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TheWaterCure - THE WATER CURE Debating torture and...

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THE WATER CURE Debating torture and counterinsurgency—acentury ago. By Paul Kramer Ma n y Americans were puzzled by th e news, in 1 902, th a t Uni t e d S t a t es s oldi e r s we r e t o rturin g Fili p i nos with wa te r . T h e United St a tes, th roug h o ut i t s e m e r ge nce as a w o rld pow er, h a d spo k en th e la n g uag e of l i b e rati o n , rescue, a n d f ree d o m . Th is was t h e la n g u age th a t , w h e n co up le d w ith expan din g mi litar y a nd co mm e rc ia l a mb i t ions, h ad h e lp e d l a unch t wo ve r y diff eren t w a r s . The fir s t had be e n in 1898 , aga inst Sp a i n, wh ose r e mainin g e mpir e w as c rum b lin g i n th e fa ce of p o pular r evo lt s in t wo o f it s co l o ni e s , C ub a a n d t h e Ph i l ip pin es . Th e br ief ca mp aign was pit c h e d t o th e Am eri ca n p u b li c i n t e rm s of f r e edom a nd n a ti o n a l h o n or ( the U . S. S. M ai ne had bl o wn up mys teriou s l y i n H ava n a Harb or), r ather th a n o f sugar a nd n ava l b ases, an d re s ult ed i n a for m a ll y i n d epe ndent Cub a . T h e Ame r ica n s we r e n o t d o n e lib era t i n g. Ri s in g t ra d e in E as t As i a s u gges t e d to i m p e ri a li s t s th a t th e Philip p in es , Spain 's large s t colony, mi g ht se r ve a s an e ff ec ti ve " s teppin g s t o ne " t o Ch in a ' s m ar ket s. U.S . n ava l pl a n s in c l ude d p r ovis i o n s f o r a n a tt ac k o n th e S p a ni sh Navy in t he even t of wa r , a nd l e d t o a d ec i s i ve v i c t o r y aga in s t th e Sp a ni s h fl ee t a t M a nil a Ba y in Ma y , 189 8. Shortl y a fterw a rd, Comm o dore G eorge D ewey r eturn e d the ex il e d Filipin o r evo luti o n a r y E mili o A g uin a ld o t o t he i s l a nd s. Ag u i n a ld o d efea ted S p an i s h fo r ces o n l a nd , d ec l a r e d the Phil i ppin es in d e pend e nt in Ju ne , a nd organ ized a g o ve rnment l e d by th e Philippi n e elite . Durin g th e ne x t h a lf y ear , it b eca me c l ear that Ame r ica n a nd Filipin o v i sio n s f or t he is l an d s ' futur e we r e a t o dd s . U . S. f orc e s s ei zed Man il a fr om Spain-k ee p i n g t he arm y o f th e ir os ten s ibl e a ll y A g u i n a ldo fr o m ent e rin g the c it y - a nd Pr esi d e nt William M c Kinle y r e fus e d to r ecog ni ze F ili p in o c l a i ms to ind e p e n- d e n ce, pu s hin g hi s n ego ti a t o r s t o de man d th a t S p a i n c ed e sove rei gn t y ov e r the i s l a nd s t o t he U n ited S t ate s, whi l e t a l k i ng a b ou t F il i p i n os ' n eed for " benevo l en t a ss i m i la t io n . " Ag u in a ldo a nd some of hi s a d v i sers , who h a d b ee n in sp ir e d b y th e U nit e d S t a t es as a model r e public an d h a d greete d it s so l die r s as li be r a t ors, be c am e i nc r eas in g l y s u spicious of Ame r ican mo t iva t io n s . W hen, after a pe r iod of m o unt i n g t e n s i o n s , a U . S. sen t r y f i re d o n F ilipin o so ldi e r s o ut si d e M a ni l a in F e bruary, 1 8 99, the seco nd w ar er upted , ju s t day s b e fore th e Se n
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