Consumed by President B. S. Aquino 3rd’s various moves to preserve his fast-fading grip on political power, we now stand on the brink of a possible war against China. We are being made to believe it is something we should welcome, because we would be fighting with American and Japanese troops, ships, planes, missiles and guns.
In the Pacific war, we stood shoulder to shoulder with the Americans against the Japanese. Only Aquino’s grandfather and his band of collaborators had the rare distinction of working for the Japanese while our patriots died with the Americans. Now under the leadership of the collaborator’s grandson, we would finally be fighting on the same side as the Japanese and the Americans.
What are the real chances of war with China? Where and how is it likely to begin? What are our chances of surviving? How can we avert it, if we still can?
Last Saturday, at Annabel’s restaurant in Quezon City, we asked some of these questions. To answer them we had China analyst Chito Sta. Romana, UP Prof. Temy Rivera and Jose Antono Custodio, a military historian. We had broadcaster-columnist Herman Tiu Laurel to help us keep them on their toes.
The prospects of war
There is not a single view on the prospects of such a war. War is war, big or small, and even the most benign view of it brings comfort to no one.
Despite the efforts of various groups to create the unwanted conditions for war, Sta. Romana says China herself does not believe war is likely to erupt between herself and the US—at least not in the next five years.
That’s a narrow gap of less than one presidential term. PNoy would still be a young 60-year-old by then, either in prison or in a home, but no longer in a position to order any reinforcement unit to stand down. But,in Sta. Romana’s view, a “short, sharp conflict” triggered by accident or miscalculation by either side could not be discounted.
Rivera and Custodio did not depart from the same view. Rivera believes a multi-track approach to the Philippine-Chinese maritime territorial dispute could keep diplomacy going, while Custodio sees the economic interests of the US and China too deeply intertwined to provide a clear argument for war. He also sees no military parity between the two rivals. The US has nine to 10 aircraft carriers, three of them in the Asia Pacific region, China has only one. Of the world’s total inventory of 15,000 nuclear warheads, the US owns 7,000, while China owns only 2,000. Russia owns 5,000.
China not likely to start it
Despite the childish taunts and heckling China gets from PNoy, she is not likely to be provoked into shooting down a US-supplied coast guard cutter or a Japan-supplied P3-C Orion maritime surveillance plane to start a war. The first incident could compel the US to intervene under the 1951 Philippine-US Mutual Defense Treaty, while the second could put to the test Shinzo Abe’s commitment to come to the aid of the Philippines.
This makes the chances of China starting a shooting war rather slim. PNoy himself might stand a greater chance of starting one, given the chance to repeat his Operation Exodus Mamasapano experience with the help of a suspended AFP Chief of Staff.
Can it start in Europe?
Still a much darker view from abroad tends to suggest that war is already in the making, and may no longer be averted. It could start in Europe and all it would take is one simple push of a button to spread it to China at the speed of light.
Russia must pay for annexing the Crimea, and must be made to feel that she cannot continue to function as though the global sanctions were a joke. And China must not be encouraged to dream about her mandate from Heaven.
At the June 7-8 G7 Summit in Elmau, Germany, where Moscow was once again locked out, US President Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel led the verbal assault on Russian President Vladimir Putin, raising the verbal hostility to a new level. This disturbed the more sober political and military leaders on both sides of the Atlantic.
Anti-war voices in US and Europe
Last Friday, US Army Chief of Staff General Raymond Odierno signed an agreement with Chinese Army General Fan Changlong, vice chairman of China’s Central Military Commission, at the Pentagon, “establishing an army-to-army dialogue mechanism to better coordinate humanitarian assistance and disaster response practices.”
In Washington, D.C., Gen. Vincent Brooks, US Army Pacific Commander, said, “We do not see a collision between the People’s Liberation Army and the US Army at the present time. We should be building our relationship while we can, to promote miscalculation and misunderstanding.”
US Defense Secretary Ash Carter told General Fan that he would like to forge with China a framework on the rules of behavior for the safety or air and maritime encounters by September.
In Germany, former Chancellors Helmut Schmidt and Gerhard Schroder and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier have joined hands to oppose Merkel’s rabid attack on Putin.
