To win the peace, win the war first
AT WHAT PRICE?: President Gloria Arroyo wanted very badly to report in her valedictory State of the Nation Address last July 27 a break in the Muslim rebellion in Mindanao, so the Moro Islamic Liberation Front humored her and agreed to talk.
(But why the MILF when it does not represent the peace-loving majority of Muslims? Why allow the rebels’ Malaysian patrons to host the talks in Kuala Lumpur? Why no charges until now against Executive officials who had tried to sign away parts of Minsupala to the MILF?)
Wanting to demonstrate its bona fide, the administration then expanded its peace agenda. Now we have officials of the footloose administration packing their bags to toast and talk also with the old fogies running the New People’s Army war from the comfort of the Netherlands.
Maybe the doves among us could give the exiting Arroyo administration the benefit of the doubt in its fresh attempts to tame the wild beast in the hearts of the MILF rebels and the communist dissidents. But at what price?
… Then came the beastly massacre last Wednesday of 23 of our finest fighting men in a lopsided day-long battle in Tipo-tipo on Basilan island. The gory details are on the news pages.
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ANGUISH, ANGER: At this point, we yield to STAR readers sounding off on the Tipo-tipo battle where around 50 Filipinos, 23 of them government troopers, were killed on both sides:
Juanitozespanol: The AFP leadership needs to review its history… lessons learned during combat operations… how the enemy employs treachery, etc. In the 70s Gen. Bautista and his men were massacred in Jolo. A battalion commander was massacred in the 80s on Pata island, Sulu. Gen. Dolorfino himself was held hostage by the MILF and yet we keep trusting these bastards. In Mindanao there is no such thing as an armed civilian. These are either members of the MILF, rogue MNLF or Abu Sayyaf. It’s time the government reviewed its position on how to treat the MILF.
Stefano: I’ll probably get some heat for this comment, but this new concept of avoiding collateral damage, or trying to “win the hearts and minds,” is a foolish attempt to make war politically correct. There is no such thing as a nice war — war is hell. In World War II, the allied air forces tried to maximize collateral damage — Dresden neighborhoods were bombed to rubble; Tokyo was smothered in incendiary bombs. The goal was to defeat the enemy, break their will, make the price of war too painful and expensive. The result? The Nazis and the Japanese were defeated in four years. And now, eight years into Afghanistan and we are still chasing around a bunch of goat herders in pajamas carrying AK-47s. Mindanao? — what has the politically correct war achieved there? General MacArthur once said, “There is no substitute for victory.” Truer words were never spoken. If you are going to fight a war, DEFEAT your enemy! Break their will. Anything short of that, better to just stay home and not even try as you will just end up in a frustrating quagmire.
Fabelous: To the men, women, officers and soldiers of the Philippines. While you have to make do with your Obikanobi helicopters, simba tanks and Vietnam-war vintage Huey choppers, your commander-in-thief is in the market for a brand-new executive jet. You are not modern, because there is no money when it comes to your modernization but plenty of money for their personal kapritsos.
Bottomless tea: Guess why the GRP is hesitant to declare the MILF a terrorist organization. Who’s holding back the GRP, when in fact the MILF is worse than the NPA in committing atrocities? If the Sri Lankan government won its war against the Tamil tigers, why can’t our AFP do it? Sri Lanka does not even have a military academy to speak of.
Emiliot: It’s like Vietnam… the Viet Cong were forward echelons in squads harassing, while the NVA regulars were massing to join the fight when they saw a big one coming. Yes, they made the Americans believe they were for peace… they had peace talks in Paris but kept their belligerent stand. The MILF wants all of Mindanao, an ideology hatched by their blood-thirsty leaders. Stop the senseless peace talk. The MILF wants not peace, development or autonomy. They want to secede with a government of their own. You can never see eye to eye on the issue of peace, they are besmirching even the very principles of Islam. They kill and maim people and create animosity between religions. When they run out of ammo, they sue for peace, rearm and then resume hostilities. Besides, you invite disaster announcing to the MILF you will have an operation in that area. Only a non-thinking commander will give a classified, secret, or top secret operation to an adversary. Can you beg forgiveness from the bereaved families of our patriots? Your condolence, medals, and promised assistance are not enough to wipe the tears, trauma, and scars that pierced their families.
Pinoy2: Our soldiers are eating sardines and dying in Basilan, while our politicians wined and dined. So-called peace makers are shouting peace while our soldiers are one by one resting in peace. Where is “isang bala lang kayo”? What happened to the ransoms? What happened to the Tripoli agreements and the wining and dining of so-called peace-makers in Malaysia, Indonesia and Muslim countries? What happened to the armchair generals promoted, then plucked from retirement for ambassadorial posts?