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March 31, 2006

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Noel wrote:

There are roughly 200,000 practicing doctors and 300,000 registered nurses in the Philippines. Approximately 130,000 nurses (many of whom had trained as doctors) work abroad.

Yes. An overseas salary for a nurse can be significantly larger than a Philippines salary for a doctor. And in some wealthy countries doctors and their associations have control over the credentialling of new doctors and work actively to control the specialist medical supply to protect their own incomes.

(As a trades unionist myself I don’t say that this is a Bad or a Good Thing; merely observing it.)

It seems that credentialling for nurses may be on the upswing, at least in Britain. Officially it is for the maintenance of standards:

The number of overseas nurses registering to work in Britain has risen fourfold in the past five years, prompting UK authorities to announce a more rigorous registration program.

Britain’s National Health Service, in particular, is having a field day, now that they’ve sucked all the professionals out of the West Indies like a giant socialist vacuum cleaner.

Yes. This is the NSW Nurses Federation again: “The Philippines supplies an estimated 25% of all overseas nurses worldwide.

“More than half are in Saudi Arabia, 14% in the USA and 12% in the UK.”

So the UK is hoovering up almost as many nurses as the USA despite having a smaller population base.

Even Australia has now gotten in on the act—according to Philippine officials, they’ve asked for help (which the Philippines is, in fact, providing) in recruiting twenty thousand doctors over the next few years.

This is an issue that is conflicting the Australian Medical Association. Two years ago their house organ had a piece entitled “Brain drain” or ethical recruitment.

The authors provided the following abstract:

“ * Recruitment by wealthy countries of health personnel from developing countries is threatening the viability of crucial health programs in poor countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa.

“ * Australia has participated in this “brain drain”, although the extent and impact of this on different countries has not been adequately assessed.

“ * Australia depends on overseas-trained doctors to fill vacancies in public hospitals and private practice, particularly in rural and outer suburban areas where locally trained professionals are reluctant to work.

“ * Australia should adopt national strategies to minimise harm and maximise benefits of skills migration; concerted international action will also be required.”

[The article goes on in greater detail to both restrict medical recruitment from poorer countries and to support the poorer countries’ infrastructure.]

"If we were smart, we’d spend on public health in places like Mindanao; win lots of friends here and strike an inexpensive propaganda blow in the Global War On Terror."

Actually, my understanding is that a little of that is, in fact, going on, albeit under military auspices.

But you always find whiners....

Syd: There are ways in which skilled countries can turn the medical "brain drain" into a win-win for everyone involved; the U.K.'s relationship with South Africa is a good example.

Bernard: U.S. relief efforts after the recent landslide were quite impressive, thoroughly military, and very appreciated. The problem is that our efforts tend to be sporadic and unsustained, which undermines their utility both as development policy and as propaganda. For example, constructing a hospital does little good if the Philippines can't afford to man it.

That's just our style. Viz the New Horizons exercises, which have lurched from Panama to Guyana and now to Haiti, rather than using the military to gain long-term benefits by continuing the annual relief exercises in one single place.

I will be going to Mindanao (starting in Davao) later this year, and should be able to report more then. I have been trying to get to see U.S. efforts in Basilan, but arranging that is proving a bit difficult.

Now, I assume the "whiners" remark refers to Senator Pimentel, correct? If so, then you should know that Pimentel isn't who you think he is.

http://www.nenepimentel.org/news/20060307_Sulu.asp

and

http://www.nenepimentel.org/news/20060223_US.asp

To sum-up, he appreciates the American aid but warns that U.S. combat operations in the midst of peace negotiations would be counterproductive.

Which is about what he said in the article that you linked to.

Of course, you may have been referring to the "civil society groups" in Sulu. If you read the subsequent articles in the series, then many of their objections do indeed seem rather silly. That is not clear from the article itself, however.

Commenting on Senator Pimentel's remarks: it's interesting that the events at Bud Dajo, which have evidently seared themselves on the Moro historical consciousness, barely rate a footnote in U.S. history books. Honestly, I don't think one American in a hundred thousand could tell you what it was off-hand.

