Militarization is Not an Answer for Economic Development or Reconstruction

Many are now expressing concern about the militarization of the gulf coast in the aftermath of the Katrina and Rita hurricanes. Long-term militarization of the gulf coast can’t be separated from critique of the impact of the U.S. military occupation of Iraq or anywhere else for that matter. The concerns are certainly valid. Having the military around for any length of time can’t be considered helpful for civilian life. The U.S. military occupation of the Philippines is a case in point where it has been demonstrated that militarization is an anathema to economic development and human rights protections. But it’s also helpful to consider the Philippine scenario to better understand the possible outcome of the U.S. militarization of Iraq.

George W. Bush referred to the Philippines as a model of U.S. involvement prior to invading Iraq. I was appalled at this. Forbid that the Iraqi people should suffer a similar fate. The parallels of the Filipino resistance to U.S. occupation and political interference are strikingly similar to the present Iraqi debacle. And the U.S. response to the Iraqi resistance is also similar. LIC or Low Intensity Conflict strategies in which the U.S. trains the Iraqi military to fight their own people is, of course, what the U.S. applied in the Philippines the past century. The results were and remain a travesty. In 1989, I visited the Philippines. Children in the Philippine hinterlands told me in a song that when “other children go to school they learn their ABC’s, but when we go to school we learn LIC.”

To place all this in perspective, I wanted share an interview I conducted with Ephrahim Bajar who was a renowned Filipino leader and head of the Task Force Detainees office ( on the Island of Negros Oriental. The interview took place in 1989. But first to set the stage·.

In 1989 the first George Bush was the U.S. President and Corazon (Cory) Aquino was the President of the Philippines. She had followed the notorious President Ferdinand Marcos and her record on human rights violations was exceeding that of her predecessor.

My first day in Manila I contacted Father Thomas O’Brien, of the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, who had lived in the Philippines for years. He immediately invited me to attend a meeting on the island of Mindanao with representatives of non-governmental organizations from Japan, the United States and Europe. The meeting included those from protestant churches, Catholic priests of various sects, anti-nuclear organizations, various peace organizations, human rights organizations, economic development groups and others. This gathering stunned me. Never had I felt such fear resonating from participants. There were topics that simply could not be discussed openly at the meeting, such as land reform or virtually any kind of reform, without people looking or acting extremely uncomfortable. When reform of any kind crept into the discussion many folks would leave the room.

I inquired about this dilemma. It appeared it was well known that government infiltration of all sorts was taking place in the country. What made organizers nervous was that virtually anyone who sided with the poor or demanded concrete changes for justice and economic equity was in danger of being labeled as a communist and placed on lists. It didn’t take long to discover that these lists were infamous. Being on one could mean you were subject to harassment or summary execution. Non-Filipinos obviously felt vulnerable as well. I soon discovered that this chilling effect on advocating for the poor was part of the U.S. LIC strategy in the Philippines. Violence raged in the Philippines when I was there. The fear was palpable.

It’s important to note that since the U.S. invaded the Philippines in 1898, and it’s subsequent occupation in 1902, the Filipino resistance to U.S. occupation has been consistent. The resistance has always been met with violent responses from the U.S. military and/or U.S. supported paramilitary groups and vicious CIA meddling.

Much of the violence was directly related to the presence of the U.S. military in the Philippines and the Filipino resistance to it. In the 1980’s, in fact, there was also an intense and building movement in the Philippines to oust the U.S. military bases. In 2003, I wrote an article entitled Resistance to “US Military Occupation is Historic: The Case of the Philippines” in which I wrote:

“At the end of World War II the Americans claim to have given the Philippines its independence. The US, however, insisted on maintaining a military presence in the country, with its major bases being Subic Naval Base and Clark Air Force Base. In return for these bases the US offered the Filipino elite the creation of the ‘Joint US Military Advisory Group’ (JUSMAG) to help reassert its authority over the peasant movements for land reform and other issues objectionable to them.

“The Military Bases Agreement (MBA) that allowed the US bases to stay in the Philippines was to expire in 1991 and the Philippine Senate, to the dismay of the Americans, did vote against the extension of the agreement, which finally closed that disastrous chapter in Philippine history. Prior to that vote, however, violence raged in the Philippines.

