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24 February 2006

Rumours and realities

Our close allies in the Philippines are enduring some difficult times at the moment. Political instability in the country is a fearsome spectre, particularly when it involves questions of a breakdown in civil control of the military. Belmont Club, the author of which who is living in the Phillipines, provides interesting perspective; as does Pajamas Media’s new style of news reporting.

This will have further implications for the Long War, as well as a number of other geo-strategic issues, but the first question is the form of government and its players which will emerge from the crisis. For this, we defer judgment to the pol / mil types elsewhere in the community.

However, we will leave off with one observation from the master himself, Sherman Kent. There is a quote that circulates often in the community attributed to him, with words to the effect that “No coup plot that I have ever heard about was successful.”

Having said this, however, recent major political changes happened precisely because they became widely known, and the populace at large believed the outcome. The Orange Revolution (Ukraine) and the Cedar Revolution (Lebanon) are a fundamentally different kind of political event, however. Whereas once to execute a coup d’etat it required secrecy and the near total reliance on the military instruments of power, the fundamental shifts in technology empowering non-state actors has enabled new information dimensions the problem space.

From this, we may have to pen a corollary to Kent’s coup dictum. For today, it may be that hearing about the plot becomes a coup, whether the events of the conspiracy are successfully executed or not.

For the sake of the Philippine people, we hope otherwise and would of course prefer to see a peaceful and stable political outcome. But this country in particular becomes an interesting test case, given the high levels of emerging communications connectivity and the high literacy of the population.