Weinberger, Then Vs. Now

Casper Weinberger has a column in today's Washington Post arguing that Barack Obama must come out more forcefully on the side of the Iranian protesters. He compares the situation to the Philipines election of 1986, which Ferdinand Marcos rigged to defeat Corazon Aquino -- triggering protests and, in short order, Marcos's departure from the country.

Weinberger argues that Reagan was initially too neutral, until he and George Schultz at the State Department convinced the President to support Aquino and the rebellion. He implies that Reagan's public stance changed, between his Feb. 11 and Feb. 15th public statements, from neutrality to taking sides against Marcos, and that this change led to the dramatic Feb. 22 events in Manila. It was soon after that Reagan, through an intermediary, famously told Marcos not to use force, but to "cut and cut clean."

The comparison between that situation and today's in Iran is entirely bogus and useless. For one, the US had been a very close ally and supporter of Marcos, and the Reagans and Marcoses were personal friends, whereas the US relationship with Iran's government is exactly the opposite. For another, the US had official election monitors on the ground in the Philipines (including Richard Lugar) who were reporting publicly and privately -- along with other independent monitors -- that Marcos had stolen the election, whereas the US can only make accusations about the Iran election based on allegations and assumptions.

But what interested me about Weinberger's column was that it seemed to run a little contrary to my understanding of the US role in the Philipines. Granted, I was only studying it in my International Relations classes over in Medford at the time, and it's possible I might not have completed all of my assigned reading.

So I looked it up.

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