February 04, 2005

Wolf in sheep's clothing

It has come to this. US ambassador Francis Ricciardone virtually admitted his government has deployed around 70 intelligence operatives (in layman's parlance, they would be called spies) in Mindanao to purportedly assist the government in its anti-terrorism drive versus the Jemaah Islamiyah, the more fearsome and formidable terrorist organization alleged to be the international link of our homegrown Abu Sayyaf to the al-Qaeda, and there is hardly any ripple of reaction worthy of the revelation.

That is, except for the expected statements of protest from the progressive party-lists such as Anakpawis, the militant alliance BAYAN, as well as its activist member organizations and some of the more intrepid peace advocates under the umbrella of In Peace Mindanao. And the expected denials from Malacañang which did not even tackle the more fundamental objections to the deployment of spies/setting up of a spy network by a foreign entity, so candidly admitted by the cocky US ambassador, but to the question of whether or not the US had bothered to notify the government.

Unfortunately, most people in this country take a quite unrealistic, even fantastically benign, view of the strategic objectives, tactics, operational methods and actual conduct of US military forces within our territory, a supposedly independent nation-state. This despite the extent to which much of the current US geopolitical doctrine and practice has been the subject of much debate and has reaped criticism and even denunciation in the mainstream press, more so in the less censorship-prone wide, wide world of cyberspace.

Not surprising, considering how only a small minority of Filipinos living in the cities have access to the Internet information highway and most cyber cafés have become the watering hole of some young people indulging their favorite pastime -- video games. Add this to the unimpressive growth of newspaper readership and the much greater reliance on television and radio, arguably more prone to superficial sound bytes, to bring news and public affairs to the ordinary Filipino's neo-colonial consciousness.

It is thus incumbent on this column to devote some precious space to help unmask what revolutionaries and activists the world over have unflinchingly identified as the "enemy" --US imperialism -- the veritable wolf hiding beneath sheep's clothing. Before it is too late and an apocalyptic Iraq, Afghanistan or a Vietnam-type scenario is already upon us.

It is now common knowledge that the US war on Iraq had nothing to do with weapons of mass destruction, nor the al-Qaeda, nor the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the US, as President George W. Bush had so vociferously yet so falsely claimed. It had everything to do with changing a supposedly evil, totalitarian regime hostile to the US with a much more pliant one, by means of a preemptive strike that brought about a destructive war of aggression and the colonial occupation of a sovereign country that, by the way, happened to be sitting atop one of the largest oil deposits in the world the US had long coveted.

Whatever vestige of national sovereignty, democratic rights and ancient civilization the Iraqi people had zealously kept alive under the most difficult of circumstances (the Saddam regime and the US embargo) was literally obliterated by the awesome military might of the sole superpower in this dangerous, unipolar world.

Earlier, war-torn Afghanistan, with its notoriously primitive, brutal and bin Laden-friendly Taliban regime, as well as its strategic location and rich gas deposits, had become an acceptable first front in the US "war on terror." Its predictable defeat at the hands of the avenging US bully provided a nasty preview of things to come.

Unspeakable horror by means of a middle- to low-intensity type of war of occupation amidst fierce resistance by domestic anti-US forces. A life of hunger, misery, violence and daily indignities under the heel of foreign occupier masquerading as liberator. Puppet traitors installed as the new rulers, no better, or even far worse than the old.

In the era of the US-fabricated "war against terrorism" foisted on the world by a fundamentalist, Bible-thumping, warmongering and state terrorist outlaw that is the current regime of US President George W. Bush, universal standards of human rights and international humanitarian law are being brazenly and wantonly violated. Torture, illegal detention and absolute deprivation of any due process have gone on at Abu Ghraib and other prisons in Iraq, at the US prison facility in Cuba's Guantanamo, and even in undisclosed detention centers right in the heart of the democratic US of A where hundreds of terrorist suspects, mostly of Middle Eastern and South Asian ancestry, are being held without charges and without any legal rights whatsoever.

Moreover, the neo-conservative Bush administration is resorting to patently illegal, abusive, inhumane and universally eschewed means to prosecute its "war against terrorism." These are unprovoked military attacks against sovereign states; overt and covert operations to undermine duly constituted governments and replace these with US-sponsored regimes; the use of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear "dirty bombs" in regional or local conflicts; demonization of anti-imperialist movements through "terrorist" labeling and smear campaigns and the abduction and assassination of their leaders anywhere in the world; the legalization of fascist measures through legislation such as the US Patriot Act and copycat versions put in place by US client regimes; and the massive deployment and stationing of US troops and war materiel outside the US mainland in accord with its doctrine of "shape, respond and prepare" to effect US political and economic dominance in the world.

In the Philippines, the foremost example of US interventionism with the direst of implications to the sovereignty and security of the country is the indefinite stationing since 2001 of an indeterminate number of US military forces anywhere in the country under the anachronistic Mutual Defense Treaty and the unconstitutional Visiting Forces Agreement.

Notwithstanding official US and Philippine government denials, such US troops have clearly engaged not just in training exercises, but also in combat operations, as evidenced by the following: Balikatan 02-1 was undertaken in actual battle zones in Basilan and Zamboanga; live ammunition was used; and a disturbing incident was uncovered by an International Solidarity Mission wherein an American soldier in a raiding unit, with a specific mission to arrest an Abu Sayyaf suspect, had shot that suspect in the leg. The US soldier was quickly spirited out of the country in total disregard of Philippine laws and civilian authority and without so much as a token investigation by the latter.

After the controversy over the Balikatan 02-1 had died down, the levels of US troops deployment, semi-permanent stationing and their various activities in the country were quietly and discreetly downplayed and relegated to the background. Any official announcements regarding the matter were thereafter treated as routine and nothing out of the ordinary.

Thus did the US armed forces graduate from civil-military operations like road-making, tooth-pulling and becoming "adopted sons" of various cities, towns and other locales, to intelligence gathering and sharing and up to continuing participation in combat operations in the guise of training, counter-terrorism and relief and rehabilitation work.

It is no wonder then that Mr. Ricciardone's announcement that "70 US military personnel were training troops in the southern Philippines in intelligence gathering, leading to the arrest or killing of 25 identified, known, no-doubt-about-it terrorist leaders" scarcely caused a ripple. After all, the Philippines has been given the dubious distinction of being the "second front" in the US "war on terror."

Less readily interpreted as interventionism, but no less insidious and effective in undermining national sovereignty, aggravating existing armed conflicts such as the communist-led armed struggle and the Moro struggle for self-determination, and posing obstacles to the peaceful resolution of these conflicts through negotiations, are the US listing of the CPP/NPA and NDFP political consultant, Jose Ma. Sison, as "terrorist."

I will leave the entire question of whether or not the CPP/NPA and Mr. Sison deserve such a pejorative label and all the bad repercussions that go with it to another column. Suffice it to say, given the track record of the Bush administration in terms of dishing out distortions, half-truths and outright lies for crassly self-serving and megalomaniacal visions of unrivalled US global hegemony, its word should count for very little.

Ominous but true, renewed US military presence and activity in the Philippines today is anything but benign.

Unfortunately, the recent CNN survey showing the Philippines as one of few countries, three in all, that does not consider the Bush II administration as a threat to world peace is a sorry testament to the deeply ingrained pro-Americanism in this country, traceable in large part to the treasonous neo-colonial relationship of a succession of post-independence regimes with imperial America.

Feb. 4-5, 2005


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home