The author does political affairs analysis for AER. This piece was published in the Yellow Pad column of Business World, 28 June 2004 edition.
“Yet despite those successes, the truth is that we are closer to the
beginning of this struggle, this global insurgency, than to its end” –
Donald Rumsfeld, West Point
Insurgency vs. Terrorism
The above quotation came from Donald Rumsfeld’s commencement address to
the USMA graduating class. In that speech, he boasted that, “President
Bush formed an 80-nation global coalition. In less than three years,
this coalition of civilized nations has overthrown two vicious regimes,
liberated 50 million people, disrupted terrorist cells across the
globe, and thwarted many terrorist attacks ”
The 80-nation “global coalition of civilized nations” is composed of
countries that sent troops to fight, countries that sent personnel but
not to fight, countries that did not send anybody and finally,
countries that did not object to being counted in as part of the
coalition. American, British, and mercenary forces far outnumber the
total manpower contribution of all other coalition members combined.
“Ampaw” is the Filipino word for such a coalition.
The “two vicious regimes” overthrown by “this coalition of civilized
nations” used to be friends and agents of civilized nations. The
Taliban, including Bin Laden, were armed and trained by the CIA to
fight the Soviets while Saddam was the recipient of US chemical warfare
technology during his war with Iran, and when Donald Rumsfeld was
negotiating an oil pipeline deal with him on behalf of Bechtel.
The “50 million liberated people” are currently enjoying the
hospitality of prisons like Abu Ghraib, and the nightly display of
lethal fireworks raining down on their homes and creating human
abstractions that not even Picasso could paint.
The number of terror cells and terrorist attacks increased
exponentially after the US attacked Iraq and Bush endorsed Sharon’s
ethnic cleansing of the biblical Land of Israel. Of course the number
of “disrupted terror cells” and “thwarted” terrorist attacks will also
Rumsfeld explained to his graduating warriors why the Iraqi occupation
is not going as planned. He said, “The extremists know that the rise of
a free, self-governing Iraq at peace with its neighbors, respectful of
all religions, and committed to representative government would deal
them a decisive blow.”
A “free, self-governing Iraq” is not necessarily going to be at peace
with an Israel carrying out ethnic cleansing nor will it necessarily
welcome with open arms the invasion of evangelicals from the US Bible
Belt. In addition, a representative government will most likely place
its own national interest ahead of whatever it is that Rumsfeld has in
mind. Thus, under Rumsfeld’s criteria, Iraq will never be “free,
self-governing, and representative” and it will be lucky if it is not
“Balkanized” before the US occupation is over.
Still, White House lawn ornament Colin Powell asserted, “The Iraqi
government is sovereign and… it has said that we consent to the
presence of coalition forces, we want coalition forces there, we are
going to coordinate and cooperate with each other.” However, he was
also quick to remind Iraqis that “You can’t use the word ‘veto’ ” on
operations carried out by “coalition” forces.
Donald Rumsfeld’s West Point commencement address introduced a
terrifying new twist to the “up-is- down-ism” practiced by the Bush
administration. He morphed the “global war on terror” into a “war on
An insurgent is anyone who rises against “established authority”.
Insurgents can be Benigno Aquino, Nelson Mandela, or George Washington
and “established authority” can be despicable regimes like Marcos,
apartheid, or King George. Insurgents can also be Iraqis who simply
don’t want an occupied Iraq. So, what is “global insurgency”? Those who
disagree with the American war frame?
Global Insurgency, Malaysian Style
” this global struggle — this war — call it what you will—”Donald
Rumsfeld at the International Institute for Strategic Studies
conference in Singapore
One may recall that at the WestPoint graduation ceremony, Rumsfeld
called the same war – “…this global insurgency,.. “. The terminology of
war changes with the venue.
At West Point, Rumsfeld was speaking to his cadets. He could call
anybody who did not accept the American war frame an insurgent.
At the Singapore conference, Rumsfeld was speaking to an audience that
included formerly colonized peoplewho rose against “established
authority”. Insisting on his war frame and describing it as a war on
“global insurgency” to that audience wouldn’t have been too smart, even
for Rumsfeld. Thus, he allowed the audience to “call it what you will…”
The Malaysian Defense Minister took Rumsfeld’s word to “call it what
you will.” At the plenary session of the conference on “Defense,
Intelligence and the Campaign against Terror”, Malaysian Defense
Minister Najib said, “The lessons of Iraq should be clear to us: ill
prepared liberators do make mistakes and the failure of good intentions
can cause great damage to social and political stability.”
Najib’s statement shows just how much his country has matured
politically and grown in confidence and why it is earning the respect
of those who believe that sobriety and sovereignty are more important
than getting a pat on the head and a few dollars from Uncle Sam.
In addition, Najib rebuffed Rumsfeld’s clumsy attempt to lay the
predicate for greater US military presence in Southeast Asia
particularly in the Straits of Malacca. He said, “Granted, there is
much more that countries in this region can do to work together in
addressing the terrorist threat. However, what we should avoid is the
presence of foreign forces in Southeast Asia, …not because we distrust
those from outside the region, but because foreign military presence
will set us back in our ideological battle against extremism and
militancy.” Evidently, Malaysians understood better than Rumsfeld that
the struggle against terrorism required a balanced application of
“soft” and “hard” methods.
Najib elaborated further by saying, ” the question to ask is not
whether we will join this global campaign against terror, or when we
will do so, because we already have…What is more instructive is to
understand how we …have gone about trying to address these threats.
While our aims are one and the same with the rest of the free world,
…our methods may vary according to individual circumstances and local
conditions.. . We continue to be open and honest and confident enough
to examine the underlying issues that give rise to these acts of terror
in our midst, and work to resolve them as best as we can, so that the
perpetrators of terror can no longer wrongly claim the moral high
ground for their actions..”
Malaysia’s leaders understand the meaning and the value of doing their
own thinking, specially regarding the war against terrorism. It is what
any sovereign country should do. Unfortunately, it is also an
insurgency against America’s war frame.
Philippine leaders are different.
Angelo Reyes, formerly in charge of defending Philippine sovereignty,
characterized sovereignty as just a matter of “semantics” when it
involves Philippine-US relations. His Commander-in-Cheap/t enunciated
her foreign policy towards the United States by reassuring Bush,
“friends don’t ask why, they ask how”. For that, they got a pat on the
head and a few dollars from Uncle Sam.
Clearly, Philippine leaders are different. They are servile and as cheap as they come.