Mar 082013
 

Pull out


July 10, 2004 Inquirer Editorial:

WHAT are we doing in Iraq anyway? The 4,000 or so Filipinos working as cooks and drivers may be there because of reconstruction’s employment opportunities, but the 51 soldiers and policemen serving with the US-led coalition forces?

They are there because of the Arroyo administration’s voluntary membership in the so-called Coalition of the Willing.

Any attempt by Malacaqang or the Department of Foreign Affairs to justify our modest military presence in Iraq as a means of supporting the international community at large must be rejected for what it is: nonsense. We are in Iraq because the Arroyo administration supported the US-led invasion. The government may have paid precious lip service to United Nations resolutions before the invasion, but when push came to shove, it chose unilateral American assertiveness over collegial UN caution.

This is the reality in which, with a terrible suddenness, the nation has turned its attention to the fate of a Filipino truck driver working for a Saudi Arabian firm doing business in Iraq. The other day, Angelo de la Cruz was taken hostage in or near the city of Falluja, ground zero of the Iraqi insurgency.

Falluja has seen some of the fiercest fighting in Iraq since US President George W. Bush landed on an aircraft carrier to declare the war mission dutifully accomplished. But the recent US decision to withdraw from Falluja has turned the city into a “safe haven” (in the words of the former top American general in Iraq) for terrorists and insurgents. It has also offered the insurgency, quite literally, a rallying point.

Whether the Iraqi insurgents can be said to follow a common strategy remains arguable, but the hostage-taking tactic can be easily understood: They want to sap the will of both the American public and the international community, by waging a war of attrition against both US troops and foreign workers. The war will last until the insurgents run out of hostages.

De la Cruz’s hostage-takers, the obscure Khaled Bin Walid Brigade, has threatened to behead him if the Philippines does not pull its troops out within 72 hours. It cannot be an idle threat; Iraqi insurgents have taken dozens of foreign hostages since April, killing an Italian (Fabrizio Quattrocchi), an American (Nicholas Berg), and a South Korean (Kim Sun Il). The last two were decapitated.

The hostage-taking came at a critical time: The Philippine contingent’s tour of duty ends on Aug. 20, and the Arroyo administration had not yet decided whether to extend it or bring the troops home.

Now the administration is under the gun. It will be loathe to invite comparisons with the resoluteness of the South Korean and Japanese governments. South Korea did not only refuse to withdraw its 600 troops in Iraq; after their hostage was killed, it decided to send an additional 3,000 soldiers. Japan, which suffered a hostage-taking crisis last April, also did not order a pullout. (The three Japanese hostages were released four days after their deadline.)

But the issue is not about steadfastness. It is about the national interest.

In a word, we were duped into supporting the US-led war. The national interest requires that we make amends for our naiveti, and demand an explanation and better behavior from our ally, the United States.

To date, not a single weapon of mass destruction has been found in Iraq. Not a single piece of substantial evidence has been found to positively connect the regime of the brutal dictator Saddam Hussein with the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

On the other hand, proof that the United States launched the invasion on less-than-solid evidence has accumulated. The US commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks, for instance, has found many disturbing discrepancies in the accounts of the various American intelligence agencies. Leading media organizations have issued dramatic mea culpas for their pre-war coverage, which allowed the cowboys in the White House to gather an Iraqi invasion posse without too much resistance.

The time has come to stand tall in the community of nations. Let’s admit we were mistaken in accepting the US view, and withdraw our troops. Then, like the Japanese, negotiate with the insurgents to spare the life of one more innocent abroad.

WHAT are we doing in Iraq anyway? The 4,000 or so Filipinos working as cooks and drivers may be there because of reconstruction’s employment opportunities, but the 51 soldiers and policemen serving with the US-led coalition forces?

They are there because of the Arroyo administration’s voluntary membership in the so-called Coalition of the Willing.

Any attempt by Malacaqang or the Department of Foreign Affairs to justify our modest military presence in Iraq as a means of supporting the international community at large must be rejected for what it is: nonsense. We are in Iraq because the Arroyo administration supported the US-led invasion. The government may have paid precious lip service to United Nations resolutions before the invasion, but when push came to shove, it chose unilateral American assertiveness over collegial UN caution.

This is the reality in which, with a terrible suddenness, the nation has turned its attention to the fate of a Filipino truck driver working for a Saudi Arabian firm doing business in Iraq. The other day, Angelo de la Cruz was taken hostage in or near the city of Falluja, ground zero of the Iraqi insurgency.

Falluja has seen some of the fiercest fighting in Iraq since US President George W. Bush landed on an aircraft carrier to declare the war mission dutifully accomplished. But the recent US decision to withdraw from Falluja has turned the city into a “safe haven” (in the words of the former top American general in Iraq) for terrorists and insurgents. It has also offered the insurgency, quite literally, a rallying point.

Whether the Iraqi insurgents can be said to follow a common strategy remains arguable, but the hostage-taking tactic can be easily understood: They want to sap the will of both the American public and the international community, by waging a war of attrition against both US troops and foreign workers. The war will last until the insurgents run out of hostages.

De la Cruz’s hostage-takers, the obscure Khaled Bin Walid Brigade, has threatened to behead him if the Philippines does not pull its troops out within 72 hours. It cannot be an idle threat; Iraqi insurgents have taken dozens of foreign hostages since April, killing an Italian (Fabrizio Quattrocchi), an American (Nicholas Berg), and a South Korean (Kim Sun Il). The last two were decapitated.

The hostage-taking came at a critical time: The Philippine contingent’s tour of duty ends on Aug. 20, and the Arroyo administration had not yet decided whether to extend it or bring the troops home.

Now the administration is under the gun. It will be loathe to invite comparisons with the resoluteness of the South Korean and Japanese governments. South Korea did not only refuse to withdraw its 600 troops in Iraq; after their hostage was killed, it decided to send an additional 3,000 soldiers. Japan, which suffered a hostage-taking crisis last April, also did not order a pullout. (The three Japanese hostages were released four days after their deadline.)

But the issue is not about steadfastness. It is about the national interest.

In a word, we were duped into supporting the US-led war. The national interest requires that we make amends for our naiveti, and demand an explanation and better behavior from our ally, the United States.

To date, not a single weapon of mass destruction has been found in Iraq. Not a single piece of substantial evidence has been found to positively connect the regime of the brutal dictator Saddam Hussein with the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

On the other hand, proof that the United States launched the invasion on less-than-solid evidence has accumulated. The US commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks, for instance, has found many disturbing discrepancies in the accounts of the various American intelligence agencies. Leading media organizations have issued dramatic mea culpas for their pre-war coverage, which allowed the cowboys in the White House to gather an Iraqi invasion posse without too much resistance.

The time has come to stand tall in the community of nations. Let’s admit we were mistaken in accepting the US view, and withdraw our troops. Then, like the Japanese, negotiate with the insurgents to spare the life of one more innocent abroad.

Corazon Valdez-Fabros
63-2) 931-1153 (63) 922-802-0677
corafabros2000@yahoo.com
nonukes@tri-isys.com
http://www.nfpc.nonukesasiaforum.org
Visit the Philippine Peace & Sovereignty Website:
http://www.yonip.com

 

The date posted here is due to our website rebuild, it does not reflect the original date this article was posted. This article was originally posted in Yonip on July 12th, 2004

 

 

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