(On Screen): A Filipino was kidnapped in Iraq, and the group which took him demanded that the Philippines withdraw all its forces ASAP or else they'd cut his head off. They also apparently demanded money.
The Philippines government demonstrated its strength of will and steadfastness by dropping to their knees, begging for mercy and giving the kidnappers everything they wanted.
The technical term for their behavior is "groveling".
The government of the Philippines has taken its foreign policy cue on dealing with terrorists from Spain. And it seems as if it is taking its foreign policy cue on dealing with the US from France (i.e. "Knife them in the back, and then loudly proclaim your eternal friendship"):
Presidential spokesman Ignacio Bunye said the Philippines will remain a strong ally of the United States, which argued that the pullout would encourage terrorists.
"We still consider the United States as our big brother in the security arena," he said. "Our long-standing and maturing relationship with the United States will survive this hostage crisis. We will maintain our strong stand against terrorism in the face of this isolated event."
So what does it mean for the Philippines to be a "strong ally" of the US? The Philippines government just royally shafted all the other nations who have troops in Iraq, and one thing "strong ally" means that the Philippines government really would like it a lot if the US would just forget about that and pretend nothing had happened.
I would venture to guess the other thing it means is that there should be no limit on the amount of commitment the US should make to help the Philippines should it ever get into trouble and ask for help. It means, "Never mind that we let you down when you needed our help. Just be there for us when we need you."
They're talking to the wrong folks, however. (For two reasons. I don't think the Bush administration will be amused by this.) What they just did puts others at risk, but we're not the "others".
The terrorists have long since given up trying to intimidate the US. They know it won't work. So they're concentrating now on "allies". And since they got such a gratifying response from the government of the Philippines, the next nation in the crosshairs is Japan. Japan will reap the crop planted by the Philippines.
The government of the Philippines better start emphasizing to the Japanese government just how good of friends they are, because when Japanese citizens in Iraq start getting kidnapped, the government in Tokyo is liable to have a hard time remembering it.
In the mean time, I have a quick pointer for the government of the Philippines about American psychology: When someone tells us what good friends they are, we usually assume they are trying to take advantage of us. Real friends don't need to say such things, because real friends demonstrate their friendship with actions, not with words.
Update: The Arroyo government might also want to reassure India, Kenya, Egypt, Poland, Bulgaria, and maybe Australia, too. Ozguru asks why there's any reason to believe that Australians might not also become victims because of this.
It's entirely possible that individual Australians might become victims. It's quite likely more Americans will, too. But they're not as likely to concentrate on Australians and Americans for a couple of reasons. First, neither government is seen as being willing to give in to extortion. Second, individual Australians and Americans are likely to fight back against those who try to capture them.
Muggers don't want a fight, they just want money and are unscrupulous about their means of getting it. Muggers prefer to prey on people who are small, weak, and fearful. Muggers are less inclined to try to take on men who are large and young and walk with their heads held high, because the risk is much greater that the victim would fight back instead of meekly handing over their wallets. (Muggers also don't like working in states which have issued a lot of "concealed-carry" licenses, because there's a greater chance that even those who appear to be small, weak and fearful will be armed and will fight back.)
By the same token, these terrorists in Iraq would rather kidnap Kenyans, Indians, Filipinos, Spaniards and the like. I think they are somewhat less inclined to try to take on Aussies or Yanks, because Aussies and Yanks who are out working in Iraq are likely to be packing and are more likely to defend themselves.
That said, there's no doubt that before this is all through more Americans are going to have their heads sawed off to a musical background of chants of "Allahu Akbar!" I wouldn't