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Nov 09

Police state

The Department of National Defense drama continues. The short list has expanded somewhat. But the scuttlebutt seems to be that former police general Ebdane is the leading contender. The armed forces, of course, have always looked down on the police as being incompetent and corrupt. Even Fidel Ramos, when he was given the defense portfolio, encountered some resistance because he was a Constabulary and not not Army man.

I’ve posted plenty here on the President’s relying on all the wrong things to stay in power; and her reliance on the police as the ultimate safeguard of her power (together with a small cabal of generals not known for their military skills, but rather, their political abilities or police experience: former police and Constabulary generals, such as Ebdane and form part of her innermost circle). So literally, a police state has been in operation for some time (see Ellen Tordesillas’ blog which has the skinny on Nonong Cruz).

The Palace and the Speaker try a softer, vaguer approach to accomplish a constituent assembly.

Senate thinks 5 billion pesos has been misspent in the Office of the President; a billion pesos has been earmarked to grow plants in time for elections; an American group says the Philippine budget system lacks transparency.

Speaking of budgets, there’s an interesting couple of articles in Newsbreak on local government units and their revenue remittances from the national government. They serve as a reminder that the country’s been attempting devolution for over a decade now. Indeed, proponents of Federalism are often reminded that much has to be done in terms of implementing existing devolution policies -and getting local governments to learn the ropes and take the plunge in terms of utilizing the income-generating strategies open to them. So read Getting the IRA Right (which points out the bad habit of Congress to legislate unfunded mandates) and They’re Running Out of Manna (which enumerates the various schemes local governments to use to raise funds).

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Mediashift live blogged the American midterm elections. Ignatian Perspective recounted what his voting day was like (his wife, who has voted before in their precinct, discovered her name had disappeared from the list of voters). History Unfolding says the media’s been slow in calling contests whose outcomes were clear enough: and that it’s a certainty the Democrats have captured the Senate.

The fallout from the American midterm elections begins. Biggest news, of course, is the fall of Donald Rumsfeld though there was a harbinger of it when the Army Times came out with an election eve editorial saying he should resign (though The Economist had asked for the same thing back in 2004). The Corner on National Review Online of course pooh-poohed the editorial; Fred Kaplan said it was a pretty big thing. Phillip Carter runs through Rummy’s catalog of failure. Incidentally, guess who first broke the news Rummy was doomed? A Comedy Central blog! (so said Boing Boing)

The Seventh Sense points out how massive the Republican defeat is: they lost the House of Representatives and quite probably, the Senate, too. Democrats control the majority not just of state governorships, but state legislatures, too. Read the whole entry. He also says Rummy’s fall means Cheney is in bad odor.

Can’t beat the glee of Bike riding donut guy who says Bush was “de-nutted” or The Rule of Reason who says a long national nightmare is over. Three German students in America, in their blog Atlantic Review, take a look at the midterm elections and remark on the American integration of plebiscites into the electoral process:

Germany could learn some direct democracy from the United States. German voters do not often get a chance to vote on specific policy issues, unlike in the United States where 205 measures were on yesterday’s ballots in 37 states…

Their blog also points to the influential political blog DailyKos, which has its founder saying the end of the electronic voting machine has come. He suggests mail-in paper ballots, instead.

jobsanger, though, cautions that what took place was a protest vote against the Republicans and not necessarily a ringing endorsement of the Democrats. Firedoglake appeals to Democratic party leaders to focus on those that elected them instead of trying to grab credit for the sweep. Media Nation thinks the Democrats had better look into their media management. Scrappleface looks at the top ten positive outcomes of the election for Bush.

Daniel Gross says the rich aren’t voting Republican anymore, hence one reasons for the Democratic sweep. Jacob Weisberg says economic nationalism is now the name of the game thanks to the election.

In the punditocracy, my column for today is Brain of Baler.

The Inquirer editorial and the Asahi editorial comment on Saddam Hussein’s trial and conviction. See Frank Murphy’s dissent in Yamashita case (mentioned in the Inquirer editorial) as well as Max Hastings in The Guardian and Christopher Hitchens and Anne Applebaum and Philip Carter in Slate.

Billy Esposo says the administration has exchanged a stiletto for an axe.

In the blogosphere, Philippine Commentary is irked when people describe democracy as “Western-style” and delves into how Congress has to tackle amendments via constituent assembly.