“To organize against the extension of the MBA, a broad based anti-bases and nationalist movement developed in the Philippines in the 1980’s. The U.S. intention, however, was to maintain its bases, and to accomplish that the CIA hired retired US General John Singlaub (head of the World Anti-Communist League) to launch a relentless and cruel LIC campaign (1987-1989). President Aquino assisted in this effort in what the Filipinos refer to as “Total War” against the people. The result was a rise of death squads, vigilante violence, human rights abuses and massive numbers of refugees from evacuated areas. Assassinations and harassments of church workers, labor leaders, peasant leaders and others became a daily occurrence. In 1989, U.S. Colonel James Rowe of JUSMAG, who had been training the Philippine military in LIC strategies, was assassinated in Manila. All of this took place under the presidency of the first Bush administration.”

An Australian colleague of mine, with the United Methodist Church, referred to a meeting in Singapore in the mid-1980’s that he said was organized by Singlaub and attended by high ranking officers of the U.S. and Japanese military. He showed me the documents from the meeting. The agenda was the Philippines and how to maintain the U.S. bases. The outcome of this meeting was plans for an intensification of LIC and the launching of an intensive anti-communist campaign. What I witnessed in the Philippines was most likely the intensive implementation of Singlaub’s criminal plans for the country.

In Manila, shortly after James Rowe was assassinated, I was taking photos of the JUSMAG headquarters. Suddenly, a plain clothed man came running out of the building and began shouting at me. He said, “I don’t care who you are or who you represent, you cannot take photos. One of our men was just assassinated two weeks ago·you cannot take photos.” I had no sympathy for him and stared at him rather dumbfounded. There was no sign outside stating that I could not take photos of this public building and told him so. American taxpayers, after all, funded it. I did, however, have sympathy for James Rowe who was obviously a pawn of the U.S. military and for the Filipino victims of these tragic policies. Nevertheless, paranoia reigned supreme.

It is important to note that the vast majority of the Filipinos are landless peasants – 75% is the percentage frequently quoted. While I was there the “Land to the Tiller” movement was constant reminder of the demand for reforms. It is critical to know also that the Filipino people have obviously never been able to have sweeping land reform. When the U.S. could perhaps have changed policy and initiated some reforms in the Philippines, it did not. After WWII, General Douglas MacArthur did not demand land reform in the Philippines as he did in the conquered Japan. When MacArthur “returned” to the Philippines, as he said he would, it was business as usual in the U.S. controlled Philippines that served the interests of the Filipino elite and U.S. corporations.

Since a young man, MacArthur had maintained a presence in the Philippines. He had friends among the Filipino elite and was not about to disrupt their lifestyle – in fact, this was probably never on his radar screen. His father was General Arthur MacArthur who fought in the Philippine-American War (1898-1902). While in Manila I was curious where Douglas MacArthur might have lived. Once when being driven by an elderly Filipino taxi driver, I thought, here was my opportunity. I asked the driver, “Where did MacArthur live while in Manila.” He said, without hesitation, “It depended on which girl friend he wanted to spend time with.”

I was surprised by his answer and shouldn’t have been. The general’s sex life was the last thing on my mind and I had no interest in wasting my time validating the taxi driver’s claim. At this point, however, I was familiar with the decadence around the U.S. military bases. Overall, I soon learned that having huge bases and the military presence in your neighborhood does not add to your cultural and ethical well-being. Douglas MacArthur was not unique.

I had just returned from the U.S. Naval Base at Subic Bay in the city of Olongapo where I interviewed prostitutes around the base and visited the church based organization “Preda” ( that assisted children who had been abused by the military or other foreigners who flocked to this abhorrent culture. When I arrived in Olongapo, a young 12 year old girl had just died from a vibrator that had worked its way into her intestine.

Wherever the U.S. has its military it obviously wants to keep its men happy. The “hospitality” industry in Olongapo was developed thanks to the presence of the Naval Base, the complicity of the Filipino elite and obviously with a wink and, according to the locals, direct involvement of the U.S. military. I was told, for example, that the U.S. military paid for the weekly health screenings of the prostitutes.

Clubs in Olongapo, where scantily clad “fresh” young girls would dance for men to observe and choose for the evening, predominated in the city. At the time, HIV-AIDS was just making a visible presence. I was told that officers could take up to 6-7 women on the base at one time whereas enlisted men were allowed one woman. The Mayor of Olongapo was renowned for saying, “We don’t have prostitution in Olongapo, we have ‘entertainment with sex.'”

