Although controversial to some, the Americans made the right decision to annex the Philippines after successfully freeing them from Spanish tyranny and rule. Without American rule and support, the Philippines would have been an easy target to be taken over by Germany, England or Japan who all would have savaged the land and further suppressed the people. The Filipinos were weak, inexperienced and not ready to establish their own government and self rule themselves. During the time of the annexation, the Americans needed a strategic place in that part of the world to protect their interests, expand their trading partners and show the world they were a power to be reckoned with in spreading democracy. So even though the annexation of the Philippines was views by some as doing the same things as some of the other major countries, the Americans always viewed it as a short term solution to educate the people, help them establish themselves to self rule and to allow them time to prepare to protect themselves from other enemies.
At the time the decision to annex the Philippines was made, there were other countries waiting and ready to attack and takeover the control that Spain had lost to the Americans. American rule allowed human rights, freedoms and quality of life that would not have been possible had America walked away and allowed the fledgling country try and rule itself. Germany, England, Japan and even Spain would have jumped at the opportunity to take over control of the Philippines and its many resources. Many important and profitable trade routes utilized the Philippines as a gateway to trade their goods and wares. Although it was profitable for the Americans to control this area and have access to the trade routes and resources, they were helping prepare the Filipinos to one day self rule and govern themselves as a free and independent country. Definitely not an opportunity they would have gained under rule of one of the other dominant and brutal governments.
As Albert Beveridge so eloquently stated in “The March of the Flag” speech, “We can not retreat from any soil where Providence has unfurled our banner, it is ours to save… for liberty and civilization. Having been brutalized and controlled for so many years under the tyranny control of Spain and its leaders, the Filipinos were ill prepared and ready to set up their own government and rule for themselves. There would not have been any experienced and supported leader that would have gained the support of most Filipinos. This would have led to fractions fighting, internal battles and weakness within the country. These conditions would have made the Philippines an easy target to be retaken and lose their path to independence they had by being annexed by the Americans. The Americans trained their leaders, helped establish an internal military as well as set up a military base that helped to protect their people from outside attacks and takeovers from other countries. Even though others like Abraham Lincoln stated “that no man is good enough to govern another man without that other’s consent,” leaving the Philippines to be savaged by others would have been much worse for the Filipinos than the temporary annexation by the Americans.
During the time the Americans defeated the Spaniards and gained control over Cuba and the Philippines, the world was in constant battle. Many of the powerful countries were trying to expand, conquer and takeover weaker countries and lands. The Americans who believe in democracy and freedom for people knew that they had to show their strength and protect others in the process. The part of the world where the Philippines lies was one of the most volatile and dangerous in the world. That being said, it also had some of the most profitable trade routes, richest resources and was a vital part of the world to have a stronghold. By following through with the annexation of the Philippines, the Americans were able to gain a stronghold on the other side of the world, enrich themselves by gaining access to the valuable resources that were so plentiful and to take the time to help spread freedom and democracy. William McKinley clearly believed and stated that “ we could not turn them over to France and Germany – our commercial rivals in the Orient – that would be bad business and discreditable.”
There were many arguments as to the merits of annexing the Philippines or to walk away and grant them their immediate freedom. The Filipinos had been tormented, had their land savaged and destroyed by Spain for so long, there was truly only one humane and correct decision and that was to annex the Philippines. The Americans although financially gained from the decision, never waivered from their long-term commitment to help to train, educate and prepare the Filipinos to self-rule and govern.
Establishing a stronghold in that part of the world helped the Americans establish themselves as a world power and leader in personal freedoms and spreading of democratic governments. With America and its military located on the Philippines they were able to protect the Filipinos from attacks from others with bad intentions such as Germany, England, Japan and Spain. During the time of American annexation, the Filipinos united together, learned the skills necessary to survive and protect themselves from others and over time gained the long-term independence and freedom they never would have secured if not for the annexation of the Americans.