21 July 2004

No Reaction?

The Philippine Daily Inquirer is amazed why the GMA government is silent over "a scathing editorial by The New York Times," but rebutted twice Jay Leno's comedy quips that described the withdrawal as an act of cowardice.

Titled "A Filipino Retreat," it was a short and straightforward editorial. I have reproduced it here:
"Terrorists in Iraq scored a victory when President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo of the Philippines decided to accelerate the withdrawal of her nation's token contingent of troops to spare the life of a Filipino hostage. A group calling itself the Islamic Army had threatened to behead Angelo dela Cruz, a truck driver, unless Manila withdrew. To the dismay of her allies, and possibly even of the kidnappers, President Arroyo is hastening to comply.

It's hard to imagine the anguishing helplessness felt by a leader -- or someone's relatives -- watching such horrifying deadlines come and pass. The United States, South Korea and possibly Bulgaria have lost hostages to gruesome beheadings in Iraq.

But President Arroyo deluded herself into thinking she could actually do something about the situation, and has now allowed the kidnappers to alter Filipino policy. One can understand the desire to save a life, but Manila's retreat will only place all other foreign nationals in Iraq in greater peril.

President Arroyo's decision may play well at home in the short term because Filipino involvement in Iraq was never all that popular to begin with, but it could have disastrous longer-term consequences for her government. The Philippines, after all, faces a number of terrorist groups on its own territory, and millions of its citizens work overseas. It is never wise for any government to be blackmailed by terrorists into abandoning its policies, but it seems especially ill advised for Manila to be doing so.

We are not arguing that allies show blind loyalty to the Bush administration. If anything, President Arroyo's surrender shows the perils of assembling a coalition of weak allies eager to please Washington but lacking much conviction in the American cause. President Arroyo is certainly not helping the Iraqi people with her decision. Spain and some Latin American countries had every right to exercise their sovereign judgment that it was best to leave Iraq. But their decisions, unlike President Arroyo's, were not driven by terrorist demands
." [New York Times Editorial, July 19, 2004]
The Americans are really pissed with our withdrawal in Iraq that even its papers condemn us. We are accused of giving in to terrorists' demands and giving "wrong signals."

Have the Americans forgotten the times when they also gave in to terrorists' demands? These happened on several occasions: when Iranian militants seized the US embassy in Iran in 1979, in 1983, when Reagan withdrew American troops in Lebanon, and again in 1993, when Bill Clinton pulled out US troops in Somalia.

Raul Palabrica has a very good discussion of American withdrawals. You can read it here.

It seems it's really easy to notice the speck in your neighbor's eye and not the log in your own eyes.

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