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<nettime> Ready for Captain America
?F=E1tima?= Lasay on Fri, 17 Oct 2003 11:00:43 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Ready for Captain America

Yes, we're getting ready for CAPTAIN AMERICA.

Photos by Ben Razon
benrazon {AT} wirephoto.com

Manila demolition for Bush visit:
Displaced residents of Batasan Hills, a Manila shanty section situated 
across the Philippine House of Representatives building complex, ponder 
their immediate future as their houses were demolished in last-minute 
clearing and beautification operations in preparation for the eight-hour 
visit to Manila of U.S. President George W. Bush. Bush is scheduled to 
address both houses of the Philippine Congress on Saturday, October 18.

Manila anti-Bush visit preparation:
A caricature of U.S. President George W. Bush as Captain America sits in 
preparation for a massive anti-U.S. demonstration timed with the American 
president's eight-hour visit in Manila on Saturday, October 18.

News Analysis

Goodbye, Emperor Bush
U.S. president to step up ‘war on terror,’ free trade
By Bobby Tuazon

The war on terror and free trade will underline U.S. President George W. 
Bush’s nine-day swing through six nations of Asia-Pacific – including the 
Philippines – beginning Oct. 17. The trip is also intended to thank Asian 
allies, among them President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, for supporting Bush’s 
unpopular war on terror against Afghanistan and Iraq and for sending forces 
and war materiel to war-torn Iraq which is now under U.S. neo-colonial 

Bush will be visiting a familiar territory – the region that for over a 
century has been a priority in America’s drive for global hegemony meant to 
ensure its continued access to major raw materials, trade and vital 
security and commercial routes. What will be unfamiliar to him is that the 
trip will not be all pomp and pageantry – he will be greeted by widespread 
protests enflamed by the illegitimacy of the war on terror and the bane of 
imperialist globalization.

His official trip will kick off from California where he is expected to 
congratulate its new rightist governor, Hollywood celebrity Arnold 
Schwarzenegger. From there he will fly to Japan, then to the Philippines 
and Thailand (where he will attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation 
forum summit). The next leg of his trip will include Singapore, Indonesia 
and Australia, where he will address a joint session of parliament in Canberra.

Bush is flying in at a time when support for the war and occupation of Iraq 
has plummeted in his own country and elsewhere in the world. U.S. forces 
are deep into a quagmire in Iraq amid guerrilla attacks that they are 
unable to prevent. Washington has been unsuccessful thus far in pushing for 
a UN multilateral force for peacekeeping mission in that Middle East 
country outside of the pledges of support already committed by 
Macapagal-Arroyo and other Asian allies. Meantime, the U.S. economy is on 
the edge of deflation and the Bush visit is expected to boost U.S. 
pressures to – in the light of the collapse of the recent Cancun WTO 
ministerial conference – forge new free trade agreements as well as new 
investment schemes favorable to U.S. transnational corporations. The first 
of such free trade agreement has been forged with Singapore early this year.

More commitments

No doubt the U.S. president will use his visit as a platform for the 
intensification of his “war on terror” and to extract more commitments to 
support not only America’s neocolonial and pacification campaigns in 
Afghanistan and Iraq but also current war preparations against other 
members of the so-called “axis of evil” particularly North Korea and Iran. 
Inevitably, this particular agenda will also call for the strengthening of 
bilateral and multilateral security relationships conducive for the U.S. 
Pacific Command’s (PACOM) plans to bolster its power projection in the 
region. The plans have included, among others, the forward deployment of 
more forces, reshuffling of forces, joint anti-terrorism operations and a 
blueprint for a NATO-type regional defense force.

U.S. alliance with Japan is the linchpin of America’s military hegemony in 
Asia. Almost half of the 100,000 U.S. troops in the Far East are in Japan 
including the Marine Expeditionary Force and Fifth Air Force based in 
Okinawa that will be used in a war with North Korea. In the U.S.’ recent 
wars of aggression, Japan as a junior ally has played an active role by 
using the façade of peacekeeping and humanitarian missions even if these 
clearly exceeded the constitutional limits that provide only for a 
self-defense force.

Singapore, on the other hand, has been a leading advocate of stronger U.S. 
military presence in Southeast Asia and has even offered its territory for 
a military base. The 1990 Access Memorandum of Understanding allows U.S. 
carrier visits, aircraft deployments as well as naval and air training 

Like Singapore, Thailand is a long-time ally where the U.S. PACOM enjoys 
rights of access and a high level of interoperability. It is here where the 
U.S. conducts centerpiece war exercises including Cobra Gold. Thailand had 
been under military dictatorship and supplied troops to fight America’s 
wars of aggression in Indochina during the 1970s. The Thai government has 
also sent at least 1,000 troops to Iraq.


