Tales from the Trail

Making peace with the MILF

Grappling with the alphabet stew of world insurgencies can have its pitfalls.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton discovered as much Friday as she fielded questions about the Moro Islamic Liberation Front during a town hall-style gathering in Manila.
PHILIPPINES-USA/
MILF has the same acronym as an obscene phrase that gained currency in recent years. It was used in a Saturday Night Live political sketch last year in which characters playing Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton criticized sexism in the U.S. election campaign.

Questioned repeatedly about peace efforts with the MILF in the southern Philippines, Clinton struggled with how to speak the acronym.

“I’m encouraged by what I hear about the progress in the peace efforts that are going on between the government and MILF,” Clinton said, pronouncing it like a word — the same way as the acronym for the obscene phrase.

Then she switched and adopted the local usage — saying the letters individually.

Clinton said the time seemed ripe for a peace deal with the MILF, which has been fighting the Manila government for nearly 30 years.

Clinton finds ‘Hillary fans and fanatics’ in Philippines

If you’re a hard-traveling foreign secretary and need a place to recharge your batteries after a week of diplomacy, the Philippines seems to be the place to go.

PHILIPPINESU.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton got an enthusiastic welcome on arrival in the capital Manila Thursday after a week of visits that included stops in Berlin and Singapore.

Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo called her “the most popular foreign secretary the world over.”