An OFW Living in Hong Kong doesn’t think midterm elections should be viewed as referenda on the incumbent. I think the reasons he gives are based on too high an opinion of American politics, voters, and politicians (see links above for machines that didn’t work, voter intimidation, disenfranchisement, contested contests, and dynasties in the US of A). Newsstand asks some philosophical questions after noting how some bloggers are popping champagne corks over the Democratic sweep.

The Bystander dissects the terror law. Confessions at 7:00 AM on what Atong Ang’s legal options are. The Warrior Lawyer wouldn’t mind Miriam Defensor Santiago as Chief Justice.

Punzi appeals for help for an ailing friend. In Fraternam Meam boils down international etiquette.

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  1. iniduro ni emilie

    “DJB, what gives Americans (even if they are Fil-Ams) the license to barge into Malacanang? If that happened in 1986, the proper response would have been for the Filipinos (whether Marcos Loyalists, oppositionists and communists) to set aside their differences, unite and boot out the invaders.”

    wholeheartedly, ragingly, totally agree with you cvj. the americans came in “to cut and cut cleanly” marcos’s power too late. kung baga, cameo role na lang to grab some credits.

  2. anna de brux

    UP Student,

    Re the Wolfowitz doctrine now known as the Bush doctrine and by extension THE accepted doctrine by American neo-cons:

    “The reasons for our actions will be clear, the force measured, and the cause just.”

    A typical super ending for a superpower dogma (Britain, France had more or less the same vision of things until before WWII, even Adolf Hitler suggested the same in Mein Kampf except that he was a proponent of the use of massive and heavy attacking force).

    Frankly, I think the Wolfowitz doctrine become nothing but hollow rhetorics, undefendable, when the people who formulate and enforce the dogma fail to use reason or when they flex the dogma to extremes.

  3. anna de brux

    Inudoro, DJB suffered imprisonment under Marcos.

  4. DJB

    iniduro ni emilie,

    Suppose that instead of “cut and cut cleanly” Ronald Reagan had said to Marcos: “Do what you want, we’ll back you up.”

    Do you think we would be celebrating today the peaceful Edsa 1 People Power Revolution? Or would that have been the greatest massacre and bloodbath in Philippine history?

    Btw, it was a young foreign policy adviser for Asia, a Mr. Paul Wolfowitz who told Reagan it was time to end support for dictators, “even if they are OUR sonsabitches.”

  5. Carl

    After Donald Rumsfeld, the next casualty of the recent U.S. mid-term elections will most likely be John Bolton, the caustic U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Like Rumsfeld, Bolton is one of the most visible faces of American neoconservatism. Although there will be no dramatic changes in U.S. policy in the immediate future, there will be subtle changes. Most importantly, there will be a decline in the influence of neoconservatives. The smirk on Dick Cheney’s face will gradually be erased. Even neocons like Richard Perle and Kenneth Adelman have acknowledged this.

    As Amadeo points out, however, there won’t be any overnight changes. George W. Bush is still the Commander-in-Chief and even San Francisco liberals like Nancy Pelosi won’t rock the boat. As she said, she will represent the entire U.S. Congress, not just one faction alone. That means that she will take into account the opinions of the conservative faction, which is still a very large one, if not the majority, and includes a large part of the Democratic Party itself.

    In the Senate, Harry Reid is a conservative Democrat himself. And the biggest prize, the Presidency, is still to be won in 2008. So Democrats will have to tread lightly if they don’t want to upset the apple cart. There will be more done along diplomatic lines and getting allied countries and the Iraquis themselves more involved. And, possibly, the neocon concept that America has the right of Divine intervention in other countries’ affairs may gradually start to get muted. While this may not signal a new isolationist attitude, I see internal concerns becoming more of a priority. And it may be rightly so, because the deficits that George W. Bush has run up has more than doubled the U.S. debt and could cause massive economic problems for the entire world in the future. At the rate deficits are going, the U.S. debt could run up to an unheard-of 10 Trillion Dollars by the end of 2008!

  6. anna de brux

    Let’s not forget the that the Chinese hold something like 600 billion dollars in collectibles from the US…Americans had better look at another type of ‘warfare’ that’s being waged against them right in their own homes.

