18 August 2017   Leave a comment

US President Trump has repeated a story about US General Pershing in the US-Philippines War (the second part of the Spanish-American War which started in 1898).  After the defeat of the Spanish in the Philippines, the US took control of the archipelago.  There was fierce resistance from many Filipinos who had hoped for independence and there was an initial phase of the US-Philippines war in which the US put down the “rebellion”.  Filipinos had declared their independence on  12 June 1898 but the US did not recognize it as an independent state.  The leader of the new republic was Emilio Aguinaldo and he waged a guerrilla war against the Americans which end on 23 March 1901 after the US captured Aguinaldo.  The second part of the US-Philippines war lasted from 1901-1913 when Muslims in the southern part of the Philippines resisted American control in what the US calls the Moro Rebellion.  It is in this phase that General Pershing took control.

President Trump has asserted that Pershing dipped bullets in pigs blood and executed Muslim prisoners with these bullets.  Contact with pigs is forbidden to Muslims and President Trump asserted that Pershing’s tactics effectively ended the rebellion.  The story is categorically false and there is no evidence that Pershing ever engaged in such a horrific tactic.   There is little question that the repression of the Moros was brutal and conducted by many American soldiers whose only experience was in repressing the Native American peoples in horrific ways.  But President Trump’s story is false.  Moreover, it is deeply troubling to hear an American President endorse the execution of prisoners of war, an unquestioned war crime.

Pershing in 1903


Venezuela’s newly elected Constituent Assembly has taken over the powers reserved for the elected Congress.  The move effectively puts President Maduro in control of all three branches of government and he is free to rule as a complete dictator with no legal opposition.  Maduro has thus finalized his coup d’etat and there is no peaceful or civil mechanism to check his power.  The situation in Venezuela is dire with desperate shortages of food and medicine.  It is very difficult to see a way out for the Venezuelan people other than an open rebellion, either violent or non-violent.

The US-North Korean stand-off seems to have relaxed a bit, but the US and South Korea are scheduled to begin their annual military exercise on Monday.  These exercises have always been a serious bone of contention and the North Koreans invariably respond in some way to their perceived threat.  It is difficult to see negotiations between the US and North Korea anytime soon, but the parameters of such negotiations are well-articulated by Lee Jong-Wha.  The necessary element for productive talks is a promise by the US that it is committed to the denuclearization of the entire Korean peninsula and that China need not be concerned about a possible change in regime in North Korea.

Posted August 18, 2017 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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