Real change afoot in PH-US relations

9
YEN MAKABENTA

YEN MAKABENTA

First Read
With a new US president certain to be elected on Tuesday (November 8) and subsequently inaugurated on January 20 next year, US Secretary of State John Kerry swore into office on Thursday the new US ambassador to the Philippines, who will replace Philip Goldberg.

Advertisements

The ambassador-designate is Mr. Sung Kim, formerly the chief US envoy for North Korea policy.

The thinking behind the appointment, I would surmise, goes like this. Mr. Kim, a career diplomat, will bring to his new position experience in dealing with unpredictable and prickly leaders, having already dealt with Kim Jong-un, the supreme leader of North Korea. President Duterte will be a lamb in comparison.

In our barangay, some are wondering whether we Filipinos should attach significance to this appointment, since in two months’ time, President Obama and Secretary Kerry will be gone from office themselves.

If ever an appointment was designed to cover a void, this one was. Mr. Kim must prepare to patch a veritable crater that has opened between Washington and Manila, since president Duterte’s accession to office on June 30 this year. He must prepare for a confirmation process in the US Senate that will test his knowledge and understanding of US-Philippine relations and DU30. And when he comes to Manila to finally meet DU30, he must brace himself for an interesting meeting.

At Kim‘s oath-taking, Kerry tried his best to sound positive. He expressed confidence about the future of the 70-year alliance between the US and the Philippines, despite the recent untoward developments.

He said: “Democratic elections bring change, and we must have the wisdom to recognize and adjust to that change. But the logic of our alliance and why we have stood together for so long, are as compelling today as they have ever been.”

In truth, both America and the Philippines must seriously prepare for real change in their relationship, whatever the US election outcome.

Clinton or Trump, America is our friend

In Tuesday’s balloting, both Hillary Clinton an Donald Trump are given fair chances of winning by oddsmakers and pollsters. The race has become a contest on who is more distrusted or detested.

Decoding who will win depends on what media or network you rely on for information.

At home, we have an ongoing and lively debate regarding the US election. I like watching Fox News, which tends to call the race for Trump. My wife absolutely detests Fox, while I find CNN low-energy and boring.
Neither Trump nor Clinton has given much thought to PH-US relations during this election cycle.

In one report on their prospective foreign policies, Trump is quoted as saying that he considers the Philippines of “major strategic importance” to the stability and future of the Asia-Pacific.

Clinton, as state secretary, helped Obama craft his pivot or rebalancing to Asia. And she traveled the world to sell the scheme. The pivot is finished now.

Significantly, both Trump and Clinton have opposed Obama’s proposal for a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The TPP is a trade agreement among twelve of the Pacific Rim countries— which notably excludes both China and the Philippines – and is designed to promote economic growth and greater trade.

In response to the US-led TPP, China has spearheaded the establishment of The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a multilateral development bank (MDB) specifically conceived for the 21st century. Built on the lessons learned from existing MDBs like the Asian Development Bsnk (ADB), the AIIB will focus on the development of infrastructure and other productive sectors in Asia, including energy and power, transportation and telecommunications.

The initiative has gained support from 37 regional and 20 non-regional Prospective Founding Members (PFM), all of which have signed the Articles of Agreement that form the legal basis for the bank. The bank started operation after the agreement entered into force on 25 December 25, 2015. The major economies that did not become founding members include Japan and the United States.

Both the pivot and the TPP are now projected to die with the Obama presidency.

In this light, the naming of a new US ambassador to Manila is like a tree falling in the forest, because the new US president will surely name his/her own ambassador-designate.

A shock to PH-US alliance

President Duterte has been a shock to the PH-US alliance, in that he has shaken it to the core by declaring a separation from America, and drawing closer to China and possibly also Russia.

Some members of the commentariat in both Washington and Manila believe that this is all to the good because it will put ties on a new footing. Indeed, one senior fellow at the Cato Institute, Doug Bandow, writing in Forbes magazine last month, contended that America should drop the alliance with the Philippines, and thank President Duterte for advocating a divorce.

The Forbes article could not be more scathing and blunt. Bandow wrote:

“Washington sees Manila as part of a containment strategy. If war erupted between the US and China, the former would expect to use its Philippine bases, making them a legitimate target for the PRC even if the Philippines formally stayed out of the conflict. Officials in Manila likely would be unwilling to grant the US access to bases at the very moment when the Pentagon most desired to use them.

“The US should not respond by desperately reassuring the Philippines…An enhanced bilateral relationship would not make America more secure. The US cannot effectively enforce regional stability: Conflicts reflect manifold local and regional factors. Indeed, American intervention is often highly destabilizing—just look at Iraq and Libya.

“Moreover, Washington’s version of a good international order clashes with that of other nations, most importantly China. Americans who assume the PRC would yield might be badly surprised. The US may be
stronger globally, but the dynamics of war favor Beijing in two respects.

First, events in East Asia matter far more to China, just as the US is far more concerned about Latin America.
Second, China need only deter America from acting. That costs far less than Washington doing what is necessary to defeat the PRC.

“It’s one thing to contemplate such a conflict to defend America. It’s quite another to loose the dogs of war in Asia on behalf of other nations’ peripheral interests.

“With President Duterte apparently determined to stake out a position at least equidistant between China and America, Washington should take the initiative. The US should end the ‘mutual’ defense treaty and negotiate a far looser agreement for security cooperation when appropriate. There should be no more extra aid and freebie weapons for Manila.”

It’s the kind of talk and analysis that should concentrate minds in Manila.

yenmakabenta@yahoo.com

Share.
loading...
Loading...

Please follow our commenting guidelines.

