Regardless of what the administration’s official take on the nomenclature might be, the War on Terror is not only alive and well – it is growing. As a brief foreword to the rest of this, it probably wouldn’t hurt to keep in mind that one of al-Qaeda’s principal complaints has always been that American foreign policy has been responsible for killing innocent Muslims for decades, and that our administration recently decided that any military-aged male killed by a drone strike would be considered a militant and not a civilian unless proven otherwise.
So back in early March, an American drone opened a new front in the supposedly defunct War, taking fifteen lives on the Philippine island of Jolo:
Early last month, Tausug villagers on the Southern Philippine island of Jolo heard a buzzing sound not heard before… Within minutes, 15 people lay dead and a community plunged into despair, fear and mourning.
The U.S. drone strike, targeting accused leaders in the Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah organisations, marked the first time the weapon has been used in Southeast Asia. The drone has so far been used against Muslim groups and the Tausug are the latest on the list.
Just as in Pakistan and other theatres of the “war on terror”, the strike has provoked controversy, with a Filipino lawmaker condemning the attack as a violation of national sovereignty. This controversy could increase with the recent American announcement that it plans to boost its drone fleet in the Philippines by 30 per cent. The U.S. already has hundreds of troops stationed on Jolo Island, but until now, the Americans have maintained a non-combat “advisory” role.
Additionally it seems unlikely that this will be a one-off event, as earlier this week it was announced that American forces would be re-occupying two bases we left in 19991, Subic Bay and Clark Air Base:
The U.S. had a falling out with the island nation in the early nineties and pulled out of the bases, which were then built-up by a series of private developers and builders. How useful what’s left is a matter of debate, but the locations used to be major centers of operation for American forces in the Pacific.
Clark Air Base and its military reservation are 244 square miles of land that played a vital role for the U.S. during the Vietnam war and is capable of hosting the largest of America’s military aircraft.
Subic Bay played an even greater role in U.S. operations and until the withdrawal in 1991 it was the largest American overseas military base in the world. The waters at Subic Bay should have no problem hosting U.S. submarines and the largest of naval ships.
And the official story is that the War on Terror is over?
It won’t be the first time American forces have staged a large-scale counterinsurgency in the Phillipines, over 100 years ago we carried one out that – shockingly enough given our recent failures – lasted only three years and successfully accomplished its mission. Most of us have largely forgotten about this relatively small military action, other than one small etymological exception.
Unbeknownst to most, the word in Tagalog for “mountains” is bundoks, which has been Americanizied into any a word that’s used for any remote area of land on which an often backward people make their home: the boondocks. And although it’s a word that has a rather homey, buck-toothed connotation for your average American, the boondocks of the Philippines would serve as a crucial side-stage for the most destructive act of terrorism ever performed on American soil.
Category: counterinsurgency, current affairs, islam, news, politics, terrorism | Tags: counterinsurgency, domestic terrorism, drone strikes, insurgents, killing civilians, militant islam, terrorism, terrorist attacks, war on terror Comment »