Women would flock to Olongapo in search of jobs to assist their families in the hinterlands – often being encouraged by their families to do so. As prostitution was often the only job available (albeit with small pay and most of it going to the club owner) women took what they could. More often then not they would not be able to return home because of being ostracized as a prostitute. Filipino women’s groups, such as the Garbriela Network ( named after the great Filipina revolutionary, also flocked to Olongapo to assist these women and guide them out of prostitution. But this work was dangerous in Olongapo and not appreciated by the local officials.

Some Filipinos I talked with were angry that, given laws that favored the U.S. military, they were not able to adequately prosecute abusive Americans. One of the Preda organizers asked me to “please tell American mothers what their sons are doing in the Philippines. Maybe then we will see some changes here.”

One of the “Preda” workers also said that the presence of the base has “brought social problems and degradation of our women and this of course is coupled with massive poverty in the area which is driving more people into prostitution. We have the problem of street children. According to UNICEF we have 3,000 street children in Olongapo and 16,000 prostitutes.” In fact, while I was there I was told that the largest economically viable job training and employment opportunity in Olongapo – apart from temporary and insecure employment as a prostitute – was Preda with its basket making business that hired approximately 30 workers.

U.S. foreign and military policy has never been divorced from the prevailing racism in the United States. Subic Naval Base is a direct example of this. It was located on the ancestral land of the Aetas or Negritos – the darkest skinned of the Filipino tribal groups. There were signs along the base golf course stating that the Aetas must not be seen but must instead stay in the jungle. Occasionally when the Aeta would appear at the base dumping grounds they were shot at by the military. On January 11, 1983, the following circular was posted around the golf course at Subic Bay: “Office of the Provost Marshall, Subic Bay-Box, FPO San Francisco 966518 – To all Negritos residing on Naval Reservation: Be it known that the office of the Provost Marshall has noticed many Negritos walking, talking and just being seen in public places in and around the golf course area. Also, let this serve as a notice that Negritos are to live in the jungle area and are not to be seen by the public walking on the roads or on the golf course area. If voluntary action is not taken to hide themselves in the jungle, OPM will be required to enforce stricter measures. C.F. Smith, GYSGT, USMC, OPM Operations Chief.”

While in the Philippines I joined in an international delegation to exhume graves of peasants (adults and children) in Negros killed by paramilitary groups so that an investigation could begin. I also joined representatives of the United Church of Christ to take affidavits after the assassination of Reverend Minda Gran (a Methodist pastor) and her husband in Mindanoa who had just been working on a clothing drive for the poor. I saw her brains scattered on the ceiling of her house where the bodies of the Reverend and her husband laid in state.

A paramilitary group had killed the Reverend and we discovered she had been on a list for liquidation. One of the elders I talked with told me “During the barranguay elections·.during the celebration I saw Caesar Aman who was once a member of the United Church of Christ of the Philippines. I invited him to dine with us at our table. It was from him that I knew that it’s the third or fourth month that I am included in the list to be liquidated, including Minda Gran·.The following morning a person came to the house telling me that Minda Gran is already dead at 8:00 last night on May 1, then he asked me to evacuate. Don’t delay. You will be next. Then from there I came to hide myself. I will talk with whoever I can so that justice may be obtained for those who are now victims.”

Early in the Aquino era many organizations had gone underground, such as the National Democratic Front, the New People’s Army and others. The National Democratic Front was the political spokes group for the New People’s Army that was engaged in armed resistance against the oppressive Filipino government and the U.S. military presence. They had tried to work with Aquino, particularly on land reform, but negotiations were doomed after a violent assault against peasants in Manila in the 1980’s.

It was under these circumstances that I interviewed Ephrahim Bajar in Manila in 1989. At times his life was so threatened that his supporters in and outside the Philippines wanted him to leave the country, which he did on occasion. The following is my interview with him:

Bajar – I am Ephrahim Bajar and I am with the Task Force Detainees (TFD) Unit in Dumaguette, Negros Oriental as its coordinator. This is a nationwide organization in the Philippines, which takes care of the needs of human rights victims and their families. We do a lot of documentation as well as research of reports of human rights violations and then we help the victims in various needs. We try to provide their basic needs as well as help them with their legal needs. There are around 70 units all over the country. So our unit is just one.

Gray – During the Marcos era, the United States used the information from TDF to assess human rights violations in the Philippines. But this has changed since Cory Aquino has been in power. Is that right?

