Those who want a “mini lesson” on how to rebuild a civil society after years of oppression need to look at East Timor, where 200 000 people were killed since Indonesia annexed it in 1975.
Finally, with the help of the UN an election was held, and people voted for independence. Alas, after the vote, Indonesian assisted rebels started a major massacre of civilians, leading an Australian led UN peacekeeping force that had to fight to protect the people.
The intervention by Australia led to two things: One, true independence for that country.
The second was enmity by Alqaeda: The Australian intervention was cited by Islamic extremists as the reason for both the Bali bombing, where Australian tourists were targeted, and the killing of UN Ambassador de Mello when a suicide bomber attacked the UN mission in Baghdad shortly after the US liberated that country.
The UN Peacekeepers stayed in East Timor for several years, but were phased back, starting in 2004, and full removed by 2005.
However, in 2006, factional fighting broke out again, leading to over 100 000 refugess and a couple dozen deaths. The UN quickly returned with outside troops, again mainly Australian.
They oversaw the mainly peaceful election earlier this month elected Nobel Peace laureate Jose Ramos Horta as president. It is hoped that he could unite the country.
The opposition “insurgents” denounced the election while demanding the withdrawal of Australian troops.
Last week, during a protest, one of the Philippine plolicewomen was hurt by the mob. There are 155 Filipino police peacekeepers serving in UNMIT..the UN Integrated Mission in Timor Leste.
Those in the US Congress who are impatient about Iraq would do well to ponder the lessons of East Timor.
One:Building a democracy when some become corrupted with the power of the gun is not easy, but without those trying to promote peace by preventing violent men from destroying a country.
Two: That premature withdrawal can result in resurgence of violence. It was only the quick reinjection of Australian troops that stopped thousands of deaths in 2006.
Three: Americans should be aware of the peacekeeping by Australia in the Asia Pacific area.
Four: Alqaeda/Islamofascism is not the cause of much of the disorders any more than international communism was the cause of the Huk/NPA rebellion, but the ability of these outside groups to coordinate funding and illegal arms smuggling to the most extreme groups lead to instability in many places in the world.
Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the Philippines. Her website is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket