Friday, February 15, 2013

The Care and Feeding of Alliances

Or, how not to be beaten and eaten if you crawl into the cage with a gorilla.

Filipinos have this love/hate thing going on with Americans. The love has to do with the wealth, good behavior, good living and sense of respect one would give to power ala Dictator Marcos or other thugs we think have our best interest in mind. The hate has to do with the recollections of American brutality toward Filipinos during and after the Filipino/American War and WWII, and the fact that Americans face to face are incredibly overbearing and opinionated.

Plus they muck around in other nations around the globe. That is like bonus points for overbearing.

Nevermind that we Americans are shy compared to the French and Dutch and Chinese and Japanese and Korean and  . . . you get the point.

The problem is that there is a basic psychological disunity between Filipinos and Americans. Filipinos run around defending their face and Americans run around throwing everything into everyone's face.

It makes for awkward party moments, for sure.

When you are dealing with Americans, there is a built in assurance of misunderstanding.

  • In a debate, you may elect not to offend an American. So you avoid speaking embarrassing truths. But that American is likely to misread your silence as incompetence rather than courtesy.

  • In a negotiation, Americans will go nuts if you focus on the nitty-gritty details. They want the MEANING. They want the "executive summary", not the details.

  • In a dispute, Americans don't want to hear blames and excuses, they want to hear a commitment to  find solutions. The commitment has another word: "accountability". 

  • Americans are used to dealing with "failure" on small decisions. It isn't an occasion for soul-searching, gut-wrenching self- recrimination. Own it and move on. Like the OPPOSITE of Sotto.

  • Americans like scenarios, options, a clear reading of the choices available. This reading is based on facts and risks. Nothing is certain. Americans will take risks that you may be uncomfortable with. Because failure on a decision is different than failure as a person. Most Filipinos don't appear to draw this distinction.

  • Americans have a fine sense of speaking with authority.  That is, they will cram their ideas at you believing everyone else is capable of jamming them back if they disagree.  A Filipino talking to an American is often like the deer standing in the middle of the road frozen by the headlights.

So here's what you do. You need to get more direct, not ask the American to get less direct. Why? Because the American way is superb at solving problems. It gets information on the table. It sets personal issues aside. It works on solving the problem.

Leave your face at home. Strap on your confidence, because an American is not really interested in you and your feelings. Just your ideas.

Keep the discussion on the big picture, not the little details. And say what's on your mind. If you disagree, the best approach is not to say, "Uh, Joe, that seems like a stupid idea to me" but something along the lines of "I'm not sure I grasp how that is going to work" or "I hadn't thought of that; the thing that bothers me is . . .".

Own the disagreement. That is different than apologizing. It is saying, "okay, I have the strength of character to acknowledge I'm just not getting it.

I can imagine that the U.S. Navy and the Tubbataha Park Rangers are engaged in a lot of awkward moments as the Rangers and Philippine Coast Guard seek to control the reef-collision incident when it is the U.S. Navy that must bear the effort and price of any decisions taken to get the boat off the rocks. The decisions will be American made, and it smacks a little of desperation for Philippine officials to pretend they are bossing the Americans around. Yes, the Philippines should approve of any salvage plans. Yes, they should let Americans drive the actual work without meddling. Yes, press releases should be joint statements, not one voice, then the other, as is now occurring.

What will the protocols be if there is a military flare-up with China?

Will there be this same awkward tug of war for control authority? One acting independent of the other, then trying to talk things back into line?

Who gives the orders? The American military, which is engaging, life or death? Or the Philippine Government, which is the sovereign civilian boss?

If they have not done so, I'd suggest that top American military officers and Defense Secretary Gazmin  formulate an "action protocol" that gives American military free right of decision-making within Philippine right of overrule. The decision tree needs to be clear and quick. Not like the bus massacre. Not like the Tubbataha Reef confusion.

That's the main point of this article.

The U.S. and Philippines need an action protocol that frees U.S. military to act within an umbrella of broad Philippine endorsement. This uptight backbiting and jealousy that is going on regarding Tubbataha is no way to fight a war.

