Philip Goldberg and the arrogance of power



First read
In digesting the unsettling report (first published here in The Manila Times on Dec. 27) that the recently departed US ambassador to Manila Philip Goldberg left behind him a blueprint or master plan for the overthrow or destabilization of President Rodrigo Duterte, we Filipinos should resist letting our imagination run wild, lest we transform what may be mere gossip or wishful thinking into a self- fulfilling prophecy.

There is a cooler and more thoughtful way to handle this tale, and that is to let it stew in its own delusions. Let it disclose its authors because if there is really a plot the plotters won’t be able to resist the compulsion to rattle the seemingly imperturbable Duterte.

Let the public speculate on the delicious coincidence that the three Ls of the anti-Duterte movement (Leni, Leila and Loida) happen to be in America today, all at the same time. Sooner or later, there will come homeward stories about how they met with Goldberg to plot their moves together.

Liberals emerge from foxholes
Let us contemplate the prospect that this plot, real or not, will probably induce the Liberal Party (LP) to finally proclaim itself as the political opposition to the Duterte administration. Let’s watch how Franklin Drilon, Sonny Belmonte and other yellow cultists will emerge from their foxholes to signify that they still have a pulse.

There’s nothing like Uncle Sam by your side to make you brave.

An incident-laden diplomatic career
And then allow the incident-laden career of Philip Goldberg to provide credence and plausibility to the destabilization plot. Reading about Goldberg on the Internet, I wondered whether there is a film or fiction that can match the high-level intrigue, scandal and threats that Goldberg generated wherever he was posted? Consider:

1. Golderg served as US ambassador to Bolivia from October 13, 2006 to September 14, 2008.

In August 2007, the US was accused by Bolivian Minister Juan Ramón Quintana of funding opposition to President Morales by providing opposition leaders and critical think-tanks with millions of dollars.

On September 10, 2008, the Bolivian government gave Goldberg 72 hours to leave the country, after declaring him persona non grata.

Bolivia expelled Ambassador Goldberg for fomenting civil unrest that threatened not only the country’s first indigenous Indian president, Evo Morales, but the unity of the nation itself.

Morales said in the official announcement: “Without fear of the empire, I declare Mr Goldberg, the US ambassador, ‘persona non grata.’ He is conspiring against democracy and seeking the division of Bolivia.”

2. Goldberg served as US Ambassador to the Philippines from December 2, 2013 to November 4, 2016.

During the 2016 campaign for the Philippine presidency, candidate Duterte joked about wishing to be first in raping a pretty Australian missionary during a  hostage crisis in Davao City in 1989. Goldberg criticized DU30 for the vulgarism.

On August 9, 2016, President Duterte told US Secretary of State John Kerry that Ambassador Goldberg was a “gay son of a bitch” for meddling in Philippine politics.

3. Goldberg has a background in intelligence work. In the US state department, he served as assistant secretary of state for intelligence and research from February 16, 2010 to November 21, 2013. Rumor has it that he worked at one time for the CIA.

4. Goldberg, now 60, is listed as a senior American diplomat. He has also served diplomatic stints in Chile, Columbia, Kosovo, South Africa and Bosnia.

Speculations about Goldberg plotting against governments may or may not be justified. His presence during tumultuous events may not be accidental.

In the Philippines, talk of Goldberg plotting regime change will find adherents, because American interference in Philippine politics is well-known. The overthrow of president Ferdinand Marcos in 1986 and the coronation of Cory Aquino as his successor are believed to be the handiwork of the US government.

Four cases of CIA plotting
That America engages in destabilization and regime change in other countries is incontrovertible. In one issue of Foreign Affairs (July/August 2014), the policy journal devoted a special report on four major cases where America, through the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), plotted the ouster of sitting heads of state and succeeded. Confidential documents were declassified under the US Freedom of Information Act.

The cases discussed in detail are:
1. The coup in Iran against Prime Minister Mohammed Mossaddeq in 1953.

2. The overthrow and murder of Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba in the Congo in 1961.

3. The coup in Chile against President Salvador Allende in September 1973.

4. The split of Pakistan into two states and the genocide in East Pakistan (Bangladesh) in 1971.

The arrogance of power
Significantly, this year 2016 marks the 50th anniversary of a remarkable speech given by Sen. William Fulbright. In 1966, he gave a series of lectures sponsored by the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. One of them was entitled, “The Arrogance of Power.”

