Monday, July 19, 2004

Now That Everyone Else Has One: Real Life Imitates Tasteless Hypotheticals --
Some thoughts on the Philippines, as posted as a comment in this thread.

A couple of points:

The Philippines was scheduled to pull out its peacekeeping forces in August 20 anyways and it was pretty much a token force of 51 anyways which was probably only deployed because the U.S. applied significant pressure on a country whose economy is heavily reliant on the U.S. I suspect that there were U.S. concessions to Arroyo that bosltered her election chances were traded for the presence of Philippine troops.

My sources suggest that this move is generally popular in a country which recently had a hotly contest presidential election, with rumors of possible coups. Domestic public opinion appears to be a willingness to stand by the president in this decision along with a belief that the Philippines should never have gotten involved. In fact, this may have been a God-send in that it permits a peaceful withdrawal of troops rather than an incident in which a dozen soldiers are wounded or killed in a bombing, paving the way for a destabilizing uprising in the streets of Manila as Arroyo is criticized as a tool of the United States. The task for Arroyo in the upcoming months will be to appear firm in the face of any U.S. reprisal for this action and, believe me, any obvious retaliation will not go over well and only fuel support for Arroyo.

It was pretty much a mistake for a politically vulnerable nation to take part in the goings-on in Iraq, especially one whose symbolic value of increasing the number of participants in the so-called "coalition of the willing" was minimal vs. one which could easily have been predicted to fold under any sort of meaningful pressure and cause the current PR harm.

As a curious and unrelated aside, it appears that the general who headed the Filipino mission in Iraq will immediately be thrust into allegations of human rights abuses, including charges of murder, during prior commands in the Philippines.
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