Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Wily Arroyo

At mlq3’s website, I have posted a comment to the effect that Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has a better hold to power than Pakistan’s Pervez Musharraf, unless the Filipino people do their own math and then exercise their power of the “last say” (I was actually referring to the People Power equation of one million street protesters and a handful of generals to change a regime). But then I also took notice of Randy David’s suggestion that “middle class activism” or in general the people’s democratic “engagement tends to stop at the polls” or, as I had before noted, even at the exercise of People Power for, in the latter case, there’s that process of re-entrusting too – to those who, they think, are better equipped to govern, the elites in other words.

The comment has generated the following retort from Manila Bay Watch:
I refuse to compare Gloria to Musharraf (insult to the latter).

Most of Pakistan’s population still live in the feudal world, half illiterate and virtually caught in the stone age of Islam.
But the “analysis of Pakistan,” according to another commenter hvrds, is “so close to home,” the Philippines being more (of) a construct of empire with a very short history of people . . . very much somewhere between the stone age and the bronze age.”

If we follow hvrds’ logic, we could claim quite plausibly that “most of Philippines’ population still live in the feudal world, half illiterate and virtually caught in the stone age of Catholicism,” with one notable distinction – Philippine warlords sometimes carry certificates of attendance at US Ivy Leave schools, an added negative against Filipinos, since by such credentials they ought to conduct themselves a bit more “civilized” (i.e., Westernized or Americanized).

Relative to relationship with US, I will agree that the comparison between Ferdinand Marcos and Pervez Musharraf is closer than the one between Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Musharraf (simply because GMA, to her credit unfortunately, appears more cunning than both dictators because, instead of being just macho, GMA exhibits amazing reflexiveness: she adroitly “backs off” when called for whether what’s on the table is charter change, exercise of executive privilege, the suspension of Makati mayor Binay, the ZTE deal, a strong stance on former president Estrada’s incarceration or a showdown with former president Fidel Ramos or House speaker Jose de Venecia).

Do we remember the “Kirkpatrick doctrine” (Jean Kirkpatrick served as UN ambassador in Reagan administration) during Marcos time, by which US supported authoritarian governments as long as they were pro-American irrespective of the regimes’ human rights or governance records? US saw no need to press dictatorships to move toward democracy if it feared that communist groups might triumph. That the conjugal dictatorship survived in the Philippines for two decades is largely attributable to Kirkpatrick’s tenet.

The foreign policy of containing communism is now dated. Following the 9/11 attacks, George W. Bush reconfigured the neocons’ professed goal about global defense of freedom and democracy by infusing into the rhetorical mix his “war on terror.” The definition of convenience democracy however remains the same: it means being pro-American (with free-enterprise capitalism a necessary add-on) regardless of whether on the hand the US dogs are cheating in elections, plundering the treasury and torturing or killing extra-judicially their opponents and on the other, economic growth is benefiting only a privileged few, as long as they are on board on the “war on terror” and advancing the cause of democracy. When it comes to US allies, in the so-called Third World anyway, the institutions of substantive democracy such as fair and honest elections, active citizenship, public trust, the rule of law, and accountability of public officials are frosting on the cake or play second fiddle.

So, even 1) President Bush’s call to Musharraf for parliamentary elections (recall that Musharraf came to power eight years ago via coup d’etat but like Bush senior who had been lavish at praising Marcos’ “adherence to democratic principles,” Bush junior at the White House in 2006 unabashedly paid tribute to Musharraf as “a strong defender of freedom and the people of Pakistan”), or 2) the US Senate’s condition that continued military aid to the Philippines must be tied to improvements in human rights, should be taken as mere lip service to the cause of freedom and democracy.

cvj on similar score seems equally prescient: a Democrat in the White House would (not) result in a policy change towards Gloria and/or the Philippines.

Meanwhile, wily GMA will not hesitate to play her China card against tougher US foreign policy, when it suits her ambition, an option that was not available to Marcos.

I have said it a number of times in this blog before and will say again: The real threat to America’s way of life is not from terrorism but the coming of age of true democracy.

12 Comments:

Blogger AdB said...

Hi Abe,

I didn't pay much attention to what went on in the succeeding comments or right after I posted my thoughts in mlq3's after I posted my thought to yours (fortunately, your blog was only a click away):

¤¤¤¤

Abe,

I refuse to compare Gloria to Musharraf (insult to the latter).

Most of Pakistan’s population still live in the feudal world, half illiterate and virtually caught in the stone age of Islam.

Musharaf lives and breathes Pakistan whereas Gloria lives and breathes for herself. That’s a huge difference. We may compare her to Bhutto though. They are both corrupt.

¤¤¤¤

My post indeed tended to imply a different note and after re-reading it, I thought I was not clear at all -- I presented my brief arguments "loosely"...

