Are U.S. troops in Philippines to help rescue Burnhams or to eradicate Abu Sayyaf?
Don't call it another Vietnam. Hundreds of American military personnel are entering the Philippines as military advisers, their rules of engagement are strictly limited, and their mission is somewhat confused. Are they there to free American missionaries Martin and Gracia Burnham? Or is their goal more directed at eradicating the militant Muslim Abu Sayyaf Group? Certainly both goals are on the agenda, but as The Wichita Eagle points out, the two goals are not necessarily one and the same: a hostage rescue requires radically different tactics from a conventional military campaign. For now it seems that freeing the Burnhams is top priority. "We have always placed the hostages' safety first," Philippine Embassy spokeswoman Patricia Paez tells the Eagle. "It does not make sense to destroy a terrorist group and not return that group's hostages alive. That is not a success."
If you do call the Philippines another Vietnam, at least it's better than calling it "the next Afghanistan." When Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) told reporters, "It appears the Philippines is going to be the second, the next target, after Afghanistan in the war on terrorism," Filipinos went nuts. So did Americans. "The Philippines is not the next front," said Robert W. Fitts at the American Embassy. "And the Philippines is not Afghanistan." (Brownback later revised his comments, saying the U.S. won't do anything in the Philippines unless the government there asks us to.) For Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, exactly what to ask for is a matter of serious importance. Some senators are already calling for her impeachment merely for allowing armed American troops on the ...1