The Obama administration deserves credit for the successes produced so far by its “pivot to Asia”, from the encouragement of political reform in Myanmar, to the creation of a permanent Marines base in Australia, to the initiation of joint military exercises with the Philippines.
Most days, the lobby of the Peninsula Hotel in Manila caters to a cross-section of elite Philippine society. Politicians in sharp suits swap stories in the coffee shop, while society ladies with bouffant hairdos and glittery mobile phones take their usual tables for lunch. But last week, a different crowd crashed the Peninsula, as a group of army officers barged into the hotel and commandeered the place to call for the resignation of Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
Gracia Burnham needed a backpack. Months earlier, she and herhusband, Martin, had been kidnapped and dragged into the jungles ofthe Philippines by members of the Al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf, or "Bearer of the Sword," and they had nothing in which to carry their few belongings. Until, that is, one morning when one of their kidnappers was shot and killed in the midst of a blundered rescue effort by the Filipino army.