Tuesday, December 09, 2003


Assembly of Corsairs -- esteemed Pirates of America, Britain and Australia -- we appreciate your generous counsel. We are in agreement with you that the shadow of terror and tyranny grows longer by the day and that we must meet this growing threat with sustained ardor.

However, despite all the benefits that are said to come with it, we must respectfully decline your invitation for us to join the new crusade – what you call the ‘war on terror.’

Your offer of support is sincerely appreciated, even though the blandishments in your missive suggest that you need our support more than we need yours. While your proposal of deepened friendship given our perilous times is positively noted, you will have to forgive us if we can only extend our middle finger in return. The kindnesses you have heaped on the hapless are not forgotten so easily.

We have not forgotten that when martial law was declared in the Philippines in 1972, the first group to congratulate the despot Marcos came from a branch of your assembly called the American Chamber of Commerce, which called the declaration of martial rule a “heaven-sent relief.”

In its congratulatory telegram, we recall that the Chamber – the same one which exhorted the Philippines recently to “Remember, foreign investors go where they are most welcome” – wished the tyrant “every success in your endeavor to restore peace and order, business confidence, economic growth and the well-being of the Filipino people.”

We are very much aware that two years before martial law, US investments in the Philippines stood at $16.3 million, and that by 1981, the figure had grown to $920 million.” We can even recall George H.W. Bush raising his glass in a toast as he told Marcos during his visit to Manila in 1981, "We love your adherence to democratic principle and to the democratic processes.”

Pirates, gentlemen and ladies, when your current leader, George Bush, Jr., said he chose to travel to Southeast Asia this year because he wanted “to make sure that people … finally understand our motivation is pure,” he did not have to explain himself too much. The purity of his intentions was never in doubt.

We have not forgotten the kindnesses that the band he belongs to – your band – heaped on Indonesia.

We have not forgotten the mass graves buried near the holiday hotels in Bali. Graves that hold the remains of some 80,000 people murdered in Bali during the bloodletting of 1965-66, which claimed a total of a million lives across Indonesia.

We recall the slaughter being described by the CIA as “One of the worst mass murders in the 20th century” and recall that the evil deed was perpetrated by a butcher called Suharto with the connivance of the so-called Western democracies (another name of your august Assembly). We have not overlooked the fact that this Suharto was called by corsair extraordinaire Margaret Thatcher as “one of our very best and most valuable friends.”

Wasn’t it a member of yours, Harold Holt, the Australian Prime Minister in 1966, who remarked “With 500,000 to a million communist sympathizers knocked off, I think it’s safe to assume a reorientation has taken place”? It appears to be him. We do recall that at the time of Holt’s remark, the Australian embassy in Jakarta described Suharto’s massacres “as a ‘cleansing process’” while in Canberra, “the Prime Minister’s department expressed support for ‘any measures to assist the Indonesian army cope with the internal situation.’”

We are unsure if Australia did “lose its innocence” in the Bali bombing of October 2002; it is possible the innocence died much earlier.

Esteemed pirates, please do not think we have forgotten about the kindness of silence that was extended to East Timor when it was invaded on December 7, 1975 and occupied for over two decades by Suharto’s armed forces. And do not think that we have neglected the fact that for much of the ghastly occupation of East Timor, “Suharto’s biggest supplier of arms and military equipment was Britain.”

We know that US President Gerald Ford and US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger met with Suharto in Jakarta the day before the invasion of East Timor. And though both these chaps kept denying it once upon a time, based on recently declassified secret archival documents, it is now an indisputable fact that Ford and Kissinger advised Suharto in their meeting that “it is important that whatever you do [with East Timor] succeeds quickly” but that “it would be better if it were done after we [have left].”

We of course remember, esteemed Pirates, that the Indonesian dictator tried to keep his word. By the time Indonesia’s invasion of East Timor had commenced, Ford and Kissinger were already safely meeting with Marcos in Manila, spiritedly plotting how to recover from the humiliation suffered by the US that year – 1975 -- the year America fled from Saigon.

But Pirates do not learn their lessons well, as we have observed.

By 1979, “the first directive for secret aid” had already been signed by US President Jimmy Carter – the first of many that would in time merge into a massive river of financing -- to groups fighting the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

Groups that would later form the Taliban. And the Abu Sayyaf. And Jemaah Islamiyah. Among others.

What goes around comes around.

Didn’t former US National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzenzinski hector to a French newspaper in 1998, “What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet Empire? Some stirred up Moslems or … the end of the cold war?”

Some stirred up Moslems did try to answer Brzezinski’s interesting question three years later on September 11. Who can forget that wicked deed – and those men? The men who could not scale the heights of their hatred?

Pirates, we wish to make ourselves clear: while we repudiate the barbarism of the men who conspired and executed the terror of 9/11, we do not intend to follow you into your abyss.

We little people, we are stubborn folks and we prefer to follow our own course.

Comments are welcome at xioi@excite.com

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