Downer, master put-downer down under
HIGH GROUND By William M. Esposo
Downer first zeroed in on both Spain and the Philippines. A country much larger and more militarily equipped, Spain’s contribution was actually much more significant. Notwithstanding this, Downer later on retracted his tirade against Spain and dumped all the blame on the Philippines.
Amazing how someone dubbed to be a Foreign Minister can actually make statements premised on gross inaccuracies and blind conclusions. The post of Foreign Minister or State Secretary, in the case of the United States, is considered primus inter pares (first among equals) in any cabinet because it is supposed to be a country’s official emissary to the rest of the world.
A Foreign Minister who is impetuous and derisive can trigger a war. After all, many wars have been waged for more insane reasons. On the other hand, an intellectually feeble Foreign Minister can sell his country short on foreign treaties and negotiations. For all the stringent screening undertaken to select a Foreign Minister, it is indeed puzzling how Australia could have been left with little choice but to have a master put-downer Alexander Downer as Foreign Minister.
Here is why I think Downer’s comments were both fallacious and stupid. In logic class, we learn that if a syllogism takes off from a false premise, the conclusion becomes fallacious. Much like saying: All Australians are convicts (a patently false premise). Downer is an Australian. Ergo, Downer is a convict.
Such was the Iraq War of George W. Bush. The US Congress, which had earlier authorized waging war on Iraq, released it own 9/11 committee investigation findings that the earlier premises made to justify the invasion were non-existent. There were no WMDs in Iraq nor was there any link between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein.
Ergo, there being no justification for the Iraq War, there ought not to be arguments in taking the next logical and moral recourse —get out of Iraq.
The Philippines had no business being drawn to pitch in resources in the name of a ‘just war’ crafted by those whose underlying motives are obviously driven by economic and political preservation.
The Philippines has over 1.5 million overseas workers in the Middle East. It is in our national interest to protect them from the consequences of this war. By joining the chorus line of the Coalition of the Willing, we have made our own overseas workers vulnerable—precisely what had befell Angelo de la Cruz.
We showed why Downer’s assertion is fallacious. Now let us proceed to show why it is stupid.
First, how can the pullout of Philippine troops empower more terrorism through hostage-taking? Hostage taking has been on-going and is obviously a favorite tactic of the insurgents to erode Coalition morale and support for the occupation. It did not start with Angelo de la Cruz nor will it end with his release.
Second, if the best deterrent for terrorism is indeed solidarity and show of force, then Downer should have assailed Spain’s action and disregarded the Philippines’ decision. Spain’s military muscle far out-flexes our diminutive and token participation. So, if not outright stupid, why does Downer from down under absolve heavyweight Spain from blame only to pounce on featherweight Philippines?
Third, Downer missed the point altogether that it is the presence of invaders that fuels the Iraq insurgency. That insurgency will naturally recede once its trigger – the occupation – is eliminated. It is the continued presence of the Coalition (which includes Australia) that empowers the insurgency and not the pullout of Philippine troops.
Downer’s attitude and hypocrisy must be rooted to the same Anglo-Saxon genetic residues common among white Americans and the British. When the US Cavalry was wiped out in Little Big Horn and the British were likewise routed by Zulus in the Battle of Isandhlwana – they both labeled their military setback as a "massacre". When the Americans massacred the Sioux in Wounded Knee or when the British did a similar number on a native tribe somewhere in their then vast empire, they called it a military victory.
Are we therefore surprised that the three of them, the US, the UK and Australia, form the triumvirate exponent of this Iraq War? Would it be wishful thinking to expect them to be honest and say to the world of naïve nations: "Won’t you join us for the oil and the corporate profits? "
Perhaps the Australian ambassador to the Philippines should brief Downer from down under that we Filipinos do not have a problem with our machismo.
Ferdinand Magellan, the man who led the first Spanish ships into Philippine waters died in battle here with a local chieftain. Spanish occupation here met endless resistance and revolts. We eventually defeated Spain and won our independence in 1898 – only to see it stolen by the US. We fought the US until superior American forces and armaments decided the inevitable outcome. During World War II, we delayed the Japanese timetable – which saved Australia – with the gallant stand in Bataan and Corregidor. Filipinos did the bulk of the fighting in the Bataan peninsula, not Americans. After the fall of Bataan, a nationwide network of Filipino guerillas harassed the Japanese no end and supplied the Allied forces with vital information on Japanese troop and naval deployment.
In 1986, armed only with rosaries in their hands, faith in God and democracy, millions of Filipinos took to the streets and overthrew the US-backed Marcos dictatorship and showed the world how Active-Non-Violence can overcome tanks and bayonets. The Philippine People Power Revolt became the inspiration and model of similarly suppressed societies. We soon saw it replicated in many other countries.
National policy cannot operate from a vacuum and Downer’s point about empowering terrorists operated from flawed premises. We Filipinos will fight. We will lay down our lives if needed. But we like to fight and die for just causes we believe in. Dying for oil and Halliburton is not our idea of a just cause.
You may email William M. Esposo at: email@example.com