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Advertising a threat
By mlq3 Posted in Daily Dose on October 23, 2006 52 Comments 3 min read
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Chief Justice will still party; Senators in a bad mood. Palace in a bad mood, too.

An interesting article on the efforts of the Philippine embassy in Paris, to lobby for benefits for undocumented Filipinos.

How the Marcos loot’s been looted.

The Guardian reports that Hugo Chavez has been all bark and little bite:

Since Mr Chávez announced a land revolution, headlines have focused on expropriations and sporadic violence which reportedly has claimed dozens of lives. A question seldom asked is whether the reforms are widespread and working.

Success would enhance claims that this corner of Latin America is forging a radical and successful alternative to neoliberalism. Failure would bolster sceptics who say chavismo is blowing oil wealth on old-style leftwing populism.

There is no conclusive answer for the simple reason that the reforms have not started in earnest.

In much of the country nothing has happened: no expropriations, no cooperatives, no bold experiments. Since a 2001 land reform act 200,000 families, about a million people, have been settled on to 2.5m hectares, according to the government, with part of a ranch owned by the British firm Vestey among property seized.

Given a colonial legacy which left nearly 5% of landowners owning 80% of the land, that redistribution is modest – and a relief for Fedenaga, the ranchers’ federation. “The revolution doesn’t exist. It’s all slogans,” said its leader, Genaro Mendez, beaming.

In the punditocracy, my column for today is Advertising a threat, which tries to explains the real motivations behind charter change -and the real reason behind all those government ads in recent weeks. Rita Linda V. Jimeno confirms that mobilization plans for proponents of the so-called “people’s initiative” are afoot.

Jojo Robles points out our population data is six years old and millions of Filipinos don’t realize they should be registering to vote.

Bong Austero on the difficulty of being honest.

Niall Ferguson on the decline of the American century. Read History Unfolding who argues Americans are now faced, in Iraq, with a dilemma similar to the Germans in 1917: they were stymied in the trenches and so gambled on unrestricted submarine warfare. Which hastened American intervention and Germany’s defeat.

Which country is the best colonizer? from Slate.

In the blogosphere: RG Cruz with the latest skinny on Bolante. More from the PCIJ. As for Philippine Commentary, he thinks the sand’s run out for a plebiscite.

Inkblots 2006 was recently held at UST. Reactions from Miss Selfridge (a thorough overview) and random thoughts (with her views on column-writing, which was the talk I gave). Pictures of day one, day two, and day three from welcome to my life. More from my own little space.

Ang Pinoy Nga Naman is disgusted over more people caring about Makati rather than Naga’s mayor. Confessions at 7:00 AM says the Constitution was designed to be amended a certain way, and revised in another, so live with it. Blurry Brain believes a Senate review of trade agreements is a last ditch effort and what would be better, is to make the process behind such negotiations more transparent.

notes from the peanut gallery plugs what should be a meaty PEN conference on November 25.
Asingianan Journal looks at the Colorum revolt of the early 1930s.

Banketa Republique liked The Banquet. I found it too stylized but what bugged me most is that I have a nagging feeling it made use of another story -but I can’t for the life of me remember which one.

The CAt on the wrestler Batista and baby Pyro’s dream.

Susan Ople plays a guessing game. Everyone’s enjoying the Jollibee scandal. It jolted stepping on poop out of his doldrums.

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  1. I had attended three Inkblots, the inaugural one and the next two. How I miss those days! There was no column writing session then. Oh well, to be a student again.

  2. mlq3,

    two legislators who were visiting here weren’t sure that cha-cha wouldn’t push through; from what you are saying, it seems they have reason to fear that the 2007 elections will be scrapped.

    even the name of singson cropped up – suspected of being one of the operators tasked with preventing that from happening.

  3. the story of ‘the bangquet’is adapted from shakespeare’s ‘hamlet’.

    (according to wikipedia)

  4. on jimeno’s paarting shot:

    “There is one thing we must never forget: we hold the future of this nation in our hands, for better or for worse.”

    scary how the legionnaire sounds.

  5. What is the Palace’s worst nightmare? That the Opposition will capture the Senate in the 2007 elections.

    Why? Well consider the fact that if GMA had been impeached in 2005 or 2006, the likelihood is that she would have been acquitted on trial in a Senate that is presently in Admnistration hands.

    But in 2007, every statistical survey shows the handwriting on the wall: the Senate will be solidly Opposition in 2007, with a strong potential to have 2/3 for conviction if the Palace keeps behaving as it has.

    If that happens, the President becomes vulnerable to impeachment in the House, since those who vote for impeachment can have a greater assurance that they won’t be clobbered if she is acquitted in the Senate.

    An Upper House that is perceived to be inclined to convict her will make her look like a nail in a hammer factory to the Lower House.

    The greater the Opposition victory is in the Senate next year, the greater the chances of a House impeaching her.

    Elections matter! The Palace, more than any one else, has been acutely aware of this.

