Uniffors


Hearts and minds

Posted in Manuel Quezon III by uniffors on the December 20th, 2005

In this article written for the Inquirer, Manuel Quezon III continues his analysis of the military mind.

Hearts and minds

By Manuel L. Quezon III

THE Portuguese dictator Antonio de Oliveira Salazar drew a commentary in the Times of London in 1961: “Who has not often felt the distaste with democratic politics which Salazar expressed when he said that he ‘detested politics from the bottom of his heart; all those noisy and incoherent promises, the impossible demands, the hotchpotch of unfounded ideas and impractical plans… opportunism that cares neither for truth nor justice, the inglorious chase after unmerited fame, the unleashing of uncontrollable passions, the exploitation of the lowliest instincts, the distortion of facts… all that feverish and sterile fuss?’”

From the time of Alexander the Great, the impatience of the soldier with talk and more talk has entranced millions. The inability of elected leaders, the institutions they belong to, and the public (when it has the opportunity to select those leaders), to choose rational, responsible people to wield authority often leads to temptation to do away with those who govern, and isolate those who choose the ones who rule. “Line them up against the wall, and shoot them!” How often have we heard that? Far too often — and, perhaps, far more often now than at any time since the Ferdinand Marcos years.

Benito Mussolini wrote a summary of our government’s — and really, any government’s — policies in reaction to the increasingly threatening attitude of the more troublesome in the opposition (if not exactly the people). He began by posing a question: “Was there ever a government in history that was based exclusively on the consent of the people and renounced any and every use of force? A government so constituted there never was and never will be. Consent is as changeable as the formation of the sands on the seashore. We cannot have it always. Nor can it ever be total. No government has ever existed which made all its subjects happy. Whatever solutions you happen to give to any problem whatsoever, even though you share the divine wisdom, you would inevitably create a class of malcontents.”

He went on to ask another question, and answered it by insisting on a harsh solution: “How are you going to avoid that this discontent spread and constitute a danger for the solidarity of the state? You avoid it with force — by employing force inexorably where it is rendered necessary. Rob any government of force and leave it only with its immortal principles, and that government will be at the mercy of the first group that is organized and intent on overthrowing it.”

The danger, of course, is that the solidarity of the state (as Mussolini put it) or national security (as the government expresses it) depends on the armed forces. There is difficulty, though, in a divided armed forces, and there are enough crudely written manifestos floating around to suggest that this may be so. The attitude of the soldier who would tear up the oath to the Constitution and the Republic was best exemplified in an interview Francisco Franco (future Generalissimo of Spain) gave during the Spanish Civil War. The Q&A went like this:
Q. How long, now that the coup has failed in your objectives, is the massacre to go on?
Q. What would your government do, if you won?
A. I would establish a military dictatorship.
Q. What would happen to the politicians of the republic?
A. Nothing, except they would have to go to work.
Q. Why were you able to collaborate with the government in apparent loyalty for so long?
A. I collaborated loyally as long as I thought the Republic represented the national will.
Q. What about the February elections? Don’t they represent the national will?
A. Elections never do.

A struggle for the “hearts and minds” of our soldiers, by all accounts, has been going on for some time. It’s no coincidence that Fr. Romeo Intengan, S.J. has published the outline for an essay on the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), focusing, in particular, on the question Mussolini asked: How is the state to defend itself?
Intengan suggests: By knowing how seductive the enemy is, pointing, in particular, to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). Its “Lt. Crispin Tagamolila Movement,” he warns, is actively enlisting members of the AFP to the cause of revolution. Intengan views the repeal of the Anti-Subversion Law during the Fidel Ramos administration as a great error; and suggests that internal security has been neglected too long. While he recommends — as many sensible people have recommended — a reexamination of the National Defense Act because it is now outmoded in its concern with external aggression, one has to wonder if his concern with internal security is the answer. As far as protecting the state, it just might be; but it might be an effort along the lines of patching up a battleship just as the sailors are plotting mutiny.

The real concern is the one brought up by Intengan, but for reasons very different from what others may be considering. By this, I mean the obvious concern in Intengan’s paper over the way our soldiers might be seduced and corrupted by communist thought; though laced as his paper is with Social Democratic thought, he is arguing over which brand of Socialism should be triumphant, and obviously he believes the CPP version (“Stalinist,” he describes it bluntly) is wrong.