I recall here his thesis on the arrogance of power, because of the light it casts on Goldberg’s apparent pretensions and fantasies.

Fulbright presented his thesis as follows:
“Power tends to confuse itself with virtue and a great nation is particularly susceptible to the idea that its power is a sign of God’s favor, conferring upon it a special responsibility for other nations–to make them richer and happier and wiser, to remake them, that is, in its own shining image….

“The more I puzzle over the great wars of history, the more I am inclined to the view that the causes attributed to them–territory, markets, resources, the defense or perpetuation of great principles–were not the root causes at all but rather explanations or excuses for certain unfathomable drives of human nature. For lack of a clear and precise understanding of exactly what these motives are, I refer to them as the ‘arrogance of power’–as a psychological need that nations seem to have in order to prove that they are bigger, better, or stronger than other nations.”

Fulbright closed the lecture with these words:
“In her relations with Asian nations, as indeed in her relations with all of the revolutionary or potentially revolutionary societies of the world, America has an opportunity to perform services of which no great nation has ever before been capable. To do so we must acquire wisdom to match our power and humility to match our pride. Perhaps the single word above all others that expresses America’s need is empathy.

“The inconstancy of American foreign policy is…an expression of two distinct sides of the American character. Both are characterized by a kind of moralism, but one is the morality of decent instincts tempered by the knowledge of human imperfection, and the other is the morality of absolute self-assurance fired by the crusading spirit…

“The United States must decide which of the two sides of its national character is to predominate–the humanism of Lincoln, or the arrogance of those who would make America the world’s policeman.”

No apology for the Philippines
Goldberg’s covert plotting, if confirmed, would be oddly out of sync with Obama’s policy of rectifying and apologizing for the wrongs America has committed in the world.

The policy is why Obama has visited Hiroshima, Vietnam and Laos, and why he changed US policy in the Middle East.

But Obama has significantly avoided including in his apology tour the Philippines, where America’s story as a global power began, and her capacity for barbarism was first bared in the Philippine- American War (1899-1902). Obama has visited Manila twice, but he did not apologize for America.

This may explain why Philip Goldberg would have no scruples about adding to America’s wrongs against the Philippines.


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  1. The Philippines has enormous wealth and significant human resources, but no clout in the international politics. Why? Because those who hold power and wealth have been shortsighted, pusillanimous, and self-centered. The way things are unfolding, we will be subjugated — any which way you hack it. We will continue to chronically lose the sovereignty we imagine to have. The “choice” now — as though we had it — is between two superpowers: China or America. Who will be the more benevolent to the institutions we hold dear, like customs and traditions, lifestyle, Faith, family, simple freedoms? Would it be more assuring, while on the rebound from American abuse, to embrace Beijing? Or do we kiss and make up with Washington DC? Both China and America are subtly but firmly pragmatic totalitarians. Would it still be possible for us, the Filipino people, to stand firm and unwaveringly defend who we are? These are open questions triggered by Duterte’s arrogant dialectic that cannot be answered wisely without a modicum of truthful information, historical and current.

  2. Yen Makabenta

    :”Let us contemplate the prospect that this plot, real or not, will probably induce the Liberal Party (LP) to finally proclaim itself as the political opposition to the Duterte administration. Let’s watch how Franklin Drilon, Sonny Belmonte and other yellow cultists will emerge from their foxholes to signify that they still have a pulse.”

    The biggest COWARD in Philippine politics is surprisingly ex-President Benigno C. Aquino III. Don’t ever expect him to talk against Duterte; he is too afraid to go to jail to speak any word against the Duterte administration.

    Is there really a political opposition in the country? How can that be when it’s chief architect is just another COWARD? Surprisingly, it is Leni Lobrego and Laila de Lima who are women of courage in our country. All the rest are just COWARDS and the biggest COWARD of all is no other than ex-President Benigno C. Aquino III.

    When President Aquino III sent GMA to jail, did she not cheerfully go to jail? When Cory Aquino sent Estrada to jail, did he not cheerfully go to jail? What makes ex-President Benigno C. Aquino III so afraid to go to jail? Did he not say he is willing to die for democracy just before he left the Presidency? What is stopping him from going to jail for democracy?

  3. arrogance, in any form, whether it is desplayed nakedly or subdued, still arrogance. the only super power on this planet has mastered this act….

