Tag Archives: Philippines

Duterte Does the Right Thing for a Change, by Walden Bello

The US empire will probably break up little by little, as the British empire did. From Walden Bello at antiwar.com:

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s termination of a key military pact with the United States, the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), which governed the deployment of US troops in the country, has evoked varied responses. In some liberal and progressive circles, the move provoked trepidation owing to Duterte’s perceived closeness to Chinese President Xi Jinping. Others were disoriented by the fact that the agent of a change they had long wanted had also been responsible for thousands of extrajudicial executions in his “war on drugs.” Adding to the confusion was President Donald Trump’s facetious reaction to Duterte’s move, saying “it’ll save us money.”

It cannot be denied, however, that the termination of VFA was a positive, historic step from the point of view of the national interest of the Philippines. In recent years, much local attention has focused on China’s incursions and outright grabbing of maritime formations claimed by the Philippines in the South China Sea, officially renamed by the Philippine government as the West Philippine Sea. Like many U.S. dependencies, the Philippines has had a Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) with Washington that dates back to the Cold War era and serves as the legal touchstone of the VFA. Not surprisingly, as frictions with China increased, Philippine presidents from Ferdinand Marcos in the 1970s to Benigno Aquino III in more recent years invoked the MDT to get the United States to back up the Philippines’ territorial and resource claims in the Spratly Islands group. In response, Washington has consistently said that the MDT does not obligate the United States to support the Philippines’ territorial claims because it “does not interfere in sovereignty issues.” Essentially, Washington was saying, “you’re on your own” as far as the Spratly Islands were concerned.

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If Duterte Wants Us Out, Let’s Go, by Patrick J. Buchanan

Why would we defend a country that doesn’t want us to defend it? From Patrick J. Buchanan at buchanan.org:

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has just given us notice he will be terminating the Visiting Forces Agreement that governs U.S. military personnel in the islands.

His notification starts the clock running on a six-month deadline. If no new agreement is negotiated, the VFA is dissolved.

What triggered the decision?

Duterte was offended that one of his political allies who led his anti-drug campaign in the islands, which involves extrajudicial killings of drug dealers, had been denied a U.S. visa.

Yet, Duterte has never been an enthusiast of the U.S. presence. In 2016, he told his Chinese hosts in Beijing: “I want, maybe in the next two years, my country free of the presence of foreign military troops. I want them out.”

The Pentagon is shaken. If there is no VFA, how do we continue to move forces in and out to guarantee our ability to honor the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty? Defense Secretary Mark Esper called Duterte’s action “a step in the wrong direction.”

President Donald Trump openly disagreed: “If they would like to do that, that’s fine. We’ll save a lot of money.”

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“White Man’s Burden”: The US Has Been Fighting “Forever Wars” Against Muslims For 120 Years, by Darius Shatahmasebi

Here is a bunch of history about which most Americans have no clue. From Darius Shahtahmasebi at themindunleased.com:

US-led wars in the Middle East have killed some four million Muslims since 1990.

U.S.-led wars in the Middle East have killed some four million Muslims since 1990. The recently published Afghanistan papers, provided an insight into the longest war in U.S. history and revealed how U.S. officials continuously lied about the progress being made in Afghanistan, lacked a basic understanding of the country, were hiding evidence that the war was unwinnable, and had wasted as much as $1 trillion in the process.

Unfortunately, this phenomenon is nothing new. While most people accept that the United States has been interfering with Muslim populations quite heavily since World War II, the truth is that the U.S. has been fighting “forever wars” against Muslim populations for well over 100 years. (If you want to reallygo back into history, Thomas Jefferson was also fighting Muslims in the oft-forgotten Barbary Wars in the early 1800s).

The average American school curriculum likely doesn’t feature the fact that the U.S. waged a war from 1899 to 1913 in the southernmost island of the Philippines. Known as the Moro War, it was the longest sustained military campaign in American history until the war in Afghanistan surpassed it a few years ago. As a result, the U.S. and the Philippine governments are stillembroiled in a battle with Islamist insurgents in the southern Philippines, which takes the meaning of “forever war” to a whole new level.

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A Picture (of a War Crime) Is Worth a Thousand Words, by Danny Sjursen

The US “pacification” of the Philippines was the granddaddy of the US’s foreign military interventions, featuring slaughter and massacres that stack up well to later such interventions. From Daniel Sjursen at antiwar.com:

As U.S. induced Afghan civilian casualties spiked this month (and year), few Americans noticed these veritable atrocities. This wasn’t always the case. Consider the Philippine War.

“I want no prisoners, I wish you to kill and burn, the more you kill and burn the better you will please me.”
General Jacob Smith to subordinates on Samar Island during the Philippine-American War (1902)

US soldiers pose with Filipino Moro dead after the First Battle of Bud Dajo, March 7, 1906, Jolo, Philippines

Not so long ago, in November 2010, I took command of B Troop, 4th Squadron, 4th US Cavalry in a ceremony at Fort Riley, Kansas. It was, for me, a proud day. Army officers are taught to revel in their unit’s history, and the 4th Cavalry Regiment had a long, storied past indeed. On that cool, late fall day, the squadron’s colors – a flag with battle streamers – fluttered. One read: Bud Dajo, Philippine Islands – a reference to one of the regiment’s past battles. The unit crest pictured on the flag and pinned on our uniforms included a volcano and a kris – the traditional wavy-edged sword of the regiment’s Moro opponents in the Philippines – but hardly a trooper in the formation knew a thing about that war, battle, or the 4th Cavalry’s sordid past in the islands.