Meantime, the US and Russia have accused each other of violating the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. No details have been released. The INF Treaty obliges parties “not to possess, produce, or flight-test a ground-launched cruise missile (GLCM) with a range capability of 500 km. to 5,500 km., or to possess or produce launchers of such missiles.” The installation on land of vertical launchers similar to the system used to launch Tomahawk missiles from US Navy ships, even without missiles, violates the INF Treaty.
Carter announced the US would deploy cruise missiles in Europe to target military installations inside Russia. At its summit meeting in Wales last September, NATO agreed to expand its NATO Response Force (NRF) to include all its military exercises in the Baltic Sea, Norway, Poland, and Netherlands. This brings NATO’s power projection in Europe to a considerably higher ground.
So far, Russia’s reaction to all these has been staid. But a number of recent air incidents suggest that more and larger incidents could occur when least expected. On May 30, according to CNN, a Russian jet fighter, flying at high speed, came within 10 feet of a US Air Force reconnaissance plane in international airspace over the Black Sea. The jet fighter flew alongside the US plane at the same altitude, broke off, and then shadowed the plane before leaving the area. It was unarmed, the report said.
Earlier, a US RC-135 U flying a routine route in international airspace was intercepted by a Russian SU-27 Flanker, according to reports. The Flanker was similarly unarmed, but it approached the US plane “in an unsafe and unprofessional manner,” the reports said.
Earlier this month, the US Navy released a video of a Russian SU-24 aircraft flying past the right side of the guided missile destroyer USS Ross in the Black Sea.
Because of the sheer number of NATO and Russian aircraft flying over the Black Sea, the chances are high of routine interaction between them. So are the chances of a serious incident occurring, with tragic consequences. The steps being taken by the US military to avoid miscalculations could be genuinely helpful in broadening mutual trust and confidence.
Are Obama and Merkel in all this?
But Obama’s critics see him and his closest NATO allies as the real threats to world peace. They see him and Merkel as the primary engine of the campaign to start a war with Russia that could automatically draw in China, once the missiles start flying.
In America, this thesis is championed by the 93-year-old Lyndon LaRouche of Leesburg, Virginia, a Quaker educated in the classics, who has run for president in each of the US presidential elections from 1976 to 2004, and foresaw the trans-Atlantic economic collapse long before it came. He suggests that at the behest of London, Obama is pushing for a thermonuclear war that could prove terminal.
The main objective, in his view, is the “depopulation” of the planet. This is consistent with the statement famously attributed to Prince Philip, that upon his death he would like to be reincarnated as a virus in order to shrink the population to less than a billion people.
Killing mankind 200 times over
With 15,000 nuclear warheads in the stockpile, the world has a total nuclear firepower capable of killing all of mankind 20 times over. Military sources say that each of the nine Ohio-class nuclear submarines underneath Philippine and adjunct waters carries 24 Trident missiles, each armed with six nuclear warheads, and at least 200 times stronger than the US atomic bombs that fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the war.
In Lyndon LaRouche’s view, Obama and Merkel are the primary promoters of a terminal war. So while we rage against Aquino’s effort to dismember the country for the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, and cheer his temporary inability to railroad the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law according to his announced timetable, the instruments of Western propaganda try to drown us in rhetoric about the inevitability and imminence of war. Aquino has become a major instrument of that propaganda.
The blessings of EDCA
Thanks to his Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement with the US, US nuclear warships, aircraft carriers, and nuclear submarines are free to come and go in Philippine waters, without regard to the Constitution, which requires that EDCA should first receive the concurrence of the Senate, and which adopts and pursues a “policy of freedom from nuclear weapons in Philippine territory, consistent with the national interest.”
These weapons of war, we are told, are a deterrent against any armed attack from China. But China assures us that only the US government and its puppet, the Aquino government, not the Filipinos, are her real adversaries.
China wants to talk with, not wage war on us Filipinos. Aquino alone does not want to talk. Why is he mortally afraid?
To talk to China is not to make China his master in place of the US. It is simply to allow a free exchange on our respective self-interests. In the face of this intense rivalry between China and the US, we have to make them see that we are friends to both, and that we have our own self-interests to defend and protect rather than theirs. It is only by talking that we can communicate this.
A wise friend assures me that Aquino will not want talk to China just as he will not want to talk or listen to us Filipinos. In this respect, our people and China share a common menace: the false pretender to the office of head of state.