Dr. ..... wrote: 

I remember learning about the Wilson Commission in our history class in Egypt. Back then I did not know that President Wilson was a racist bigot and there was no explanation for why he thought Egyptians were not ready for freedom. We still here the phrase "Wilsonian democracy" in this country but of course this was not for everybody. 

`aziyziy .....,

When it comes to writing history, it is virtually impossible to find anyone who believes that there is such a thing as “objective” historical truth. All history is somebody's opinion. 

Hence, for some, "Wilsonian Democracy" revealed an utopian obsession on how to avoid future wars and conflict in general. For the proponents of his policies, Wilson's central philosophical views strongly advocated the need to make the world safer for democracy.  This, he argued, would promote America's long term interests. 

For others, there was the other dark side of his presidency: The little known brutal pacification of the Philippines (For the History of Islam in Southeast Asia see footnote at the end of this article).  This was a war waged against the mainly Muslim population in the South of the Philippines, and BTW included the latest American torture techniques and scorched-earth campaigns developed during the American-Indian wars. {Twenty-six of the 30 American generals who served in the Philippines had fought in the Indian Wars {see.Boot, Max (2003). The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power.}

This war is very much reminiscent of today's Abuw Ghurayb, Tall al-`afr and Falluwgah in Iraq.  Although in fairness, this repressive war preceded Wilson's presidency, still under his watch, the US army continued to inflict huge civilian deaths numbering between 250,000 and 1,000,000 Filipinos, while costing the lives of 4,324 American soldiers. (Sound familiar?)

U.S. attacks into the Philippines countryside often included scorched earth campaigns where entire villages were burned and destroyed, torture (water cure) and the concentration of civilians into "protected zones" (precursors of the infamous WW II concentration camps).  Many American officers and soldiers called this war a "nigger killing business".  This was again a very normal behavior in the context of this period.  Remember, these were KKK's heydays and when Wilson was sworn in office by a Supreme Justice,  guess what?  The Judge happened to be a grand wizard in the Ku Klux Klan! 

Who can forget General Jacob H. Smith's infamous order, "Kill everyone over ten," This infamous quote made it into the caption of a New York Journal cartoon "Criminals because they were born ten years before we took the Philippines!"  (see attached JEPG). 

Ya S..., once we are aware of ALL of the historical facts surrounding Wilson's presidency, a total different picture begins to emerge, and for us Egyptians our bewilderment with Wilson's decision against our independence ceases to amaze us. There is a famous anecdote about Wilson's hypocrisy that deserves to be shared here with the readers, as it says it all: 

GOD: Woodrow Wilson, where are your 14 points? 
WILSON: Don't get excited, Lord, we didn't keep your Ten Commandments either!

To learn more about Wilson's hypocrisy  I strongly suggest for you to read historian Jim Powell.  In a learned exposition of the Law of Unintended Consequences, Powell showed how U.S. intervention into World War I strengthened the hand of Soviet Communism and led directly to the rise of Hitler and World War II. Wilson’s War exposed how America’s court historians have misled the public for generations.” According to another historian, Thomas J. DiLorenzo, author of The Real Lincoln and How Capitalism Saved America:Wilson’s War makes a compelling case that Woodrow Wilson was America’s worst president and an unmitigated disaster for the world."

This opinion, of course, was written prior the advent of George Bush's presidency and his subsequent Iraq folly.


For those who are interested, I have attached below Wilson's 14 points. 

Wilson formulated the war aims and peace suggestions of the United States and presented his famous Fourteen Points which may be summarized as follows (The particular point directly affecting Egypt is in red font):

1. "Open covenants of peace, openly arrived at"-no secret treaties.

2. Free navigation of the seas outside territorial waters.

3. Equality of trade and removal of economic barriers.

4. "Adequate guarantees given and taken that national armaments will be reduced to the lowest point consistent with domestic safety."

5. Impartial adjustment of all colonial claims weighing equally the interests of the populations with the claims of governments.

6. Evacuation of Russian territory and the opportunity for Russians to choose their own institutions, and aid according to their needs and desires.

7. Evacuation and restoration of Belgium under her own sovereignty.

8. Liberation and restoration of invaded French territory and the return of Alsace-Lorraine to France, correcting the wrong of 1871.

9. "A readjustment of the frontiers of Italy should be effected along clearly recognizable lines of nationality."

10. The peoples of Austria-Hungary should be freely allowed autonomous development.

11. Romania, Serbia, and Montenegro should be evacuated and restored, and the Balkan states ought to be established along lines of allegiance and nationality with international guarantees of independence and territorial integrity, with access to the sea for Serbia.

