There is a truce in the middle east between Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza.

Hope for peace in our time?

The problem is, as Carolyn Glick of the Jerusalem Post points out, is that the election of a Democratic Congress was interpreted by Iran and Syria as a green light to continue with their activities against the west: not just Iran getting Russian weapons and continuing their nuclear program, but stepping up the war between their proxies in Iraq and Lebanon. For this, they will be “rewarded” by UN “peacekeepers ignoring Hezbollah receiving missiles from Syria while threatening to shoot down Israeli jets monitoring the situation. But then, Europe has many “peace” plans which come down to Israel capitulating their borders for paper promises.

So we see another Lebanese politician assassinated by Syria, undermining the hope of peace continuing in that country.

And the radical left in the US threatens to push for US withdrawal, which will “save American soldiers lives” in the short run, but will send the same message that the surrender of the Sudetenland did in 1938: That the West will not punish aggression, but will retreat and compromise.

Here in the Philippines, the elites are all for peace, having studied the party line at left wing US universities. And, of course, with 1 million Pinoys working in the Middle East, most people want the government to back Middle East peace at any price.

Yet western weakness that would encourage terror will not be good for the Philippine, since there are strong links between AlQaeda and the Islamicist groups in Indonesia.

Islam in Indonesia is traditionally easy going, combined with folk religion. However, with the Saudis funding Mosques that teach a more radical form of Islam, one worries that the poorly educated part of the Indonesian population could be vulnerable to propaganda stressing a more militant form of Jihad.

The release of Bashir, the cleric who gave a theological okay to the Bali bombing, shows the increase of Islamicist influence in that government, as does as the whitewash of other terror groups that have killed thousand of Christians or helped with the Bali Bombing.

At the same time, the government executed Christians who were alleged to killed Muslims during a riot in retaliation to these massacres, while those behind the original massacres, the Laskar Jihad, have moved elsewhere to kill Melanesian Christians in Papua New Guinea, under the eyes of the Idonesian Army. LINK.
So now Philippines Defense Secretary Raul Gonzales is worried about terrorists. Last week, the entrance of Indians with illegal papers last week show a weakness in the visa system to keep out terrorists from India/Pakistan/Afghanistan. And to make things worse Bashir has declared a jihad against the Philippines.

“Speaking to his supporters in the town of Kediri, East Java, on November 5, 2006, he (Bashir) stressed the need for his followers to travel to foreign lands where Muslims continue to be subjected to injustices, singling out the Southern Philippines as a prime destination for Muslims to wage Jihad,” Gonzalez said.

Indeed, StrategyPage reports that last week Philippine troops captured a training camp in Jolo, and found weapons, bomb making materials and completed bombs: “built within lunch boxes and thermos bottles. Such bombs had been seen in Indonesia, but not, until now, the Philippines, indicating that Indonesian terrorists might be involved in building the bombs, or showing Filipino terrorists how to do so.” The report also says thatIndoy Islamic terrorists have fled to the Philippines in the recent past, complicating the Philippine government’s attempt to make peace with the remainingMILF groups that have not yet accepted peace with the government. (The MILF are indigenous Moro guerrilla groups who have fought for autonomy for many years. Most accepted peace a few years ago, and many of the remaining groups are negotiating with the government).

The BBC had a report about the various groups HERE .

There is a good argument that the domino theory is still valid here in Asia.

Since 9-11, both the MILF and other Moro groups in Mindanao –and also the NPA (local communists) here in central Luzon- are being hit hard by government troops. Their supporters discouraged by government inspections and checkpoints (some say even killed by hit squads).

But if there is a perception that the Americans are now weak, the tide could turn.

The exhaustion of the communists by the American opposition of communist expansion in Viet Nam probably saved Thailand and the Philippines despite American withdrawal, but the irony is that the abandonment of VietNam led to Russia’s invasion of Afghanistan, and Carter’s encouragement of the Shah of Iran to leave without a fight led to the present theocracy of Iran.

So one wonders how the Philippines will fare in the falling dominoes if America again abandons their allies.

One suspects the power vacuum here would be filled by the Chinese, who may see American withdrawal in Iraq and softness against North Korea as a sign to expand both their political and economic influence into Southeast Asia.

———– Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the Philippines with her husband, seven dogs, three cats, and a large extended family. Her main blog can be found at Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket

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