. . . Wednesday July 21, 2004

Losing Influence Over Little Brother

It should not come as much of a surprise that terrorists are following up on the Filipino surrender to terrorists with additional threats aimed at Poland and other members of the coalition.

From Polish Deputy defense minister Janusz Zemke: “Surrendering to terrorists would mean that they would be capable of paralyzing governments, cities and countries. They would start deciding what normal people can do.”

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo explains that the Philippines still maintains its allegiance to the U.S.: “We still consider the United States as our big brother in the security arena. Our long-standing and maturing relationship with the United States will survive this hostage crisis. We will maintain our strong stand against terrorism in the face of this isolated event.”

Of course, this is anything but an isolated event – just ask the governments in Kenya, Egypt and India. It is an event that will have a long-lasting ripple effect and the biggest waves may very well hit the Philippines. Terror groups have been notorious for responding to weakness with more attacks and threats.

So why would the Filipino government decide to take an action that is so clearly detrimental to everyone including their own country? President Arroyo must have felt that her political back was to the wall because of the intense unpopularity of the Iraq war in that region of the world.

The war on terror is a war on militants and a war of ideas. The latter has to be effectively sold so the U.S. can maintain a group of strong, willing and supportive allies in this global fight.

There is no doubt that the ultimate responsibility for this horrible decision rests on the shoulders of Arroyo and her government. But the ramifications of the withdrawals of the Philippines and Spain have concretely achieved what the Bush administration has been seeking for several years. The war in Iraq and the war on terror have been irrevocably – and disturbingly – linked.

Concentration is important!