But as long as I'm in the mode of offering up advice that was not asked for, I'll also offer up advice that is requested. Indeed, I'm thinking about starting a new column called "Ask America!". Filipinos are welcome to ask anything at all, politics, sex, love gone awry . . . anything but cooking, maybe. Eating, fine. Military strategy. Excellent. I've read every Tom Clancy novel so I understand this stuff. CSI questions? Got it covered. Legal issues? I have every book John Grisham has ever written on my library shelves, even the one about the football player.

People can drop off their questions and Joe will opine, give advice, offer up wisdoms as if they were free trinkets in a box of Cocoa Puffs.

How can I help? Heh heh heh!

"Ask America!"

36 comments:

  1. Joe

    You got it wrong why we love and hate americans. Young ones barely remember the events of Martial law, how could you say that the reason of hatred is about the sad memories of WWII?

    US wealth is also not the factor of our love of everything american. It's more of opportunities and awe on power and trends in lifestyle, music, clothing and everything vain.

    Every description about American attitudes, characters, demeanors or thinking are secondary natures.

    Two dominant characteristics clouding their minds have been obviously observed which are also the primary reasons of "hatred" harbored by other nationals.

    1. Superiority complex
    2. Exploitative nature

    Example of superiority: tubbataha reefs : upon confrontation with the damage done, response was the map was antiquated and you can't board my ship at all cost. What is wrong with simple courtesy like "we must have been using an uncorrected map chart and "we admit the damage done and understand how you Filipinos feel but let me ask first my superiors if we can compromise at your request because it involves our national security". Not the damned excuse offered by some nincompoops that not even the POTUS could board a US ship without permission from the commander of the ship.

    Example of exploitation: VFA agreement: "in return for the joint exercises, we will provide military and financial assistance but, any crimes committed by our personnel, however heinous will be tried in our US courts. Take it or leave it" . Smith case, a reminder. Money is a strong persuasive factor to exploit the needs of the poor. It is well known that one of the most common crimes committed by foreign soldiers in another nation is "Sex crime".

    Would it not be better, in terms of decency, humility and fairness, the US must have offered voluntarily to PHL the courtesy to exclude in the contract the crimes of rape, pillander and murder?

    How I can help? Funny, Psychology was not included in the repertoire of expertise listed. Limited superiority feeling?
    He he he!

    Ask Johnny Lin



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    1. Ah, wonderful response, Johnny. I can always rely upon you to speak directly, in the best American style. Responding, in order of notes taken:

      1. I was the nincompoop that made the POTUS argument. It was a fine argument, irrelevant but powerful.

      2. Psychology is one of my skills, of course. I grew tired listing all the areas of expertise and simply never got there. I also didn't mention auto mechanics or programming in fortran.

      3. You are correct, I have no idea what younger Filipinos think of the US as most of my circulation is amongst older Filipinos who inhabit and sponsor Philippine blogs and seem to quote wars all the time. Awe about lifestyles is interesting. I see that does not translate into senatorial action, perhaps because senators are of the ancient variety, too, or Catholic endowed. I'm thinking of a Divorce Bill in saying that.

      4. I agree the US has handled Tubbataha poorly. But remember, the guys on the boats are workers, military people skilled to shoot and hunt mines, age probably 18 to 30, without the diplomatic skills of, say, Senators Santiago, Enrile or Trillanes. Their average life expectancy in time of battle defending the Philippines would probably be about 35 years or 50 at the outer end.

      5. VFA. The US will get away with whatever it can get away with to protect its own. A contract has nothing to do with courtesy. It has to do with exchange of values. The Philippines would have a stronger argument on the imprisonment clause if its courts were based on law and evidence, and were respected even within the Philippines, rather than issue rulings based on favor and emotion and money. No, the US should not extend courtesies that sacrifice its citizens to courts that are not just.

      6. If the Philippines hosts fighting troops of the US or any other nations, and its girls run in desirous hordes toward those troops, expect values to get a little warped.

      7. Further to point 6, count the number of troops who have been here, divide that into the number of sex cases, and tell me if the percentage is any different than any other abberation in ordinary life anywhere. Get enough people together, you get abberations. They are not the rule. It helps to keep things in perspective and not run riot, emotionally, nationalistically, over isolated incidents. 99.9% of American soldiers are earnest, good people.

      8. Speaking of courtesies, allow me to suggest that Filipinos strive a little deeper to find appreciation for those Americans willing to put their lives on the line, for the Philippines, if need calls.

