"We have executed Guillermo Sobero as a gift to the country on independence day," he said.
June 12, 2001 2:03 AM   Subscribe

"We have executed Guillermo Sobero as a gift to the country on independence day," he said. The most popular phrase to describe guerilla civil war in the past century has probably been sectarian violence. Look, here's more now. Hard to understand how this poor SOB's death advances their cause, but maybe I'm missing something.
posted by Ezrael (6 comments total)
The Abu Sayyaff don't even deserve the term terrorists. They are warthogs who just happen to have guns and money, hiding behind the veil of violent extremist Islamic fundamentalism.

Though claiming to be fighting for an independent Muslim state, their real aim is just to bully an already-embattled Philippines into cash doleouts and political favors above and beyond what warthogs are entitled to. It doesn't help that Libya's Ghadaffy paid millions of dollars in ransom to free the last batch of hostages -- in effect making these thieves richer: possibly richer than our own armed forces.

The local political situation isn't helping. The Philippine military can't get its act together in the Southern jungles, and the president waffles when she needs to be firm.

What action does this call for from America?
posted by brownpau at 2:49 AM on June 12, 2001

Now, now... warthogs are nice animals...
posted by palnatoke at 3:38 AM on June 12, 2001

Hard to understand how this poor SOB's death advances their cause, but maybe I'm missing something.

Perhaps you're missing the Theory and Practice of Terrorism
posted by lagado at 5:59 AM on June 12, 2001

War is not violence for the sake of violence. War is violence to accomplish a political goal. In a war, there is your side and your allies, your opponent and his allies, and the rest of the world. Your goal in a war is to weaken your opponent.

One way to do that is to weaken (or even terminate) the support your opponent gets from his allies. One way to do that is to directly attack one of those allies (or their citizens). If this is done badly it can strengthen their bond, but if it is done carefully, then the effect can be to make his ally put pressure on him (to your advantage) or even to cease to be an ally of your opponent (which is even more to your advantage).

It's no mistake, no accident, that the first hostage they claimed to have killed was American. The US is the biggest and most important ally of the Philippines. By killing him they create the possibility of the US going to the government of the Philippines and saying "We don't care how you do it, we want this stopped and we want it stopped now." That might force the Philippine government to make serious concessions to the guerrillas, to stop the conflict, so as to appease the US. (In other words, the guerrillas would win their political goal for which they were fighting.)

It remains to be seen whether this will happen. But this is what the guerrillas are hoping for.

There's the added benefit (from their point of view) that by killing an American they didn't have to kill a Philippino, which would have angered the people of the Philippines more.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 8:19 AM on June 12, 2001

I might mention that there's another effect this has. Like all countries, tourism is a major source of hard currency for the Philippines. By killing a foreign tourist, the guerrillas establish a climate of fear which keeps foreign tourists away, then this causes substantial economic harm to their enemy (the government of the Philippines) as long as their guerrilla war continues.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 8:23 AM on June 12, 2001

The most sober and concise piece I've read on the subject. Thanks, Steven.
posted by john at 2:38 PM on June 12, 2001

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