  6. You mean marami talagang anti-arroyo sa House, DJB… pero ayaw lang nilang bumoto para sa impeachment dahil natatakot sila na ma-makalusot si Arroyo sa Senate trial (ala Erap style)?

    Pero paano na kung nadagdagan nga ang opposition sa senado, pero wala pa ring pagbabago sa composition ng admin-opposition members sa House?

  7. MLQ3,

    I think it is
    short of the story
    of Empress Xiaozhen Xian
    and maybe loose adaptation
    of the movie: THE EMPRESS DOWAGER
    which is the true story of the
    concubine Tsu Hsi.


  8. John Marzan,

    Kung lamang na ang Admin-opposition sa senate malaki ang magiging pag babago sa house. lalakas ang loob ng admin-oposition. nakakalungkot lang isipin ang katotohanan ng sinabi mo: “Maraming talagang anti-arroyo sa house” pero karamihan Duwag!!! Bakit kaya???

  9. mlq3, even Hugo Chavez has to acknowledge the imperatives of the neoliberal state, foremost of which is to maintain the confidence of its businessmen and investors. otherwise, economic growth would be at risk and with it, the welfare of the underclass. As the article notes, he should be careful not to go the way of Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe. He should also not repeat the mistakes of collectivation as experienced in the USSR and China.

    Re: that Slate article (‘Which Country is the Best Colonizer’) is one of the most callous and European-centric pieces i’ve come across. While it attempts to demarcate pre-Enlightenment (e.g. Magellan and the Conquistadors) from post-Enlightenment European colonizers (e.g. Captain James Cook), it leaves out the historical fact that it was the post-Enlightenment (i.e. Victorian) Brits who went to war with China because the latter will not buy British Opium. It also judges the United States as one of the best colonizers while ignoring the experiences with its bigger colonies, i.e. the half a million dead Filipinos that resulted from the Philippine-American war. The concluding sentence…

    There is no disputing that thousands died in the wake of European explorers’ discovery of the New World. That’s bad. But we can still give a small cheer for Columbus, because European colonization brought riches in its wake.

    …harbors an attitude toward the value of brown people’s lives all too common among First world citizens (whether belonging to the left, middle or right). To borrow the authors’ understatement – that’s bad.

  10. cvj,
    turns out that “half a million dead” from the Philippine American War includes fatalities from well documented epidemics of dysentery, typhoid and malaria which decimated populations in many places along with the war. those epidemics were ongoing throughout the 1880s and 1890s and have been studiously ignored by all who write about the Philippine American War. The estimate comes directly from the US Army, which famously said 600,000 were killed on the insurgent side. The US Army was inflating its victories because remember this was a war being fought half way around the world. And the stunning loss to the remnants of the Katipunan at the Battle of Balangiga certainly encouraged the military to make up for it in tale where it could not really exact the toll. It struck me how the number 600,000 finds an echo in the recent British Lancet estimate of war dead in Iraq. Granted the condition of war is not exactly conducive to public health, but too many people believe the US Expeditionary Forces actually massacred one tenth of the Filipino population during the Philippine American War. That simply was not true.

  11. Wow,thanks again for the mention from this prestigious site.

    I will put this site on top of my links. IMHO, Every Pinoy with varying interests and taste should have an oppurtunity to read your site.

  12. Although IRAQ of the 21st Century is being compared to Vietnam of the 20th, I prefer the analogy that claims the Philippines was America’s First Iraq, the first experiment at exporting Democracy, to which America did indeed devote half a century of her “foreign affairs” and “international relations”. Thus did we miss our grand historic opportunity to become Indonesians!

  13. Dean,

    It will be hard to defend the US war on Iraq today more than ever. The moral basis for the invasion was never really there. Even Bush’s own lieutenants have agreed that instead of taming radical Islamists, the war has served to produce more fanatics.

    Where is democracy there?

    You cannot really equate the US invasion of the Philippines to that of US invasion of Iraq. The Philippines then and today, had something in common with their American colonial masters – Christianity.

  14. DJB, i don’t believe the half a million Filipino deaths are due to combat, but the fact remains that the Philippine government was otherwise preoccupied because of the war.

    In terms of historical parallels, i would consider the American invasion in Iraq to depose Saddam Hussein more closely related to Vietnam’s invasion of Cambodia in the 70’s that ended Pol Pot’s killing fields. The two have more in common in terms of the actual invasion, subsequent insurgencies and eventual reconstruction. The difference is that the Vietnamese seem to have done a better job in holding Cambodia together and in bringing in the UN to complete the job.

    In contrast, an Iraqi counterpart of Manuel Luis Quezon would today not even have the benefit of being able to say those famous “”I would rather have an Iraq run like hell by Iraqis than an Iraq run like heaven by the Americans”, because even with the Americans still there, the place is already run like hell.

    Maybe the USA should ask Vietnam for some advice in this matter.