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    2. As for superiority complex, that is an illusion that is an inverse mirror image of inferiority complex.

      As for exploitative, I fail to grasp how it is wrong for a country to work for its own best interest. Again, this seems to be an illusion that is an inverse mirror image of non-competitive, at best, and incompetence, at worst.

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    3. Now, we can exchange opinions based on convictions.
      1. Well, as I have been saying all along. Perception is in the mind of the believer. Even Sotto, the super genius of copying, knows that the head of a nation isthe commander in chief of their military so it is unthinkable to even insinuate it. It's not even satirical. Powerful does not come close to description, maybe dumb. Sorry if you were the one.
      2. Psychology in strict medical relativity not Psy cology- the study of gangnam dance popularized by Korean Psy and its effect on ecology.
      3. Living the lifestyle of the rich and famous is common among the senators, reason they needed cash Xmas gifts from senate funds - to afford their lifestyles lie having a house in Vegas like Sotto so when he goes to watch Pacquiao or performs with his troupes in Vegas he lives lie Wayne Newton with a house in Vegas.
      4. Precisely, the young soldiers have to learn diplomatic skills early, for they would not know when it will come handy in a third world country. Bush Cowboy approach does not work anymore.
      5. Understandably, it's the fault of PHL negotiators but actually, t was not exchange of values, you suggested, was the factor. More of exchange of moolah buying the values of the wicked.
      6. Granted, women crevices are on fire sale, it does not mean that disrespect including rape is ignored. Chicken ranch patrons are so respectful, they even elected one prostitute as their mayor now. moral values have no land or sea boundaries.
      7. One sex crime is more than too many. It must be the number one priority message in US military on their boys upon foreign soil deployment and subjecting them to foreigners law might be deterrent unless the concept is similar to Enrile in the senate. Feed them well, dont worry about immoral values.
      8. Filipinos not only sacrificed but put their lives on the US-Sino war in WWII. What did we get in return? Our veterans were not recognized and up to now their compensation and medical care were still being debated in Congress while a nonagenarian Filipino veteran dies fighting for equal veteran benefits. It's the american who should strive more in extending courtesy to the few surviving veterans and their living legitimate spouses are totally disavowed by US Congress by law.

      Speaking of exploitation: Working to benefit personal interest is different from abandoning the partner after personal interest was achieved. Current flight of elderly Filipino veterans and their surviving families are poster families of exploitated soldiers. Compare to those Japanese americans gathered and imprisoned in america during the war were given compensation, offered aoplogies. The kindheartedness could be exploited for economic favor from Japan while in the Philippines nothing could be gained by rewarding the Filipino veterans with compassion and kindness except more financial supprt to the Filipinos. That is the hard truth of exploitation.

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    4. 1. Okay
      2. Okay
      3. Okay
      4. Disagree. They should learn how to shoot, parry, thrust, be cool under fire. John Wayne (not Bush) cowboy is essential under fire.
      5. Okay
      6. Okay
      7. Agree. They are told to be careful, they are representing the US, which is why behavior generally is good. Alcohol, testosterone, girls . . . the instruction it gets lost sometimes among kids, too many of whom are from American's back alleys and barrios.
      8. It is the Filipinos who should not have demanded or accepted (we don't know the particulars of the negotiation) the $200 million payment from the US that removed the US obligation to pay veterans benefits. What happened to the $200 million, is what veterans should be asking OF FILIPINOS. It would have been quite an annuity if invested properly for 50 years.

      9. As long as these angers and misconceptions from the past are pulled out to shape today's alliance I can assure you we have a really shitty alliance to address TODAY's need. Backbiting and complaining does not address today's need.

      10. American exploitation is a myth. Hegemony is a truth.

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    5. 9. Until injustice is addressed fairly, regaining trust is hard to achieve. Misconception is without hard facts. TODAY's need is transparency, honesty and fair play. In sports, handicapping is common between great and weak teams. Nations are not different based on classification. Giving extra points to PHL on pacts is magnanimous act unless the attitude is that of a "bully" like what China is doing presently.

      10. Superior nations exist. Hegemony is based on facts. So is exploitation.
      Facts about flight of Filipino veterans TODAY and apology to Sino -americans YESTERDAY are hard facts too. Not disputed.

      Complaining to regain trust is fair game. Backbiting is a two way street.