Bajar – You are absolutely right. Sad to say our organization is being discredited right now by a number of people and organizations, including the United States, because of the fact that the results of our findings are negative. It speaks lowly of the human rights record of the current regime – the Aquino regime. Of course everybody knows that the United States was a very rabid supporter of the Marcos regime until it realized that Marcos was losing a lot of credibility. I think the United States got alarmed about this· especially knowing that there was a united front already in the Philippines composed of the different sectors of society trying to topple the Marcos regime. And, of course, knowing this, the United States was forced to accept the reality, and to maintain its credibility in the country, it had to change its position. Now, during that particular time, TFD was in the frontline in documenting and making reports of the violations committed by the Marcos regime and this was used as an instrument even by the United States in discrediting Marcos. In other words we were giving information·we were giving facts about the sad state of human rights during the Marcos administration.

But now, of course, the picture has changed. And this is what we have been raising. How come during the Marcos dictatorship TFD was being praised left and right but now there are some sectors, local as well as national and foreign, that are trying again to discredit us. It seems a repeat of what happened during the Marcos time·at least during the early period of the Marcos regime when we were discredited. We feel that we have to be consistent with our work. That as long as there are human rights violations, regardless of who holds the power of government, we will continue to report such violations, document them and make issues out of them.

Gray – There’s a lot of talk about Cory Aquino’s “Total War” Policy. I wonder if you could explain this.

Bajar – Well, it’s not difficult to see these kinds of policies being implemented nationwide. All you have to do is go to any place in the country today where you see massive military operations that have caused so much havoc or destruction to the civilian populace.

Gray – What in fact is Total War Policy – I know it has to do with increased militarization but what else?

Bajar – It means total control of the people, primarily by militarization, side-by-side with what they call development. They try to come up with development projects in areas from their own perspective need. It’s really one way of deceiving the people, that they are concerned with so-called economic development of this area. And yet, what is sad is that in trying to develop depressed areas in the country, it is the military that assumes the job by what they call “clearing the areas of so-called insurgents or suspected members of the so-called rebel group”.

Now if we talk of Total War Policy in the country today we actually have to relate it to the Low Intensity Conflict (LIC) that has been promoted by the United States government. I think you in the United States are very familiar with what LIC is – there have been a lot of books written about it – and all you have to do is to remember Vietnam and other third world countries where the United States was very much involved in the war. Now, in the Philippines today, you do not see the United States very much involved in the front lines. But, through the support of the United States government of the Philippine military, they operate behind the scenes of the war that is raging in the country today. So, instead of the Americans fighting directly, Filipinos are made to fight among themselves. It is Filipinos verses Filipinos. Filipinos who would like to protect the status quo, where there is so much oppression, where a majority of the Filipino people continue to live in dire poverty. Where there is so much injustice. Where justice only operates successfully for the ruling elite. Where justice is so remote for the poor. Then there is the other side·there are the Filipinos who are fighting for genuine reform. There are so many Filipinos, whether in the underground or in the legal front, who, I think, are united in the way they perceive of the basic problems in the country.

So what is really unfortunate in the country today is that a lot of people who believe in reforms and change through the democratic means·through the legal way of doing things, without violating the laws·are being persecuted. A lot are being killed, because of this Low Intensity Conflict. Wherein, if you are not with the government then you are thought to belong to the communist group in the country·to the rebels· you are suspected as subversive. So there is definitely polarization in the Philippines today. This has been promoted very strongly by the Low Intensity Conflict policy of the United States government.

Gray – When did President Aquino implement the Total War Policy?

Bajar – Well, it was in early 1987. There were the peace talks·there was a ceasefire between the rebels and the government soldiers. It was a national policy of President Aquino when she assumed office that there would be these “so-called” peace talks. But the peace talks collapsed because there were certain demands made by the government to the rebels that were not acceptable to them. So right after the collapse of the peace talks, the government declared the Total War Policy.

Gray – I believe it was around this time that a number of peasants were killed in a demonstration in Manila?

Bajar – Yes, in fact this was a major reason why the representatives of the National Democratic Front, who were the ones representing the revolutionary movement, that the peace talks panel decided to withdraw – to go underground again because of what happened in Manila. There was this massive demonstration of peasants, of farmers for genuine land reform, and they were marching toward Mendiola. This is the street that fronts very close to the seat of power where the president resides. This is where they were met with hundreds of military men and policemen and after a while there was heavy shooting and a lot of peasants were killed. This is what we call the Mendiola Massacre.

