Trump’s foolish gambit

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    UNITED States President Donald Trump, by his lonesome, stirred the whole world into frenzy with the unannounced killing by the American military of Iranian military officers Gen. Qussem Soleimani, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and nine other Iranians and Iraqis, right at Baghdad International Airport.

    There are plenty of anomalous and irregular aspects of this drone or missile attack and here are a few. The US is not formally at war with Iran or Iraq. The attack from the air was not sanctioned by the US Congress; Speaker Nancy Pelosi said they were not even informed. It was just the commander in chief and the Air Force or the Marines or whatever branch of the military was deployed.

    In the days of old, assassins were at least required by the very nature of their work to be physically present before their target, to expose themselves to harm since violence intrinsically begets violence. But now, attacks may be done from miles away, using the most modern computer technology, and attackers need not feel any remorse or self-doubt because killing from afar lessens the emotional baggage.

    Trump’s adventurism has been denounced by many individual and progressive groups in America itself, and in both Iran and Iraq and the rest of the Muslim world. By a push of the button, President Trump’s indiscretion created a host of everyday problems for the Philippines.

    The prices of local petroleum products increased ahead of the second wave of price hikes due to Train 2. Also, in a quick flash, our Overseas Filipino Workers in the Middle East were again faced with unstable jobs and the prospect of being repatriated by the government if regional tensions persist.

    The task of repatriation itself exerts a huge pressure on the government and on President Duterte, who for once had to show his mettle as a leader by taking the right decisions, reviewing foreign policy and taking care of Filipino lives.

    The situation puts President Duterte in a quandary because the United States is our military and economic ally while Iran is a friend that also hosts a couple of thousand Filipino workers, albeit undocumented. At the outset, one would think that it is best for the Philippines to remain neutral and keep its distance.

    Lives of Filipino workers in Iran and Iraq are in danger, and it is right for Duterte to find the money and prepare the arrangements for their repatriation.

    Iran has already fired rockets at Iraqi military bases housing US troops and the Philippine embassy has raised alert level 4, meaning forced evacuation of Filipinos would be in effect.

    Iran, meanwhile warned US allies that they, too, will be attacked if they allow their territories to be used in attacks against Tehran.

    Trump’s foolish gambit has grown into a world-wide conflagration and Duterte may find it hard to ensure that the Philippines would not be engulfed.