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    6. 9. Agree.
      10. Exploitation to me means cheating to take advantage of the weak. If advantage is obtained by not cheating, that is, by working harder and smarter or inventing better or markeint with more skill (like Jimenez), that is not exploitation. And the weak ought to make sure they are getting strong to avoid exploitation.

      Backbiting is a two way street. Agree. I promise always to bite to your face.

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    7. Waterboarding was not invented in 21st century, presumably you think too that fostering war to promote selling guns is plain business making economic sense.

      Exploitation is cheating, the excuse of people trying to get away with exploitation. The same excuse of peop,e trying to condemn torture but do not see waterboarding a form of torture but look at Tianamen square incident as human rights violation.

      You have been biting us Filipinos reasonably, not me specifically all the time, but I dont mind it if you do as long as it is in the context of discussion and not unreasonable personal attack like other blog owners do when criticized or cornered with their nonsense.

      He he he

      Johnny Lin



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    8. Waterboarding is horrid and Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Gonzalez (the attorney who wrote their rationalizations) were, in my non-satiric opinion, conniving liars, gameplyers and idiots.

      I strive to get outside my natural limitations, one of which is a tendency to get defensive and another to be insensitive or flippant. I appreciate the patience you and other commenters have for my transgressions and I hope the shortcomings are reasonably balanced with insights or humor.

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  2. For most Filipinos the situation is simple: Kano = $$$, unlimited money. For many Americans the equation is equally simple: Filipino = kind little brown savages.

    More developed Filipinos feel more equal but are frustrated that they lack many of the good things Americans have, so they are jealous. And a jealous Filipino has to understand why and it only can be because of bad properties. Americans are out to dominate us, steal what’s rightfully ours, our land, our girls...

    More developed Americans see all obvious shortcomings as corruption, disrespect for traffic laws, garbage... and all this has to be explained not by e.g. economic free market excesses but by character flaws. Too much ego, don’t recognize or can’t solve problems, beggar mentality...

    Some Filipinos have been very exposed to the American culture, studied in Ivy League universities, made a career in the US and returned to retire... they have a very good understanding of the complexity, the different layers in both cultures, the ways to communicate.

    Very few Americas have the ability to leave their secure cultural cocoon and immerge in a different culture. Joe is trying but still has some way to go ;-)

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    1. Ahhhh, zinnnnnggggggggg, right in the bullseye on that close.

      And I think the "savage" term overstates things. Most Americans don't even think about the Philippines, and when they do, they classifiy it with Guatemala or Honduras, places they have little interest in. They are busy thinking about upgrading the TV to flat screen or pondering whether they can yet afford one of those cool new electric Fords with all the cool gizmos inside.

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    2. For many Americans the world is split in two, America and not America. America is their measure of all things. Strength, development, culture, innovation... = America. Weakness, under-development, barbarism, backwardness... = rest of the world. With ignorance for the finesses of the English language, I could not find a word summarizing all that, thought savage came the closest expressing the feeling of many American in the rare event they are confronted on their flat screen with something outside their borders such as horsemeat eaters in Europe, largest crocodile in Asia (largest in the world by definition can only be in the US), Mexican rapists, a celebrity visiting Afghanistan...

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    3. Yes. I think in 1898, that would be the correct term. Today it is probably just "undeveloped" or "underdeveloped".

      It is funny. On Riassa's blog today, a Filipino argued that the Philippines is "Third World" and I argued it is "First Class". Isn't that somewhat ironic?

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  3. 1. I disagree with the tone of this essay. It shows an incorrect view of authority as shown by some people and Americans which people rightly take to be arrogance.

    1.1 Arrogance: “overbearing pride evidenced by a superior manner toward inferiors.”

    2. The reason I disagree with this type of authority is in the above definition. It presupposes the existence of superior and inferior mentalities, of master and slave.

    2.1 It goes against the grain because the most important political concept that has come out from America is the evident truth that “all men are created equal”.

    2.2 This concept is the root of the tree that has brought to fulfilment such fruits as democracy, human rights and freedom. These fruits have released mankind from feudal bondage and continue to keep mankind free in the continuing threats of both sectarian and secular authoritarianism.

    3. I disagree that Americans can be stereotyped in this manner. I think that Americans have many faces, but with respect to authority I think it is represented by two faces: that of the Ugly American and that of the Good American.

