Dangerous reprisal hysteria from the Basilan encounter
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2007-07-17
As a nation, we're prone to emotional outbursts that force us into bad decisions that carry long term disastrous consequences.

We cheered when Joseph "Erap" Estrada went into an all-out war in Mindanao and then we rushed to ally ourselves with the coalition supporting the George W. Bush Iraq misadventure. We ended up realizing that both misadventures created more problems than it solved.

Before we get sucked into another catastrophic drawn-out war our fragile economy and political situation can not afford, we should step back and examine the real reasons that led to the recent encounter between the military and MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) in Basilan.

In the civilized world, beheading and mutilation of body parts is savagery and it is natural to be outraged when our soldiers had to suffer this fate. Yes, it is indeed the duty of the government to restore the rule of law and bring the malefactors to answer for their crimes.

But plunging ourselves into hysteria and sweeping generalizations will be like twisting the knife in the wound that had long been festering between Christians and Muslims. Instead of kindling trust and respect, we can only set back all the hard work of people (Muslims, Christians and other independent entities) who have been trying to achieve lasting peace in Muslim Mindanao.

By engaging in war-mongering calls for reprisals against the MILF, people allow emotions to rule their heads even if the MILF themselves are still trying to sort out what had really happened. They will all do well to heed the wise words of George Bernard Shaw who wrote in "St. Joan" that "Pluck and impetuosity are good servants in war but bad masters."

Before we get ourselves all embroiled in a suicidal all-out war — we should study very carefully the following factors:

1. Will the tragedy and pain caused by the loss of precious lives in the recent Basilan encounter be remedied by an all-out war where far greater losses will be incurred? The dreadful consequence of a drawn out strife can only bring about losses reaching exponential proportions in terms of lives and property, not to mention the dreadful misery it will inflict on innocent lives.

2. Peace efforts tend to encounter these irritants and stumbling blocks. We see these also happening in Palestine and other areas of conflict in the world. But that does not stop the peace makers from pursuing their goals. Violence tends to foment more violence until it reaches a point of no return.

3. If the reprisal results in junking the peace process and the MILF decides to adopt a policy of attrition similar to what the Iraqi resistance is inflicting upon the occupation forces, can we survive the consequences? What happens to our economy? What happens to the inflow of foreign investments? Will the increased level of combat not deepen the internal problem in the military?

4. Are we sure that the Basilan encounter — especially the beheadings and mutilations — is not the work of sinister forces that are precisely promoting a climate that will lay the groundwork for a desired objective? Before declaring all-out war on the MILF, should we not make sure that it is indeed the MILF and not a faction of it that was responsible?

5. Perhaps we should also look at the possibility that a foreign entity may be behind the incident — seeking to trigger a chain of events that will suit their geo-political objectives.

All over the world today, we see civil strife. Such is happening in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and other African states. It is starting to develop in Pakistan. How come in many of these, there is US presence in one way or another?

In case you have not noticed, the US is also all over Mindanao. In fact, in many areas of Muslim Mindanao, the US is now more liked and preferred over the Philippine government. I am told that USAID projects are now diverted to Mindanao.

If the US is a major player in the equation, should we not consider that this could possibly be integral to a US plan to establish an INDEPENDENT STATE OF MUSLIM MINDANAO with the US as its protector? Now, that throws a major wrinkle in the equation does it not?

By now, we know that the Iraq War is not about Saddam Hussein and the non-existent weapons of mass destruction but all about oil and preparatory fortification against a looming confrontation with the combined forces of China, Russia and India. Hence, it's quite logical to conclude that this Basilan incident may not exactly be a wild, unfortunate, chance encounter.

It is really high time that we Filipinos know our real history. It is high time that we know who are our real friends and our real enemies. It is high time that we know how we were conditioned to condemn our nationalists and readily embrace our manipulators and exploiters.

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