  15. Re: “an Iraqi counterpart of Manuel Luis Quezon would today not even have the benefit of being able to say those famous “”I would rather have an Iraq run like hell by Iraqis than an Iraq run like heaven by the Americans”, because even with the Americans still there, the place is already run like hell.”

    Ahem! cvj, that’s what they call dry humour!

  16. “Taleban militants ‘plan to attack Britain'”

    Based on this news in The Times, it would seem that, far from bringing democracy, the American invaders of Iraq succeeded in encouraging the Iraqis to perfect the art of assymetric warfare, and perhaps unwittingly, managed to impart the doctrine to the Talebans that foreign invasion is a great war tactic.

  17. mlq3, etal

    To prevent bloodshed, the Davide SC proclaimed Arroyo post-haste. Gloria and the goonies are now warning of the need for Cha-cha. Or else, what? Trouble? GMA and the goonies are blackmailing the SC.

  18. I don’t think GMA wants trouble. It will be hard to control a people power by pro-PI people. It can go either way. GMA might get killed in the confusion.

  19. GMA is creating trouble half-heartedly. She is afraid to go all the way unlike Marcos. I think she knows that she doesn’t have all the pieces to do it all the way.

  20. Fighting against an occupying force.

    The Arroyo administration has more in common with an Occupying Force than a duly elected government. Arroyo is, in a way, directing an on-going intra-national invasion. Arroyo and her allies deal with the people not much differently than colonizers do – subjugate them by force and intimidation. Arroyo’s devastating assaults on the country’s institutions shifts the conflict to beyond politics; she is waging a war, a virtual war of aggression against the people. Arroyo looms as the superior force over the people who seem powerless, prostrate in hunger and extreme poverty, ‘softened up by bombardment’ of high taxes and high prices. Arroyo is relentless; changing the Constitution had been her obsession since she was exposed as a fraud. She is merciless; she rules with impunity. Arroyo’s image among the international human rights advocacy networks lines her up among the top in the watch list of violators. Arroyo says she will stay until 2010 when her term ends. However, analysts think Arroyo will stay after her term, as President-Prime Minister, like Marcos. Will Arroyo be another Marcos? Worse, the people fear and are struggling to resist her moves. She is in almost total control except for the Senate and the Courts; but she has the force — the military including retired generals appointed to strategic civilian posts in government. On the offensive, Arroyo aims and is maneuvering to capture the ‘Strategic High ground’ – a new tailor-fitted Constitution that dissolves the Senate, weakens the Supreme Court and that gives her, through a Unicameral Legislature controlled by her allies, dictatorial powers . Will the Filipinos surrender without a fight knowing that Arroyo’s Constitution is a dictatorial constitution and practically opens the whole country and its resources up for grabs by multi-nationals, making the Filipinos slaves in their own country? Can the Filipinos muster enough will to survive or pride in their race to rise up to fight, as the Vietnamese did, for their country? as if against an invading force? More than at anytime since WWII and the Japanese occupation, the Filipino Nation’s sovereignty, patrimony and their survival as a nation is threatened. Though it is odd that the Filipinos will have to fight as they did against their colonizers, Arroyo is giving them no choice, she is behaving like the worst of them.

    Civil disobedience is closer to Rizal’s mode of struggle than use of violence. The Bishops have called on the people to rise up.

  21. The reason why some like the analogy to Vietnam is because of its outcome: America essentially ABANDONED VietNam.

    Here they stayed 50 years trying to make sure the job was done. Did they succeed? I don’t know…

    But I do know that if America ABANDONS Iraq, then the Middle East will be lost and the fuel tanks of the Single Jetliner the whole world economy is riding in will surely be blown up by the Nihilists, sooner or later.

    If America loses its nerve, as it lost itself in Vietnam, and puts on giant IPOD earbuds to drown out the noise of the rest of the world for a few years of prosperous self-absorption, we won’t have the luxury to make smart-aleck remarks about hell and heaven as perceived by long-dead Philippine Presidents. In the Archipelago, we would all be scratching for kamotes in the Cordilleras within months of a reduction by even 50% of our oil supply. That is how vulnerable this country and most other countries of the world are. Sure the price of oil is $59 now, but remember winter is coming…

    That is why the elections of 2006 and 2008 are very much like the elections of 1912 when America was still building the First Iraq…

  22. Anna,
    The conception and attitude of most modern Filipinos towards the Philippine-American War are usually FIXED by the mesmerizing power of first reading somewhere that “600,000 were killed in action by the invading US Expeditionary Forces” usually accompanied by a brown, sepia photograph showing a mound of human skulls and bones before the grinning indio sepultureros.

    But I think the real numbers were far smaller than 600,000, and far smaller even than the current death toll in Iraq, given how HARD it was to kill human beings in any great numbers back then.

    But one wonders what would have happened had we been left to our own devices. Would real independence in 1898 have worked?