Which brings up the most pressing question of all. With some soldiers saying they have the answers, and too many Filipinos saying they want the soldiers to provide leadership, do we really know what our soldiers think? Or those claiming to think for them have in mind? If the manifestos circulating are any guide, their thoughts can only fail to inspire. Those who would lead must tell us more. To ask a people to take a leap of faith into the arms of those with bayonets is a dangerous proposition even in the worst of times.

7 Responses to 'Hearts and minds'

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  1. Rizalist said,

    on December 21st, 2005 at 9:18 am

    Yet when I read Intengan, I am struck by how similar his thoughts are to Joma’s — except I think he is a Trotskyist where Joma is a Stalinist. He would have the Philippines emulate socialist Europe, save for the Netherlands. The clerico fascists always walked hand in hand with the totalitarians. MLQ3 is confused about the military. For there are two Militaries controlled by the Left and Right Hands of political mafias, one in Malacanan, one in Utrecht. But he doesn’t think of the NPA as “military” — he thinks they are oppressed revolutionaries merely misled.

    Meanwhile, Freedom House just downgraded Philippines from FREE to PARTLY FREE, while Indonesia is upgraded. I’d be interested to hear what you guys think the govt will do diplomatically. Thanks

  2. uniffors said,

    on December 21st, 2005 at 3:11 pm

    Brownman to Rizalist,

    Most of those who join the military come from the poor or oppressed classes. Most of those who join the NPA belong to the same class. We can see a common denominator here : economic improvement. The end is the same, the means different.

    In effect, depending on where one seats, one will percieve the right or the left leaning military or the NPA as misled or misguided. All of them however consider their choice patriotic.

    The NPA, like the AFP, is not monolithic. They have their own share of bandits who masquerade as protectors/defenders of the people.

  3. Rizalist said,

    on December 21st, 2005 at 10:44 pm

    I cannot question the motives of individuals, but there is no moral equivalence between AFP and the NPA, though both be riven through with immoral people. The one is considered corrupt and incompetent by us and our allies, while the other is a “foreign terrorist organization”. Until we are sure of the difference, we shall never get the business of Left and Right, right. We can tolerate a diversity of ideologies, but murder, kidnapping, extortion and maintaining a revolutionary govt supported by Dutch welfare are not patriotic acts.

  4. uniffors said,

    on December 22nd, 2005 at 12:37 am

    Brownman to rizalist,

    I didn’t say they were patriotic, I said they consider their choice patriotic.

    As to the descriptio of the NPA as a foreign terrorist organization I think it’s more accurate to say that the NPA is a guerilla group “partly foreign funded and led from abroad” because their soldiers and local leadership are Filipinos and I hesitate to use the word terrorist until someone can define exactly what it means.

    Having said all that, democracy as defined by Jose Maria Sison of the Netherlands is not for me.

    I’ve always imagined telling Joma and his cabinet – “Okay I will become a believer but on one condition : I’ll be the doctor, you be the patients” It’s easy to prescribe and administer bitter medicine, it’s not as easy if you’re the patient.

  5. Luke said,

    on December 22nd, 2005 at 7:42 am

    On the battle for the hearts and minds of our soldiers, I think that is already over. Many of the younger and more idealistic officers have already made up their minds. It is now only a matter of uniting themselves, getting organized and getting the proper timing.

    On Rizalist’s question about any diplomatic initiative to counter the downgrade of the Philippines by Freedom House, I think no such move will be made. Like the chief executive, the DFA is on automatic pilot. It can only perform routine functions at the moment. Furthermore, it will be difficult to refute the charges of electoral fraud and corruption which form the basis of the downgrade.

    On Joma Sison, I believe we are giving him too much attention. While he still holds the key to much of the CPP’s coffers, I don’t think he really calls the shots anymore.


  6. on January 4th, 2007 at 1:33 am

    drunk driving accidents involving teenagers…

    Your post is on target. Keep it up….

  7. Alaska radio said,

    on September 24th, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    Yet when I read Intengan, I am struck by how similar his thoughts are to Joma’s — except I think he is a Trotskyist where Joma is a Stalinist. He would have the Philippines emulate socialist Europe, save for the Netherlands. The clerico fascists always walked hand in hand with the totalitarians. MLQ3 is confused about the military. For there are two Militaries controlled by the Left and Right Hands of political mafias, one in Malacanan, one in Utrecht. But he doesn’t think of the NPA as “military” — he thinks they are oppressed revolutionaries merely misled.

    Meanwhile, Freedom House just downgraded Philippines from FREE to PARTLY FREE, while Indonesia is upgraded. I’d be interested to hear what you guys think the govt will do diplomatically. Thanks