Moroland 1899-1906 is the first of two books narrating the history of the once-famed conflict between the United States and the "wild" Moros, the Muslims of the southern Philippine islands. Although it riveted the American public in its day, it has become to all intents a "lost" history. For 330 years the Empire of Spain battled in vain for dominion over "The Land of the Moros" but failed to extend their authority further than the outer walls of a few miserable, and lonely outposts. Then one day in 1899, to the bafflement of the Moros, a handful of American soldiers inexplicably arrived and the Spaniards just as suddenly left. President William McKinley had forced the cession of Spain's last crown jewel, the Philippine Islands, to the United States and imposed a mandate to recreate it in the exact image of the American republic. But nowhere in this vast new realm would a more intractable and puzzling challenge be presented than that of transforming the proud, warlike, Moros, described as "encased in the armor of Islamism." The task of subduing and then "civilizing" Moroland was delegated to the U.S. Army. Amazingly, sovereignty over 70% of the population and 80% of the land mass, was achieved through negotiated settlements; amicably and without bloodshed. Even when coercion became necessary to bring the last, most remote of the Moros under U.S. jurisdiction, it was achieved through diplomacy and limited, tightly-controlled use of armed force in a brilliant campaign by a heretofore obscure Army Captain, John J. Pershing. Moroland became a model occupation, with American soldiers able to travel safely through much of the countryside. But in 1903, a new President, Theodore Roosevelt, and a new commander, General Leonard Wood, suddenly changed that policy. Given unrestricted authority, Wood overthrew the ruling Moro hierarchy and their system of law, based on the Qur'an, employing one-man, direct military rule and coercion to implement American-style government and values. Unchecked, such absolute power also proved a prescription for moral corruption and tragedy. The Moros reacted with stubborn resistance to what they perceived as a deliberate attack, not just on their form of government, but on their religion and way of life. The constant stream of battles and expeditions over the next ten years became known in U.S. Army history as the "Moro Campaigns". In violence and ferocity they may have equaled, if not surpassed, the much more famous late-19th Century Indian Wars of the Great Plains. The backdrop is a bustling, raucous, newly-prosperous nation suddenly and unexpectedly becoming a world and imperial power. But with this new-found status came a near-religious belief that the active spread of America's institutions and form of government, even if achieved through force, could create a better world. A subplot is a deep and bitter rivalry between two of its most prominent players, Capt. John J. Pershing and General Leonard Wood, born only one month apart, destined to represent opposing military philosophies, and eventually compete for the position of leading one-million American "doughboys" into the cauldron of the world's first Great War. The ending chapters recount in detail the dramatic and controversial Battle of Bud Dajo in 1906, which resulted in the deaths of more than double the numbers of women and children killed only 16 years earlier in the infamous massacre at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, stunning and dividing a horrified American public. Few Americans are aware that a century later the U.S. military has quietly returned to Moroland, to battle what is described as a hotbed of radical "Islamist terrorism"; deploying Army Green Berets, Navy Seals, and other elite forces. It is the smallest of the fronts of the "global war on terror" and little-covered or critically examined. It raises an obvious question: is their a danger of repeating our own troubled and ambiguous past?
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