    Or was the murder of Bonifacio by Aguinaldo on Mt. Buntis, a replay of Cain and Abel, already pregnant with the future we would have faced, of fratricidal civil war between the Cavitenos and Tagalos and Pampangos and Ilokanos and Cebuanos?

    For a nation that had just finished annihilating 600,000 human lives in a bloody, gruesome massacre, it was very strange that thousands of their young men and women would bear not arms but books and rulers and spread out to every nook and cranny of the archipelago to give us the gift by which to curse them forever: English. Very strange that within years of such carnage, we were the first people in Asia to actually hold regular, local and before too long national democratic elections.

    Now here is the greatest irony: even our anti-Americanism is a form of colonial mentality, for we learned most of it from the US Anti-Imperialist League and still get intellectual sustenance from the Democratic Party, exclusively. That is the reason why Filipino Leftists fit in so much better and achieve such stupendous stature in places like Berkeley, Cambridge, and Utrecht, and constitute 99% of the Professoriat in most public universities.

  23. MLQ3, re Slate’s “the best colonizer”

    The basic difference between what was then the U.S. territory of the Philippine Islands and Vietnam or Iraq is that the Philippines later became what the U.S. courts categorize as “American territory subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.”

    In fact, in Barber v. Gonzalez (1954), at Footnote (1) citing Hooven v. Allison (1945) the U.S. Supreme Court said that “persons born in the Philippines during [the American territorial period] were American nationals entitled to the protection of the United States and conversely owing permanent allegiance to the United States.”

    Territorial Filipinos (or those BORN between 11 April 1899 and 04 July 1946), therefore, were “American Nationals” AT BIRTH, and by law regarded as “Nationals but not citizens of the United States.”

    However, under the Philippine Independence Act (1934 Tydings-McDuffie Law), Territorial Filipinos (and this is how Sec. 8(a), par. 1 is worded) “shall be considered as if they were aliens” and “the Philippine Islands shall be considered as a separate country.”

    Of course, this means that, since Territorial Filipinos “shall be considered as if they were aliens,” they must now be subject to “laws of the United States relating to the immigration, exclusion, or expulsion of aliens”–laws which require each of them (“American nationals” at birth at that) to secure a U.S. visa before they can enter the United States.

    What is significant in the phraseology employed in the provision cited is that the words “as if” means (Wordfinder) “as would be the case if” or, in another sense, “on the condition or supposition that.” tells us that “the past subjective ‘were’ appears chiefly in ‘if’ clauses … expressing hypothetical conditions” and is used “to describe an occurrence that you have presupposed to be contrary to fact.”

    Thus, designating Territorial Filipinos by law “as if they were aliens” is merely a legal “supposition”; it is a phrase “expressing hypothetical conditions”; and it is, more importantly, “presupposed to be contrary to fact.” (To emphasize the incongruity, try changing the phrase “as if they were aliens” to “as if they were rapists.”)

    “Contrary to fact,” indeed, since a person can only be BORN ONCE.

    The circumstances of BIRTH—place of birth, date of birth, parentage, the sovereign at the place of nativity—are indelible, for these are “A Gift of the Creator.”

    In a word, the U.S. law that designated (by “supposition”) Territorial Filipinos (who were BORN “American Nationals”) as “aliens”–without affording each of them the opportunity to either renounce or preserve, voluntarily, their nationality AT BIRTH–rendered them all STATELESS AT BIRTH, since the “separate and independent” Republic of the Philippines came into being only on 04 July 1946, after ALL of them had already BORN “American Nationals” in territory over which the United States exercised the rights of sovereignty and jurisdiction.

  24. domingo, but that doesn’t take into consideration the existence of philippine citizenship, which was explicitly asserted even before independence. the national assembly was already granting honorary citizenship prior to the war, and by 1940 we had the immigration act, which by its very existence is an assertion and regulation of citizenship, etc.

  25. djb,

    America got burned in Vietnam. The Vietcongs dug deep underground positions, dug deep into their hearts for the will to fight. The GI’s gone mad and wild like in Mey Lai. Sanity abandoned the blond-blue eyed morons before their families pulled them out, shocked more by their own cruelty oozing out of their mouths and nostrils issuing forth through the barrels of M16’s and flame throwers than by fear for barefeet, slit-eyed diminutive Vietnamese boy-soldiers fighting for his people with practically bare hands.

    Iraq is not another Vietnam. Worse. Iraq is Islam pillaged, ravaged and savaged. Iraq is not one country America can abandon. America will one day be worse than what Iraq is today — a victim not of Islamic fundamentalists but a victim of its own greed and cruelty. Even as America wages wars overseas, America is a nation at war with itself.

  26. “The basic difference between what was then the U.S. territory of the Philippine Islands and Vietnam or Iraq is that the Philippines later became what the U.S. courts categorize as “American territory subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.”

    – domingo arong

    Despite your loong post, if this is the only “insight” you can offer about the difference between iraq/vietman and the philippine experience, I am not surprised you were an ineffective opposition back in the 60s.

