Washington Law Review


Since 1898, when the United States acquired possession of the Philippines from Spain, both sides have characterized relations with the other as "special." As with other characterizations of this type, "special relationship" has meant different things at different times. This article will attempt to chip away some of the encrustation that has accumulated upon this term over the years, at least in the economic sphere, and to see what this special economic relationship should mean in the world of the mid-1960's. In the early period of United States administration of the Philippines, the special relationship could perhaps be said to have been motivated by a paternal instinct and an inarticulated but real sense of national mission. While at the outset, the stated intention was to prepare the country for independence, progress along this road was slow in the early years. After World War I, empires began to go out of style, and American attitudes began to be shaped by Wilsonian principles of self-determination. This new philosophy prodded the national conscience further into taking steps to make the Philippines independent. Japanese occupation of the islands during World War II and the joint American-Filipino efforts to win them back added a new facet to the special relationship-a spirit of allied partnership striving for a common goal. Upon independence, the Philippines, responding to assurances given by the United States during the war, looked to Washington for assistance in rebuilding its devastated economy. This search for help was again to shape the relationship. Today, the character of the special relationship, at least from the United States' point of view, is probably a potpourri of all American earlier attitudes towards the Philippines-paternal feelings, conscience, gratitude and moral obligations.

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