  4. That’s a lot of bull. The liberals have dwindled into irrelevance and some of them may face imprisonment in 2017, due to various plunder and drug raps. Goldberg, even if he is part of the CIA, cannot do anything to destabilize the govt., without plunging the country into a civil war. Those who voted for PDU30 will not stand idly should there be destabilization moves to oust the President. The Filipino people will not let any foreign intervention, whether by the CIA or the UN, change its current government. We can do it ourselves, if need be.

  5. Sir Yen you recently mentioned the great philosopher George Santayana in your past article last Nov., about his Spanish parents interesting colonial connections to the Philippines, but did you dig deep enough to find that his step father was an American Bostonian business partner of the Russell, Sturgis & Co. of Manila and Canton in the 19th century.

    The importance of this? They were a huge traders, competitors and counterparts of say the British East India Company, it was the R&S Co. that was the vanguard of the rise of the US as a superpower and instrumental in the take over of Philippines and the Asia-Pacific for the US. After all the US chapter of the “Order of Skull and Bones” was founded in 1832 by William Huntington Russell and Alphonso Taft, that’s right related to US president Taft and the same descendant of the current US Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Russel likely behind Goldberg’s meddling.

    Take a look at who’s who founding fathers of the secret Order of Skull and Bones, Bush, Ford, Goodyear, Rockefeller, Roosevelt. Speaking of Roosevelt who had Dutch ancestry he himself coined the Dutch word “Boodle” Boys that US Skull and Bonesmen adopted to refer to themselves. Boodle even entered the Filipino language to mean a swindle crime, true enough has the same connotation in Dutch and English.

    The US new world order elites are again behind this plot to boodle boodle the Filipino people one again.

  6. I’ll wage my war in spiritual….

    Father God at some point of our life, we got to choose either fear or faith. I chose the latter. And will continue to do so knowing that You are God of the supernatural. What is impossible with men, everything is possible to You.

    I lift to You all the anointed leaders You have raised up, raising up and will raise up in the Philippines. To bring forth the change we have prayed, and cried years ago. I firmly believe that the time of refreshing in our nation is now. That You will continue to protect these leaders. That You’ll grant them wisdom and righteousness in every situation they face.

    Any forces that will try to befall our leaders and try to cause disunity in our land will have to go through You Lord Jesus. That these evil people who call themselves superpowers of the world will be shamed and humbled. Their folly will be returned to them exponentially.

    Because You have declared..

    I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning…saying, ‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure.’”

    To Him who sits on the Throne, all blessings, and honor, and power, and glory, and praise and thanksgiving forevermore be unto Your Holy Name Jesus! In Your most awesome Name I pray! Amen! So be it Lord!

  7. Philippine Congress must investigate and dig deeper into an alleged plot to oust the constitutionally elected President Duterte. It is a matter of national importance and must be given the highest priority to expose the web of deceit and arrogance of the yellows. If proven true, America must pay a heavy price for its heavy handiness.

  8. The report was received by The Manila Times. Some opinion writers gave their insights on this. However, no authority has confirmed the authorship of Goldberg. Only some responders are saying a plot is in the offing and Goldberg and et al are behind this.

  9. USA has NOT acted in an apologetic way in the middle east either! Words never overshadow actions…and US policy in Libya…Iraq…Syria…Yemen and Somalia have brought death and destruction. Obama continued the “W” Bush aggression. Hillary Clinton represented the same.Hopefully Trump will back off imperialism.

  10. WOW, YEN! What a great piece of work you have written. You are right. Let’s do “active waiting” for the next move of the yellows!

  11. kale alaskador on

    There is an eerie similarity to the careers of Ambassador Philip Goldberg and Ambassador William Sullivan! Ambassador Sullivan was ambassador to Iran, South Vietnam and the Philiipines. There were changes in the countries’ leadership during Sullivan’s stints in each area.

  12. Goldberg think’s that we are that’s stupid,if its true that he wrote this bllueprint then he knows it will ultimately be published and become public. He is creating political intrigue among us filipinos and wanted a piece of cake from Duterte,give to the defanged opposition and eat it too. On he other hand, it is the handiwork of rival major powers designed to create a wedge and more ” fuck yah” from Digong. Let us build our nation on our own nationalistic way and forget Uncle Sam.

  13. Unless the story is portrayed on the stage there at any side of Manila we could speak there at that the plot is real one, otherwise it is a purely hearsay by someone else or a group of people.

