By John Tria
The recent Marawi conflict and the attack that killed 8 in New York prompts us to reflect on the fact that the ISIS phenomenon is a global one and we as a country should do what we can to address it.
Both are ISIS-inspired attacks that were met with the appropriate response.
Both, along with the similar attacks in Spain, Paris, and Brussels, used locals with locally available vehicles like trucks.
Yet the similarities end there.
In Marawi, the presence of foreign terrorists with access to explosives and high-powered weaponry and millions of dollars in cash and materials gained from local shabu laboratories and smuggling ops made them a formidable adversary, creating prolonged conflict.
What escapes the mind of many pundits is the fact that as ISIS was crushed in the Middle East, they saw the Philippines as an attractive strategic base to transfer to, owing to what in their minds was a porous and easily convertible population, and officials they thought they could bribe or bully.
They know that there are pre-existing networks that previous governments failed to destroy (think Mamasapano), that therefore allowed them to breed and deepen.
As the conflict began, Hapilon and Maute tried, but failed to get a movement to snowball. They underestimated the new government’s resolve to cut them down early, to use what it had to do so.
Like their ISIS principals, they probably thought that this government be the same tentative quibblers who would bow to bleeding hearts who they in turn, could manipulate the way drug lords are now doing.
Obviously, many ignored the President’s early warnings about ISIS and Maute.
Nonetheless, these events are a wake-up call for us to take these threats more seriously rather than ignore them.
For too long many even in our Manila media would ignore these as fear mongering. They proceed to opine that the response was some sort of unecessary overkill.
They do not understand that conflict is real and interests clash over time even without actual shooting.
They were oblivious to the fact that if Marawi did fall, the food supply of many Visayas islands will be threatened, causing vegetable prices to rise.
They also disregarded the fact that foreign governments like Australia provided intelligence and material support because they realize the conflicts geopolitical significance.
The Aussies do not want it to spread and threaten the security of hundreds of millions in the BIMP EAGA region of Southeast asia.
With that, it bears noting that as foreign military advisers withdrew from Zamboanga upon the President’s instructions, Hapilon and Maute started erupting elsewhere. If there is more to it than a coincidence, you tell me.
But also unlike previous adminstrations, they got Hapilon, and defeated this aggressor in Marawi.
Fools deny the ISIS’ importance
To ignore ISIS and simply ask to end conflict without defeating them is the stuff of the foolish and naive, or those who seek to maintain the old order of things that bred such violence to begin with.
On the other hand, to seek to resolve such things is the tough work of real peacemakers- even if it involves using military aproaches.
Obviously, many among the Manila-based visitors to Marawi do not understand the larger significance of the conflict.
Of course, in their crass and uninformed manner, the government’s detractors would like to make hay and blame it for instigating the conflict.
Contrary to what some pundits want us to think, war is not a simple game of personalities. How and whether it is waged, however benign or bloody, is, as Sun Tzu points out, “of vital importance to the state.”
The Chinese over thousands of years mastered the art of knowing when to use war when needed. To say it is never necessary or warranted is foolish.
Defeating the enemy, to the point that he will never bother you again, is the finality of victory. Like the wise king, we must never seek war, but always be ready to wage it.
Was the Marawi conflict a war? Yes. It was the result of the need to defend the people against an aggressor who wanted to kill those who would not join them, and take territory.
The defeat of ISIS in Marawi sends a strong signal to the international community that armed extremists are not welcome in the Philippines, and that multinational cooperation has already been engaged to defeat them again.
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