    America’s quagmire in Iraq is the same problem they had in Vietnam.

    The locals there are just too damn proud and stubborn to accept subjugation – and I admire their courage for that.

    In the end they will never be another Philippines.

    If only our country could be one united Ilokano nation…

  27. [email protected]:24am, there’s nothing like a dose of national self-doubt to make the memory of occupation go down easier. Who knows if left to our own devices in 1898, real independence would have worked? That’s one thing we will never find out thanks to the Americans.

    One thing i know is that the French, back when it was their turn to help the American Revolutionaries in their fight against the British, did not take advantage of the situation in the same way. They could very well have used the same line of reasoning to justify such a betrayal of their weaker allies.

    Just a bit of recent historical memory – the present crisis in Iraq is America’s own making. Against the advice of world public opinion (including the Berkeley professors), they went ahead and railroaded the invasion despite being warned of its consequences.

  28. Aside from the Philippines, Iraq and Vietnam, the United States undertook other grand projects of exporting democracy. For example, Japan, which she could easily have left alone to fend for herself, probably re-emerging to start World War III, as Germany arose and started World War II after World War I. Instead, she imposed her will (and Gen. Douglas MacArthur) on the “militaristic” Japanese, who decided it would be okay to be a perfect semicolony of America for a year or fifty. Result: the most pacific people in the world, with the second most progressive economy, but absolutely no “sovereignty” at all if one considers the US military umbrella under which poor Japan labors in abundant, ultramodern prosperity. So much for the purported benefits of “independence.”

  29. Cabagis, in 1978, in Baring, Lapu-Lapu City, I personally hoisted the Republic of Sugbu flag of our group “Ang Mga Kaliwat Ni Lapu-Lapu,” to protest the manner in which dictator Marcos ordered the ballots cast during the 1978 Interim Batasang Pambansa elections to be voided, declaring the 13 losing KBL candidates the winners instead.

    Had Marcos not relented after thousands openly protested at Fuente Osmena and the Capitol, and allowed the 13 Pusyon Bisaya candidates to be declared the winners, the revolution would have started in Cebu–Cebuanos, I’m proud to be one of them–were ready.

    That was how “ineffective” as an opposition I was. Where were you in 1978?

  30. CVJ,

    The best defense of Pres. Bush invasion of Iraq that I have ever found is in something called the Jackson Principle, reportedly a major philosophical tenet of American military tradition.

    It arises in the following situation: Suppose you are the commander of a large army unit defending a defenseless town full of innocent civilians. You receive a report from your scouts that a large enemy force maybe assembling artillery inside a nearby fort and is preparing to attack your town killing all within it. However, it is also possible these reports are wrong and what is really in the fort are innocent civilians. You have your own artillery, but time is of the essence.

    What do you do?

    Under the Jackson Principle which arose as a result of that very dilemma arising during the Civil War (?) you as commanding general must pre-emptively destroy the enemy fortress post-haste.

    It is said that George W. Bush faces that dilemma not once, or twice but three times! Iraq, Iran, and North Korea.

    How many times has he been right, so far?

  31. > Where were you in 1978?

    My family was busy with nation building like every good, hard working and law abiding ilokano folk.

    Several members of my family worked in business, the private sector, were farmers,fiserhmen, OFWs. None of us were involved in public service or in public life.

    We lived and let live and realized early on it takes more than just passion and rhetoric to build a nation.

    We kept our heads down and our bums up.

    How long was your hair in ’78 and what weed were you smoking? And did you actually have a job back then?

  32. DJB, by their actions, the Iranians and North Koreans may also be making use of the ‘Jackson Principle’. As far as Iraq was concerned, prior to the arrival of the Americans, the ‘large enemy force’ just wasn’t there. So it turns out that the scouts were wrong and ‘what is really in the fort are innocent civilians’. What is Jackson’s accountability then? Will the Americans be allowed to get away with a Britney-esque ‘Oops,i did it again’ or should we instead be considering War Crimes trials in the Hague?

    The challenge for civilized countries like the United States is to avoid letting the situation degenerate such that states and non-state actors have to make use of the Jackson Principle against each other. For good or ill, the USA is a big enough an actor to significantly affect the workings of the entire system.

  33. Dean,

    I submit to your judgement that there could have been less than 600,000 Filipinos killed during the US war on the Philippines. Unless the deaths were duly documented, I agree that we cannot be certain of the figure.

    In the same manner that after the initial shock over the Iraqi death toll in Iraq estimated at 650,000 or so, I thought the figure could be an exageration unless we accept the idea that an average of 10,000 Iraqis were killed monthly for the last 5 years.

    As to your question: “But one wonders what would have happened had we been left to our own devices. Would real independence in 1898 have worked?”, I’m afraid we’ll never ever know.

