Karen Hughes in the Stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf
Karen Hughes Visits Abu Sayyaf Lair -- The key aide to President Bush visited the island of Jolo and hailed efforts there as a model of for how operations should be conducted elsewhere in the world. ( Reuters)
U.S. special forces are providing intelligence and training to Philippine troops combating the Abu Sayyaf, the country's deadliest Islamic militant group. They are also helping build roads and schools on Jolo, a stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf. ... There was strong security but no sign of the fighting when Hughes was mobbed by hundreds of Muslim schoolchildren waving Philippine and U.S. paper flags after she stepped out of a military helicopter in the port town of Maimbung. "Well, it's very heart-warming to see the warm smiles," she said, when asked whether her reception differed from that in other Muslim societies. U.S. Ambassador Kristie Kenny inaugurated a three-room school building that was built by U.S. soldiers where students learn how to surf the Internet using 10 computers provided by the U.S. Agency for International Development.
The substantial accomplishments made in the field are the result of the dedicated efforts of many individual Filipinos and Americans but it would be a travesty to assign the credit for the recent successes against the Islamic insurgency to any particular competence by the Arroyo government. The Reuters article goes out of its way to emphasizes the socio-economic aspects of the counterinsurgency, but the key to development isn't more money. The amount of money that has been allotted to the Autonomous Region For Muslim Mindanao surpasses anything that the non-Muslim regions have received. Development was never stifled by a lack of money but by a lack of supervision. The warlords of the area have never missed an opportunity to pocket the funds for their own private benefit. What the American presence provided was a greater degree of watchfulness on the way funds were spent. If the 3-room schoolbuilding were left to the usual corrupt construction practices instead of being directly built by US soldiers it's a fair bet that not a single nail would have been driven to this day.
All the same it's good to see that Ms. Huges and Ambassador Kenny are out there. God bless them.