The U.S. expects to renew a strong security relationship that it once 
enjoyed under the 33-year long authoritarian rule of General Soeharto whom 
Washington also supported. If it cannot rebuild its military base in the 
Philippines, it can potentially do so in Indonesia considering this 
country’s geostrategic position and – with the world’s largest Muslim 
population and a large oil industry – its own regional influence. Indonesia 
is a gateway between the Pacific and Indian Oceans and straddles some of 
the world’s critical sea lines of communication.

Chiefly because of Prime Minister John Howard’s own warmongering, Australia 
has sent combat troops to both Afghanistan and Iraq aside from naval 
contingents. It is with Australia that the U.S. maintains some 250 
defense-related bilateral agreements. Military ties between the two 
countries have been upgraded during the past few years with bigger and more 
frequent bilateral war exercises and a more visible presence of the U.S. 
Navy. Australia, which seeks to project itself as a regional power, 
provides a key link to America’s global military domination as it hosts 
strategic intelligence-gathering programs and is a partner in the 
Pentagon’s secretive new missile defense system.


Compared to other Southeast Asian countries, however, it is the Philippines 
where its government has long salivated to become not only America’s most 
trusted ally but its own propaganda mouthpiece in the region. And this is 
the reason why Bush will use his visit in Manila to – upon 
Macapagal-Arroyo’s own prodding – address a joint session of Congress on 
Oct. 18. Seen from that angle, Bush’s presence in the Philippine Congress 
is a virtual endorsement for Macapagal-Arroyo’s bid for the presidency in 
the May 2004 elections.

Bush’s tacit support for Macapagal-Arroyo’s presidency is not at all 
unexpected and is not without reason. With her unequivocal support for 
Bush’s war on terrorism and strong military presence in the region even 
when her own country cannot afford it, the U.S. has used the Philippines as 
its “second front” in the global war against terrorism. As a result, the 
U.S. has won legitimacy and expediency for a deeper war interventionism in 
this country as well as for using the Philippines as a staging base for 
greater military presence in Southeast Asia. Bush is also expected to 
reiterate military aid pledges as well as investment packages particularly 
in Mindanao where the U.S. is pressuring the Moro Islamic Liberation Front 
(MILF) to capitulate in exchange for development assistance. Today 
Macapagal-Arroyo is described as a puppet without equal for trading her 
country’s sovereignty and her own people’s civil liberties for that crucial 
U.S. tacit support to her presidency.

U.S. security relationships with Japan, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, the 
Philippines and Australia are seen however as unilateral impositions by 
America that have nothing to do at all with ensuring the security of these 
countries. Rather, these security arrangements – backed by military bases, 
war exercises, forward deployment of forces and the USPACOM – provide the 
full spectrum mechanism for guaranteeing America’s economic and 
geopolitical interests while preventing the rise of a rival military power 
in the region. As a matter of fact, these security relationships are being 
calibrated to support U.S. wars of aggression as far as the Persian Gulf, 
Central Asia and elsewhere. Coincidentally, the U.S. military presence is 
also used to rein in governments and maintain regimes who help administer 
America’s junior allies, quasi-protectorates and – in the case of the 
Philippines – neo-colonies.

Anti-war movements

The current war on terror has however generated strong anti-war movements 
in Asia particularly in Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines and Australia. 
The anti-war movements have arisen alongside the worldwide resistance to 
globalization and are germinating higher levels of struggles against U.S. 
imperialism and its military bases. There is a growing awareness among 
peoples in the region that the U.S. has been the main source of instability 
and oppression and that their sovereign integrity can only be guaranteed 
through non-interference by all foreign powers and the phase-out of all 
types of foreign military presence. The U.S. stands accused of instigating 
terrorist acts in order to justify greater armed interventionism and 
military presence in the region.

The latest report is that big protest actions will greet Bush’s Asia visit. 
A news release by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan or New Patriotic 
Alliance) last week reveals that Workers’ Democracy, among several groups, 
will spearhead mass actions in Bangkok in time for the Apec summit and the 
Bush visit. In Japan, nationwide mass protests led by the Asia-Wide 
Campaign (AWC) and other organizations will call for an end to U.S. 
military occupation and protest the Koizumi government’s dispatch of 
Japanese soldiers to Iraq.

A “Day of Ridicule” will be staged on Oct. 29 when Bush is expected to 
address the Australian parliament in Canberra. The Sydney Peace and Justice 
Coalition, one of the lead organizers of anti-war rallies protesting the 
U.S. war on Iraq, will again take to the streets “to give George the 
welcome he deserves.” In the Philippines, “Ban Bush” indignation rallies 
will be launched nationwide with Metro Manila as the center of city-wide 
protest actions. The Legislators Against War (LAW) led by Bayan Muna 
representatives will also protest when Bush addresses the Philippine 
Congress in a joint session.

Similar mass protests are also set in the United States. Bulatlat.com

Fátima Lasay http://digitalmedia.upd.edu.ph/digiteer/

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