Mr. Buencamino does foreign and political affairs analysis for Action for Economic Reforms. This article was published in the Yellow Pad column of BusinessWorld, 22 November 2004 edition.
The strong ties between the US and the Philippines never wavered, never broke at any point in time – Ignacio Bunye
Ever since the withdrawal of the Philippine contingent from Iraq, Mrs.
Arroyo’s calls to Bush have been unanswered and unreturned. However,
last Wednesday he called Mrs. Arroyo and said, “Let us keep our
friendship strong,” and everything was okay again.
The Palace spokesman lost no time proclaiming, “Our 100-year
relationship with the US is stronger than any temporary disagreements.”
Hmm, like the withdrawal of Filipino troops from Iraq was a minor
disagreement over the value a Filipino leader must place on the life of
a Filipino against the value she must place on her commitment to a war
criminal? By the way, when do we start counting the strong 100-year
relationship – from the time America offered to help Emilio Aguinaldo
return to the Philippines or after it double-crossed him?
The problem with Philippine-US relations starts with the framing of the
relationship. Note how Bunye puts the US first in “the strong ties
between the US and the Philippines,” instead of the other way around.
The joyous Palace reaction to Bush’s telephone call is another example
of how native leadership views our alliance through American eyes.
Post-World War II Philippine foreign policy has always been about our
commonality of interests with America, and “proving” we deserve its
approval and favors (though it must be asked why we need to do this.)
It’s always been about accepting without question that what America
says is good for us is indeed good for us. There are only two
exceptions to this – when courageous senators threw out the US bases,
and when Mrs. Arroyo defied American pressure to sacrifice a Filipino
at the altar of American hegemony – and exceptions prove the rule.
Mrs. Arroyo joined Bush’s “war on terror” as if the attack on the Twin
Towers of New York were an attack on the monument of Jose Rizal, even
though Bin Laden’s attack on America had nothing to do with us. Those
jets were chickens coming home to roost.
Bin Laden said he attacked America because it supported the Israeli
occupation of Palestine; because the sanctions it imposed on Iraq
killed 500,000 innocent children and countless Iraqis; and because it
keeps the House of Saud in power. He targeted the symbols of American
financial, military and political power – the Twin Towers, the Pentagon
and the US Capitol. (He failed to hit his third target.) He did not
target the Statue of Liberty, or the monuments of Washington, Jefferson
and Lincoln, all symbols of American freedom, democracy and equality.
Bin Laden never said he attacked America because he hated freedom and
democracy. It was Bush who said that. It was Bush who claimed 911 was
an unprovoked attack on a freedom-loving people, not Bin Laden, who
stated unequivocally why he ordered the attack.
The Palace spokesman made it a point to deny “that President Arroyo
apologized to US President George W. Bush during a telephone
conversation last Wednesday.”
Why should the Palace trumpet that Mrs. Arroyo did not apologize to
Bush when it is so clear that it is Bush who owes Mrs. Arroyo an
apology for lying to her and drawing her into a war that opens her to
prosecution as an accomplice to a war crime?
Why is the Palace so proud about not having to apologize for doing the
right thing and so willing to forgive the great white father for
placing Filipinos in harm’s way?
Instead of going along with the charade that Bush didn’t knowingly and
intentionally lie to his closest allies, it would be refreshing if Mrs.
Arroyo displayed some of her famous temper and bitch-slapped Bush for
lying to her.