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“Partly Disguised Imperialism”: American Critical Internationalists and Philippine Independence

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Recent historians have concluded that Philippine formal independence in 1946 was incomplete and unequal. Legislation gave privileges to U.S. businesses which inhibited autonomous economic development, and the new Philippine political leadership did not represent important sections of its people. Such judgments were also voiced at the time by many American “critical internationalists” who believed that the global colonial system must end and feared that the Truman administration was betraying that goal in the Philippines. American veterans who served in the Philippines, journalists with long experience in Asia, returned missionaries, and former Roosevelt administration officials - including, most significantly, Harold Ickes - were among those who believed that the United States was granting only “the shadow of independence.” The essay argues that historians, who, surprisingly, have largely ignored these contemporary views, should pay closer attention to such voices for several reasons, among them their usefulness in rebutting the charge that historians critical of U.S. policy have drawn their conclusions mainly based on hindsight.

Affiliations: 1: Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, Email:, URL:


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