"I keep track of these things, Clark. One of us has to."

Syd: There are ways in which skilled countries can turn the medical "brain drain" into a win-win for everyone involved; the U.K.'s relationship with South Africa is a good example.

Noel, absolutely. The Medical Journal of Australia article kinda argues for this. [In fairness the final sentence of my previous post was missing two key words, "The article goes on in greater detail with strategies to both restrict medical recruitment from poorer countries and to support the poorer countries’ infrastructure."]

The ever reliable folk at New Internationalist also have some useful stats.

40% of the Queensland medical workforce trained abroad? That puts the Doctor Death scandal into perspective.

Noe: I find the Senator's remarks in both the article I linked and your own additions to range between silly and painfully counterproductive. From the "70 spies" crack to "If the American troops involved in the Balikatan exercises did what they said they did and if the people in Sulu really appreciated what they did, then it may be safe to say that their presence there was not meant to aggravate the law and order situation but to promote peace,” the lone senator from Mindanao said.The minority leader had earlier warned the American soldiers against joining Filipino combat soldiers in military operations against terrorists or insurgents in Sulu and other parts of Mindanao. Otherwise, he said the peace negotiations between the government and Moro rebels would be jeopardized." YMMV, but I don't see him serving either his country's interests or my own's in there. If the central government finds some use in continuing combat operations while negotiating, I don't think it's a leap to think that they might want to make them as effective as possible.

Carlos: Batman quotes? :^) Like the man said, the work has its disagreeable aspects. Anyway, while I'm not one to buy into the "white man's burden" thing (what business of mine would it have been if the world was 'uplifted' in 1906 or not?), let's not kid ourselves that the Moros at the time were Mr. Rogers clones. Maybe the world isn't better off if you prosecute nasty wars against slavers and pirates, but did it really get all that much worse?

Bernard, sigh. Please don't assign me views I don't have.

OK, that's probably impossible. :-) But at least tell me where you're coming from, where you can say with a straight face that I kid myself "that the Moros at the time were Mr. Rogers clones". Because that came straight from Mars.

Granted, I don't have a high opinion of Wood -- as a general, he was a very good public health administrator -- but I have an even lower opinion of slavers. You know this.

What I really think is that any event where U.S. troops kill a thousand times more people than the background rate should be more than a footnote in our history books. Especially if one believes it accomplished something.

Bernard, you are not arguing logically. However, since I continue to hold some hope that you are open to rational argumentation, let's take your points in turn.

First, Senator Pimentel may be incorrect in believing that American participation is counterproductive. Such a belief, however, is far from silly. The rebels could gain more support by claiming that they are fighting American imperialists, who do not have a particularly positive reputation in the region. Carlos has informed you as to why.

Unless you trust U.S. military spokespeople, you have no reason to say that he is being "silly." Please withdraw the comment or admit that you trust everything the U.S. military says.

Now, assuming that you actually meant to argue that Senator Pimentel is "incorrect" about the utility of using American troops in combat in Mindanao, you should explain to us exactly why you believe that the gain from having U.S. troops fight is greater than the public relations loss. This point is not immediately clear to me.

If, as seems likely, you do not have the factual basis upon which to argue whether it would be useful to Philippine interests (or U.S. ones, but that is changing the terms of the debate, since your use of the term "whine" implies that the policies in question were good for the Philippines) to use U.S. forces in combat in Mindanao, then you should completely withdraw your characterization of Senator Pimentel's comments as either "silly" or "incorrect," although the latter may still, of course, apply.

Second, as argued above, it is not silly or counterproductive for Senator Pimentel to refuse to take American military spokespeople at their word. That is, of course, what he is doing when he says, "If the American troops involved in the Balikatan exercises did what they said they did and if the people in Sulu really appreciated what they did..."

I like to hope that you would think that expressing skepticism about the statements of U.S. government officials is serving his country's (and our) interests quite well.

In fact, if you are consistent with what you have claimed to believe elsewhere, then you have to believe that such skepticism is indeed quite patriotic.