    But one thing good about history is that it enables us to refer to certain facts or make reference to documented events and this is why I find that Philippines as first Iraq stand of yours is not quite that easy to gobble. Let me assure you that I have the greatest respect for your opinion on a lot of issues even if we differ hugely on the wisdom of Bush’s (and Blair’s for that matter) doctrine of war on Iraq.

    To me, Iraq and the Iraqis are not comparable to the Philippines and the Filipinos. Theirs is a civilization that had continuously repelled foreign invasion from the time of Cyrus 2nd and Alexander the Great. That the latter managed to subjugate the Mesopotamian region (Iraq) and infused Hellinistic culture in the people of the region did not see the end of the people of Iraq. Over the centuries, from the year 600 or so, Iraq, basically a nation much like ours, split into tribes, has known turbulences and foreign invasions but the Iraqis, no matter the difficulties, particularly around the 13th century when due to economic hardships (their economy was destroyed and remained in ruins for almost 3 centuries until their conquest by the Ottoman Empire which brought modernity to Iraq), had always been fierce and fought not only invasions by their neighbours but also by Western invaders.

    Iraqi history is wrought with fierce fightings and warring. There is however a resemblance with the Philippines in that the Ottoman Empire managed to rule over Iraq for 3 centuries before they were contested by the West in the person of the Brits circa early 1900. However, the similarity ended there. The Iraqis by then a semi-colony of the Brits fought the Brits fiercely when it was clear that the Great British Empire reneged on its promise to give them their independence and they got it.

    Why am I saying this? I may be simplifying Philippine history by saying that the Philippines and the Filipinos were subdued by Spain for almost 400 years without notable resistance. I do accept that there were some rebellions during Spanish rule but they were not in the same breadth and level as the Iraqis fought their invaders. How long did it take America to subdue the Philippines? If my recollection is correct, save for a large part of Mindanao, the Philippines virtually fell intact with hardly any more real armed or military resistance the day Gen Gregorio del Pilar was killed in action.

    In other words, there is a great difference in character and determination there between the Iraqis and the Filipinos – there is not that pervading culture of submission to Western invaders in the Iraqis. It is difficult not to take this into equation when attempting to compare the Philippines and Iraq or when asserting that the Philippines is the First Iraq.

    There could be other reasons why it would be futile to that America could export its brand of democracy to a people easily and quickly, to a people with a history, culture and religion such as the Iraqis’.

    As to the Japanese: one wonders if the Japanese would have been subjugated as much had the Americans not dropped atomic bombs… But again, we will never know now.

  34. I don’t know Anna, you beat me to the counterexample I had in mind for the argument of exceptionalism you’ve just presented about Iraq. That is the example of Japan. Bushido spirit. Samurais. Shintaro. Five thousand years of resistance to China! Talk about unconquerable and indomitable. Atom bombs? Death and destruction. Is that what caused them to become the country they are today? Or was it the magic of freedom and democracy? I know it’s corny sounding. But how DO you explain the phenomenon of Japan. The stories one hears about them around here just don’t jive with the apparent reality today.

    Granted Iraq was the Cradle of Civilization, Garden of Eden and all that. But what nation is actually prepared for the invention of a thing like Democracy, which never quite existed before, not even in Greece, and is barely 200 years old in the world.

    Who is to gainsay that Iraq won’t look like Malaysia in a few decades. as you say she has the resources for it, just as we did. if we come to think of iraq as just another failed imperialist adventure, then that is what it will be.

  35. cvj,
    the jackson principle is indeed a universal principle of self-defense when confronted with an uncertain situation in which your very survival might be at stake. Yes, North Korea and Iran would be justified in taking their designation as members of an “Axis of Evil” as a direct threat by the American President. And they should have taken him seriously because I think he really does believe in the Jackson Principle and intends to apply it to them if it comes to that. Indeed, he probably made the judgment, possibly wrong, that it was prudent to apply Jackson to Saddam Hussein. Perhaps he really did see Saddam as capable of aiding terrorists in unacceptably dangerous ways for the US. Perhaps he should have guessed that North Korea was a greater threat, but there was this problem of China. Iran did not have anywhere near the military force and sophistication of the Saddam regime. And Al Qaeda could not just have moved into Iraq because of Saddam’s overthrow. Iraq, in many ways, is a cowboy’s way of trying to get a the roots of the problem that the Muslims have, which are backward, tyrannical and malevolent regimes that rule much of the Middle East which are causing their radicals to blame America and seek its destruction. By taking out the baddest boy, clearing the field of the worst weeds as it were, space is being made for democracy to sprout and grow.

  36. Know what Dean, perhaps that it was the atom bombs that did it in the same manner when the Ottoman Empire subdued the backward Iraqis wit their modern and more scientific weaponry, the Iraqi tribes were forced to accept the Ottoman rule.

    I have no doubt that if America dropped an A bomb on Baghdad and Bashra, Iraq would crumble because of physical impossibility to fight back at that instance.

