Winning hearts and minds

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Some critics of United States global policy say that the US not only supports the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS); it also created it (see, for example, www.global research.ca). Although that claim was hooted down as part of his disinformation campaign, Donald Trump said the same thing during the US presidential elections last year, when he said that ISIS is a creation of the Barack Obama administration.

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Defending EDCA, setting the rules

Junk EDCA (Sarah Raymundo/Arkibong Bayan)
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ALTHOUGH critical of President Benigno Aquino III, Senate minority leader—and former Marcos defense minister—Juan Ponce Enrile verbalized what the Aquino administration hasn’t been explicitly saying about the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA). Speaking to the media a day after the Supreme Court ruling that EDCA is an executive agreement rather than a treaty and therefore did not need Senate approval, Enrile declared that the country needs EDCA because “we cannot protect our people since we don’t have credible defense forces.”

The Enrile argument in favor of EDCA echoed what had either been merely implied in the Aquino administration’s defense of it, or broadly hinted at by its other supporters: because the Philippine military cannot defend the Philippines, it’s up to the United States to do it. It’s an argument as hoary with age as EDCA’s latest advocate, having been first raised in 1946 by Manuel Roxas, and repeated ad nauseam by a succession of so-called Philippine leaders during the Cold War era.

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Laude, hate crimes, and “the big picture”

Justice for Jennifer Laude
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OLONGAPO CITY prosecutor Emilie Fe de los Santos declared the other day during the preliminary investigation of the murder charge against Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton of the United States Marine Corps that “there is no gender issue” involved in the killing of Jennifer Laude. “The issue,” she said is simply that “someone got killed.”

Was de los Santos saying that Jennifer Laude would have been killed anyway even if she was born a woman, and that her being a transgender is immaterial to the question of motive? Isn’t motive a fundamental issue in establishing the guilt or innocence of anyone accused of a crime?

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Conduct unbecoming

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THE LAST time US forces occupied several military bases all over the Philippines, among them Clark Air Base and Subic Naval Base, it took a decades-long campaign against their presence, a volcanic eruption, and over 40 years to get them out.

Anticipating the need to get and keep them out, the 1987 Constitution barred foreign troops and military bases without a treaty ratified by the Senate, which, despite then President Corazon Aquino’s advocacy, refused to renew the US lease in September1991. Not that the US was at the time still seriously interested in keeping the latter, the global projection of US power through its nuclear submarine complex and aircraft carrier tax forces being then seen to be less costly and more effective. The cleanup at Clark because of the Mt. Pinatubo eruption in June 1991 would not have been worth the expense and effort anyway. The Senate action wasn’t as disastrous to US strategy as some thought at the time. But it did end a long period of occupation by foreign troops in places where they were the undisputed, non-accountable sovereigns.

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“Exceptional” indeed

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IF THE United States, as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared this week in an address at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, is not provoking conflict with capitalist China, it has an odd way of showing it.

As the US spokesperson on global affairs — which from Afghanistan to Zanzibar the US thinks are ITS affairs whatever the local inhabitants may think — Clinton herself has repeatedly criticized China for censoring the Internet, suppressing criticism of the government and its policies, and imprisoning dissenters.

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Imagine

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THE claim that the world needs the US to oust dictators and promote democracy has never been quite accurate, or even honest. George W. Bush maintained that both were his administration’s goals in Iraq, but never once mentioned that Iraqi oil reserves were at that time estimated at 112 billion barrels, but could be as much as 350 billion barrels. If promoting democracy in Iraq meant re-opening its oil resources to Western oil companies, the US did promote democracy — and Chevron’s interests — there.

As for ousting dictators, numerous countries had done that long before it occurred to Bush Jr. and his predecessors that the US has the divine right to make the world safe for US corporate interests. The Haitians ousted Francois Duvalier in 1971; Indonesia’s Suharto, in power for 32 years, was ousted in 1998 — and the Philippines’ Ferdinand Marcos was overthrown by the EDSA mutiny in 1986.

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High hopes and low points

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Barack Obama became the 44th President of the United States and the first black to assume that post on January 20, 2009. He was elected in November 2008 on a tide of hopeful support both at home and abroad. Both at home and abroad, many people thought that his term would be unlike that of his predecessor’s, and that, on the contrary, it would address and bring to a satisfying close some of the issues that had haunted the US for eight years, including the war of several fronts the fight against terrorism had become.

The hopes were understandable. The US economy was in shambles, with jobs lost, manufacturing plants shut and many facing uncertain futures. Worse of all, as Obama noted in his inaugural speech, while the economic and social indicators of the crisis were evident — “ Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet,” “less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land — a nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.”

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