to expand the area of the free market. Such a widely divergent analysis of the problem, and of the alternative solutions, suggests that any real dialogue or cooperation with the radical left, beyond a criticism of the existing corporate syndicalist structure, must, for libertarians, be very limited. We do need, however, to develop a theory of imperialism and empire consistent with the parameters of our paradigm. That the Marxists long ago did so, and have constantly updated it, is one explanation of the strength they have shown, particularly in the undeveloped world where such an explanation of imperialism has great appeal. (See Clinton Rossiter, Marxism: The View from America [New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1960].)
The United States has found the cost of intervention in Southeast Asia more than the American people wished to pay, either in men or money. That belated recognition is not going to bring back the Americans and Vietnamese who paid with their lives for that arrogance of power. It is still not too late, however, to begin a restoration of republican principles in American government. In the form of inflation, that blunder will also be passed on to generations of Americans as the real wealth of the country is exported abroad to help pay the costs of that war.
Decades of American rule and influence in the Philippines have not brought that nation any closer to the ideals of a free society. On the contrary, those islands are in a chaotic condition. Insofar as such interventions help to destroy the more progressive leadership in those societies, they make the eventual triumph of communism, or some other variant of statism, an even stronger eventuality. In the light of the failure to bring democracy to the Philippines since 1898, with so much in our favor as compared to Vietnam, involvement in the latter made no sense at all. In the final analysis, it is not communism to which we have opposed ourselves, but an Asian nationalism determined to oust Western domination from that area.
William Marina, currently on a fellowship at the Institute for Humane Studies (IHS), is Associate Professor of History at Florida Atlantic University. He received his A.B. in American studies from the University of Miami and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Denver. He is coauthor of American Statesmen on Slavery and the Negro (Arlington House, 1971) and associate editor of the revised edition of News of the Nation (Prentice-Hall, 1975). His "Egalitarianism and Empire" was recently published as a pamphlet by IHS.
A study of the American Army in the Philippines that is quite inadequate on the guerrilla war and the atrocity charges by the anti-imperialists is John M. Gates, "An Experiment in Benevolent Pacification: The U.S. Army in the Philippines, 1898-1902," (doctoral dissertation, Duke University, 1967), published as School Books and Krags (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood, 1973).
There is a certain moral myopia shown by those few historians who have dealt with the atrocity question, apparently in an effort to maintain their "objectivity." Frank Freidel, in Samuel Eliot Morison, et. al., Dissent in Three American Wars (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1970), p. 90, attempts to denigrate the anti-imperialist charges. Welch, in "Atrocities," does list "fifty-seven verifiable instances when American soldiers committed atrocities" (p. 234), but the anti-imperialist study "Marked Severities," was a 119-page analysis seeking to show also the total context of what in Vietnam was called counterinsurgency warfare and pacification, (in the Philippines it was "benevolent pacification." in that approach you burned over and destroyed the land until it could support nothing.) There is also Henry F. Graff, (ed.) American Imperialism and the Philippine Insurrection: Testimony Taken from Hearings on Affairs in the Philippine Islands before the Senate Committee on the Philippines (Boston, Massachusetts: Little, Brown, 1969).
None of these studies details the tremendous efforts of the anti-imperialists simply to have hearings held at all, or that an imperialist. Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, was chairman of the committee. (Recall how difficult it was to hold hearings on Vietnam even when the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator J. William Fulbright, was sympathetic to an investigation. For the problems of the anti-imperialists in pushing the investigation in 1902 see Marina, 1968, Chapter IV.
A study attempting to show the racism of the anti-imperialists is Christopher Lasch, "The Anti-Imperialists, the Philippines, and the Inequality of Man," Journal of Southern History, pp. 319-31, and revised slightly in Lasch, The World of Nations: Reflections on American History, Politics, and Culture (New York: Knopf, 1973), pp. 70-79, with a Bibliography pp. 322-25, in which Lasch lashes out at Daniel B. Schirmer's, Republic or Empire: American Resistance to the Philippine War (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Schenkman, 1972) for a comparison with Vietnam and for overstressing the role of Moorfield Storey. But Lasch's own essay did the same with Senator Ben Tillman, a far more unrepresentative anti-imperialist than Storey.
The view that progressivism and imperialism are linked was most influentially expressed in William E. Leuchtenburg, "Progressivism and Imperialism: The Progressive Movement and American Foreign Policy, 1898-1916," Mississippi Valley Historical Review, Dec. 1952, pp. 483-504. A correction in one area, but not mentioning men such as Shafroth and other active, younger anti-imperialists, is Barton J. Bernstein and Franklin A. Leib, "Progressive Republican Senators and American Imperialism, 1898-1916: A Reappraisal," Mid-America, July 1968, pp. 163-205. Actually, the Leuchtenburg piece rests on extremely shaky ground. It is obvious from a cursory reading that he deals only slightly with the Philippines, surely the major example of imperialism in those years. He is also quite selective in the progressives he discusses. A large number of anti-imperialist progressives can also be cited. See Marina, 1968, Chapter V.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "U.S. Interventions: Aberrations or Empire?".