Policing America?s Empire: The United States, The Philippines, And The Rise Of The Surveillance…

Paperback | October 15, 2009

byAlfred W. McCoy

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At the dawn of the twentieth century, the U.S. Army swiftly occupied Manila and then plunged into a decade-long pacification campaign with striking parallels to today’s war in Iraq. Armed with cutting-edge technology from America’s first information revolution, the U.S. colonial regime created the most modern police and intelligence units anywhere under the American flag. In Policing America’s Empire Alfred W. McCoy shows how this imperial panopticon slowly crushed the Filipino revolutionary movement with a lethal mix of firepower, surveillance, and incriminating information. Even after Washington freed its colony and won global power in 1945, it would intervene in the Philippines periodically for the next half-century—using the country as a laboratory for counterinsurgency and rearming local security forces for repression. In trying to create a democracy in the Philippines, the United States unleashed profoundly undemocratic forces that persist to the present day.
    But security techniques bred in the tropical hothouse of colonial rule were not contained, McCoy shows, at this remote periphery of American power. Migrating homeward through both personnel and policies, these innovations helped shape a new federal security apparatus during World War I. Once established under the pressures of wartime mobilization, this distinctively American system of public-private surveillance persisted in various forms for the next fifty years, as an omnipresent, sub rosa matrix that honeycombed U.S. society with active informers, secretive civilian organizations, and government counterintelligence agencies. In each succeeding global crisis, this covert nexus expanded its domestic operations, producing new contraventions of civil liberties—from the harassment of labor activists and ethnic communities during World War I, to the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II, all the way to the secret blacklisting of suspected communists during the Cold War.

“With a breathtaking sweep of archival research, McCoy shows how repressive techniques developed in the colonial Philippines migrated back to the United States for use against people of color, aliens, and really any heterodox challenge to American power. This book proves Mark Twain’s adage that you cannot have an empire abroad and a republic at home.”—Bruce Cumings, University of Chicago

 “This book lays the Philippine body politic on the examination table to reveal the disease that lies within—crime, clandestine policing, and political scandal. But McCoy also draws the line from Manila to Baghdad, arguing that the seeds of controversial counterinsurgency tactics used in Iraq were sown in the anti-guerrilla operations in the Philippines. His arguments are forceful.”—Sheila S. Coronel, Columbia University
 
“Conclusively, McCoy’s Policing America’s Empire is an impressive historical piece of research that appeals not only to Southeast Asianists but also to those interested in examining the historical embedding and institutional ontogenesis of post-colonial states’ police power apparatuses and their apparently inherent propensity to implement illiberal practices of surveillance and repression.”—Salvador Santino F. Regilme, Jr., Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs
 
“McCoy’s remarkable book . . . does justice both to its author’s deep knowledge of Philippine history as well as to his rare expertise in unmasking the seamy undersides of state power.”—POLAR: Political and Legal Anthropology Review
 
Winner, George McT. Kahin Prize, Southeast Asian Council of the Association for Asian Studies

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At the dawn of the twentieth century, the U.S. Army swiftly occupied Manila and then plunged into a decade-long pacification campaign with striking parallels to today’s war in Iraq. Armed with cutting-edge technology from America’s first information revolution, the U.S. colonial regime created the most modern police and intelligence un...

Alfred W. McCoy is J.R.W. Smail Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. His books include The Politics of Heroin and A Question of Torture.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:672 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.6 inPublished:October 15, 2009Publisher:University Of Wisconsin PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0299234142

ISBN - 13:9780299234140

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments   

Prologue: Analogies of Empire   
1 Capillaries of Empire   

Part One: U.S. Colonial Police   
2 Colonial Coercion   
3 Surveillance and Scandal   
4 Paramilitary Pacification   
5 Constabulary Covert Operations   
6 Policing the Tribal Zone   
7 American Police in Manila   
8 The Conley Case   
9 President Wilson's Surveillance State   

Part Two: Philippine National Police   
10 President Quezon's Commonwealth   
11 Philippine Republic   
12 Martial Law Terror   
13 Post-Marcos Police   
14 The Ramos Police Reforms   
15 Estrada's Racketeering   
16 Jueteng Dynasty   
17 Crucibles of Counterinsurgency   

Notes   
Index   

Editorial Reviews

“Provocative. . . . raise(s) important issues regarding the impact of empire, as home as well as abroad, a dialectic of ill effects wrought by an imperial system bottom lined by domination and coercion, force and violence.”—Allen Ruff, Against the Current