In the late 1990s, well before Bush's 'war on terror', New Zealand TV screened a particularly awful US action drama called 'Soldier of Fortune Inc.', about an elite team (composed of former US Marines, Delta Force, CIA, British SAS personnel) who performed 'unofficial' covert missions for the US Government. They would get a briefcase full of money from a shadowy military liaison and head to the Middle East, Latin America, Haiti, or the Balkans, or smoke out foreign agents and assorted enemies within the USA, missions for which Washington could claim plausible deniability because none were active duty soldiers. It was a dirty job, but someone had to do it to keep 'US democracy' safe, for a price. Sounds familiar?
On September 14th of this year, the New Zealand government and three other governments (Canada, USA and Australia) shared the dubious distinction as the only states to vote against the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The announcement came at the end of a shocking week where Maori sovereignty campaigners, environmentalists, and other activists had been arrested in a major series of Police raids throughout the country, under the post-9/11 Suppression of Terrorism Act.
Walking through the Mount Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods two years ago, in the New Hampshire mountain resort and official birthplace, in July 1944, of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and of plans for an international trade organization - eventually embodied by the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)/World Trade Organization (WTO), I thought about the genocide of Indigenous Peoples in that part of the USA, now called "New England", perpetrated by Puritans and other settlers who viewed them, as historian Douglas Leach put it, as a "graceless and savage people, dirty and slothful in their personal habits, treacherous in their relations with the superior race fit only to be pushed aside and subordinated"(i).
Many Filipinos are acutely aware of the connections between the US-led assault on Iraq and issues much closer to home. Aside from the massive troop build-up in the Middle East, the Philippines has seen the second biggest US military deployment since Afghanistan, and the largest concentration of US forces there since the withdrawal of US military bases in 1992.
In February, another 1700 US troops arrived. This follows last year’s Operation Balikatan (“shoulder to shoulder”), which saw 1300 US soldiers “training and advising” the Philippine armed forces in counter-terrorism, focusing on Basilan, the island where the Abu Sayyaf kidnap-for-ransom gang had a stronghold. The Philippines had already been declared the “second front.” Bush’s recent “wartime supplemental appropriations request” to Congress specifies the Philippines as one of the areas for additional funding for the “broader war on terror.”
Born only nine months apart, US President George W. Bush and Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo are both children of former presidents. Her father, Diosdado Macapagal, was president from 1961-1965; Bush’s held the office from 1989-1992. Both also came to power not by winning elections, but on the basis of Supreme Court decisions in their respective countries, and were sworn in on January 20, 2001. Bush had some special assistance in the last election from his brother Jeb, governor of Florida. Former Vice President Arroyo took power after President Joseph “Erap” Estrada was toppled in a popular uprising.