Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Geopolitical Chess: The Hukbalahap Rebellion

The extent that a nation involves itself in the affairs of others is only tempered by its ability to do so.  America's early isolationist tendency had more to due with our inherent weakness than principal.  The US, even in our early founding, would intervene in the affairs of other countries, such as the overgrow of a Barbary sultan in North Africa during the early 19th century during the Barbary Wars, if it felt that such an action was in its best interest. I feel its important to remember this. Canada and Switzerland do not meddle in the affairs of nations because the nation is inherently more altruistic than others, its because they either lack the ability to due so or because there is no need due to the actions of another party.

Now I am not saying I endorse such actions.  Many of the US foreign policy actions I would say are misguided and happen because we are stuck to a paradigm that has not existed since the end of the Cold War.  The ship of state is a difficult to steer and often does things because of pure inertia. Their motives for doing so also often do not correspond to what other individuals or smaller individuals would hold as interest. This interest being geopolitics. I believe it is important that we on the right understand this. That being said I am going to write about certain historical events in history in hopes that it will bring new knowledge with which it will help shape how we view events in the world.

And so I open up to a rebellion that few Americans, Europeans, or even most Asians would be aware of. But that did exist and that the US help combat for almost a decade in the Philippines.  The rebellion was against the Filipino communists known as the Hukbalahap, a very violent insurgency that was most prominent from 1946 to 1954.

The insurgency came from political differences between different political parties in the Philippines during the 1940s. This culminated when Manual Roxas won the presidency, whom the communists accused of as Japanese collaborator during world war two, and the communists went into open rebellion against the government.  Manual Roxas heavy handed policies didn't help and from 1946 to 1949 the rebellion gained many sympathizers.  Though public opinion shifted when the wife of the 2nd president of the Philippines, who himself had fought against American occupation in his youth before decided to seek civil means to independence, and the leaders of the Huks claimed it was a renegade element that had committed the atrocity.

The Huks were incredibly savage in their dealings. So much so that even other non-affiliated guerrilla fighters, there were many in the Philippines, wanted little to do with the group. They had become almost indiscriminate in their targets. Officials, police offices, clerks, and even simple peasants were often kidnapped, tortured, and murdered. But even with the low public opinion that many held for the communist rebellion they succeeded in spreading their insurgent cells throughout many provinces. They very nearly took Manila, however, many of the leaders were arrested in a surprise raid in the capital city itself.  Even so, President Harry Truman was alarmed enough to authorize the US in sending military equipment and advisers to the country.

The amount of American involvement, specifically of the military advisers, is somewhat unknown. But the fact is that the Americans were involved and that with their help the Filipino military was able to make headway against the insurgency.  It wouldn't be until the mid-1950's that the insurgence was put down for good due to a combination of political reforms and military victories.  However, this would not spell the end for domestic troubles as insurgencies of one form or another have continued to this day. And the actions of the 7th president, suspending habeus corpus temporally, was a precursor to strongman president Ferdinand Marcos.

The reason why the Americans were involved are pretty obvious.  This was the height of the cold war, and the red scare. The US was afraid of the consequence of the Philippines falling into the communist camp, a very real fear if we take into account the importance of the South China sea today since it would severely hamper US naval capabilities in the region. It would have given the Soviets a base in the south east pacific that would act as a staging point and a buffer zone to the Indian Ocean and beyond. The defeat of the rebellion helped keep the Philippines, and the naval bases that the navy used, in the Americans courts; but as we see the actions had long term affects that the Filipino people continue to deal with to this day.

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Seattle resident whose real name is Kevin Daniels. This blog covers the following topics, libertarian philosophy, realpolitik, western culture, history and the pursuit of truth from the perspective of a libertarian traditionalist.