    The religion of Islam could be factored in too – why Christian America (or Britain for that matter) would find it difficult to subjugate the Iraqis (I probably would be pummeled for saying this but heck, never mind) is a religion that fiercely practices the dogma of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. On that score, it would be harder for the West to subjugate a culture with such predilection for war. That the Ottoman Empire succeeded may be partly due to their appartenance to the same religion. (This is only a personal guess and not a based on erudite facts.)

    And going back to Japan, you know as well as I do that based on historical facts that even after the A bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Japanese, perhaps by virtue of their Samurai spirit or anti-genji culture were still resisting American troops and were prepared to die to the last man. Families jumped to their deaths from clifts rather than submit to Americans. Do not forget that tt was not America that asked the Japanese nation to depose their weapons and to submit to the Americans totally – it was the Emperor.

    Also, the difference that I see today between Japan and Iraq is Gen Douglas MacArthur. Imperious, systematic, methodical, and brave – prepared to battle things out with Washington. He understood that to be successful, he had to instaure in his troops the doctrine of respect for the Japanese culture.

    America has none like him today to do the same thing in Iraq.

  37. With Iraq, George W Bush chose not to heed the advice of those who were calling for more time for the ongoing weapons inspections to be completed. At that time, it has not yet come to the point at which he had to invoke the Jackson Principle, but he chose to invade anyway. For someone who is bent on spreading democracy around the world, he seems to be incapable of appreciating the importance of listening, which is central to its practice.

    The problem in the Middle East has many roots, and one of these is the penchant for the United States to unilaterally impose its will. Cowboy diplomacy has no place in the 21st century as it clashes with democratic deliberation among nations. If its real concern is in controlling radicals, the US should concentrate on the ‘backward, tyrannical and malevolent regime’ that it has the most influence with – Israel. If it ends its apartheid-like policy towards the Palestinians, much of the source of friction with the Arab and Muslim World will be eliminated.

    The world would also be a safer place if ordinary Americans take to heart the equivalence in the value of human lives i.e. 1 American life = 1 Iraqi life = 1 Iranian life = 1 North (or South) Korean life. That is something that must be taken into account before making the decision to nuke someone. Perhaps as a Filipino-American, you can help to communicate that message to your more insular compatriots.

  38. “With Iraq, George W Bush chose not to heed the advice of those who were calling for more time for the ongoing weapons inspections to be completed. At that time, it has not yet come to the point at which he had to invoke the Jackson Principle, but he chose to invade anyway.”

    This is mainly the reason why Bush failed in Iraq.

  39. There is no other way to go about it – Bush failed in Iraq.

    His only recourse if he so to end in victory today is to go for the absolute weapon of mass destruction and to nuke Iraq. But even the might of America will not stop Islamic vengeance from reaching the doorsteps of America. I doubt too that the American people in general would have this thoroughly cavalier attitude towards other peoples’ lives.

    Bush could still pull out the troops TODAY and cut the losses; he could also rethink his strategy and adopt Baker’s recommendations; he could opt for another military maneuver: re-group his forces for another attack (but to what purpose, I don’t quite see except to witness more destruction and deaths)

    If all parties were of good faith, there is a possibility that Bush could start a meaningful and sincere nation building course with the current people in authority in Iraq. He may not want to do that but in the end if he doesn’t he will have another Vietnam.

    A nation cannot invade another nation based on a pack of lies -world opinion does and will always matter particularly in the 21st century as access to information and communication links are within one’s fingertips.

  40. anna, cvj, i just saw a thing on digg saying that LIBYA has ordered $250 million worth of computers, satellite internet for all its schools and homes of 5.7 million people. Muamar Khaddafy. Now there is an example of an Arab leader that shows what the dream is too for Iraq and Iran. I predict Libya will look like Singapore in a generation!

    I guess that is the way to look at it: in terms of generations, not just years. What SHOULD the Middle East look like in a generation, or even less say the year 2020?

    We speak of these places as the Cradle of Civilization, but truly for the last thousand years almost, there hasn’t been any civilization at all in most of these places, and that was BEFORE America was born.

    What GWB did in 2003 changes everthing. There is in some sense, no going back now, no holding back for America. Or at least, that is the question that will face her in the next few elections.

    What to do about Iraq?

    I am BOTH a Filipino and an American by accidents of birth and life I can no longer reverse. I can afford to be philosophical because our struggle and involvement with America began a long time ago. What Americans faced with awesome decisions today are perhaps not aware of is that the generations of their grandparents and great grandparents already faced the very same questions over a century ago. Here! In this archipelago. In this vale of tears! Whilst we whose own grandparents and great grandparents encountered them in both war and peace, in both slavery and freedom, we are the possessors of those memories of an experience Americans have perhaps forgotten. And need.