    3.1 Typically the Ugly American speaks with the overconfident manner of all-knowing authority. This is a false face because if you speak with the authority of truth you do not need to project authority. This is the face of Bush the Younger, Cheney, Boehner, Palin and Colin Powell at the UN explaining Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction.

    3.2 The Good American (not in the ironic sense of the Urban Dictionary’s definition!) speaks with the gentle manner of confident authority that may soar to oratorical heights of poetical fancy. This is a true face because it speaks the authority of truth with sincerity if not eloquence. This is the face of Obama, Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Colin Powell when not speaking at the UN.

    4. Authority - and the respect it commands – should flow naturally from high office and high ideals. It should not flow from a perch of imagined superiority. To project authority for any reason - to impress or to intimidate or to veil insecurity - is bluster and deception. It may carry the day but it will surely falter at the end.

    4.1 This false authority is all around us – in nations, religions, politicians, neighbours and in our families.

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    1. Fascinating. I am arguing that there is a measuring stick one can use to determine success, and you seem to be saying no measuring stick is needed. All are equal in terms of who they are.

      But if the goal is, say wealth creation, or if the goal is winning a war, then one must judge what skill is needed. Rather like hiring for a job. Problem solving, ability to shoot straight, whatever. If we say, well, poverty is just as legitimate as wealth, okay, your argument holds. Or if we say, okay, losing a war doesn't matter.

      My argument is that straight talk, removed of the notion of face (personal feelings), is better for wealth creation and winning wars. Whether Americans or Filipinos are better at this, I have no idea. We'd have to have some kind of contest.

      The point you make that Americans THINK they are better is I suspect accurate. I only have to go look in the mirror and consign myself to "guilty" or go back over and read some of my old articles and conclude "what a pompous jerk!". So I agree to the validity of that conclusion. They (we) Americans may in fact just be living a bias.

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    2. 1. I re-read the essay. It is about the maintenance of alliances. Let us break it down into two main parts for convenience.

      1.1 The first five bullet points pertain to transactional detail scenarios – truths (or ideas), details, disputes and solutions, failures, scenarios and options.

      1.2 The last bullet point on “speaking with authority” and the 4 paragraphs that follow it pertain to transactional attitudes – speaking directly, face, focus on the big picture, and owning disagreements.

      1.3 In reality, the first five bullet points also cover attitudes.

      2. I make two assumptions about an alliance:

      2.1 That it is preceded with negotiations.
      2.2 That it is covered by a treaty which is the result of negotiations.

      3. The first part, the transactional scenarios arise in the course of an alliance, from negotiation and onwards.

      3.1 My first contention in item 5 (Part 2 of my 11:21 AM post) is that these transactional scenarios must be conducted – between equals - with sincerity and good faith in all dealings at all times: before, during and after negotiations of the alliance.

      3.2 My second contention is that all objectives, details, etcetera in the alliance must be comprehensively covered during negotiations. And they should form part and parcel of the treaty of the alliance.

      3.3 If the above two items, 3.1 and 3.2, are correctly addressed there should be no problem in the maintenance of the alliance. Everything is above board, disputes should not arise because they are foreseen and provided for, and unseen failures are handled by a standard procedure.

      4. Let us proceed to the second part on transactional attitudes. My response is contained in items 1 – 4 (Part 1 of my 11:21 AM post) and it concentrates on “speaking with authority”. I must admit it does not consider the other attitudes because...

      4.1 If I were to pin it down, what bothers me about the transactional attitudes is not the attitudes themselves but the manner of presentation and the viewpoint.

      4.2 I find the manner patronizing.

      4.3 Consider these two quotes: “You need to get more direct.” And “Leave your face at home.” These adopt a peremptory tone and are in contrast with the gentle admonition of “I’m not sure I grasp, etc.” (Ironical aside: As you note Filipinos are not used to straight talk.)

      4.4 If the manner is patronizing, the viewpoint is galling.

      4.5 The viewpoint exerts that everything must be considered from the American point of view. Therefore, it is not premised on a relationship of equality.

      4.6 I think in all negotiations and dealings, national idiosyncrasies must be taken into consideration and factored in. It must be on both sides, it cannot be unilateral. Filipinos should not be expected to tailor their behaviour in consideration of American traits, and vice-versa.