Therefore, you should also withdraw your characterization of that statement of Senator Pimentel.

Lastly, I read Senator Pimentel's statement about the spies as stating that of course the country is riddled with American spies, so what difference does another 70 make? I fail to see how that is counterproductive.

The statement, in context, can be found at:

http://www.nenepimentel.org/news/20050125_US.asp

I am irritated, but unsurprised, that you don't seem to have read the man's other statements about the need to cooperate with the U.S.

Of course, even if you read it differently, a joke is a joke. You have, in public, made far less ambiguous cracks, as have many politicians with whom you agree. And, of course, there is no "whining" in that "crack."

Therefore, you should also withdraw that characterization, and admit that you made a flip remark that turns out, upon reflection, to have been unjustified. I assume that you have the intellectual honesty to do that.

Ah, almost forgot. There is another flaw in your "argument" about Senator Pimentel, Bernard. You have assumed the U.S. troops will not engage in combat without the permission of the Philippine government. You have also assumed that Senator Pimentel wants Philippine troops to engage in combat. Both assumptions must be true for your criticism of the Senator's comments to make sense. You have presented evidence for neither.

This is damnably odd.

Whoa. I am not the oil-on-the-waters guy of this blog. Please, no further escalation.

OK. I withdraw the final question in my last post, with apologies.

Also, just FYI Noel, the scare quotes are somewhat over the top too. In general, scare quotes attack the subjectivity of the person they quote. If your goal isn't simply to belittle, but to try to change someone's mind, putting their opinions in scare quotes is probably not the way to go. Right? Same with comments about another poster's rationality.

Let me try to find a modus vivendi here. Noel, I think you have to admit that some of Senator Pimentel's [1] rhetoric is rather giddy. Bernard, I think what's throwing you off is that he's using the tropes of leftist anti-American boilerplate in service to a completely different idea: a respectful patron state-client state relationship. I don't think you'd ever see that idea come out the mouth of a leftist Latin American politician.

(Well, maybe Castro to the Politburo.)

[1] You know one of his staffers has made the obvious pun.

"Please, no further escalation."

S'cool, Carlos. I've been enjoying the rest of his series, and apart from the final crack I thought Noel raised some reasonable questions. And since he's withdrawn that last, I don't see any reason not to take a reasonable stab at them. We're all adults here, right?

"We're all adults here, right?"

After I've had my chocolate milk, sure!

Um, I mean, indeed.

/ahem/ well I certainly do not want to add to any difficulty to the blog so I'll raise a completely uncontroversial topic:

the life of tranny hookers in the Philippines


But seriously, I _am_ interested in the life as lead by gay and lesbian philipinos.

I was always under the (mistaken?) impression that for a developing country, the Philippines was a relatively progressive place for gays.

Not that Noel would have the time (or opportunities) to make any judgments, as a double-outsider to both communities he might have insight. Especially as he can contrast with other "latin" countries.

The "third-sex" variety of gay life as described here

http://www.globalgayz.com/g-philippines.html

is difficult for modern day westerners to comprehend but would have made perfect sense to a western gay man up until say WWII.


My understanding of gay life outside of the west if sadly fragmentary but Gayploitative tagalog cinema hasn't steered me wrong has it? http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0111180/

Noel,
You raise some interesting points. Let me try and address them one by one:

1) First, Senator Pimentel may be incorrect in believing that American participation is counterproductive. Such a belief, however, is far from silly. The rebels could gain more support by claiming that they are fighting American imperialists, who do not have a particularly positive reputation in the region.

U.S. participation, in either a combat or non-combat role, may or may not be counter-productive. That, however, is not the point.

