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Following the Spanish American war, America gained control of Guam, the Philippines and Cuba and while they had made it perfectly clear they had no intention of keeping Cuba, the Philippines were another question.

After a lot of talk on the subject and a public vote, it was decided to keep the islands but soon war broke out. Eventually it was agreed that the islands would eventually become independent and in 1946 it became independent from the United States of America.

But is this inevitable? What is the smallest change I can make to history to allow for the Philippines to remain a territory of America and eventually a state?

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The Philippines could have become a territory on the way to statehood or an imperial possession. From some quick googling, Hawaii had 0.15 million, Cuba had 1.6 million, the Philippines had 8 million.

A territory on the way to statehood might have had a history much like Hawaii. That would have forced the citizens/voters in the mainland US to accept a large number of non-European-descent, Spanish-speaking people. It might have been the largest state, or at least in the running.

As an imperial possession, the Philippines are rather large. Administering and policing such a possession is different from holding a naval base like Pearl Harbor or Diego Garcia. If the US had been willing to keep the Philippines, that might have derailed the statehood process of other territories.

Have one of the political parties ally with the Philippine citizens as their future voting base, and put them into a slight majority, and let them pull it through.

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If the Soviets had a competent navy at that point and defeated Japan on their own, we might have considered them enough of a threat to hold onto the islands.

Other than that, unless they provided some resource that we wanted or were useful against some threat, why would we want them?

Alternatively, if we were more imperial and not willing to give up territory, we would have kept Cuba and Mexico (plus how far down?). That's not too big of a political leap. It would have a lot of other ramifications though.

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Philippines has never had sovereignty over foreign policy, which is all the USA cares about. USA just wants access to cheap labor, natural resources, and forward deployed military bases.

Controlling a country's foreign policy while off-loading the task of maintaining domestic order is better than making it the 51st state in the Union.

Duterte doesn't seem to understand this. The USA can crush his country via trade policy, or even arranging for a coup or rigged election is not out of the question. Come what may, there is 0.00% chance that the USA leaves Subic Bay were Duerte to try to exercise Philippines "sovereignty" by asking/forcing USA to leave their country.

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IIRC, the people of the Philippines voted on the question of independence, rather than having it forced upon them. Suppose that a wealthy industrialist with political connections in the Philippines really needed the free trade with the U.S. and tax breaks that were made possible by its current status and feared that he might use it because some random Congressman had been talking about imposing tariffs on trade with the Philippines if it became independent. The industrialist with political connections organizes a vote no on independence campaign and prevails.

After all, Puerto Rico which was acquired at the same time is still a Commonwealth within the U.S., and has put the matter to a vote several time and rejected independence and has not been forced to leave the U.S. involuntarily, and the decision in those votes has been driven to a great extent by considerations of free trade, free immigration, the subsidy of not having to finance defense, and tax breaks.

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