Only the U.S. can carry the burden of providing peace, stability and prosperity in Asia.
In the Western classic film High Noon, citizens of a frontier town don’t know what to do when they hear that a dreaded gang of bandits is riding in. At first they are in denial, fervently hoping the desperadoes won’t sack their homes and businesses. In the end, they flee, leaving only the sheriff Will Kane, played by Gary Cooper, to face the approaching evil. Many people will disagree with me, but I liken George W. Bush to Will Kane. While other leaders are confused and undecided about the terrorist threat that Iraq poses to the world, President Bush is clear and focused. On Iraq, he is the brave sheriff. If the U.N. Security Council blocks the President’s call for a posse to engage Iraq and he decides, like Kane, to go it alone, we should not stand in the way. After all, we, too, stand to gain.
I’m not a running dog of the U.S. I simply recognize what Americans have done for Asia (as well as for Europe), and what they continue to do. During World War II, the U.S. rescued Europe from Nazi tyranny and Asia from Japanese imperialism. As a then member of the Philippine guerrilla resistance against Japan, I was proud to count Americans as my comrades-in-arms. We fought together in a common cause, and I witnessed many of them dying for my country. I will never forget that. Since then, I have not hesitated to take on the U.S. when I felt it was acting in the arrogant, self-righteous or overbearing way it sometimes can. In 1959 I founded a movement to expel the U.S. air and naval bases from the Philippines, which were compromising our sovereignty and independence. I helped frame the provision in the constitution that now forbids any foreign military base on Philippine soil. But at the same time, I welcome the mutual defense agreements that have helped protect the Philippines from both internal and external threats. In a very dangerous world, these treaties enable Filipinos to sleep easier.
In fact, not just the Philippines but Asia as a whole needs America now more than ever. The U.S. is helping us fight domestic terror groups and regional terrorist networks. It’s keeping the lid on the Korean peninsula. It’s ensuring that sea lanes vital to our prosperity stay open. At a time when many Asian countries are in the throes of an economic downturn, it remains the most important market for our goods, one of the biggest investors in our region and a provider of key technology. The Americans are our partners. Without them, there would be no stability in Asia.
All the U.S. asks is that to wage the just war against terrorism—whether the culprits are Abu Sayyaf or al-Qaeda or Iraq—we give our support. These are our battles, too. How can we not stand by Americans when they are willing to pay the ultimate price to secure not just their own safety but ours too? I once fought alongside Americans. I am willing to do so again—as an ally and a friend.
(adapted from TIME)