by Leni Valeriano, SCM Philippines
The September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, was undeniably a gross violation of human dignity that senselessly took toll on thousands of lives. Those were acts of desperateness out of a deep-running rage of the perpetrators that targeted the very symbols of U.S. military and economic might. We grieved over the lost lives of innocents but we too opposed the retaliatory attacks of U.S. in Afghanistan that displaced millions of Afghans and killed civilians.
That is why now that the U.S. is expanding its “borderless war on terrorism” with the U.S. military troops in the Philippines, we Filipinos are deeply challenged to oppose the attacks on the national sovereignty and the dignity of the Filipino people. The U.S. is totally circumventing our hard-won struggle of driving out the U.S. bases in 1991 with its concealed arrangement with Arroyo’s government through the Mutual Logistics Service Agreement.
Like the warnings of prophet Isaiah on Israel’s leaders on its alliance with Egypt, its former oppressor, it must also serve as a warning to the Philippine government. Allowing U.S. in our land is like the “covenant with death” that our leaders committed as a “sin added upon sin” for how can a former oppressor really help or serve its former colony. This is but a perpetuation of the “special relations” the Philippines has with U.S. that is nothing but marred with inequality and injustice.
We are right in forewarning that the U.S. would use its “war on terrorism” to expand virtual military presence all over the world especially in Asia.
The US military troops has now landed in the Philippines for a so called “military exercises” with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). U.S. used the Abu Sayaff Group (ASG) issue in Basilan (southernmost part of the Philippines) to justify its presence in the country which is highly deceptive for in truth, the U.S. just uses euphemisms as “military exercises” to U.S. military intervention.
The Abu Sayyaf Group was formed with the aid of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the CIA in 1980’s in its efforts to digress the rising Muslim secessionist struggle in Mindanao. Now, the ASG is a band of bandits notorious in the kidnap-for ransom activities, without political ideology and is prevailing with AFP’s collution and shaky deals.
The US government and Philippine Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo are saying in chorus that the military troops are in the Philippines to extend technical support to AFP concerning its operations in Basilan, Mindanao through a “military exercises” that they say would enhance the AFP capability to haunt down the ASG. But the arrival of the 660 US military troops, including the elite force Green Beret, Navy SEALS and Marines and Airforce Special Forces and its participation in the exercises is a gross desecration of the Philippine Constitution, which prohibits foreign military presence in the country. Bush, GMA and the top military officials including those in the Cabinet are deceiving the Filipinos and the world that it is just a military exercise, for reality points to the contrary. The two governments invoke the Mutual Defense Treaty (1951) and the Visiting Forces Agreement (1999) but these two agreements cannot be used since the first only cover external threats and even the onerous VFA. The US military forces are going to participate in the combat operations, will use live ammunition and “with real actual targets” (ASG) and right there at Basilan over a continuous and indefinite time. In the definition of a “military exercise”, “conditions of war” are simulated, and only a prototype of the terrain and use of live ammunition is prohibited and the roles of “aggressor and aggressed” are only assigned. All of these simulations are replaced with actual conditions.
In 1898, President William McKinley made the world to believe that the U.S. forces were dispatched to the Philippines to “help” the Filipinos in the struggle for independence from Spain. But history could attest, the Filipinos who are near at winning the revolution against Spain without U.S. help, but were betrayed by U.S. The U.S. bought the Philippines from Spain for $10 million and stepped up the bloody colonialization of the Philippines in 1899. What happened in February 4, 1899 was ignited by US troops’ treacherous firing of Filipino soldiers and the massacre of one-fifth of the Philippine population or of over one million Filipinos in the Filipino-American War until 1916.
Our fears have basis. History teaches of the U.S. capacity to “manufacture” incidents like what happened in the Tonkin Incident in Vietnam that could escalate US intervention in the large scale Philippines.
According to retired Captain Danilo Vizmanos, a Filipino Vietnam War veteran, Basilan is being used by U.S. as a laboratory for its proxy wars against the people’s armed struggle in a tropical environment. It is not hard to understand this especially that U.S. is conditioning the world through the media, that the Asia-Pacific Region is a haven of terrorists especially South-East Asian like Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia. It seems that US assumes an absolute authority to attack, threaten and engaged to war any nation it pin-points as terrorist.
