John D. Brulé
Filipinos struggled to expel the US military over the past century, finally succeeding in 1992, despite tenacious US efforts to retain naval and air force bases. The US had invaded that beautiful land in 1898, replacing centuries of Spanish colonialism with a US version. In 1946, after five years of control by the Japanese, the US granted the Republic of the Philippines a form of "independence." However, even though the Philippine Constitution forbade the stationing of foreign troops there, the former US bases have been under Filipino control only since 1992.
Now in the guise of "links to al Qaeda," the US has returned to the Philippines, which many Filipinos regard as violating their Constitution. Philippine President Gloria Arroyo granted permission for this new invasion, after receiving a $100 million gift of US military equipment.
The US military is there ostensibly to "train" Filipino anti-terrorist forces. The origin of the troubles on the island of Mindanao dates back many years _ the Muslims on Mindanao have long resisted what they view as foreign intervention. Beginning with the Spanish and extending to modern times, various groups have tried to gain control of the land. The Muslims on Mindanao have always resisted this. A small fringe group known as Abu-Sayyef gave up politically-motivated terrorism a few years ago and replaced it with kidnapping for ransom. This thuggery existed long before al Qaeda and is a domestic problem. The US has neither the knowledge nor the capacity to solve this internal problem.
There are many questions about how the US military action is being conducted, but the more interesting question is why did Bush and his administration want to re-invade the Philippines? In the past the US wanted a presence in the Philippines for an economic advantage. While that still is partially true, it is more likely that the major purpose is to re-establish military bases in the Far East to pave the way for expansion of the Bush war. The port at Subic Bay in the Philippines is one of the best in that part of the world. The successful re-establishment of US military bases in this geographically-important archipelago will strengthen the US government's ability to dominate this region. We must actively oppose it.
John Brulé has been involved with the Peace Council for many years.