  7. Carl

    I must add that ecological concerns will also probably be addressed sooner after these U.S. midterm elections. The neocons, who are allied with Big Oil, were the big stumbling block to ecological reforms. With the neocons’ waning influence and with the U.K., and Tony Blair himself, trumpeting a new ecological message, I see less impediments to the U.S. following suit. Alternative energy will hopefully get a bigger impetus in the coming years and pacts like the Kyoto Protocol may get a boost in the arm.

  8. DJB

    cvj,

    NEOCONSERVATISM is the attempt to define the Rights and Duties of a Superpower in the post-Cold War world. It was born in the Reagan era when its singular accomplishment was to convince him that America could not win the Cold War unless it was morally ascendant on the matter of each sides’ “client states,” many of which were fascist dictatorships like Marcos’ RP.

    Thus, when Reagan called the Soviet Union “an Evil Empire” and then called for freedom and democracy in Eastern Europe (“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this Wall!”) while raising the ante by 15,000 50-megaton warheads, the Soviet Union folded under the weight of its own absurd social, economic and political system.

    But the upshot of that victory in the Cold War, won by taking the moral high ground in international relations (and causing a surge by 15% in the number of the world’s democracies!) , is that America must never again support fascist dictators either. It doesn’t increase US national security one bit, and was morally reprehensible when it was the unstated policy of the US–“The Our-sons-a-bitches Doctrine”

    Bush explicitly repudiated the “Our-sons-a-bitches Doctrine” in a speech in 2003 on Democracy, and again in 2004. It is the the very first post on my resurrected blog: Philippine Commentary, the First Iraq from October last year.

  9. anna de brux

    Wouldn’t it be great if there were a true to life James Bond to do the dirty job and save the world from lunatics, the likes of Osama and company? Heh!

    Nite nite folks!

  10. UP student

    Anna… the phrase says very little about the Wolfowitz Doctrine; this paragraph says a whole lot more: “While the United States cannot become the world’s policeman and assume responsibility for solving every international security problem, neither can we allow our critical interests to depend solely on international mechanisms that can be blocked by countries whose interests may be very different than our own. Where our allies interests are directly affected, we must expect them to take an appropriate share of the responsibility, and in some cases play the leading role; but we maintain the capabilities for addressing selectively those security problems that threaten our own interests.” And in regards what US-of-A consider important, this sentence : “Our most fundamental goal is to deter or defeat attack from whatever source… ”
    My perception is that Iraq happens to be a most lousy instance of the application of the Bush Doctrine. The amount and quality of intelligence was extremely bad and the decision-making processes (“smokestack” model) were flawed. The US went to war for WMD’s that were not there. [So in the end, the lesson from Iraq is the lesson from Vietnam. The US will even be more hesitant to send its troops interfere in a civil war tearing a country apart, even if the blood flows in the streets. Neither should the world expect the US to automatically go to war to act as a policeman against murdering thugs who happen to be Prime Minister or Dictator of a country.]
    So what I am saying is that the US will still go to war, unilaterally, over WMD threats. In future scenarios, the American people and the Congress (and the US armed forces) will demand a more thorough up-and-down analysis and re-analysis of data and information. The American people will hope that the United Nations and the global community will have the same timing and priorities, but if the US has to go it alone, the US will likely still go it alone. The American people will not want to wake up to anthrax spores released by terrorists or a nuclear-tipped ICBM or regional ballistic missile threat from a madman-nation against US territory. The US will probably participate in economic and even military action if the threatened nation is Canada, or Japan, any of the NATO countries, Australia, Russia, Mainland China (and Taiwan) and any of the G8).

  11. cvj

    DJB, regarding your question (at 6:59am), rather than get all hung up about its being a ‘superpower’, which is after all a transient status, the US should have continued to use its ascendancy to strengthen international venues for exercising influence over dictatorships.

    Bush I did an excellent job in rallying the rest of the world against Saddam in the liberation of Kuwait. Clinton also excelled in his leadership in this area which led to the ‘Good Friday’ and ‘Dayton’ accords that contributed to the resolution of the troubles at Northern Ireland and the ethnically driven civil war in the former Yugoslavia.

    What distinguishes neoconservatism from other similar ideals is the means by which it attempts to carry out its mission. The ideology of Neoconservatism has favored force and deception which are anathema to democracy and truth. Even Wolfowitz admitted that they emphasized WMD’s because: “…for reasons that have a lot to do with the U.S. government bureaucracy, we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on, which was weapons of mass destruction. . . .” Classic bait and switch. Bush II discarded the approach of his predecessors in favor of a unilateral approach which has led to among other things, more than 600,000 excess deaths in Iraq and the destruction of Beirut. While you emphasize the neocon’s commitment to spreading democracy, you leave out its even greater commitment to ensuring Israel’s hegemony in the Middle East. The Palestinian people are now being punished for democratically electing Hamas.