The first phase of US war in Afghanistan had claimed lives of many Afghan civilian through its carpet bombing of highly populated areas like the cities of Kabul and Kandahar. Now, US unable to “produce” Bin Laden its primary suspect sentenced by US as guilty beyond reasonable doubt at the expense of civilian and non-combatants, US uses the “thermobaric bomb” also called BLU-1185. This bomb, US thinks well fit the adversaries Afghanistan caves which allows the attacker to pulverize all occupants of underground structures with comparable to a low-yield bomb that could annihilate many lives.
Now, after ravaging Afghanistan in the pretext of getting Osama Bin Laden and successfully sponsoring another government in Afghanistan, Bush singled out Iran, Iraq and North Korea as “axis of evil” allegorically treating these three nations as to “AXIS” imperialist powers of Japan, Germany and Italy of then World War II. U.S. in this stance, presents no evidences of its allegations and thus, and foments provocations with these nations.
After the Second World War, U.S. had emerged as the sole superpower and has developed its military might uncontested. It has maximized the Cold War with USSR, attacking sovereign nations without even bothering the United Nations. Until now Even after the collapse of the modern revisionist USSR, the US has been consistent with the US National Security Council’s # 68 as its dogma for international policies. Its strategy is “designed to foster a world environment in which the American system can survive and flourish....even if there were no Soviet threat.” (US NSC #68). The U.S. clearly seeks expansion for its interests through forward deployment on countries it deems having strategic importance.
Before the September 11, the USA had been suffering in a sharp economic recession, a worse level of general crisis since the Great Depression in 1930’s. Understanding monopoly capitalism, particularly U.S. and the chronic crisis it spawns, would let us surmise that it means and would gain through “war” what it is not able to do through the oppressive neoliberal policies in order to prolong its survival. This is passing its crisis to its neocolonies worldwide. Thus, the people of these neocolonies through its “vassal states” suffer the brunt of the crisis if not the virtual intervention in these countries for its own survival and in order to evade a “tension” vis-a-vis other monopoly capitalist countries like Germany and Japan. For these super powers, military hegemony means to ensure political and economic hegemony.
The U.S. even now, has never departed from its vicious “manufacturing” of tensions in its host counties, and with the slightest provocation from its “perceived enemies”, it would embark on a war in defense of its jingoism. What exactly the Sept. 11 provided is an “entry point”, a seemingly justifiable alibi to its “war without border” not only to terrorist groups but extended to groups, peoples and nations critical to US international politics.
What then is the inevitability of war especially that for some in Americans, war has been synonymous with “work” which means survival for them as US being the world’s largest military-industrial complex? We do not forecast war but we should take note that globalization as a “promise of prosperity” for its host nations is wavering. Instead, it has been unmasked of its bankruptcy as just another tool of control and oppression of capitalist superpower nations on weaker nations especially from the Third World in Africa, Latin America and Asia.
We are wary especially because of US’s capacity to brand even revolutionary groups as “terrorist”. After Pres. Arroyo’s visit in US in December 2001, the Communist Party-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front, waging more than 30-year armed revolution has been included in U.S. terrorist list. Even legal human rights groups, anti-globalization and anti-imperialist movements in the Philippines are wary that US military intervention could lead in the US military aggression. Philippines has been the “first Vietnam” and we do not want again to suffer like another one.
The US bloody suppression of the civil war in Vietnam will forever be a lesson to Asians of US capability of a “genocidal war” with its modern armaments, in its intervention in determining the fate of other sovereign nations. The list of intervened and aggressed nations goes a long way. For example, until now the U.S. continues to defy the International Court of Justice (The Hague) ruling in 1986 of U.S. violation of the international law for “unlawful use of force” in Nicaragua, through use and CIA funding of the counter-revolutionaries (CONTRAS). This aggression took more than 40,000 lives and displaced about 250,000 farmers.
With this, the U.S. actually joins the brand of the terrorism it declared it is fighting-interventionist, lawless and jeopardizes the lives of many people.
We will not take this just sitting down or in a “wait and see manner”. In the Philippines, nationalists and freedom-loving Filipinos are bonding in alliances and networks like the US Troops out Now!, Cry OUT NOW! and the Anti-Imperialist Movement of the Youth (AIM of the Youth) which SCMP also convenes. Definitely, reality says that US scope of interest are not just Afghanistan or the Southern Philippines, a fact which admonishes us to join hands in condemning US interventionism and aggressiveness. In our home fronts, it is where we can best struggle against the oppression of superpower states of the weaker nations. Be it Koreans, or Japanese who are under the US military clutches, or be it on the oppressed neocolonial nations of US, we are called to unite and strive to overcome a common oppressor.
In the most crucial times like this, we are challenged by our faith to choose life over death and liberation over subjugation.