Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Philippines: A Warmonger Nation


Many Filipinos have this idea that America is a warmongering nation, drawing its guns before thinking, going after oil or nation building.  I happen to have a different perspective, that America enters wars to save other nations (Europe and Asia in WW II) and protect itself. It acquires no territory. It does free corrupt countries to trade oil in open markets rather than for the enrichment of abusive dictators.

So I view the "warmonger" tag as a compliment.

The U.S. wages war better than any other nation, and has done so for over 100 years now. It is a combination of superior technology, superior productive might, and superior commitment and sacrifice by its soldiers, who believe so deeply in the American promise: freedom and opportunity.

So I tag the Philippines as a warmongering nation with intent to compliment. It is one of the Aquino Administration's successful and progressive acts. Superb foreign policy. Building up fighting capabilities.

There are those who ridicule the Philippine military because, as we know, ridicule is something Filipinos are skilled at. And even outsiders such as myself levied ridicule before the Philippines started on the path of building its equipment and skills, leaning on the U.S. as a valuable partner rather than ranting and raving about the VFA and bullyism from America.

You see, Mr. Aquino is pragmatic.

He treads a delicate line with China well, standing firm on Philippine rights to territory within U.N. sanctioned Philippine waters. Yet using the leverage that it is both in Chinese and Philippine interests to maintain a growing trade alliance. This alliance means more than spats over land. And the Philippines also plays its "U.S. card" to let China know that military bullyism simply won't work.

It is a masterful approach.

Today, the Associated Press reported that the Philippine air force has started using sophisticated American guided bomb technology to go after the Abu Sayyaf murderous thugs. Recently, U.S. drones were sent out to find a terrorist camp in the jungle and Philippine airplanes dropped four GPS-guided bombs on the camp at night. Deadeye strike. Several top leaders presumed dead. Infrared imaging after the strike confirmed about a dozen bodies hauled out of the camp.

Surgical. No army or air force troops put in harm's way.

Working with this equipment is something the Philippine air force has been practicing, with U.S. mentors, for weeks.

It is an outcome of the pragmatic approach the Aquino administration has taken in working with the U.S. And his position on U.S. bases is clear: no permanent bases, but the U.S. is welcome to bring its ships to port for servicing.

He has asked for American jets and built into the strategic budget room to maintain 24 aircraft. The U.S. will determine if planes will be made available.  They would allow the Philippines to muster a quick response if Chinese boats were again to harass Philippine oil exploration efforts.

It is obvious that the Philippines will attack no one. It is an offensive threat to no one. But it is also evident to terrorists and Chinese bullies that the nation will protect its interests in a forceful way.

Kudos to the Aquino government for its rational foreign policy and for starting a program to build a respectable defense capability.

It is what can be done if monies are no longer siphoned off into corrupt hands.

It could have been done under the Arroyo Administration. But she clearly had other objectives. Like buying loyalty across the nation. Congressmen, judges, generals, governors, businessmen and local politicians such as the Ampatuans, who got their arsenals somehow, some way, from government coffers.

It is refreshing to see clear, forceful Philippine acts.

Welcome to the arena of warmongering excellence. You are just a baby right now. But this is what your military needs to do. It need not sit around planning coups when it can develop a modern fighting capability.

8 comments:

  1. Why would China wage war with the Philippines when the Chinese businessmen/families already practically control the country?

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    Replies
    1. I don't think they would wage an offensive war. They would move in to disputed territory and start drilling for oil and defend against Philippine "incursions" militarily.

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  2. manuelbuencamino@yahoo.comMarch 22, 2012 at 1:45 PM

    Anonymous,

    The answer to your question is because Chinese businessmen/families are already Filipinos. They have been here for generations and they have no China to go back to.

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  3. Joe,

    I agree with what you said regarding the president's defense policy but I don't agree that America enters wars only to save other nations. America has an imperialist past - think Philippines, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Texas, California, and a couple of other states. However it may have abandoned its imperialist orientation over the years and I'm willing to grant that it had good intentions as far as fighting communism during the Cold War and now fighting terrorists and safeguarding the supply of oil. America is not a selfless nation, no nation can afford to be selfless. Hence, no nation can take the role of policeman and claim it is doing so purely for the benefit of others and even at the cost of its own self interest.

    As to being the best at war, that depends on how you see war. Korea ended in a stalemate. It lost Vietnam. It did not win in Iraq and it is not winning in Afghanistan despite all the modern weapons and technologies at its disposal. My take is America can win in symmetrical wars, i.e. the WWII variety where surrenders are signed, but modern warfare is a combo of symmetrical and asymmetrical weapons, tactics and strategy and America does not hold all the aces when it comes to that.

    But yes it's better to have the US as a friend rather than as an enemy.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, you are right, the U.S. operates in her best interest. I think the Philippine American war was instrumental in causing the nation to rethink its underpinnings. It was not a popular war in America. I think Viet Nam was a political loss. A defensive war propped up on puppets is not easy to win. Afghanistan is maybe what I call a cultural stalemate, not really a loss. Part of the cultural impact is in the US where appetite for American deaths means all due restraint must be used; the other part is that Afghans are uneducated and the tribal connection has not been mastered by the U.S. I think the U.S. is winning the war on terror, and the drones have a lot to do with that.

      I appreciate your substantive comment.

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    2. ps, Iraq is not a loss, I think, although Iraqis could lose if they fail to look out for their own interests against violent people within. I think President Bush would argue that it was a win, that indeed, it laid the groundwork - the hope that attaches to democracy - for Tunisia, Libya and the broader Arab Spring.

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    3. Joe,

      Taking off from your comment - the Phil-Am war was indeed unpopular and it influenced an entire generation of americans to rethink the pursuance of a colonial policy and foreign military entanglements. America withdrew from foreign entanglements until its hand was forced in the two world wars.

      But memories are short and a new generation of americans got involved in southeast asia, vietnam and cambodia in particular, propelled by a cold war policy of containment but without a clear idea of how it would do it and without a clear goal that would indicate when its mission was accomplished. Hence the withdrawal from Vietnam despite unquestioned military superiority. It was unfinished business.

      Iran was also a debacle. It was lost because the US became too identified with the Shah and it left him too late to be able to establish a relationship of trust with the ayatollah. A clear case of the folly of a foreign policy based on propping up flunkies.

      The lessons of Vietnam were learned by the elder Bush who invaded and then left Iraq after its stated mission of liberating Kuwait was accomplished. As we know now, one of the first Gulf War's unintended was successes was it disabled Saddam's capability and dedication to wage war with weapons of mass destruction.

      Unfortunately, that lesson was never learned by Bush the younger who listened to advisers who never learned the lesson of vietnam. Poor Obama is now caught in a situation where he has to extricate US forces and turn the ship of state around without being perceived as unpatriotic and weak. The Bush II war propaganda lives on as gospel in the minds of many americans and Obama cannot go too far ahead of them even if he knows that there is an urgent need to reorient american foreign policy.

      I think Obama is pursuing the correct policy in our part of the world. Make friends, make them realize the necessity of a balance of power in the region, and wait for the welcome mat which will inevitably come.

      At the end of the day, what the US should be aiming for is to have friends who can stand on their own, who not only do not have to depend on the US but who can also help if and when it is the US that needs help. As you said, the days of forging alliances with flunkies are long past.

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    4. Nice summation. I can't find anything to argue with.

      Damn!

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