    The result of the neocon’s crusade for democracy at the barrel of the gun is a more dangerous world and the evaporation of the USA’s ‘moral high ground’, not to mention it’s own weaker strategic position in facing genuine threats. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the USA as the remaining ‘superpower’ had a historic chance to demonstrate that it was different from all the dominant powers that have come and gone before. With its invasions and war mongering, it has proven otherwise. Sayang.

  12. Jeg

    cvj: Jeg, and yet it is the country with the ‘moral code’ that has been more efficient in causing the deaths of innocents, i.e. more than 600,000 in less than five years.

    I have no reason to doubt your numbers, cvj, but the reason they may have killed that many is because they have the biggest weapons. How many ínnocents’ would say Kim Jong Il wouldve killed if he had those big weapons? (In fact it’s quite possible that Kim may have killed that many in 5 years even without them.) How many would the Sudanese government have killed? (Again they couldve killed that many.) The difference between them is the code of their citizens.

    DJB: No one has a right to interfere in the internal affairs of a sovereign dictator like Saddam or Marcos, is that the morality we want the Superpower to adopt?
    That is sort of the point I tried to raise when I questioned the Arab countries’ policy of just sitting on the sidelines while Iraqis massacred Iraqis. Where the heck are they? Why arent they mediating between the factions? Are they following the Dont Interfere policy?

  13. Jeg

    The difference between them is the code of their citizens.
    Check that. I dont have enough information to make that claim. In fact that sentence sounds stupid. Mea culpa.

  14. cvj

    Jeg, in terms of ‘moral code’ when it comes to killings, my impression is that many Americans don’t mind non-American deaths as long as there is a veil of abstraction, e.g. execution is done via remote control (‘video game’ style). It certainly helps their conscience if the killings are done in retaliation for some offense, hence the popularly imagined link between Saddam and 9/11. As long as they are not confronted by blood and gore, things are alright. I was in Dallas during the time of the invasion. While observing the Americans intently watching the news about the war, i see that they instinctively look away from the TV screen whenever footage of Iraqi victims of collateral damage is shown.

  15. anna de brux

    UP Student,

    You are being extremely kind to Pres Bush and his hawks when you say that “Iraq happens to be a most lousy instance of the application of the Bush Doctrine.” or that “the amount and quality of intelligence was extremely bad and the decision-making processes (”smokestack” model) were flawed.”

    I don’t challenge the doctrine that a nation should protect itself from its enemies and should help its allies confront their enemies.

    Passons! (Never mind!) Bush Cheney Rumsfeld and the junior hawks in Wa DC only had to wait for a couple of days for the UN inspector to finish his job. This is one more than just lousy instance when America’s current neo-con leadership decided not only to breach the moral rules of the own party platform but also the rule of law plain and simple. They had all the data they needed to form an intelligent assessment of the situation in Iraq particularly that which linked Osama to Saddam. They rubbished the UN, they rubbished the work of their own CIA operatives, they rubbished raw, genuine material coming from Afghanistan for one simple purpose: they wanted to show off to the world that they are a superpower and so invaded a nation, wreaked deathe and destruction on its population, a nation that was already tee-tottering towards economic collapse, whose population was already suffering from years of embargoes, whose generations of children are already malnuorished, ill and unhappy.

    What kind of moral high ground is that?

    Passons à nouveau! Again, never mind! But I agree that “in the end, the lesson from Iraq is the lesson from Vietnam.” However, I’m not too sure that “The US will even be more hesitant to send its troops interfere in a civil war tearing a country apart, even if the blood flows in the streets.” It will all depend on their business interests in the country, that is for certain. However, I do agree that “Neither should the world expect the US to automatically go to war to act as a policeman against murdering thugs who happen to be Prime Minister or Dictator of a country.” Before they do that, they ought to make sure first and foremost that there’s sufficient intelligence to warrant any MILITARY or POLITICAL interference.

    They must also remember that police work can be done by NATO, the umbrella military organization which requires CONSENSUS before a military action is undertaken. America must now forget that we no longer live in the era of the wild wild west. Gone are the days of bang bang you’re dead kind of era.

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