Thursday, July 22, 2004

New York Times on Pres. Macapagal-Arroyo

So far, this is the fairest commentary I have ever encountered regarding the decision made by Her Excellency in connection to the OFW abduction in Iraq.

A Filipino Retreat
July 19, 2004

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.

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It is always refreshing to know what is in your mind. Thanks!