View Single Post
Old 03-08-2012   #10
Council Member
Dayuhan's Avatar
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Latitude 17° 5' 11N, Longitude 120° 54' 24E, altitude 1499m. Right where I want to be.
Posts: 3,136

Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
Agreed. OEF-P has no hope of resolving the reasons why large segments of the Philippine populace have historically been dissatisfied with their situation, and their perceptions of how the government serves to perpetuate that situation.

To continue even a very well designed and executed operation where it has no hope of true success is not smart on many levels.
"True success" would of course depend on the goals of the mission. If the goal was "resolving the reasons why large segments of the Philippine populace have historically been dissatisfied with their situation", then of course there has been no success, nor was there any hope of success. I suspect (and hope) that the goals were rather more modest than that.

If the goal was to disrupt the connection between local militant groups and the global Islamist infrastructure, that would be a qualified success. Of course that connection was always much less than it was cracked up to be. At one point US pressure actually drove a return to Islamist/terrorist principles, but subsequently there has been some real success in dismantling the connections, largely because they never spread beyond a relatively small number of individuals.

If the goal was to improve the capacity and performance of the Philippine military, perhaps qualified success as well. They've backed away from some practices that openly exacerbated insurgency, but whether that will endure beyond our departure remains to be seen. The extent to which capacity and performance have improved in any enduring sense is really not known at this point, and won't be until we leave.

If the goal was to improve governance, I'd say we've achieved little or nothing. The governing elite have been reminded that largesse is available to those who say the words and go through the motions, but I don't see any reason to think any lasting change is in the picture.

Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
The one senior leaders seem to appreciate least is that where we act in ways that facilitate the development of the belief, reasonable or otherwise, that the US is somehow an obstacle to the host nation government having to listen to their people and evolve, we create the very motivation for acts of transnational terrorism against the US that led us to be there in the first place...

...Are we creating similar lines of motivation among segments of the Philippine populace?
Not to any visible extent, I'd say. If anything the US gets credit for being a moderating influence on the Philippine armed forces. It's worth noting that there have been no acts of "transnational terrorism against the US" emanating from Filipino-based groups. The explosives for the Bali bombs were sourced here, but that's because explosives are easy to buy and smuggle here, not because of Filipino sympathy for the agenda. A transnational terror group based in Manila planned some attacks and executed one, but they weren't Filipino and had only very tenuous connections to any local group. Kidnappings in the south were profit-driven banditry, not terrorism.

I see no significant risk that the US presence here will inflame Filipinos into attacking the US. On the other hand, I see no special gain to be achieved by staying. Staying poses some risks... the Tausug/Sama insurgency will eventually re-emerge, and we don't need to be caught up in it. We also don't want to be tempted to mess about in the Maranao/Maguindanao insurgency, even though it has more connection to global Islamic radicalism than the ASG.

We do need to be aware that the perception in much of the Philippines is that Gloria Arroyo's initial request for US assistance was orchestrated by the US in its post 9/11 moments of Bushy aggressiveness, and thus that we are here on our own initiative. Objections to that are not that widespread, but it can be a sticking point. At this point we might be well advised to announce that we believe the mission is largely accomplished, and that unless the Philippine government specifically requests that we remain, we intend to withdraw. I suspect that such a request would be made. If it wasn't and we withdrew, we'd lose nothing. If it was, there would be a new and more credible mandate.
“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

H.L. Mencken
Dayuhan is offline   Reply With Quote