The government of the Philippines, in which Senator Pimentel currently serves as sole senator from Mindanao, is at war with several different domestic insurgent/terrorist groups, among them the MILF, MNLF and Abu Sayyaf. While said government is currently engaged in talks (only recently restarted) with the MILF, it is not at general peace nor has any final agreement of any sort been signed. Under those circumstances, it would not be outside of the historical norm or rational strategy to find the government applying pressure via continuing military operations even as it continues to talk with the rebels. My understanding is that the MILF has recently been observing a mutual ceasefire with the government, but that is neither here nor there; the government would be well within its legal rights to continue a vigorous prosecution of the war even as it talked.
Further, said government has on numerous occasions asked the U.S. government for assistance in fighting and/or negotiating with said groups. The effectiveness of Filipino forces against said groups has generally been better when they’ve operated in conjunction with U.S. forces to such degree as is allowed by the Visiting Forces Agreement.
Finally, any joint operation such as the Balikatan ’06 exercises has to be agreed upon by both governments through the Mutual Defense Board and must meet the requirements of the Visiting Forces Agreement.
Under the circumstances, we have a cooperative exercise between militaries of the Senator’s own government and a government which his people have previously requested help from, planned and agreed to by his government, in order to apply pressure (whether via combat or humanitarian assistance) against groups which have and continue to directly challenge his government’s sovereignty in what amounts to an on-again, off-again war-zone.
To this, the Senator offers such gems as “Put it in the concrete, I do not want them to start or cause any hostilities against our brethren in Moroland. Otherwise, the peace negotiations the government is now having with the Moro rebels would be jeopardized,” he said.
-and-
“It is a good thing that the American troops did not rub the Moros of Sulu the wrong way by staying on in Sulu today because they would have been reminded that 100 years ago, they rubbed out their ancestors at Bud Dajo,” he said.
-and-
“He said there may even be “more than 70 American spies” operating in Mindanao. “You can raise that to 1,000. All the Americans in the country who do not seem to be gainfully employed could be operating primarily to advance clandestinely the interest of the United States,” Pimentel said in a press statement.”
The first is a statement is counterproductive, in that it places the onus for hostilities (that don’t actually seem to have come about) on forces that are there _at the invitation of his own government_ to assist his own military’s attempts to preserve Filipino sovereignty over southern Mindanao and, incidentally, preserve the Senator’s own position.
The second, similar to the first, is a sort of backhanded “So, Congressman, have you quit beating your wife yet?” “compliment” that points out hostilities from a hundred years in the past while once again failing to note that said American troops are there because the MILF and MNLF would like to get rid of him and his ilk in the here-and-now, and may be supporting anti-U.S. terrorists besides.
The third merely qualifies as the sort of silly, hyperbolic rhetoric that, as Carlos notes, I would expect to hear from a south American Leftist student leader rather than a member of a government that we’re assisting. I will not withdraw my characterization of his statements as generally silly or counterproductive, as I’d no more expect him to say the things he has said than I’d have expected a reasonable British commentator in 1944 to opine that he was happy the GIs weren’t killing and raping too much, or that it was a good thing they weren’t reminding anybody about the invasion of Canada or that incident down in New Orleans.
2) Unless you trust U.S. military spokespeople, you have no reason to say that he is being "silly." Please withdraw the comment or admit that you trust everything the U.S. military says.
Neither-nor. I’ve pointed out above that I think he makes ridiculous comments, but that has very little to do with believing everything said by the U.S. military. Or the U.S. government, or Filipino Senators, or distinguished American economists, or anybody else, for that matter. While not accepting the word of U.S. military spokespeople (or anybody else) at face value, I find that the fact that U.S. forces are there at the invitation of his government and that the recent history of their deployments in the area has been in favor of his governments’ interests places the benefit of the doubt in their court rather than his.

