Iraq and Philippines

I was amused to read about President Bush’s comparison of Iraq to Philippines.

President Bush told the Congress of this former American colony on Saturday that Iraq, like the Philippines, could be transformed into a vibrant democracy. He also pledged his help in remaking the troubled and sometimes mutinous Philippine military into a force for fighting terrorism.

In an eight-hour visit, Mr. Bush for the first time drew explicit comparisons between the transition he is seeking in Iraq and the rough road to democracy that the Philippines traveled from the time the United States seized it from Spain in 1898 to the present day.

“Some say the culture of the Middle East will not sustain the institutions of democracy,” Mr. Bush said, taking on the critics of his oft-stated goal to use Iraq as a laboratory for spreading democratic institutions in the Middle East. “The same doubts were once expressed about the culture of Asia. Those doubts were proven wrong nearly six decades ago.”

While the administration often speaks of the occupations of Japan and Germany after World War II as rough models for the effort to rebuild Iraq, Mr. Bush used the visit here to make a less explicit analogy to the American administration of the Philippines, which also led to the formation of a democracy. But the comparison has less power to reassure, given that the Philippine government did not gain full autonomy for five decades.

Unqualified Offerings wrote about it before I could.

And before that there were the concentration camps, the 200,000 civilian dead in the 1899-1902 insurrection – all the stuff Max Boot actually likes.

Curiously, Bush’s speech amounts to a claim that the Philippines became a democracy “nearly six decades ago.” This is true as far as it goes, which is from the mid-forties through the late 1960s, when the Philippines was merely an ordinarily corrupt client state. Then almost two decades of Ferdinand and Imelda. But we eventually let Marcos fall to the People Power rebellion, which was wise of us, though many hawks at the time considered it feckless and likely to embolden our enemies.

Author: Zack

Dad, gadget guy, bookworm, political animal, global nomad, cyclist, hiker, tennis player, photographer

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