Look for a pretty good Saturday, though it will be seasonably cool. Sunday we warm to the upper 50’s and low 60’s. Rain will move in on the warm front in the morning and then we get rain a some thunderstorms later Sunday. The cold front will move through and the mercury will tumble. Wrap around moisture should provide some light snow late Sunday night and throughout the day on Monday we may get flurried to death. Some models want to toss out over an inch of snow over a 30 hour time frame. Shouldn’t be that big of a deal but I would plan on giving yourself some extra drive time Monday morning…a little snow can make for big headaches.
On This Date In History: On February 11, 1898, Elizabeth Carter was born in the Oklahoma Territory. She went on to become Elizabeth Carter Symon, my grandmother. Four days later, on this date in the same year, the USS Maine exploded in Havana Harbor in Cuba. So what was the Maine doing in Cuba to begin with?
Well, Cuba was under the rule of Spain at the time and locals were in the midst of a rebellion. American President William McKinley decided it would be a great idea to send one of the nation’s first battleships to Havana on a “friendly” visit and to protect American interests. Seems to me this was an early form of gunboat diplomacy. Mysteriously, the Maine exploded.
A certain newspaper man, William Randolph Hearst, was known for sensational headlines and he helped whip up American public opinion by blaring headlines that the Maine was deliberately sabotaged by the Spanish! Why they would do such a thing seems lost on the Americans as they, and their government, jumped to the conclusion. The US Navy had an inquiry that concluded the ship’s death was the result of a mine.
In the mid 1970’s, a new research effort concluded that the ship probably exploded due to a fire smoldering in the coal bunker. The fire ignited either the ammunition directly or coal dust. But, don’t let the truth get in the way of a good war. The US wanted the Spanish out of the Western Hemisphere and it coveted the Spanish controlled Philippines in the Pacific.
War was declared on Spain by Congress. Under-Secretary of the Navy and former New York Governor Teddy Roosevelt resigned his position to lead a group of volunteers that became known as the Rough Riders. Roosevelt gained fame, became McKinley’s Vice-President and then ascended to the Presidency upon President McKinley’s assassination in Buffalo on Sept 6, 1901. The war with Spain was over before the end 1898 and Cuba became independent and so did the Philippines….sorta. This is where this becomes relevant to today.
See, there were hundreds of thousands of insurgents in the Philippines and the US army had to pacify them. Many suggested that it was a civil war. By the time Teddy Roosevelt comes to power, Senators start urging the President to withdraw from an “endless civil war” in which “hundreds of thousands” of Filipinos had died and “tens of thousands of American soldiers. Some said we had no business there and it wasn’t worth the effort. The US pledged to stay the course and allow the Philippines to grow as a democracy. (does this sound familiar)
The Philippines finally had self rule following the second world war and the US military presence came to an end in about 1991 when the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo destroyed the huge Subic Bay US Navy base. The Philippines has remained an important US Allie since WWII as the US has been at loggerheads with the Soviet Union and now China and increasingly Russia.
Here is the point of this story: Many people think that the Iraq situation is reminiscent of Vietnam. I would disagree and suggest that it has very little in common with Vietnam and is much more similar to the Philippines following the Spanish American War. The trouble is that for some reason, the public school system in all states just glosses over from about 1877 until 1929 in the history books. We don’t know much about the Guilded Age, The Spanish American War or World War I. Even Korea isn’t covered much so…people today remember Vietnam so they grab that out of fat air as a comparison. On the surface, it may seem to be the same but more careful inspection shows that Vietnam and Iraq have very little in common but the Philippines and Iraq are much more amenable for compare/contrast analysis.
I won’t make a qualitative assessment of the Philippines situation or current events. But I would encourage you to get some good books about the Spanish American War and the aftermath if you want to find something that holds some similarities to the current situation. History does not repeat itself as its a different time and different place but the parallels in this case are interesting.
Note: Just as a point of reference, the USS Maine was one of the earliest US Battleships. It had a displacement of 6000 tons. In comparison, the Ohio Class of United State Ballistic Missle Nuclear Submarines have a surface displacement of over 16,000 tons and the final group of US Battleships, the Iowa Class, had a 45,000 ton displacement. In other words, the Maine was a toy boat by today’s standards.