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.