Monday, December 21, 2015

Protecting US interest

Protecting US interest

Our signing of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with the US last April 28 marked another ignominious chapter in our history.  That made us the first and only country to allow the return of the US military bases.  Those who worked it out to ensure their return led by Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert del Rosario and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin obviously acted as proxies of the US, ignoring that EDCA stands as a shameful document that formalized our re-colonization by a foreign power that came to suppress our newly gained independence with about a million of our people slaughtered defending our freedom.

More than that, the increased joint military exercise, our re-enforced naval patrol and stationing of troops in the disputed islands in the West Philippine Sea, and the bellicose statements coming from our side were deliberately done to heighten the tension between the US and China.  Maybe Del Rosario believes that heating up our relations with China is the easiest way to gather public support for the return of the US bases.
The problem with the US’ “pivot to Asia” policy is that their local proxies sought to define US interest in Asia as including our interest.   They completely ignored the statement by then-Secretary of State Hilary Clinton that the US will not go to war with China over our disputes in the Spratly islands, which means that the US presence here is mainly to protect their  own interest, and that ranges from what is economically and militarily strategic to keeping their power and influence in the Asia-Pacific rim. 
Objectively, EDCA has nothing to do with our security much that the aspect on that is covered by the 1947 Mutual Defense Agreement which the country entered into with the US. Secretary of Foreign Affairs del Rosario, who had stayed much of his time in the US and believed by many as a “green card” holder has to create an external enemy to give relevance to the presence of the US military bases here. But unlike the NATO agreement where there is the blind principle that an attack to any of its members would be construed as an attack to the US, our existing defense pact with the US is something  only the US could decide whether or not to come to our rescue.
Even if such Cold War line has its own raison d’ etre, US presence is meant as an advance perimeter that in the event of war with China, the Philippines, as usual, will be the first to be incinerated, with the US possibly remaining untouched by the holocaust of nuclear war.  It is more of a message against allies from crossing the demarcated line reminiscent of the so-called “bamboo curtain” the US put up against China during the Cold War to prevent our present and future leaders from pursuing an independent foreign policy without the consent of the US.
Moreover, many see the US pivot to Asia policy as no different from what it did during the Vietnam War where the US sought to secure the support of their allies to make it appear that it was fighting a “just war”   for which President Marcos, instead of sending troops, sent an engineering battalion, thereby warranting the war hawks in Washington to work for his ouster.  Its so-called “allies” in Asia would be having second thoughts about the consequence of having to improve ties with China without its imprimatur.    Many predict that as China economically advances, its trade and economic intercourse with the countries of Asia becomes “integrated,” and that prospect has generated much insecurity to US policy makers.  Thus, unless drastic measures are taken, the US will be eclipsed as an economic power in Asia.
Considering that the US is now suffering from an acute trade deficit and is deeply mired in debt, maintaining the same military posturing as the protector of the so-called “free world” would no longer come as a free lunch.  While US has not demanded contribution for their presence in our territory unlike Germany and Japan, that arrangement has a degree of justification, it being demanded by a victorious power to a defeated state.  Here, that arrangement would have no basis because the Philippines fought alongside the US in WWII, and for US to demand contribution from us now just to keep their presence here is like asking us to hire a security guard to protect the interest of our neighbor.  
Notably, the present dispensation sought to devise ways to compensate the US by increasing our military spending to safeguard the Kalayaan group of islands and in the Ayungin shoal from further Chinese encroachment.  But again, our arms build-up has nothing to do in allowing the US to restore their presence here.  Rather, that jingoistic policy is not meant for us to defend ourselves from that much awaited conflict with China but our arrogant way of helping the US boost its sagging economy. 
Besides, while there exists a competition between the US and China, their competition is obviously running on a different axis.   As political analysts see it, while the US has been drumbeating the war clouds alleging on the expansionist policy of China, the latter, on the other hand, continues to pursue what has been called the “soft” or economic approach to win more friends. It is on this basis why the US is seen as likely to provoke war with China, and that is rooted on the instinctive fear of its declining economic influence.   The US fears to see that day when the countries it once herded like cattle would be veering towards China.
 Thus, as the US continues to funnel much of its budget to strengthening its military presence in the Asia-Pacific, its hesitant allies are seen as flirting with Beijing.   The body language of most leaders that attended the APEC meeting revealed that countries tend to be cozier to one who holds the purse.  In fact, barely a day after the APEC meeting was concluded, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced the creation of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank with China putting up an initial capital fund of $50 billion. 
US Treasury Department wasted no time criticizing the bank as a deliberate effort to undercut the World Bank and the ADB, which has long been  dominated by the US  and Japan.  But that spoiler comment from the US makes no sense because China’s Development Bank and China’s Export Import Bank have long been lending more loans to developing countries compared to the US-controlled World Bank and ADB, and that is something that worried the usurious money lenders in Washington. Unfortunately, Del Rosario and Gazmin failed to comprehend the changing wind that is now breezing the whole of Asia-Pacific, with US President Obama, like an outdated evangelist, offering nothing, except to reiterate the old rhetoric of maintaining peace and stability in the region.

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