Saturday, March 18, 2006

US interventions

Saturday, March 18, 2006

US interventions
By Elmer A. Ordoñez

THERE were two reported US interventions in the recent aborted “coup plot” leading to 1017 followed by its lifting a week later but belied by continuing repressive police/military actions (on party-list members, the media, leftist and opposition figures and users of cyberspace).

The first version of the US traditional role (gleaned from a broadsheet column) is that the plotters were warned by US agents not to go through with their conspiracy, otherwise 5,000 US Marines already in the country under the Visiting Forces Agreement would stop them.

The other version, apparently contradicting the other, was that the coup plot was instigated by US agents themselves who supposedly called the restive military leaders “meatheads” for not moving to oust the leadership that had become a liability to US interests—like the war on terror.

The first version is consistent with earlier US official and business statements that any regime change must be constitutional. It seems that the US has had it with the present administration whose continuing repression of civil liberties would be an embarrassment to US professed policy of “spreading democracy” around the world.

The second version may be seen in the context of William Blum’s Rogue State which gives as a lurid catalogue of US covert and overt interventions (from 1945 to the present) into the affairs of other nations during the Cold War, the US fight against the Soviet Union and other socialist states (like China, North Korea, Vietnam, Cuba), and national liberation struggles (particularly in the Third World). Now add Iran and Syria as US targets.

US policy then was one of “containment” to prevent “developing” nations from falling under the influence of either Soviet Union or the People’s Republic of China. The US went to war in Vietnam precisely to negate the “domino theory” inherent in its “national security doctrine” underpinning US foreign policy. Under the Bush’s policy of waging war on terror, the US has embarked on ill-advised military incursions in Afghanistan and Iraq where, as in Vietnam, US troops are dying and hard put to disengage themselves from the quagmire of suicide bombings and escalating civil war. Key officials in the conduct of the US war in Vietnam like Kissinger and Haig, speaking in a postmortem forum, are either on denial mode or
conscience stricken—unable to see the connection of the Vietnam debacle with what is happening in Iraq. As President Johnson said in 1966: “I oughtn’t to be in this country [Vietnam] but I can’t get out.”

The lessons of Vietnam have not been grasped by local supporters of the war in Iraq. I remember nationalist writers here warned about the perils of supporting the US war in Iraq in the name of fighting terrorists (their slogan after 9/11). Then the US began labeling as terrorist national liberation forces/ personalities—effectively stopping NDF/GRP peace talks.

The history of US intervention in this country goes back to the turn of the century when revolutionary forces had practically defeated the Spanish troops—surrounding its remnants in Intramuros. What followed was a series of US betrayals of Filipino interests and a ruinous Philippine-American war. The “benevolent assimilation” or “pacification” drive of the US had so thoroughly Americanized our way of life and thinking that by the time the country became nominally independent in 1946 our leaders and most of the people looked up to the US for practically everything. It would take nationalist-minded leaders and groups in struggle to regain our humanity and pride as a people.

William Blum has this to say about US intervention after EDSA:

“Another scenario of poverty, social injustice, death squads, torture, etc. leading to wide-ranging protest and armed resistance. . . time once again for the US military and CIA to come to the aid of the government in suppressing such movements. In 1987 it was revealed that the Reagan administration had approved a $10 million, two-year plan for increased CIA involvement in the counterinsurgency campaign. The CIA undertook large-scale psychological warfare operations and US military advisers routinely accompanied Philippine troops during their maneuvers. The Philippines has long been the most strategic location for US war-making in Asia, the site of several large American military bases, which have been the object of numerous protests by the citizens. In 1991 the US Embassy informed the media that embassy polls indicated that 68 percent, 72 percent, even 81 percent of the Philippine people favored the bases. The polls, however, never existed. ‘I made the numbers up,’ an embassy official conceded.”

The US bases are gone (thanks to nationalist protests), but a Visiting Forces Agreement, gratuitously ratified later by the Senate, has indeed the effect of enabling US Marines to intervene militarily in Philippine affairs.

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