3) Now, assuming that you actually meant to argue that Senator Pimentel is "incorrect" about the utility of using American troops in combat in Mindanao, you should explain to us exactly why you believe that the gain from having U.S. troops fight is greater than the public relations loss.
I should note two things, here. I’m not sanguine about the unalloyed gain in utility of having U.S. troops fight. I can see positives (i.e. Filipino troops have been more effective against the insurgents when assisted by U.S. troops, the U.S. army is somewhat better funded and more up-to-date, etc.) and I can see negatives (i.e. yes, there’s some bad, if dated, history, and I don’t expect everybody to be as I am to say “screw it” in favor of the here-and-now.) Second, they weren’t slated to and don’t actually appear to have fought anybody. If the Senator had restricted himself to making a statement laying out the costs and potential benefits and then saying “net/net, I think we should avoid this”, I might not have reacted poorly to it. Instead, however, he appears to have made a point of using inflammatory public rhetoric about imaginary slights to national sovereignty and thousands of spies.
Further, I am willing to characterize the Senators comments as reported in “Mindanews” as “whining” precisely because those troops weren’t involved in combat, but were, rather involved in numerous MEDCAP assistance operations to score points (and I’m perfectly willing to characterize it that way) with the locals. I think it behooves the Senator, when U.S. troops have been and are saving the lives of his countrymen, to ditch the talk of spies and raw feelings, if only for a moment.
4) I like to hope that you would think that expressing skepticism about the statements of U.S. government officials is serving his country's (and our) interests quite well.
As per the above, there’s a time, place and method for everything. But badmouthing (or complimenting in a backhanded fashion) troops that are there at the invitation of your government, either directly helping your populace or helping your government to retain its sovereign control of its territory, seems like a poor choice.
5) I am irritated, but unsurprised, that you don't seem to have read the man's other statements about the need to cooperate with the U.S.
Actually, I did read them. They’re just as irritating as the rest, though. The claim that you had better cooperate because, well, the U.K., the Germans and the Japanese can’t stop the U.S. or prevent being dragged into messes by it is simply another example of the sort of backhanded rhetoric that’s bothering me. We are, again, there at the invitation of his government and doing, in large part, its bidding. (That we may also advance our own interests is immaterial.) Given that this war has been going, on and off, for decades (if not a century, if you believe in some continuity from the turn of the previous century), it’s not the Philippine government that’s being dragged into something.

6) Ah, almost forgot. There is another flaw in your "argument" about Senator Pimentel, Bernard. You have assumed the U.S. troops will not engage in combat without the permission of the Philippine government. You have also assumed that Senator Pimentel wants Philippine troops to engage in combat. Both assumptions must be true for your criticism of the Senator's comments to make sense.
The U.S. claims to be following the Visiting Forces Agreement and that the Philippine government appears to want them there, I think your first clause can be reasonably inferred. Note the following, from the VFA:
From Article II: “It is the duty of United States personnel to respect the laws of the Republic of the Philippines and to abstain from any activity inconsistent with the spirit of this agreement, and, in particular, from any political activity in the Philippines.”
As to your second clause, I’m not assuming anything of the sort. I’m assuming that the Senator wants to see the government of the Philippines retain sovereignty over Mindanao. To that end, I don’t necessarily expect him to agree with the government on tactical or even strategic means, but I do expect him not to badmouth troops that are there in cooperation with his government in the service of _his_ ultimate goal, either directly or indirectly.

Carlos,

"Bernard, sigh. Please don't assign me views I don't have."

Fair enough, sorry if I pigeonholed you. I took the comment as a "tut tut" over something that happened a long, long time ago, and the objects of which may have legitimately been the subject of war (if not perhaps to the extent that it appears to have been pursued in the crater.) Regardless of how you come down on that, I suppose both issues ("how long is long enough" and "what's an acceptable level of collateral casualties") are open to debate.

"Granted, I don't have a high opinion of Wood"

Hey, they named a base after him, how bad could he have been? :^)

"What I really think is that any event where U.S. troops kill a thousand times more people than the background rate should be more than a footnote in our history books. Especially if one believes it accomplished something."

True enough, either way, though I think that may be as much a condemnation of how history is taught and to what extent than specific to this one event. But again, my apologies.

No worries. I was going to bring up an example I've used before, about the Old Stone House here in Brooklyn, where more Americans died than at the Alamo (and for a far nobler cause), and is virtually unknown. I mean, you can rent it out for parties.

As for Wood, he was just not a people person. His sucessor in Mindanao, a fellow named Tasker Bliss, was; and he had far more success with the Moros. Most historians believe that this was neither despite nor because of Wood's efforts at pacification by artillery.

But you don't get Army bases named after you for being nicknamed "Peacemaker".

