May 28, 2002

AMERICAN TROOPS ARE PLANNING TO PULL OUT OF THE PHILIPPINES by July 31, according to this report. That pullout isn’t dependent on whether the missionary couple of Martin and Gracia Burnham are released by Muslim rebels.

I’m of two minds on this. The folks at Christianity Today are understandably unhappy about the missionary angle, but I’m not sure I want to make U.S. presence in the Philippines turn on something that is so thoroughly under the control of the bad guys. On the other hand, July 31 sounds pretty soon to me. Perhaps we feel that we’ve done enough good there — or will have by then — to justify the mission. Or perhaps somebody read too many Nick Kristof columns.

The worst thing we can have is a reputation for bugging out quickly. The United States has fought guerrillas successfully all over the world — including in the Philippines, as Max Boot points out in his new book — but we’ve typically done so by being thorough and patient. Have we been thorough and patient in the Philippines? (Via Amy Welborn).

UPDATE: John Weidner says I’m wrong to attach much significance to this. He’s pretty persuasive.