Power, Interests and Ideology: A Revisionist Analysis of the Dynammics of US Imperialism in Asia Pacific

Walden Bello


Economic expansion, strategic extension, and missionary democracy. These are the three main driving forces of the American imperialist enterprise which made its dramatic entry in the Philippines in 1898 with the exit of Spain as the colonial master. Unlike the US escapades in Latin America, the strategic extension of American power was a far greater determinant than protection of American corporate interest for the annexation of the islands. The US being far less straightforward than the other imperialist powers, required a sugar coating of missionary democracy for its crown jewel in the Pacific. The Filipino elite became eager students of representative democracy because it afforded them to compete, relatively peacefully, for political office and alternate in power. Democratic institutions legitimized American imperial expansion and afforded the Filipino non-elite, who welcomed political participation, an illusion of choice which did not apply to the distribution of income. This cemented friendly relations between the US and the Philippines beyond the granting of independence in 1946. Unfortunately for the Americans their Asian experiment was nonduplicable. One hundred years later they are still trying to make history repeat itself.

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