      5. Finally, you make mention of the measuring stick. To me that measuring stick consists in the treaty of the alliance, and in how successful the alliance is or will be as measured against its objectives and provisions.

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    3. 4.3 & 4.4 It's funny, at 3 am last night I knew those remarks were bad and I made a note to myself to edit it. Then at five when I woke up and I just groggily punched "publish". So I agree with you. Obnoxious. More tomorrow maybe, but that is Maude's fault. She is really genuinely pissed.

      4.5 It is my job, to some extent, to represent Americans, in all our self-centered glory. I'd be remiss if I did not say that I think the American/Philippine alliance, such as it is, is troubled, and then not try to sort out why. If my wording is bad, sorry, some days are like that. If my natural demeanor is self-centered, well, maybe the Philippines ought not establish an alliance with Americans who might just maybe share my attitudes and demeanor. Or figure out how to roll with the obnoxious moments.

      4.6 Agree to an extent. Disagree to an extent. We are culturally different and both would be remiss not to recognize it if the differences are dysfunctional. We ought to build bridges to get past the dysfunctions. Like, maybe Senator Santiago and Ambassador Thomas ought to have lunch together to get rid of the edge between them. It is dysfunctional to be dissing one another in public.

      5. The measuring stick to me would be does the Philippines have control and authority over all the territory it is authorized under UN regulations. The question to be asked is, are we doing all that can be done to achieve that end harmoniously and successfully. Right now, the answer seems "no" because China is laughing in the tea about how they are driving a wedge between the Philippines and US.

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    4. 4.6 If we go back to item 5.2 of my "dealings in alliances", I stress the "definition and total acceptance of the common goals".

      1. With the common goal in constant sight, differences should be recognized but should never become dysfunctional.

      2. The public dissing between Santiago and Thomas should not be happening. It is unseemly. The Tubbataha incident should have been handled matter-of-factly under item 5.7 as we have come to agree.

      3. Yes, there should be angst on the damage caused to the reef, but there should be no angst in criminations and recriminations over the damage if:

      3.1 The negotiating parties had executed due diligence in crafting the treaty.

      3.2 If Santiago and her den of thieves had also executed due diligence in ratifying the treaty. The lady seenator should see the extent of her original responsibility in this brouhaha and should not be grandstanding.

      5. I am too far away to feel the ongoing tensions in the alliance, but I would agree that, if there is such tension, not all is being done. And it's ironical, isn't it?

      5.1 As I see it, the overarching objective of the alliance is to preserve the evident truth that "all men are created equal". (This is item 2.1 of my original post.)

      5.2 Both nations in the alliance accept this evident truth and have come together against a nation that not only does not accept this truth but flouts it in its treatment of its own citizens, of the Tibetans, and of its neighboring countries.

      5.3 There is further irony in the fact that this nation is attempting to covet resources for its people which it treats with contempt! This silly nation must not be allowed - at all costs - to succeed in its efforts of depredations and spread its inhumanity.

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    5. "There is further irony in the fact that this nation is attempting to covet resources for its people which it treats with contempt!"

      Careful. You are starting to vent like Maude.

      Yes, you have summarized this nicely. I think it is really poor groundwork for an alliance. Both arrogance and envy need to be reined in to focus on building bridges across two very different cultures. For the good of both nations. The time to do that is now, not in the heat of battle.

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  4. 5. On dealings in alliances, these are my thoughts:

    5.1 Negotiations must be conducted – as equals - in a civil manner at all times.

    5.2 There should a definition and total acceptance of the common goal(s).

    5.3 If the details of the alliance are complex, this can be addressed by a multiple-tier organization headed by a steering committee.

    5.4 The common goals must be broken down into major talking points, and should be controlled by and presented in planned agendas. The talking points should be prepared separately by each party to ensure comprehensiveness. There should be general agreement on these.

    5.5 Sticking points must be examined in detail, down to the nitty-gritty, and options considered. A consensus agreeable to all parties should be reached. These tasks can be assigned to working committees and the consensus submitted to the steering committee for review and approval.

    5.6 Areas of conflict and disagreement should be dealt with in sincerity and in good faith. Embarrassing truths must be brought out; they should not be avoided. Actually, no truth if brought out upfront is embarrassing. They only become embarrassing if they were foreseen but not candidly disclosed.