12. Turkey itself should have secure sovereignty; but other nationalities should be freed of Turkish rule and be assured of autonomous development, and the Dardanelles should be open to all ships and commerce under international guarantees.

13. An independent Poland should include territories of Polish populations, have access to the sea and guaranteed territorial integrity.

14. "A general association of nations must be formed under specific covenants for the purpose of affording mutual guarantees of political independence and territorial integrity to great and small states alike."

According to Wilson, each government must be willing to pay the price necessary to achieve impartial justice, to be made effective by the instrumentality of a League of Nations. 

The constitution of the League of Nations must be a part of the peace settlement; for if it preceded peace it would be confined to the nations allied against a common enemy; and if it followed the peace settlement, it could not guarantee the peace terms. Wilson then outlined five particulars:

1. Impartial justice means no discrimination or favoritism between peoples.

2. No special interest of a single nation should infringe upon the common interest of all.

3. "There can be no leagues or alliances or special covenants and understandings within the general and common family of the League of Nations."

4. There can be no selfish economic combinations or boycotts except as "may be vested in the League of Nations itself as a means of discipline and control."

5. "All international agreements and treaties of every kind must be made known in their entirety to the rest of the world." 

Islam first entered Southeast Asia - the region of present-day Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines  and Indonesia, among other countries - through merchants of the Muslim-controlled Indian Ocean trade route. Geographically, Southeast Asia, particularly the Malay Peninsula, was an important stop for ships sailing south from China or east from India. The port city of Malacca, in present-day Malaysia, had become an important world trading centre by the 15th century. Malacca began as a small fishing village - too small to have been mentioned by either Marco Polo in 1292 or Ibn Battuta in 1343, who travelled through the region. By the early 15th century, however, the port became a major stopover for ships. 

Islam arrived in Southeast Asia near the end of the 13th century with traders from India, who introduced the religion first to northern Sumatra, an island in present-day Indonesia. Although at the time only a few regions in India had converted to Islam, it was traders from these regions, particularly Gujarat in northwest India, who brought their faith to Sumatra. It is generally accepted that it was Indian Muslims, not Arab Muslims, who introduced Islam to Southeast Asia. Prior to Islam's arrival, Southeast Asia already was heavily influenced by Indian culture and religion, including Hinduism. When Indian merchants and missionaries later introduced Islam to the region, they were careful to retain whatever previous Hindu or animist customs were necessary to gain the widespread adoption of Islam. It has been suggested that had the more orthodox Arabs been the first to bring Islam to Southeast Asia, their insistence that the locals entirely abandon their old customs might have dissuaded them from converting.

By the mid-15th century, Islam had spread from Sumatra to Malacca, its major trading partner, and surrounding areas, such as Brunei. The third ruler of Malacca, Sri Maharaja Muhammad Shah (1424-45), is said to be the first Malaccan ruler to convert to Islam, and his son, Mudzaffar Shah (1446-59), proclaimed Islam the state religion of Malacca. By 1470, Malacca had taken several territories from the neighbouring Siamese empire, becoming the most powerful state in Southeast Asia. This territorial expansion also fuelled the expansion of Islam. Not only was the religion spread through the conquest of new lands, but also by the recruitment of soldiers from non-Muslim regions, particularly the island of Java, who converted while in service and then spread their new faith when they returned home. 

In 1509, the arrival of Portuguese ships at the Malaccan port sparked the downfall of the short-lived Malacca sultanate. While the fleet maintained that it had come only to trade, Indian merchants in Malacca who had experienced the recent Portuguese capture of Goa, on the west coast of India, warned Malaccan authorities not to be too friendly with the Portuguese. The Portuguese left, disgruntled, only to return in 1511 to capture Malacca for themselves. With Portuguese authority in Malacca came the arrival of Christian missionaries, but they had little luck in converting the population. Brunei succeeded Malacca as the centre of Islam in Southeast Asia, and even established friendly relations with the Portuguese. 

Despite the numerous changes in power than have since occurred in Southeast Asia - from the Portuguese, later to the Dutch, British, and Chinese - Islam has retained the hold it first established on the population in the mid-15th century. Brunei remains a sultanate today, the last one in the world, and present-day Malaysia and Indonesia also have large Muslim populations. 

(The Islamic World to 1600 / The University of Calgary)
Copyright © 1998, The Applied History Research Group



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