Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Vincent J. Cannato

Second Advisor

David Hunt

Third Advisor

Christopher Capozzola


Between 1969 and 1972, the Philippines experienced significant political unrest after Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos’ successful reelection campaign. Around the same time, American President Richard Nixon formulated a foreign policy approach that expected its allies to be responsible for their own self-defense. This would be known as the Nixon Doctrine. This approach resulted in Marcos’ declaration of martial law in September 1972, which American officials silently supported. American officials during this time also noted Marcos’ serving of American business and military interests. Existing literature differed on the extent Marcos served what he thought were American interests. Stanley Karnow’s In Our Image noted that Marcos did not adequately serve American interests, noting that he sent an insignificant amount of soldiers to Vietnam. Karnow also did not mention business interests. Raymond Bonner’s Waltzing with a Dictator mentioned that Marcos was effective for serving American business and military interests. James Hamilton-Paterson’s America’s Boy agrees with Bonner’s assessment, also noting that Marcos served American business and military interests. Materials from the Digital National Security Archive (DNSA) and Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) series affirmed Bonner and Hamilton-Paterson’s position, while noting that Karnow’s work was outdated because of the limited information he had when In Our Image was published. There are three issues that concerned the U.S.-Philippine relationship under President Marcos during this time. The first issue was the societal and political unrest that threatened to undermine Marcos. The second issue concerned U.S. officials’ application of the Nixon Doctrine to the Philippines. The third regarded President Marcos’ serving of military and business interests in the Philippines. Marcos supported maintaining America’s Filipino bases, which were important hubs of American military operations during the Vietnam War. In addition to military interests, President Marcos also aided American businesses in the Philippines, by removing restrictions that threatened American business activity. Each of these concerns led to President Marcos’ declaration of martial law. American officials’ tacit support for Marcos reflected their commitment to the Nixon Doctrine, which ensured political stability that preserved American business and military interests.


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