>My understanding is that the MILF has recently been observing a mutual ceasefire with the government.


Now of course, you must understand that I am just trying not to help, so forgive the following but


/blink/ MILF? /blink/


yeah yeah I know - but from now on Mindanao will the land of Stifler's Mom

There are things about the people of that archipelago which transcend mere differences in faith, language, or political allegiance. And one of them is the bad pun.

But you don't get Army bases named after you for being nicknamed "Peacemaker".

He had quite a career in addition to that, besides. I suspect they just didn't feel like naming a second Ft. Bliss. Either that, or he was a real pain in the rump at the War College.

Francis: Heh! I'm trying to come up with a good follow-up pun, but I'm drawing a blank.

Bernard: Please stop with the jerking knees and think through your arguments.

Senator Pimentel believes that the U.S. presence is counterproductive. He also worries that the U.S. and the Philippine government may break the status of forces agreement and have U.S. troops engage in combat.

You disagree. You also believe that the U.S. did not engage in combat. So do I. So, in fact, does the Senator ... now. He did not at first, and said so in rather peppery terms. He had reason not to believe the statements of the U.S. government. You still implicitly insist that he did. So you continue to contradict yourself when you write that "has very little to do with believing everything said by the U.S. military."

The statement that you believe that "the recent history of [U.S.] deployments in the area has been in favor of his governments’ interests places the benefit of the doubt in their court rather than his" is incomprehensible. What recent history? The bases? Vietnam? Huh?

Either way, once he was convinced that U.S. forces did what they said they did, then he thanked them.

You say that it's wrong to badmouth foreign troops that are there at the invitation of your government. That's also, well, silly. If the U.S. government invites French troops into Mississippi, and I don't want them there even though I agree with the ultimate goals of the U.S. government in Mississippi, then it sure ain't counterproductive for me to badmouth those French troops or the American government that invited them in.

Especially if my concern lies in a fear that the French will use force to wipe out a threat to France but in the process worsen the political atmosphere and create future violence in Mississippi, leaving us to deal with the mess.

And doubly so if once I'm convinced that the French did not shoot at the rebels in Mississippi, I then procede to thank them for their help.

You have not taken on the issue of what the U.S. presence accomplishes, because you admirably recognize that you have not got the evidence to do so. Me, I think that U.S. troops are marginally useful, because they don't engage in combat. I also think --- as do you, but for some reason you fail to note the contradiction --- that the Senator certainly had reason to be skeptical.

Of course, I should point out that in most of your post you implicitly assume that the MILF is a serious threat to Philippine sovereignty over Mindanao and that the Philippines needs U.S. help to combat them successfully.

In that vein --- and note that I happen to think that the U.S. military presence in the Philippines is a marginally positive thing, although I have the humility to admit that position may be wrong --- you're being stupid, and I mean really stupid, when you compare the situation in Mindanao to World War II in Britain. For crying out loud, Bernard. You're gonna criticize Pimentel's rhetoric after that?

I won't mention the reference to "U.S. economists" and the other cheap rhetorical shots that litter all of your posts.

If your knee jerks at Pimentel's tropes, then you should recognize that and move on. My knee jerks all the time at right-wing tropes, like the ones that you love to use. I can still recognize valid arguments beyond the irritating veil. You should be able to do the same. Pimentel is being deliberatively provocative. He is not whining. He is probably right that U.S. combat actions would be counterproductive. He is appreciative at U.S. non-combat help. But he is skeptical of U.S. statements and motives, more than you seem to be, he is touchy about national "respect," and he implicitly (and quite rightfully) considers neither the MNLF, the MILF, nor Abu Sayyaf an existential threat to the Philippines or Philippine sovereignty over Mindanao.

OK, I've got 15 free minutes, so here is Pimentel, Bernard, and me:

(1) Pimentel: "Put it in the concrete, I do not want them to start or cause any hostilities against our brethren in Moroland. Otherwise, the peace negotiations the government is now having with the Moro rebels would be jeopardized."

