Lessons from the Philippine Insurgency, 1942-1944

Erin Flynn


As the geopolitical winds blow and transitions occur on the world stage, the US is constantly criticized because it has not done more to identify and intervene effectively on behalf of pro-US insurgents. As the Arab Spring unfolded, the Syrian conflict has worsened, Iran has become more divided and, most recently, the Ukraine situation has come to the forefront, it seems as though the US does not know how to take steps to play a strategically effective role without putting 'boots on the ground.'

The list of foreign debacles causes a casual student of international affairs to be led to the inevitable question: has the US ever successfully collaborated with foreign nationalist movements or is it forever destined to fail at this endeavor? One example of a resounding success in this arena is the US-Filipino collaboration during and following the World War II Japanese Occupation. The engagement was so successful that it endures today—roughly seventy years after it was forged. Moreover, the components that led to this successful engagement are found in virtually every conflict that fills the current headlines: countries operating under conditions of harsh and dysfunctional regimes, numerous and diverse political factions and a cash-strapped, war-weary US. This essay (a consolidation of a larger paper I submitted as a thesis in 2012) investigates the conditions, events, analyses and policy initiatives underlying this very successful collaboration.

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