The Issue with the Philippines
Though nobody could have every anticipated the Spanish “attack” on the American warship, this event became the pivotal turning point of the war between the United States and Spain. On February 15, 1898, Spain “attacked” the U.S.S. Maine, which became the driving force for the Americans’ intervention of Spain’s occupation in Cuba. Though this attack is now deduced as actually a way to blame Spain for a coincidental accident, it is still debated if the U.S. anticipated conquering the Philippines, and how this eventually occurred.
In short, the Americans did, from the start, express an interest in seizing the Philippines. Theodore Roosevelt, the Assistant Secretary of the Navy during that time, along with Admiral George Dewey expressed that they “wanted war; and that [Roosevelt] had some sort of a prior understanding with Dewey to the effect that Dewey would attack Manila” (Kennan, American Diplomacy”. Based on several telegrams between Dewey, the Secretary of the Navy, and President McKinley, it is certain that President McKinley had been aware of Roosevelt’s and Dewey’s interest in the Philippines. Even though a year preceding these events President McKinley was quoted saying that he “didn’t want the Philippines”, based on these communication between these four people, President McKinley was clearly masking the truth.
Yet why did President McKinley present his oblivion over such matters? At the time, because the war with Spain was primarily to cease the inhumane conditions Cuba was forced under by the Spanish rule, and to appease the rising public outcry from the U.S. citizens. Thus, it would have been preposterous to further complicate matters, as well as use more resources and military force, by taking control of the Philippines as well. No doubt the irrationality of this decision is best put by Carl Schurz, describing it as “a hideous nightmare”. President McKinley’s intention for controlling the Philippines was purely...