So after this incident, the representatives of the National Democratic Front decided to disappear.

Gray – What has the Total War Policy meant to the island of Negros.

Bajar – Well, the Total War Policy in Negros, especially for the people·the farmers or peasants and workers that comprise the majority of our people·it means that there are more people that are being killed. This is what we refer to as summary execution or salvaging, or people being detained arbitrarily, or there are illegal arrests, or more people are losing their houses. Because if you would go to these areas where the peasants live you will see so many houses that are burned or have been vacated. Now, this is the result of the Total War Policy of the Cory Aquino administration.

Gray – People are being summarily executed as you say – but who exactly is being killed? Why are these people being targeted?

Bajar – During the Marcos regime people started to organize themselves in order to assert their rights and demand from government a better way of life, which is really the primary function of government. Government should be able to offer services to the people. So what happened was that people began to organize, and in Negros the people were able to organize a very strong and militant organization and – this holds true also with the workers and the fisherman – to demand what they are entitled to. Demands, which they have been deprived of for centuries.

Gray – Deprived of what?

Bajar – Well, the basic needs of life· for example, food, decent housing, education, justice – all of this that make a person real human. Now if you go around the Philippines you will see a lot of this not being enjoyed by the Filipinos. And yet if you will also observe very closely you will notice that where the ruling elite live, government services are immediately offered. You will notice that most of our good roads, most of our lighted streets, better water systems are in areas where the rich are living. But in many places, where you have a preponderance of poor people living, hardly can you see government services. So this is the basic problem of the Filipino people. So, the only way these problems can be solved is for people to assert themselves. And in order to assert themselves, they must organize.

I think that this holds true in other countries, wherein, you just have to put pressure on government. But you cannot pressure the government if you do it individually. You just have to unite “yourselves”. So this is the development now. There are so many sectoral organizations that have mushroomed all over the country demanding what government should give to them in a very militant fashion.

Gray – What do you mean by militant fashion?

Bajar – Well, it means that they are more vocal with their demands. In other words, the poor people of the country today have learned to speak their minds and they do this through rallies, through demonstrations to exert pressure, to make the government realize that such people exist in the country today. So when you start doing this, naturally the government becomes alarmed and this is what is happening now in the Philippines. All of these sectoral groups that are beginning to assert themselves are already being branded as subversives, or as communist fronts. Even the church has not been spared of this. I know of a lot of church leaders either from the Catholic Church or from the Protestant Church that have been very much active in helping the people solve their basic problems…in helping the people realize that the only way the people can solve these problems is by asserting themselves. A lot of our church people are conducting educational programs to these people. And so with this development there are more killings in the country. As I said, as part of this Total War Policy people who come up with progressive ideas for reforms·who show some kind of radical actions for reforms· are now being persecuted as communists or subversives or part of the communist party in the Philippines.

So, as I said earlier, there are a lot of killings and executions in the country today. Of course, it is very clear that government is responsible for this because of the fact that most of our leaders in the government today come from the ruling elite and naturally they would like to preserve the status quo which has given them so much comfort, so much wealth in life. And a lot of these ruling elite are connected with the big business and big business in the country would involve the multinationals mostly from the United States·big American multinationals. So it’s really a vicious cycle·a very sinister web that has done a lot of havoc to so many Filipinos today.

Now in our work as human rights workers, every day we have to confront such problems. We now have so many people arrested. We receive reports every day of people arbitrarily detained without any warrants of arrest·and we are so much preoccupied in trying to help these people, of trying to find where they are detained and trying to pressure the military to release them, especially since there are no specific cases filed against them. And there are times that we fail, there are times that we succeed, but the work must continue in protecting the human rights of our people.

Gray – Now, when we’re talking about the militarization of the Philippines, we’re not talking solely of the Philippine military. There are a number of paramilitary factions as well? I wonder if you would expound on some of this – the paramilitary including some of the private armies of hacienda owners.

Bajar – As to the proliferation of paramilitary units that are armed·I don’t think the government would be able to sustain these groups without U.S. government support. It is the fact that in the Philippines today it is the United States government that supplies a lot of war equipment to the existing government. And this has something to do also with the Low Intensity Conflict program of the United States government wherein the national government of the Philippines is being encouraged to organize the people into fighting units to fight their own people. And in order to do this they have to be given arms. And where does the Philippine government secure the arms if not from the United States government? This is the total picture of the Philippines today. The Total War Policy picture in the Philippines, which is, as what I have said, directly linked to the Low Intensity Conflict of the United States government.