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Mike Pompeo’s War Warning to China, by Patrick J. Buchanan

The US has been making war in Afghanistan for almost 18 years to no avail, but Mike Pompeo threatens China with war. Does anyone else see the idiocy here? From Patrick J. Buchanan at buchanan.org:

Could America sustain such a commitment? More important, why should we? Has the White House thought through the implications of what the Pompeo threat may bring?

As President Trump flew home from his Hanoi summit with Kim Jong Un, Mike Pompeo peeled off and flew to Manila. And there the Secretary of State made a startling declaration.

Any armed attack by China on a Philippine ship or plane in the South China Sea, he told the Philippine government, will be treated as an attack on an American ship or plane, bringing a U.S. military response.

“China’s island building and military activities in the South China Sea threaten your sovereignty, security and, therefore, economic livelihood, as well as that of the United States,” said Pompeo. “As the South China Sea is part of the Pacific, any armed attack on Philippine forces, aircraft or public vessels in the South China Sea will trigger mutual defense obligations under article 4 of our mutual defense treaty.”

Article 4 requires the U.S. and the Philippines to come to the defense of the other if one is attacked. The treaty dates back to August 1951. There are Americans on Social Security who were not born when this Cold War treaty was signed.

Pompeo’s declaration amounts to a U.S. war guarantee.

Why would we make such a commitment? Why take such a risk?

Is Trump aware of what Pompeo’s promise could entail?

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Major Developments Strongly Suggest the End of Unipolar World Order, by Federico Pieraccini

Events suggest that the US government may be losing its grip on some of its Asian vassals. From Federico Pieraccini at strategic-culture.com:

With Moon Jae-In’s victory in South Korea, the period of tension on the Korean Peninsula is likely to end. With the rise to power of the new president, South Korea can expect a sharp decline in hostilities with North Korea as well as a resumption of dialogue with China.

An expected and highly anticipated victory was confirmed in South Korea on May 9, with candidate Moon winning South Korea’s presidential race over his rivals Hong Joon-pyo (Liberty Korea Party) and Ahn Cheol-soo (People’s Party). After the resignation and arrest of former President Park Geun-hye over an immense corruption scandal, public opinion turned away from her party in favour of the main opposition representative, a center-left lawyer specializing in humanitarian issues.

Moon spent several years in the opposition party advocating for greater cooperation in the region and dialogue with Pyongyang as well as with Beijing, representing quite a contrast to Guen-Hye’s pro-Americanism. Along the lines of Duterte in the Philippines, Moon intends to resume dialogue with all partners in order not to limit his options in the international arena. Such an approach reflects the essence of the multipolar world order: cooperation and dialogue with all partners in order to achieve a win-win outcome.

Looking at the situation in the region, the victory of a politician who seems to have every intention of negotiating an agreement rather than supporting military escalation seems to provide for a hopeful future for China and her neighbors. The level of cooperation and trade between South Korea and China is fundamental to the economy of both countries, so a return to the negotiating table over the issues surrounding the deployment of THAAD are a hopeful sign that the business communities of China and South Korea value deeply.

Duterte Strategy

The United States is again faced with a Filipino-like scenario. Historically, South Korea and the Philippines have always been two fundamental US allies, more concerned with Washington’s interests than their own national political agendas. Over the last few decades, both countries have been governed by politicians careful not to upset the sensibilities of US policy makers. South Korea and the Philippines are at the heart of the political strategy Obama called the Asian Pivot, more explicitly, a policy aimed at containing China and its expansion as a regional hegemon in Asia.

To continue reading: Major Developments Strongly Suggest the End of Unipolar World Order

End Of The US Empire? Russian Warships Just Arrived In The Philippines, by Darius Shahtahmasebi

It would be ironic if the Philippines broke ties with the US and that was the beginning of the end of the US empire, for it was the annexion of the Philippines and Cuba after the Spanish-American war in 1898 that got the ball rolling on the empire. From Darius Shahtahmasebi at theanti-media.org:

Notable American foreign policy critic and linguist, Professor Noam Chomsky, has stated numerous times that the United States’ power has steadily been declining since the end of World War II. As Chomsky notes, in 1945, the United States had “literally half the world’s wealth, incredible security, controlled the entire Western Hemisphere, both oceans, [and] the opposite sides of both oceans.”

In that context – and in the context of the United States waging war in multiple countries across the globe with the most advanced military technology in the world – it is hard to understand how this has happened. But Chomsky is not wrong.

Beginning with what was referred to as the “loss of China” in the 1940s, the United States slowly began to lose areas of Southeast Asia, which led America to brutally launch the Indochina wars. As Chomsky notes, by destroying South Vietnam in the heavily criticized Vietnam War — a move designed to prevent Vietnam from achieving independence and perhaps becoming a Communist state — the U.S. sent a message to the rest of Indochina that if a nation attempted to break free of U.S-European control, it would likely be bombed into oblivion. The strategy worked at the time; as Chomsky notes, by 1965, every country in the region had dictatorships that were prepared to rule in a way suitable to America’s foreign policy interests. As recent developments in the Asian region have shown, however, the success of this bully-style strategy has been short-lived indeed.

To continue reading: End Of The US Empire? Russian Warships Just Arrived In The Philippines