Buencamino does foreign and political affairs analysis for Action for Economic Reforms. This piece was Editorial in Today, 25 July 2004 edition.
ONE summer ago, President Arroyo went to Washington and signed up with
George W. Bush’s posse. Bush was so pleased by her gesture that he
promised arms for her own war on terror and money to rebuild everything
she would destroy, with his gifts. Bush’s policy is not new.
After World War II, the US established a bank to complement a US
foreign policy formulated from the following question: How could we
help anyone rebuild anything if we don’t destroy it first? So the US
named its bank International Bank for Reconstruction and Development
(World Bank) and it has followed the American wake of destruction ever
since—and not just through war but with even more devastating effect,
through the cockeyed economic prescriptions that brought Argentina,
Brazil, Korea, Thailand and Indonesia to their knees in the last
economic crisis that is still with us. Pushing up interest rates in a
recession, how stupid can anyone get?
As a bonus for being one of the first to sign up for Bush’s posse, Mrs.
Arroyo was pinned with a “major non-NATO ally” badge. The insignia
entitled her to special privileges—anything she wanted from any US
military junkyard and a seat at the table reserved for those who were
fair but not white enough to be a “real ally.” She loved it and Bush
loved that she loved it.
This summer, Bush, who has studiously avoided invading North Korea,
finds himself in deep kimchi. Now, everyone knows Bush lied so he could
go after the wrong guy. So now he says, “I only lied to you because I
was also lied to; but rejoice because Saddam is gone and the good guys
are in charge.”
Today, the world is sure about what it suspected all along: Bush is someone you don’t want anywhere near your loved ones.
Jay Leno made a joke straight out of the White House Sour Grapes
Department. He said the entire Philippine contingent was so small it
could fit into a Humvee. He’s right. In fact, the entire Coalition of
the Willing can fit on the back of a Texas pony, if you don’t count the
Americans and the Brits. But Leno, like the native journalists who
adore Bush, is way off the mark on the cowardice subject; the issue is
not who capitulates to terrorists but who is brave enough to stand up
The native admirers of Bush say we have to prove ourselves “worthy” of
the international community’s respect by staying with the posse, no
matter what it is chasing or why. They figure that someone else’s head
is a fair price to pay to stay in the White House “special friends”
list. Then, they recite verbatim the dogma that terrorists will tire of
beheadings when they see that no one will deal with beheaders. They
minimize the fact that there is a war going on, and the terrorists,
like the Americans, are trying to kill everyone on the other side. The
Americans equate Iraqi insurgents with run-of-the-mill
kidnap-for-ransom hoods. They are not; they are patriots, of a
particularly grisly kind.
Hostage-taking does offer attractive benefits to the weaker side in any
conflict situation like that in Iraq. The no-negotiation dogma believes
that removing the benefits will stop hostage-taking.
But it won’t. Whether the Iraqis kill their foreign hostages or get
what they want for them—which is to get rid of all foreigners who came
into Iraq on the heels of the American invasion—it is all the same to
them. And so the carnage goes on. (You have to be really stupid to
believe that the American occupation ended with yet another accelerated
though far more clandestine event, the June 28 “transition” of
authority from the US to its lackeys in the governing council that is
holed up in the C NN studios in Baghdad.)
And there is no connection between the so-called Philippine
capitulation to the Iraqi insurgents’ demand for an
earlier-than-scheduled Philippine pullout and the subsequent kidnapping
of other foreign workers. And that is because the next batch of
hostages taken were not Filipinos but Kenyans, Indians and an Egyptian.
The Iraqi insurgents also want to see the last of Kenyans, Indians and
any other foreign workers who are helping to make the American military
occupation of Iraq more congenial by cleaning the latrines and doing
other lowly, not to say dangerous, jobs that no poor American will
stoop to take unless he ends up, like a lot of his lowly social class,
in a federal penitentiary rather than in the US occupation force.
Leavenworth or Fort Bragg. There would be a connection between the
Philippine capitulation to save Angelo de la Cruz and more kidnappings
if it was of other Filipino truck drivers or what-have-you. Meanwhile,
the critics’ reaction to the Angelo de la Cruz incident was reminiscent
of Donald Rumsfeld’s reaction to the Abu Ghraib torture report.
Rumsfeld blamed the digital video cameras.
In sum, fellow natives, it’s not the terrorists, the hostage-taking, or
the beheadings that’s the problem. It’s the illegal invasion, stupid,
and the savage resistance if spawned which will defeat the United
States if it doesn’t use weapons of mass destruction on the Iraqi