Aside from this we have these religious fanatical groups that are also existing and the military uses them in their counter insurgency operation. You can also see proliferation of so many fundamentalist sectors in the Philippines today. Most, if not all, of these fundamentalist groups are organized by the Americans. In Dumaguette, in Negros Oriental where I live, for example, there are around 10 or 15 of such groups existing and the organizers are Americans because I have met some of them. In fact, there is one that always accompanies people who are actively involved in the organization of what we call the Civilian Voluntary Organization or CVO, which is another organization of the local military. The members of the CVO come from communities where there are supposedly communist suspects or even in communities where there is a comparative peace that exists, but they are being organized supposedly to protect these communities from the insurgency problem. And yet what is happening is that people are being organized to spy on their own people. So we are being divided. So this is very distressing that a foreign power is really actively involved in an internal problem.

Gray – Negros is supposed to be the “pilot” island in this low intensity conflict going in the Philippines?

Bajar – President Aquino has declared through the encouragement of the military that she will solve the insurgency problem during her last term in 1992. In other words by 1992, there won’t be any more insurgents in the country. Negros has been targeted as a model area for the military’s counter-insurgency campaign. The military officer of the island has declared this in a radio broadcast and he also had a press conference and I personally heard such a declaration. As Negros has been targeted as a pilot area for the counter insurgency campaign, it is understandable why there is now massive militarization in the island. In fact, in our island just a month ago four battalions were sent to reinforce the existing number of military personnel who are now in that part of the island. When there is an increase in militarization, there will also be an increase in human rights violations.

Gray – This also means more evacuations? In Sipalay in Negros recently there have been estimates of anywhere from 14,000 to 30,000 evacuees. Could you explain why these evacuations have taken place?

Bajar – Yes, this problem of internal refugees has worsened since the declaration of the island of Negros as a pilot project of the existing regime. What is happening is that in the attempt of the military to flush out the insurgents from areas where they suspect they are in total control – and by total control I mean that the insurgents have the total support of the civilian populace. In its attempt to flush out the insurgents through massive bombings, using helicopter gunships, fighter planes, and other weapons, the civilian populace in the area is really affected. They have to flee from the area in order to save their lives. So fleeing would mean complete dislocation. Now what is unfortunate in the Sipalay incident, wherein more than 30,000 people evacuated the hinterlands of the town, they have gone to the town proper where the local government is located. They have left their farms. They have to flee without any warning to save their lives. So when this happens there are so many problems such as health and lack of food. When you have more than 30,000 people all of a sudden placed in another area, wherein the local government is not prepared to give them assistance, there are other problems that evolve. Leaving their farms would mean not being able to have an adequate food supply. And there is a problem of health with so many people cramped in a few school buildings that can house only a few school children but now housing so many thousands of people; the problem of health comes in. Children have reportedly died of so many diseases like measles, etc. I feel that when government, through its military agency, does such an operation to flush out insurgents, they should be ready with the basic services for the evacuees that are forced to leave their areas. Unfortunately, this in not happening today.

Gray – What would you ask of the American people.

Bajar – Please tell the Americans to learn more about what their government is doing in the Philippines. And please tell them to control their multinational corporations and the military that are creating so much havoc in the Philippine hinterlands. And please tell them to get involved in stopping these human rights abuses in our country.


As mentioned, in 1991 the Philippine Senate wisely voted to end the Military Bases Agreement with the United States. Yet, JUSMAG is still in place. Further, after September 11, 2001, Bush sent U.S. troops into the Philippine hinterlands to allegedly seek radical Muslims. The militarization of the Philippines is far from over. It’s legacy along with the healing and recovery from it would likely take generations of commitment. I am sure the Filipino activists are up to the task. They have much to teach Americans about militarization and we should learn from them.

HEATHER GRAY produces “Just Peace” on WRFG-Atlanta 89.3 FM covering local, regional, national and international news. In the early 1990’s one of her photographs on the exhumation of graves in Negros was included in Amnesty International’s national photographic tour on the “Disappeared.” She can be reached at:

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Heather Gray is a writer and radio producer in Atlanta, Georgia and has also lived in Canada, Australia, Singapore, briefly in the Philippines and has traveled in southern Africa. For 24 years she has worked in support of Black farmer issues and in cooperative economic development in the rural South. She holds degrees in anthropology and sociology. She can be reached at