    5.7 Important: potential problems must be anticipated and identified beforehand and acceptable solutions recorded.

    5.8 Monitoring of the alliance is essential. Feedback on exceptions must be reported and logged.

    5.9 Unseen failure in some area of the alliance may not be expected but should be allowed for. The protocol for handling these should be established beforehand. The reason, not the excuse, for a failure must be examined and pinpointed. The problem and solution must be logged. Safeguards must be implemented to prevent reoccurrence.

    5.10 Total failure must be anticipated and fallback/recovery options recorded beforehand. Command responsibility applies.

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    1. Also fascinating. There are two different conditions for our alliance. Peace and war. You outline an excellent framework for peace.

      I am elaborating on your 5.9.

      But I think war doesn't unfold that way, in a conference room seeking agreements like attorneys hammering away in a courtroom whilst soldiers die. The enemy pulls a surprise move, for that is one of the skills of warmaking, you don't hold a conference. Ahead of time, you have determined what authorities a general has, and he figures quickly if it is in his authority (for example to fire back if the enemy fires at him) and he decides quickly the best countermeasure.

      Warmaking decisions fall to individuals not committees.

      Assigning authorities falls to committees and my point is that ought to be done now. That the US and Philippines ought to agree specifically NOW on what authorities America would have to act on the Philippine behalf.

      It would be horrid for this Tubbataha condition of jealousy and rivalry to emerge during battle. Or after.

      Or for the US to engage in another Intramuros without the full consent of the Philippines.

      Or, if a battle fails, for the Philippines to point at America and say "you are incompetent".

      It has to be WE every step of the way. It is not WE now.

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    2. 1. Actually, I agree with all of your points.

      2. We are seeing things from different timings. I am speaking of a time when an alliance is being set up - before any war. You are speaking of a time when we are already at war.

      3. My points were about the negotiation of an alliance in the possibility of a war. A political phase not a military phase.

      4. Your well-made points most of which I would say fall under the scope, definition and parcelling of roles, authorities and responsibilities - all of these should be done beforehand - and written in the treaty of the alliance.

      5. This brouhaha can be traced to the Tubbataha incident - is that assumption correct? This falls into item 5.9. In the VFA, was a protocol defined for exceptional conditions like these? Could it have been specified under 5.7 in a section that covered accidental damage to national property?

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    3. Yes, Tubbataha as an ominous foretelling of an alliance not yet put together right. And if you didn't like my tone, please don't read tomorrow's blog by Maude. I tried to tell her to ease up a little and she tossed a bowl of hot pancit noodles at me.

      Fortunately, I'm quick to duck, a little trick I learned in Viet Nam. But I'll let her rip tomorrow.

      Yes, it should go into 5.7 as a minor deal. I think the accident is an accident and is a small thing compared to war. What is Senator Santiago going to scream when US ships are firing missles at Chinese ships that are launching missles from anchor on the reefs?

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    4. Don’t over-estimate wealth. Wealth or happiness? They are not the same, only American consumerism tries to convince us that they are identical. Wealth or fair distribution of wealth? Wealth for us or for future generations?

      Don’t over-estimate individuals, that’s an American trait. Hitler was only possible with Wagner, steel barons, communists in Russia, emerging genetic science, a too harsh Versailles deal, arrogant behaviour of French and Belgians trying to reoccupying the Ruhr, church attitude to the Jews – the murderers of Christ-. Take away Hitler and there is still a war, take away a few cultural elements and there is no war. Often individuals are catalysts at best, most likely just accidental the spokesperson for a larger group.

      In a war decision are made on many levels, ad hoc on the battle field, tactical by field commanders, strategically by the general staff, politically by the executive branch. The higher, the more teamwork and committees get important I guess.

      There is "WE" and there is "we allies". "We allies" is based on treaties, common goals not on the same emotional "WE" of nations.

      But also thanks for initiating thoughts, thanks for a blog were you can touch complexity and don’t have to twitter.

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    5. And thanks for making this a genuine discussion blog rather than a place where people do hit and run opinions with no intent to listen as well as speak.

      I suppose there is a reason the suicide rate in America is something like twice that of the Philippines. The individualistic, competitive way of America has intensity. If the measure of happiness is suicidal tendencies, the Philippines is happier. If the measure of happiness is intensity of life (going for opportunity, risk-taking and competition to be "successful"), then America is probably a happier place, and it is why so many Filipinos stay there.