Bernard: "The first is a statement is counterproductive, in that it places the onus for hostilities (that don’t actually seem to have come about) on forces that are there _at the invitation of his own government_ to assist his own military’s attempts to preserve Filipino sovereignty over southern Mindanao and, incidentally, preserve the Senator’s own position."

Me: Bernard, the Senator's statement quite clearly puts no onus on anyone for anything. It is a statement that the Senator hopes that the U.S. will not "start or cause hostilities." You must believe that the U.S. would never do such a thing, ever, and that it is quite wrong of the Senator to even suggest that they might. Of course, you've denied having such faith in government spokespeople before, but consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds.

(2) Pimentel: "It is a good thing that the American troops did not rub the Moros of Sulu the wrong way by staying on in Sulu today because they would have been reminded that 100 years ago, they rubbed out their ancestors at Bud Dajo."

Bernard: "The second, similar to the first, is a sort of backhanded 'So, Congressman, have you quit beating your wife yet?' 'compliment' that points out hostilities from a hundred years in the past while once again failing to note that said American troops are there because the MILF and MNLF would like to get rid of him and his ilk in the here-and-now, and may be supporting anti-U.S. terrorists besides."

Me: "Beating your wife"? That makes no sense, so I have nothing to say. As for the rest, you are denying that anyone can reasonably think that foreign interference in a domestic conflict is counterproductive. You are also assuming that U.S. troops are indeed what's standing behind Senator Pimentel (and his "ilk," and I do believe that scare quotes are appropriate here) and a MILF victory. What the Senator is, in fact, saying is that there is a lot of anti-Americanism in the region dating from Bud Dajo, and that the Americans will be reminded of that should they stay on and inflame it. Of course, he might be wrong, but as you said yourself, that's a different issue.

(3) Pimentel: "You can raise that to 1,000. All the Americans in the country who do not seem to be gainfully employed could be operating primarily to advance clandestinely the interest of the United States."

Bernard: "The third merely qualifies as the sort of silly, hyperbolic rhetoric that, as Carlos notes, I would expect to hear from a south American Leftist student leader rather than a member of a government that we’re assisting. I will not withdraw my characterization of his statements as generally silly or counterproductive, as I’d no more expect him to say the things he has said than I’d have expected a reasonable British commentator in 1944 to opine that he was happy the GIs weren’t killing and raping too much, or that it was a good thing they weren’t reminding anybody about the invasion of Canada or that incident down in New Orleans."

Me: I've already mentioned that the comparison to WW2 is downright stupid, since American GI's are not all that's standing between Manila and Stiffler's Mom. Heck, they're not even all that's standing between Davao and the MILF. And it is clear to anyone with a knowledge of American intelligence that there are far more than 70 American intelligence agents of various sorts operating in the Philippines. (Which, as you know, since you have read his other statements, the Senator is not particularly bothered by, since spying on allies is what he expects Great Powers to do.) He is, however, being hyperbolic, which is a form a silliness. Counterproductive, only if you believe that U.S. intelligence activities in Mindanao are reducing the incidence of violence there; silly, yes. But you are a pot yelling "black!" since you've engaged in your own (rather extreme) hyperbole by comparing Mindanao in 2006 to Britain in 1944.

You also seem to have completely missed Carlos's point, which surprises me. Carlos's point is that Pimentel is not blaming the U.S. for the problems in Mindanao, but is requesting that the American patron behave respectfully towards its Filipino client, and that you need to read his comments in that light in order to understand them.

I have no constructive end line.

You don’t need a “constructive end line”, Noel, you’ve already conceded.

While you appear, to me, to have constructed some straw-man arguments, distorted analogies all out of shape and proportion to their intended use, engaged in some intemperate language and, by the by, managed to deny understanding a common usage of the language that I know you’ve run across before, all this is moot.

I’m sure you realize that the analogy to a British commentator whining about GIs circa WW2 could just as easily been replaced by an Indonesian tsunami victim or Pakistani earthquake survivor performing a similar whine just last year, or a South Korean doing the same circa 1950, or, in fact, any situation where a local might potentially have been found badmouthing the people who were saving his life, preventing violence against him or otherwise doing him good. I’m sure you also realize that the intent of the analogy was certainly not to draw a ridiculous comparison between the size or intensity of WW2 and a local insurgency, though you appear to have argued as if you didn’t for some reason. But that doesn’t matter.

