Demystifying LIC

Alfred W. McCoy


In early 1987, the Philippine Left suddenly discovered a new, threatening form of US intervention called Low Intensity Conflict (LIC). Referring to American use of LIC in Central America, trade unions and human rights groups pointed to the proliferation of armed, anti-communist vigilantes in the villages as one of many ominous signs that US was introducing LIC into the Philippines. LIC itself is to a certain extent, an indigenous anti-communist warfare doctrine, pioneered during the anti-Huk campaign in the 1950s by the Philippine Defense Department and the US Central Intelligence Agency. Viewed from the vantage point of historical hindsight five or ten years hence, we might as well conclude that the US LIC doctrine, when applied by the politicized Armed Forces of the Philippines of the late 1980s, legitimized a partisan and unnecessary decision by a single military faction to initiate a campaign of civilian liquidations. Through complex political twists, LIC doctrine is thus encouraging a savage civil war with the potential to traumatize and brutalize Philippine society for a generation.

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