  14. Hiroshima, Vietnam and Laos all have governments that stood up against the U.S. The Philippines tried to be independent but with the U.S. Navy and U.S. Army already on Philippine soil before the turn of the century, Aguinaldo, Antonio Luna, del Pilar, etc. did not have a chance. Filipinos fought bravely for several years and suffered tortures, many massacres and rapes from Manila to the Visayan islands to Mindanao. Long before Hitler had concentration camps the Americans had concentration camps in the Philippines where they tortured, raped and murdered Filipinos. After the Filipinos regained their independence, the U.S. troops were still in Subic, Clark and many other places in the Philippines spying on and threatening generations of Philippine governments with replacement if they did not follow U.S. dictates. In 1992 twelve senators had the balls to put an end to the bases agreement. Then President Cory Aquino and Defense Secretary Fidel Ramos, both U.S. puppets looked pathetic and ridiculous in the rain leading a rally to keep the U.S. bases in the Philippines. When Benigno Aquino III was president the U.S. troops were free to do anything in the Philippines including rape, murder, plant bombs and work with terrorists to keep Aquino’s government on its heels. Benigno was Obama’s wiling and gutless puppet. This is why Obama never had the need to apologize to Filipinos.

  15. I’m very sorry that Pres Obama didn’t take time to apologize for something that happened over 100 years ago and had a death toll less than what you have today under Duterte. He most likely spent to much time at the American cemetery looking at the thousands of graves of American service men who died to protect and liberate the Philippines from Japan.

    If you want to hate America then by all means go ahead and do so, but make sure you are doing it for the right reasons. Little dictators often like to run false flags and create “they are out to get me” messages and blame the US and the CIA for everything. This is just a 100% repeat of Hugo Chavez… same story new country. An uneducated dictator killing all those that are against him blame all their woos in life on somebody else. Yes the US does have vital interests in the Philippines a country and long time friend… but make no mistake about it… Communist China has an interest as well and you think the US is bad… Wait for communism and life under a military control…

    • he he he, do not forget that japan invaded the philippines because the phil. was under the ambit or being governed by the americans. the philippines had usa armed forces bases here. if you believed that many many americans died in protecting the phil, you must be reading the wrong books. fact is many filipinos died in protecting american interests. most of the soldiers of the usaffe were filipinos, who by the way were not given by the usa the benefits given to the american soldiers. proof are the world war 2 vets in america like san francisco waiting to be given benefits by the usa govt. do not forget that america abandoned the phil and helped europe first before returning to asia.btw, we have experienced life under martial law and we know how it was. pls do not say that because du30 wants to stay out of american underarm, we would be invaded by china. do you know of any country, except tibet, that china occupied?? just saying

    • “Yes the US does have vital interests in the Philippines” – which ones and are they legitimate ? Or is it just using the Philippines as a lever to help project US Power in the West Pacific ? I fail to see why the Philippines should subject themselves to the “vital interests of the US”. How about the other way round? The Philippines was “liberated” by the US in 1945 not because of the Filipino but in order to regain colonial power over its former colony.

    • Well said.
      What’s never mentioned is the Philippino genocide carried out against the Indigenous people’s here or the attempted subjugation of the Moro people down south, which they’ve resisted for Centuries against all comers. Tagalog, Spanish, British, American, Japanese!

    • Cesar Camua Martin on

      I’m very sorry that you compared the no. of deaths (300 plus massacred) during the american occupation of the philippines [100 years ago – population of the philippines (+/-) 10 million] with the no. of deaths (almost 6,000) due to the war on drugs at present with philippine population of 100 million plus. Likewise I’m sorry that you saw the thousand american graves but did not mention those american soldiers and the brave Filipinos that fought side by side with them americans died because of america’s war with japan not the philippines’ war with japan. Lastly I’m sorry too that for you communism is still a real menace when in fact communist of today are communist by no means as bad as the americans, the brits, the french, the spaniards, the aquinos’ and the du30s’

    • Sophistry & Lies. The arse kisser of US BIG BIZ & Military rapists & murderers. And China has not been communist for a long time. Check out John Pilgers latest doc film. Then you see clearly what a monster US imperialism, big biz & Bombs, really is: The mother of all terrorists & monsters!!!

    • Good Words for all who think US is Bad.. Wait until we are isolated like North Korea ( The only friend they have is China.).