As always, this quote refers to a miscalculation on the part of the US government. Or, rather, it resulted from the custom of going in shooting first, then figuring out what the suitation is and what is at stake. In this case, Spain had lost the Spanish-American War -- which many believe the US provoked by blowing up an American ship docked in Cuba and blaming it on the Spanish -- resulting in the US gaining rulership over Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Phillipines. Since Filipinos had been putting up an armed resistance to Spanish rule, the US mistakenly thought the Filipinos would be happy with their new rulers.
"There is the case of the Philippines. I have tried hard, and yet I cannot
for the life of me comprehend how we got into that mess. Perhaps we
could not have avoided it -- perhaps it was inevitable that we should
come to be fighting the natives of those islands -- but I cannot
understand it, and have never been able to get at the bottom of the
origin of our antagonism to the natives. I thought we should act as
their protector -- not try to get them under our heel. We were to relieve
them from Spanish tyranny to enable them to set up a government of
their own, and we were to stand by and see that it got a fair trial. It was
not to be a government according to our ideas, but a government
that represented the feeling of the majority of the Filipinos, a govern-
ment according to Filipino ideas. That would have been a worthy
mission for the United States. But now -- why, we have got into a mess,
a quagmire from which each fresh step renders the difficulty of
extrication immensely greater. I'm sure I wish I could see what we
were getting out of it, and all it means to us as a nation."
Wrong. They didn't want new outside rulers, no matter who they were. The result was four years of war in a land where both the terrain and the culture were totally unfamiliar to the US forces, resulting in four years of war and over four thousand of American solders killed.
Seem the least bit familiar?