Let’s take a few recent transactional incidents and observe how the Philippines has behaved:
Nicole has a drunken night with Private Smith; it is assumed he is guilty of rape and it is extrapolated that most Americans are sex mad perverts, coddled by an arrogant, imperialistic America. The Philippine media milk this story for three years, until Nicole recants and is spirited out of the Philippines to the US. Then everyone shuts up.
Because of the Nicole incident, the VFA is loudly decried (VFA is the Visiting Forces Agreement, which basically says things like US soldiers don’t have to get visas and, if they are charged with a crime, can be held by the US). “The humiliation, the humiliation!” exclaims Senator Santiago, in commenting about the how the agreement differs in imprisonment clauses. Mobs of Filipinos block Roxas Boulevard protesting in front of the American Embassy.
China rattles its naval swords over the Spratleys, a cluster of resource laden islands which several other nations also claim. Viet Nam, Japan and the Philippines cry out in protest of specific Chinese acts. The Philippines waves its joint defense agreement with the US loud and clear. Senator Santiago and the press and everyone else suddenly shuts up about the VFA.
So here is the grits of it. If China moves into the Spratleys in force, Filipinos believe I should send my sons and daughters to fight for them, to die for them, and I should spend my tax money defending a people who collectively stand as a fair-weather friend. You know, the kind of friend who is there only if something is in it for them.
I will write long and hard for the US to keep the hell out of the Philippine mess. I suggest the Philippines man up and start training a real army and navy. And buy a jet or two.
It is okay for the Philippines to rattle its own sabers, but not mine.
I’m sure there are those who will argue there is some strategic advantage to the US to keep an alliance with the Philippines. Please enlighten me as to what it is. It seems to me it is a sink hole of self engagement by Filipinos with no over-riding loyalty to a set of principles that establishes mutual interest as a two-way street, no willingness to put transactional incidents under an umbrella of mutual commitment and mutual sacrifice.
Getting tossed out of Clark and Subic said it clearly enough. Filipino flight from Iraq said it Lima Charlie, loud and clear. The hair pulling by senators and citizens over the VFA, that “humiliating” document that makes it simple for US troops to come into the Philippines to do their bloody work defending thankless Filipinos says it so loud and so clear that even Joe Am has listened.
Let Filipinos defend Philippine interests.