Be careful what you wish for

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Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is finally getting what she’s been hankering for since January this year — a meeting with US President Barack Obama, an event preceded by, among others, visits by US Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Central Intelligence Agency Director Leon Panetta.

The CIA’s Panetta thought it funny that some Filipinos should think that he was visiting the Philippines last week to influence next year’s elections — or that he was at least making sure there will be one.

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Return of the caudillo

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Was that a US president speaking? The removal from office of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya on June 28 was “illegal,” said US President Barack Obama, “He was democratically elected,” he said in a television interview, “and is the legitimate president of Honduras.”

Obama alluded to the danger of Latin America’s returning to its “dark past” of right-wing military coups and dictatorships. But he didn’t call the removal of Zelaya a coup d’etat, which it was. Neither did he mention that Latin America’s “dark past” was largely the US’ doing, when it fomented, encouraged, and/or funded coups against any Latin American government that it thought threatened the interests of its multinationals, of which the most outstanding were American Telephone and Telegraph and United Fruit.

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No, he can’t

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Those who expected US President Barack Obama to ignore Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, and who were surprised at his calling her last March 14, should have read his speeches and other statements on foreign policy during the campaign for the 2008 US Presidential elections.

Some Filipinos repelled by eight years of Bush policies had somewhat naively thought that the election of the first black US President, whose campaign had been waged from a high moral plane, would mean fundamental shifts in US foreign policy, including a departure from the “war on terrorism” paradigm. They were wrong.

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Yes it will

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There’s a developing consensus among US historians, academics, journalists and more thoughtful citizens that if George W. Bush isn’t the worst president the US has ever had, he’s at least among the worst.

Those of a nationalist bent, including the legions of Republicans who either voted for Barack Obama or who’re now supporting the first black president of the US, see Bush policies (e.g., the unilateralism of his first term that damaged and nearly destroyed the Western alliance) as the cause of the deterioration of US prestige across the planet, which even in usually pro-US England has sunk to historic lows.

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No, we can’t

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If, like Miriam Defensor Santiago, you’re too busy laughing over Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay’s announcement last Tuesday that he’s available as a candidate for President of this unhappy republic, you might be missing the point.

The chief pol of the United Opposition announced his availability for the 2010 elections in a rally in which, among other highlights, some of his supporters carried streamers declaring him the (Barack) “Obama of the Philippines.”

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