Monday, November 21, 2011

The Philippines and the U.S.

I see that a few days ago we had Filipino protestors tossing paint balls at US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. One of them described her as "evil" in representing that arrogant bully, the United States of America. The protestor complained that the US was engaged in hegemony, pushing everyone around for its own interest. Simply wanting to use the Philippines for its own aims.

I wonder what interest that might be. The oil under that Spratleys? Or to use the Philippines as a proxy warrior to go after China? Rather like recruiting Afghanis to attack the Taliban? Maybe to keep after the extremist Muslims?

Those are well possible, but not in such blunt or direct terms. I think the US would want to BUY oil from the Philippines. That's a problem? And I think the US would send its own troops to die fighting for certain principles, and would expect the Philippines to summon up similar courage and sacrifice to fight side by side. And I would think the Philippines on its own would object to murderers running at large on Mindanao and nearby islands.

I wonder what the protestor believes is in the best interest of the Philippines? That China take the oil and freeze the Philippines out with nothing? That the one Philippine warship go up against the billions of Chinese? You know the Chinese, right? The people who outstrip the Philippines in corruption and power mongering and stinko human rights. Who engage in self-centered economic and trade policies, sanctioning the theft of technology from overseas and pushing its nose into every one else's diplomatic tent.  Rudely. Really trustworthy, you know?

I admit, the Philippines is in a bind, not able to stand up to the giants on its own. But do you lie down with a dog or with a wolf?

The other thing that rankles me is that Hillary Clinton is perhaps one of the three most respected women on the planet. What kind of thinking is it that would call her "evil"?
Evil Exhibit A: Hillary Clinton

Oh, yes. The kind that believes in building oneself up by tearing others down. The kind that is quick with a deceitful slur, for effect. The kind that lays responsibility anywhere but on ones own shoulders.

Now, I frankly appreciate the straightforward and firm tack being taken by President Aquino regarding China. He refuses to concede to China's view that all negotiations should be one-on -one so that China can divide and play various nations off against one another and remain in the driver's seat. China knows that in a group forum, she would be along for the ride, with the consensus of the other nations being in the driver's seat. China also knows it can't go to the UN, for its strange map of 9 dashes showing Chinese rule over the entire sea between its shores and those of other nations would be thrown out like a cheap fortune cookie sticker.

On one hand, I respect Chinese leaders for how far and fast they have taken China during the past 20 years, even though some of the growth is on the backs of other nations. But I am dismayed at the penchant for bullyism that is evident every day. China considers it an affront if other nations reprimand its human rights record or currency gaming, but some in China have no trouble telling the US that it has no legitimate interest in Asia, and should butt out.

The US is the country that sacrificed so many soldiers during World War II kicking the Japanese off so many Pacific islands, and ridding China of the scourge of Japanese rape and pillage.

Not to mention the volume of trade that the US sends through the contested sea between the Philippines and China, and the robust economic relationships between the US and China, Taiwan, Korea and Japan.

Evil Exhibit B: Chinese Aircraft Carrier
No interest, huh?

And China has no trouble with its ships causing mischief with Vietnamese and Filipino ships. But try that the opposite direction, boy howdy. Screaming louder than a kung foo fighter in mid-leap.

And circling back to the protestor cited above. He believes, what, that the US should concede its affairs in the Pacific Rim to Manila? Or specifically, to him, personally, a font of gleaming diplomatic wisdom, economic accountability and global perspective?

This guy figures it is the Philippine national interest that should rule things. And the US should humbly skulk back to its distant shores and live off the fat of the US land. So, like many critics, he believes that he should be allowed to do what he criticizes others for doing.

Stick up for his own interests.

I think brighter minds than his will figure out that Philippine and American interests are joined at the hip in the Pacific, and, as that "evil" woman Hillary Clinton said, both nations will gain from the strengthening of ties.

For sure, the US does not expect the Philippines to bow to its every whim. There was no lasting rancor over the Philippines being first out of Iraq when the bullets started flying. And getting tossed from Clark/Subic is just old historical data.

But I think there is an expectation that the Philippines will commit deeply and honorably to the same principles as the US. Fair trade, diplomacy, the rule of law, and decency. And that Filipinos, jerk nosed protestors notwithstanding, will be generally respectful and supportive of an important alliance.  That is, they will not storm the Embassy at the first rumple in the security blanket.

And I further believe President Aquino is the right guy to build such a relationship. He has a good set of advisors, and foreign policy is becoming a strong suit as he gets out to engage key leaders in Asia.  It is one area where he has a strong work ethic. No matter what time he arises on days in-country.

I also think President Obama was genuine when he complimented President Aquino on his efforts to end corruption. I think the US finds it refreshing to work with a Philippine President who can be trusted. And who has his values in the right place. In other words, who Americans have no trouble respecting.


  1. Just makes me smile at how short sighted the politicians are of the Philippines. Not able to see the real interest of the nation. Kicking out the navy and having an anti American rhetoric and censorship at the media.
    Is it worth it for us? Can we just wait and see?

  2. Attila, I suspect because it is a transactional society, moving from one event to the next, not a principled one, adhering to a broader vision of what is best for the nation. A vision that carries through the minor bad events (Nicole) in favor of the greater good (security vs bully nations).


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