Read Chapters 5 and 6 in The ethics of war and peace: An introduction to legal and moral issues at 978-0-13-092383-7
Read The Phillippines: Remembering a Forgotten Occupation at https://www.huffingtonpost.com/jason-ditz/remembering-a-forgotten-o_b_3447598.html
Read Echoes from the Past: An inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Vietnam War at https://www.armstrong.edu/history-journal/history-journal-echoes-from-the-past-an-inquiry-into-the-nature-and-causes
Review Grotius’ conditions for a just war discussed in Chapter 6 of your text.
In the closing decade of the 19th Century, citizens of the Island of Cuba rose in rebellion against the colonial rule of Spain, which had occupied Cuba for several centuries. In the United States—despite its own history of military occupations in the Caribbean and Latin America—there was widespread support for the rebellion because of its similarity to the American revolution against colonial Britain just over a century before. Through the 1890s, under increasing pressure from the popular media, interest groups, and companies with ties to Cuba, the U.S. government moved closer and closer to war with Spain on behalf of the Cuban people. Finally, following a suspicious explosion on the U.S. Battleship Maine in 1898, the United States declared war on Spain and conquered Cuba, defeated the Spanish navy in the Pacific Ocean, and annexed Spanish territories in Latin America and Asia, including Guam, Puerto Rico, and Hawaii. These have remained U.S territories since that time.
The larger and more populous Pacific Island-nation of the Philippines was also liberated from Spain as a result of U.S. naval victories, and there were immediate calls from political and popular voices in the United States to occupy and annex the Philippines as well. A number of anti-imperialist groups in the United States and popular opinion in the Philippines were vehemently opposed to annexation on ethical grounds, claiming that this would be an unjustified continuation of foreign colonial domination. President McKinley, however, decided that this occupation was indeed morally justified. His reasoning was that:
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- It would be morally unacceptable to allow Spain the opportunity to reoccupy the Philippines.
- If left independent, the Philippines would be vulnerable to colonization/exploitation by other European powers.
- Although they disagreed, the people of the Philippines were incapable of self-government.
Thus the United States invaded and occupied the Philippines in 1899 with 70,000 troops. The occupation occurred despite its unpopularity among Filipinos, expressed via an armed rebellion by the Philippine army, a force originally raised by the United States to fight Spanish occupation. The brutal ensuing war resulted in several thousand U.S. troop casualties and as many as several hundred thousand civilian deaths over the course of three years. In the end, the Philippines remained under U.S. occupation.
• Does this war meet Grotius’ conditions for a just war? To what extent?
• Discuss whether or not you think this was an ethical action by the United States.