  41. cvj, I am of the opinion that Clinton would have dealt with Iraq differently. I do believe that Bush has a chip on his shoulder which kind of debilitated his decision making process with regards Iraq. I remember reading news about his father’s opinion on the planned invasion then. Bush senior apparantly was opposed to it, not least of the reasons was because he knew that the way his son was approaching it was not right.

  42. Dean, “i just saw a thing on digg saying that LIBYA has ordered $250 million worth of computers, satellite internet for all its schools and homes of 5.7 million people. Muamar Khaddafy.”

    I’m in agreement with you that Khadaffy is doing good for his country (but don’t know if human rights or freedom of the press exist as a general rule there) but America did not invade Libya in the same way it did Iraq, althgough one might say that America and Britain would have been right to inflict on Libya the military havoc they’d wrought on Iraq because there were more than one solid evidence that Khadaffy was the godfather of terrorism at the time (PanAm explosion over Lockerbie, etc)…

    Reagan ordered the bombing of Libya for several days if not weeks but it ended there – there was no massive troop deployment into Libya nor was there ever American occupation of Libya.

    The example of Libya is good and Bush could have used it to his heart’s content if only he stepped back and thought about the mediocrity of his plans as well reflected on the absence of legal reasons why he should invade Iraq.

  43. anna,
    The Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 was signed into law by one William Jefferson Clinton on Oct 31, 1998, by which it first became official US Law and Policy to seek regime change in Iraq, to overthrow Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship. Indeed, when, in December, 1998 Saddam Hussein kicked out the UN inspectors, Bill Clinton bombarded him with 300 Cruise Missiles, blowing up four of his prized possessions from the Oil for Palaces program.

    Oh, I’m sure the Democrats can manage to fight a war just as well as the Republicans, though usually a heck of a lot more Americans start dying. Or so the partisans claim, and you know the record from the 20th century on that score.

    But what else do you say Bill Clinton would’ve done differently?

  44. Dean,

    I know about Clinton’s bombardment of Iraq and the US policy for regime change there.

    What might have been different is that Clinton probably wouldn’t have sent US troops into Iraq in the same invasion scale that Bush did it. Clinton would have been more methodical – perhaps because his intellect’s reach is better than Bush, who knows? But really, I cannot attest to that. It was a feeling having seen Clinton at work, trying to remedy or broker for peace in Northern Ireland on account of the IRA terrorists. We were living in Belfast then when he came to visit and I can tell you the empathy he had with the immense crowd attended by the population from both religions – Clinton virtually, with one masteral stroke, paved the way for the stoppage of decades old of terrorism in N Ireland and beyond. It is said that his ‘diplomatic’ intervention helped arrest the terrorism, eg., financing from Irish-Americans and dampened support for terrorism by some elements from the Republic of Ireland (south). It’s not much to base my thought on, it’s just gut feel if you want.

    Speaking of Democrats managing to fight a war, don’t you think the Democrats have perhaps learned from history that another Vietnam may be avoided if Bush had listened to them and opted to stand back until the WMD inspection was finished, if only to have a moral leg to stand on? Moreover, as cvj emphasized, Bush and his friends did not want to listen even to their closest and battle hardened military advisers, Powell for instance…

    And speaking of Republicans, perhaps it’s time they donned the appeasement regalia which their grandaddies or daddies did during WWII, which if the Republicans had had their way, we would have German Nazis lording over Washington DC. While we are at it, don’t you find it amazing that during the Vietnam war, the most holocaustic of all presidents was a Republican – Nixon, “bomb ’em” Dick?

    There are lessons to learn from history of wars but Bush, perhaps didn’t read much about history. What we are witnessing and hearing from Bush today is cowboy policy – shoot em Indian dead – history in the making all over again in the 31st century.

  45. Dean, A comment which may have a relevance as to how Bush and his clique operates: Supreme Allied Commander Europe General Jones for instance became very unpopular with the Rumsfeld click on how to handle the Afghanistan situation. There’s one battle hardened general who knows whereof he speaks, yet Bush continues to ignore Jones. Bush and his clique are never gonna win any war unless they focus on the essential: HOW TO WIN THAT WAR (and not how to grandstand.)

  46. Were it not for General Jones personal skills and non stop soldiering-diplomatic endevours, I doubt very much the French troops would have allowed themselves to fall under the NATO command umbrella in Afghanistan (under US command till June.)

    Jones, who is very much appreciated by the French and admired by his European counterparts overall, speaks French like a native and this could have helped a great deal no doubt.

  47. DJB, before the US invaded, there was civilization in Iraq. The Iraqis under Saddam were largely secular and known to be well educated. What GWB did was to effectively destroy the secular component paving the way for chaos that has led to Islamist resurgence. With all the wars that it has started (and wants to start), i’d be more worried about how the USA would look like in 2020.

    I am a pure Filipino also by accident of birth. As someone belonging to a people who have been on the receiving end of America’s benevolence, i certainly would not wish on the Iraqis (or any other Middle Eastern country) the same sort of quid pro quo that the Americans have imposed on us.