I’m also sure you realize (since you stated as much) that the Senator made some of his silly comments after U.S. troops had already acted in an honorable and helpful manner, providing medical assistance to his countrymen, and that his statements at that time were still full of unhelpful hyperbole.

I’m sure you realize that, the Senator’s feelings on the matter to the side, his own government has seen fit to ask U.S. troops to assist them on a number of occasions, both in providing assistance to the locals and in providing combat support to its own army, and that this implies that the government, if not you or the Senator, seems to find enough of a threat in the various insurgencies to ask for outside assistance. I’m sure you also realize that, whether the current missions were humanitarian or even (gasp!) some sort of combat support, that going on at great length about how your government’s allies have been brutal thugs or have seeded your country with countless spies (even if you think that’s par for the course) might be, at the least, unhelpful to the cause of preventing violence and delivering aid. But this doesn’t matter, either.

I’m not sure what you realize as far as my comment about “distinguished American economists”. As I was pointing out various groups of folks whose pronouncements I will not take at face value despite claims to authority, and as various U.S. economists fall into one of those groups (as you know), it seemed pretty innocuous to me. You seem to have taken it either as a personal slight (even though this would imply that I called you “distinguished” and even though you were already aware that I’m more than happy to disagree with you about anything under the sun) or as a slight towards your profession, which seems a tad silly. The latter, by the way, would appear silly to me since it would imply that you’re claiming some special privileged right to not being questioned when you seem happy to deny the same to military spokespeople and, presumably, other groups. No privileges, Noel. Either way, though, your objection is unfathomable but unimportant.

I could go on in this vein, but none of that matters, because you wrote “He is, however, being hyperbolic, which is a form a silliness. Counterproductive, only if you believe that U.S. intelligence activities in Mindanao are reducing the incidence of violence there; silly, yes.” My original post, as you will recall, accused him of being "whiney", later clarified to "silly and counterproductive". You have conceded the first point. Your attempt to get out of conceding the second is admirable but unnecessarily constrained: He’s being counterproductive merely by insulting troops that are offering vital medical assistance to his constituents, regardless of what his feelings about intelligence operations are. This is also true regardless of his statements after the fact that medical help is all well and good, since it’s clear that help provided by a military medical unit in war zone will involve force-protection activities, that any military assistance itself is and has been requested and is aimed at producing conditions where non-military assistance can be safely offered, and because lacing your public thank-yous for help in the press with further comments about the previous thuggery of your helpers might, by a reasonable observer, be considered “counterproductive”. He’s being silly, you said so yourself, and the particular form of silliness is, indeed, counterproductive even to his own interests, and certainly to those of his constituents.

A final note. You seem to have lost the ability to discuss anything where a disagreement is involved without stooping to personal attacks against those you’re having a discussion with. This despite the fact that you started with an attack right off the bat, were asked to avoid certain forms of personal attack by our host, received a civil reply from me and know that I’m willing to say I agree with you when I actually do from a previous post on this site just a handful of days ago. In the face of all of this, you still manage to end up with personal attacks. If this were the sort of forum where that was the norm, I’d say fine. If you hadn’t been asked (and not for the first time) to quit it, I’d say fine. And if I’d gone out of my way to call you an idiot or some such, I’d say fair is fair. But none of that applies. My opinion is that you’d do well to develop a little self-control. We’re done here, take the last word if you want or not.

Hello. I'm from the Philippines. I searched for a photo of the Batangas Regional Hospital and I stumbled upon your site. I want to inform you that Im a student nurse there and I want to share a picture of it through my blog. I used two of the pictures you posted about Batangas Regional Hosp. Please don't be angry. I posted your link there. Thankyou. You're a big help. (I first saw your old site. Luckily I noticed your post about moving to a new site. I want to thank you for the pictures.)

It's an honor, Angielen. Welcome to HDTD.

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