Agree there's an area of comparisson in terms of societies or similarities if you want with regard to the phenomenon facing both countries: questionable literacy rate is one and a horde of foreign educated people that make up a very slim population is another, and let's not fiddle with words but to my mind, both have a backward culture, Pakistan veering towards "stone age" while the Philippines veering towards the American extreme but which, in both cases, cannot be relied on so that one or both countries can finally join the exlusive club of "enlightened" nations, i.e., western.

What I actually wanted to convey in that short thrust was I didn't think it was fair to compare Gloria with Musharraf. As I averred and believe very strongly, Musharraf breathes and lives for Pakistan whereas Gloria doesn't (live or breathe Philippines.) She may, on second thought, be the living symbolf of all that's morally corrupt in our country but again, even the most "corrupt" of leaders, eg., Fidel Castro, Kruschev, were given to breathing an living their nation's interests at heart, which is not at all Gloria's concern -- hers is pakitang tao all through and through. I think she will sell the Philippines to the next colonizer if it could be done without serious revolt without batting an eyelash and would feel so happy with herself because it would keep her in power.

In other words, Gloria doesn't possess Musharraf's nationalistic traits, let alone true patriotic fervour. The way I see it, what is hers is hers and what power is reserved hers in RP should be hers. She is as maniacally egotistical and as malevolenty dishonest as your typical Burmese dictator even if she clothes herself with the democracy mantel.

In that, Musharraf has the upper hand, so I asserted it was unfair to compare him to this wannabe moral pygmy dictator.

The thrust of my short comment in mlq3 pertaining to Musharraf's emergency rule and Gloria's predisposed maniacal habit of thumping the people with her generals can be summed up if you like by what I said "Musharaf lives and breathes Pakistan whereas Gloria lives and breathes for herself. That’s a huge difference. We may compare her to Bhutto though. They are both corrupt."

I think, I am a bit more emphatic albeit succint on why I thought Musharraf's imposing emergency rule is called for in a different thread at mlq3's:


"Very difficult dilemma facing Musharraf.

"The (dilemma) that Musharraf is facing is a conglomeration of Taliban inspired hardline islamist fundamentalists in his own backyard who have grown stronger and quadrupled in size over more than 3 decades straight from the wars on Afghan soil where they fought the Russians.

"Letting lose these fundamentalists in Pakistan will take it back to “stone age”, no need to bomb Pakistan for that.

"These fundamentalists don’t believe in democracy or equality between men and women. They have their own personal interpretation of the Koran which they harness to sow fear on the half-illiterate population of Pakistan."

November 07, 2007 2:02 PM  
Blogger Abe N. Margallo said...

Hi Anna,

Your points are well-taken. The stark reality is soldiers have better appreciation of patriotism in military academies than colegialas in convents. Manolo has likewise made an interesting bit of psychological profile of the presidential daughter in his blog which is quite revealing. Bhutto too is the daughter of her father who suffered the ultimate humiliation in the gallows. It could be that birds of the same feather fly together and breathe the same air.

I see that one other difference between the situation of Marcos and Musharraf is the bombing in Manila as you know was staged while those in Pakistan are for real; moreover relatively speaking the Reds’ threat in the Philippines then was manageable compared to the magnitude of the Islamists’ threats in Pakistan today.

But, kudos to Marcos, he neither padlocked the SC nor hauled CJ Conception and J Fernando or their supporters to a police van (after succeeding to wine and dine enough justices to issue the Javellana ruling).

Imperial America, like Britain before it, has double standards for democracy, one practiced at home that seriously pretends to approximate the ideal and the other for outside consumption, which could be a total screw-up sometimes but US foreign policy makers would not even care as long as the bunglers are pro-Americans. Hence, if those Islamist- fundamentalists are not believers in democracy so are Gloria as well as Puno and Esperon and the Gonzalezes except that the latter “moral pygmy” would not mind smooching Big Uncle’s you know what if only to stay in his grace and favor.

November 07, 2007 11:36 PM  
Blogger AdB said...

Actually, it was you that roused me back into recollection when you wrote a comment in mlq3's to the effect that Marcos "neither padlocked the SC nor hauled CJ Conception and J Fernando or their supporters to a police van (after succeeding to wine and dine enough justices to issue the Javellana ruling)."

I thought, again the beginning of the comparisson between Marcos and Gloria should end there.

November 08, 2007 6:05 PM  
Blogger Abe N. Margallo said...

Gloria is Macoy and Imeldific combined. One proof – first the censorship and suppression and then the unveiling of the Angono “press freedom” mural.

November 08, 2007 10:34 PM  
Blogger AdB said...

Re: "Gloria is Macoy and Imeldific combined."

Good gracious Abe!

That's a lot in one so tiny.

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