News Release

Trump’s Big Pershing Lie

6452811Donald Trump recently claimed that in the Philippines over 100 years ago, Gen. John Pershing “took 50 bullets, and he dipped them in pigs’ blood,” and shot 49 Muslim rebels. “The 50th person, he said, ‘You go back to your people, and you tell them what happened.’ And for 25 years, there wasn’t a problem.” rates this statement “Pants on Fire.” There is another Republican debate this evening. See for upcoming events. 

Bradley is author of the New York Times bestsellers Flyboys and Flags of Our Fathers and a son of one of the men who raised the American flag on Iwo Jima.

In his book The Imperial Cruise: A Secret History of Empire and War, he recounts his visit to Pershing Plaza in the Philippines. See excerpt.

He said today: “Theodore Roosevelt declared ‘Mission Accomplished’ over and over again in the Philippines — just like George W. Bush did in Iraq and both wars kept going and going. A hundred years after Pershing fought the insurgency in the Philippines, I went to Zamboanga a Muslim enclave 516 miles south of Manila. I wanted to walk around the town, including Pershing Plaza there. The local officials wouldn’t let me venture out of my hotel without an armed police escort. The day after I left, two bombs went off.

“Whatever the veracity of the ‘pig’s blood story’ — and it seems like a recurring fable — the deeper point is that the lesson here is exactly the opposite of what Trump apparently intended. Over 100 years after the U.S. killed tens of thousands of people in the Philippines, if Trump tried to walk around there without armed guards, he’d get killed.

“Unfortunately, such policies continue under both Democratic and Republican administrations. Currently, President Obama — with CIA director John Brennan — is engaging in a drone assassination program. He’s stone dead killing people. But that glaring policy is ignored. Writers like David Brooks of the New York Times write about Obama’s ‘humanity’ — because he went to a mosque and gave a speech, ignoring the literal killing and maiming that he is engaging in. Such policies fuel the anger and violence our government claims it is attempting to stop, fueling killing for another century if we don’t finally chose another path.”