“It is my strongest hope that no one sees violence as a way to peace,” she said. These were the words of US Ambassador Kristie Kenney on Tuesday, Aug. 19, commenting on skirmishes between government forces and Moro rebels in Mindanao. It is an interesting statement coming from the highest-level representative of the US government in the Philippines.
BY CHRIS PFORR
Contributed to Bulatlat.com
Vol. VIII, No. 29, August 24-30, 2008
“It is my strongest hope that no one sees violence as a way to peace,” she said.
These were the words of US Ambassador Kristie Kenney on Tuesday, Aug. 19, commenting on skirmishes between government forces and Moro rebels in Mindanao. It is an interesting statement coming from the highest-level representative of the US government in the Philippines.
What does she really mean? Three possible interpretations come to mind:
1. Literal interpretation: Violence is not the way to peace; it just rearranges the table settings in anticipation of the next round of revenge and bloodletting. So Ms. Kenney was perhaps addressing both the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) and the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front), saying that if it’s peace you’re after, try a different approach. Who can argue with this?
2. Machiavelli’s credo: Violence is not the way to peace; however it is an effective means of terrorizing people and if you have overwhelming force, a frequently-reliable method of punishing your enemies. Well, Machiavelli was correct, but it hardly behooves an Ambassador to publicly voice such sentiments.
3. Advice to the MILF: Violence is not the way to peace; come on, you Muslims, be like us Americans and commit yourselves to honest peacemaking.
I kind of imagine that No. 3 is how she meant it. I wonder if she recognizes the mountain of inherent irony in her advice?
Let us briefly survey the history of peace-seeking US government assistance to the Philippines:
1898 to 1902: Philippine-American War. The US government suppressed the Philippine independence movement, resulting in somewhere between 300,000 and one million dead Filipinos.
1930-1991: The US government maintained the largest overseas military bases in the world at Subic Bay and Clark Field.
1950s: The US government provided substantial military assistance and training to the Philippines constabulary to defeat the Hukbalahap Insurrection. Result: thousands of dead guerillas.
1965-1986: The US government provided substantial military assistance and training to the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) under Ferdinand Marcos. Thousands of AFP soldiers went to the US for advanced training and returned to the Philippines to engage in significant human rights abuses.
1998: The US and Philippine governments negotiated a Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) which led to resumption of bilateral military exercises such as the annual “Balikatan” (shoulder-to-shoulder) series.
2001: Following the 9/11 attacks, relations between the US military and the AFP began to warm again. The Philippines was rewarded with increased military aid, joint annual exercises between US and Filipino soldiers, US guidance in the Mindanao counterinsurgency war, and obligingly looking the other way while Philippine security forces ratcheted up abuses.
2008: US military aid to the Philippines stands at $30 million this year and there is defacto permanent basing of US soldiers in the Southern Philippines at “cooperative security locations.” The US military provides direct support to the AFP in the form of joint annual exercises, AWACS reconnaissance flights and American soldiers routinely accompanying AFP troops in counterinsurgency missions such as at the reputed massacre at Ipil, Sulu this past March.
So let’s be honest, Ambassador Kenney: violence and the threat of violence in pursuit of policy objectives pretty much define the strategic approach of the United States Government. Contributed to (Bulatlat.com)