      Don't over-estimate individuals, yes. It is equally a mistake to underestimate them. There was only one Hitler, I think, and he was under-estimated. I think Russians would agree there was only one Stalin. I personal think there is only one Obama and one John Lennon.

      Yes, the farther from the bullets, the more there is time for discussion. But decision chains, and respect for them, has to be clear.

      I think the WE in alliances can actually be stronger during warfare than the WE as nations, for the desperation of the moment, and it's release (allies entering Paris in WWII). So again, I might disagree on the nuances of that one. After the moment, then it goes back to WE the nation.

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  5. Aha! ha! ha! ha! 40% investors would want business decision making over 60% Filipinos. If these 60% Filipinos canot even export catsup and pansit why would 40% investors wanted these monkeys decide where the 40% investors money go.

    Same is true with military decision making. Americans should make the decision not the Filipinos. Filipinos are not known for their military strategic decision making. They never have had experience on this. If I, Mariano, knows, American should know better. Mariano knows that Filipinos possession of armed-less harm-less harpoon-less, canon-less Hamilton class coast guard toaster was enough to make Filipinos think they have enough military might against the Chinese. If Mariano knows, Americans know better and Filipinos are just daydreaming that they are David against Golyat.

    Filipino senators and congressmen and benign0 Aquino's cabinetries are thinking at the level of Justin Beiber.

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    1. The bottom line hatred of Filipinos of America is their being denied visa to America.
      If they are not in America, they hate America, yet, wear anything America, do anything like Americans.

      Once in America, these "decision making Filipinos" are being led-commanded-controlled-cajoled into line like the 98% Filipino OFWs who the self-proclaimed brilliant Philippine Media claimed as the cause of "brain-drain". These "cause-of-Philippine-brain-drain" are now drivers, drivers, drivers, mop-pushers, dish-cleaners, manual laborers.

      tsk tsk tsk .... if these "cause-of-Philippine-brain-drain" are doing menial jobs abroad, I wonder what those left-behind Filipino brains made of?

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    2. You have exactly hit on the point I wanted to make. Americans will want to drive the fighting, and ought to, but ought not drive the strategy in a limited, Philippines-only engagement. As generals report to civilians in the US, and bristle sometimes doing it, generals of the US ought to report to Filipinos for any actions dealing with Philippine territories.

      I don't think the Philippines should sit down and shut up, nor should they quibble and not trust American military. They should respect it. I see a real drawback to an alliance is the Filipino penchant to make excuses and cast blames for problems, rather than look inward for accountability. It is as potentially damaging as the American penchant to simply bully along as if no one else counted.

      If the war becomes bigger, then several allies might decide to bow to a joint leadership, and in that, the Philippines would have to play a subordinate role of offering advice but not making decisions.

      All of this is of course hypothetical thinking that arises when one has played a few hours too long on computer war games. Or Angry Birds, even.

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    3. Visa denial again is a case of casting blames rather than accepting Filipino accountability. The Embassy is strict on visas because so many Filipinos in the past failed to return, opting to stay in the US illegally. So Filipinos should be angry at their countrymates, and Filipino values, not American discipline to curtail illegal immigration.

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  6. Despite the warning, I look forward - eagerly - to Maude's piece.

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    1. I'd tell her, but I think she's out swimming to Cebu to burn off some steam.

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  7. My wife says that Filipinos are intimidated by whites because of their heights, looks, money and education.

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  8. American culture will be replaced by westernized Korean and Chinese culture. She tells me that that is the reason why Korean dramas are becoming more popular.

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    1. I think your wife is right on the money. With the opening of four mega-casinos in Manila, upscale Asia will be arriving in the Philippines in droves. And I think, actually, Philippine culture is more aligned with Asian culture than American. It is a more natural fit.

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  9. Funny but even here in New York Filipinas who socialize together have more Chinese and Korean friends than white American. You are right: It is a more natural fit. I can see it myself. They like to have a Chinese or Korean friends and also some of them like to be Chinese mix. It makes them feel proud also. Just for the record: I get most of my info from my Filipina wife.

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    Replies
    1. Your wife has great cross-cultural insights.

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