9 Comments

  1. Joshua Schneider on

    Barrack Obama has never.. ever.. even thought about or suggested that he has make a mistake in his life. Not saying other presidents were perfect, but this guy with the excellent leadership of Pay for Play Clinton has given us the mess in Egypt around the Mediterranean to Turkey and all stops in between. He personally destroyed the very close relationships that the US enjoyed through out the world. Why, because he sees the US as the problem. American exceptionalism as the problem. Being the leader of the free world since 1946, can’t have that. Borders, what borders? Illegal voting…. what’s wrong with that, they vote Democratic so how could they be illegal.

    The Philippines finally gets the leader they deserve to physically push us off our assess and get to work and make something of this bountiful nation. Someone who will hopefully have a war on corruption (without the open warfare) as strong as the war on drugs. And what do we do, we piss and moan because because we might miss the very rare bone the US just might have thrown at us. Grow up! Neither Clinton or Trump is going to make this country their first or second priority as the US is flat out broke! They sold their future and their souls to China and anyone else who would loan them money. Not to build things… but to give away under the cronyism that saw over $1,000,000,000.00 yes that is one Billion dollars, 48 Billion pesos and absolutely nothing to show for it. Not one road, bridge, school, nothing!!! And they called that Economic Stimulation to end the recession that Bill Clinton caused with sub-prime loans in the 90’s. It will take them 20 to 30 years of cleaning up the mess at home before they can look overseas, that is if they even get leaderships that tries.

    And last but not least Barracks government has made it one of their goals to take religion out the very fibre of what made America great. In the America today it has become illegal to show your faith, or to stand up for your beliefs. Is this a country we want to be allied with. Our Church is the bedrock of our civilization, will we throw it away in the name of progressive politics? Is this really who we want to be allied with? Here we can wish someone a Merry Christmas and be met with a smile instead of a visit from the Politically Correct Thought Police.

    We watch every night, again and again the news about the traffic mess in Manila and absolutely nothing being done about it until just a few months ago. Now we have someone who deserves our support who is going to try and fix the mess that has been left us through corrupt leaders and businessmen. He will need us to stand up to fight for ourselves and each other. The world hates a successful leader, because it reflects on how poorly their countries have been run. The USA and Germany are two classic examples of how poor governance and liberal policies can bankrupt a nation.
    If we do not get involved and help ourselves, then we have missed a once in a lifetime event to make the Philippines stronger morally and physically. It is our chance folks, lets not let other countries moral dictates drag us down to their level.

  2. Donald, in your recent campaign speech, you mentioned Obama and Hilary are to blame on the Chinese illegal occupation on the Philippine sea. Hilary never talk about it. Trump is good for all Americans including the Phil-Ams.

  3. Donald, just 3 days to go. Continue what you are doing. The winning trend is yours. I don’t know if it is a coincidence — months ago I advised you to put black people behind you in the stage in your every rally. You are doing it now. There is even a priest. That’s great! We are against abortion. God bless your movement!
    Let us elect DONALD TRUMP for President of the USA, for Greatness, Peace and Security as well as economic progress. Thanks for the Manila Times, I can reach you. My messages and campaign for your are being scrutinized and block by the US liberal media.

  4. we need to prepare for all scenarios and to that means we need to fast track the AFP modernization to its fullest. Because we really cannot rely on the US at all times especially now that we are warming trade relations with china. we need to fully equip our armed forces like fighter jets, submarines, more transport planes, choppers, tanks, etc. eternal defense expenses is an investment. Investment for our security and confidence for investors. failure to do these will be a disater in the making.

  5. What extra aid and freebie weapons? Excuse me while I roll on the floor in laughter. Our “friend and benefactor” America gives aid and comfort to the enemies of the Republic. They are fully supportive of the MILF’s secessionist ambitions, with their meddling woman ambassador acting as mid-wife to the MOA-AD of GMA’s time, while their gender-challenged ambassador was mid-wife to its re-cycled version, the BBL. They protect the NPA and all its above-ground fronts with this human rights issue and finance all its allied NGOs while giving sanctuary to their chief terrorist Joma Sison in the Dutch capital. And now they have come to the rescue of drug dealers by throwing the protective mantle of human rights over them . Don’t be surprised if another NGO cottage industry emerges, this time defending drug dealers, with all these NGOs getting financial support from the Americans, of course. Only the Brown Americans love to be screwed this way. Its time to end this perverted relationship we have with this beast called America, and let them bring all their “extra aid and freebie weapons” elsewhere, please. Here is a quote from Anonymous, “The difficulty in fighting evil lies in its inherent ability to make itself look good.” To pray for Duterte is to pray for the people.

  6. The move of the US to replace the PH is in response to the failure of the US to understand DU30 and how he would react to the “guidance” and criticism from the US. Goldberg is being made the scapegoat for that failure, whether he is at fault or not. The US side committed a huge failure in diplomacy and lost their pivot point in their Pivot To Asia strategy. We can expect the new ambassador to speak nicely about the PH and DU30 and try to mend the relationship.

  7. Independent Foreign Policy for me is not aligning this country to any two of these countries (US/CHINA). Let us not repeat what has happened to us before because the system of War of today is far superior than what has happened in the 1940’s. The technological implementation of this is catastrophic hence as much as possible we have to stay away from these two, let them slug it out because we already knew that their aim is for Global Economic Hegemony and if they cannot take what they want …. then WAR will broke out … it’s a pity that rich countries don’t know the word ENOUGH …. their greed to satisfy their lust for power is second to none …

  8. If our poor country cannot finance a strong military, expect the big fish will eat the small fish. If we cannot manufacture our own guns, then expect the US , China or Russia to blackmail us by not selling the needed military supplies. I agree that there must be no military bases, No EDCA in this country because it will be a bait for China to attack us because of American military forces. I am not Anti US but I do not want to be in the middle of a world War.