Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts
Vol. IV, No. 31 September 5-11, 2004 Quezon City, Philippines
the third anniversary of 9/11:
the balance sheet, has President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s support for
the three-year “war on terror” done any good to the country? Has it
made the economy better? Has it made the country safer? Probably,
Macapagal-Arroyo can answer – using the stock phrase of Bush himself –
“we shall prevail.”
The attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 in New York and Pennsylvania that killed 3,000 people led to the invasion and occupation by the United States and its “coalition forces” of Afghanistan in late 2001 and of Iraq in the first quarter of 2003. Independent estimates put the death toll at 50,000 civilians in Afghanistan and nearly a similar number in Iraq. The number of dead in Iraq could reach almost 1.5 million if the death toll inflicted by the first Gulf War of 1991 and severe military and economic sanctions following that is included. The figure is disproportionately higher by several fold compared to the death toll in 9/11.
carry mock caskets during an anti-Bush
Until today, Osama bin Laden - the main suspect in the 9/11 bombings as claimed by U.S. authorities – has not been found. There have been mixed theories about the 9/11, one of the most notable being that the Bush administration had known about the impending attacks. U.S. congressional and independent investigations into the attacks have not successfully refuted the theories nor have they pointed to the possible accountability of Bush himself for purported intelligence lapses.
What is clear is that the 9/11 incident was hijacked by the Neoconservative clique in the Bush administration and – on the pretext of disarming Saddam Hussein of his weapons of mass destruction – was used to justify a second attack on Iraq. Hussein himself was demonized as a tyrant and a “terrorist” even if some officials in the Bush administration believed he was not a threat to the United States.
Against the process of the United Nations, the U.S. government went to war by asserting its pre-emptive doctrine and its right to a unilateral action in the face of what it claimed as “indecisiveness” by the UN itself. The U.S. government would succeed later, in June 2004, to wangle a Security Council resolution – no thanks to the Philippine ambassador who, by rotation, was then presiding over the session at the time – that virtually gave a veneer of international legitimacy to the U.S. military occupation and its own puppet government.
The same Council, however, remained silent over the illegitimacy of the invasion-occupation itself and over the continued violations of international humanitarian law owing to the abuse of thousands of
suspected terrorists in Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries. No substantial “economic reconstruction” is going on but U.S. corporations – parts of the military-industrial complex - that had participated in war preparations have been the first to profit through billion-dollar contracts.
The WMD theory of the Bush administration has crumbled like a deck of cards as a complete hoax. George Bush, together with other Neocons as well as British Prime Minister Tony Blair would have faced trial before an international court for war crimes and crimes against humanity. But people’s war tribunals initiated independently in Belgium, the United States, Japan and the Philippines have found them guilty of such crimes.
The truth of course is that Bush found it expedient to use 9/11 to unleash a global “war on terror” beginning with Afghanistan and then Iraq as a cover for the secret agenda of oil acquisition and control. The “war on terror” brought the United States into other countries – by extending the war, increasing the number of war exercises and expanding its military presence in so many ways. The U.S. Neoconservative agenda – hatched in the early 1990s – was to establish global hegemony under a “benign” American Empire. Only this empire could make the world safe for “democracy” and guarantee a globalized economy that would do away with statist protectionism and nationalism which, according to the Neocons, breed “terrorists” and “rogue regimes.”
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of the Philippines was one of the few leaders to embrace this new American ideological construct. The day after 9/11, she supported Bush’s call for a “war on terror” as she volunteered facilities, airfields, ports and other areas – in fact any pace in the archipelago - for use by U.S. military operations. In March 2003, she also declared that the Philippines would be part of Bush’s “coalition of the willing.”
Consenting to Bush to make the Philippines the second front of the war on terror, Macapagal-Arroyo welcomed U.S. armed intervention in the Philippines through the infusion of American forces in the guise of training and war exercises and in preparation for increasing U.S. power projection in the region and beyond using the country as a staging base. She also agreed to turn the anti-insurgency campaign into an anti-terrorist one and, in exchange for more economic and military aid, conspired with the Bush government to tag the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), New People’s Army (NPA) and Jose Maria Sison, chief political consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), as terrorists. The whole idea was not only to demonize but also to force them to capitulate.
The “war on terror” in the Philippines also led to the killing of hundreds of Muslim civilians and the economic and psychological displacement of tens of thousands others. Hundreds of civilians including members of legitimate people’s organizations and party-list groups were also slain – also in the name of the war on terror. Set to be refiled in Congress is the anti-terrorism bill that, according to human rights and progressive lawyers groups, would further endanger civil liberties.
Bowing to strong political pressures at home, Macapagal-Arroyo was forced to pull out the Philippine military contingent in Iraq in exchange for the release by Iraqi resistance fighters of Filipino hostage Angelo dela Cruz last July. The decision did not harm American support for the Philippine president considering that the continued presence of 4,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) – no matter the threats to their lives – remained more valuable to the U.S. military in Iraq. Civilian in name, the OFWs have actually been forced to perform military-related work inside military bases as logistical and auxiliary support to the U.S. armed forces. Without them, what American soldier would last a day in Iraq?
Given the country’s current financial distress and rising budget deficit, the government would more and more rely on the export of Philippine labor for revenues. The country’s labor export policy – as far as war-torn countries in the Middle East are concerned – will increasingly become an adjunct to the Philippines’ support for the U.S. war.
On the balance sheet, has the support for the three-year “war on terror” done any good to the country? Has it made the economy better? Has it made the country safer? Probably, Macapagal-Arroyo can answer – using the stock phrase of Bush himself – “we shall prevail.” Bulatlat