Notes from American Caesar

Douglas MacArthur 1880-1964
by William Manchester

For The U.S. War Against Asia
by William P. Meyers

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History notes

All [page numbers] reference Amerian Caesar, Douglas MacArthur 1880-1964 by William Manchester. Published by Little, Brown and Company, Boston, 1978, ISBN 0-316-54498-1.

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Regarding Independence, MacArthur noted to Washington that “The temper of the Filipinos is one of almost violent resentment against the United States.” He said independence and neutrality “might offer the best possible solution of what is about to be a disastrous debacle.” But Roosevelt, Stimson and Marshall said the Philippines was a possession of the U.S., to be defended to the death, without reinforcements. [246-247] In the end Quezon decided to save his own life by evacuating to Australia. [248]

During the Japanese occupation, “the vast majority of the captive population ignored its new masters.” There was a scattered guerrilla resistance. Perhaps 30,000 belonged to the Hukbalahaps, or Huks, led by Luis Tarluc [corrected: Taruc], a Marxist. [375] The pro-American guerrillas gave good intelligence. “Collaborators were more complex because their motives varied. Some were frightened of the Japanese, some preferred Oriental ruler to Occidentals, some thought they could best serve their countrymen by cooperating with their conquerors, and some were outright opportunists hankering for personal gain.” [Could be a list for Filipinos who collaborated with America, too.] [376]

Masaharu Homma had appointed a commission of Philippine politicians headed by Jorge Vargas, who had been Quezon’s secretary, to help him run the country,” in January 1942. They demanded that Roosevelt end American resistance in the Philippines. “In September 1943 the commission was superseded by an “Independent Philippine Republic” headed by Jose Laurel.” In 1944 the Philippine Republic declared war on the United States and Great Britain. “Some five thousand Filipinos signed up in the Makapili, a right-wing organization sponsored by the Nipponese,” equipped and trained to fight. [376-377]

The Philippine Republic “was led by the capital’s prewar oligarchic elite – the General’s friends and Quezon’s colleagues.” Of those elected while still under America’s heal in 1941, “one-third of those elected to the House and three-fourths of those elected to the Senate,” served in the Republic. These collaborators are characterized as rich businessmen, including absentee landlords. “As patricians they had always lived well and saw no reason to change their lifestyles.” MacArthur vowed to punish the pro-Japanese as traitors, but Quezon and Osmena [his replacement] were not just friends with this elite, but were related by blood and marriage. [377] From his deathbed Quezon wrote to MacArthur that his friends were not traitors, but “virtually prisoners of the enemy.” [378]

Details of how it came to be that almost no Filipino was punished for treason are found on pages 378-379 and 421-422.

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