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PEACE: Foreign Policy & Terrorism | February 24, 1986



An Unpublished Letter to Los Angeles Times 

The Reagan Administration's loyalty to what they consider America's old "loyal" friend, Ferdinand Marcos, is in itself admirable. However, our unilateral offer of political asylum to him is a grave mistake.

American hostages were taken in Iran because we had granted the Shah, our old "loyal" friend, political asylum and we refused to extradite him, admittedly back to a kangaroo court. The lesson we should have learned -- and apparently we have not -- is that we should not unilaterally offer political asylum to a former dictator unless we wish to alienate ourselves from the new government.

Although this may seem like a diplomatic fine point, it is precisely why the Iranians now see us as the Great Satan -- accessories not only before but also after the fact in the Shah's torturous oppression -- whereas the Haitians now see us as saviors: We were continually working with the new government to make the deal in which it came into power and "Baby Doc" was flown out, by us -- we were rightfully viewed as liberators, not co-conspirators.

In the Philippines, the Reagan Administration's tardiness in condemning the corrupt Marcos regime has complicated the volatile situation, at least in the eyes of the new, legitimate Filipino powers-that-be; but we can still steer our way through the difficult diplomatic straits.

In order to formally acknowledge the legitimacy of the new government and to secure our own military bases there as well as to work for a peaceful resolution of the current crisis, we should not unilaterally offer Marcos political asylum: Instead, we should firmly but diplomatically ask the new government if they would agree in writing, in the influential international media, to respect our asylum, by not later asking for the extradition of Mr. Marcos, for the prosecution that President Aquino promised the Filipino voters during her election campaign. In return, Marcos would be more apt to abdicate, defusing the bloody, growing civil war, which is our stated goal in our now, unilaterally offering asylum to him.

To avoid a near-future confrontation with the new government, over an extradition of Marcos, we must get their agreement up front -- after all, the disposition of the cases against Marcos is an internal Filipino matter. We have "kissed up" to a dictator for decades to maintain our very strategic bases in the Philippines -- it would be no disgrace to now cooperate with the democratic government, in whose hands the fate of our bases now does rest.

Even though, apparently for our own selfish, strategic interests, we have helped prop-up the dictator Marcos...for decades, the overwhelming majority of Filipino people still consider us Americans as friends -- they, not Marcos, are our truly loyal friends!

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