US plane over Ayungin Shoal proves all-out support to PH, says the front page banner of our April 5 issue.
Under the headline is a wire service photo of an encounter between a Philippine civilian boat dwarfed, like a Lilliputian vessel, and a gigantic Chinese coast guard ship. There were actually two large Chinese ships, but the other one got cropped out of the published photo. In this picture of the dramatic encounter of a maritime David and two Goliaths, Agence France-Presse insetted the photo of an American plane that was apparently taken from a surface ship while it was circling over the Ayungin Shoal on March 29. The US plane seems to be a P8 Poseidon, the type of plane the US Navy uses for reconnaissance and anti-submarine operations.
The story tells of how confident Philippine military officials are that the US would come to the Philippines’ aid if hostilities break out between us and the People’s Republic. That America has decided to monitor the West Philippine Sea with US Navy reconnaissance aircraft is proof of this, a military officials who requested not to be named because he is not authorized to speak on this subject told the Times’ William Depasupil.
Earlier, news in Washington told of US military and State Department officials, as well as congressmen and senators, saying that the United States would stand by the Philippines against the Chinese. One such piece of news quoted an American official who said the Philippines was a long-time friend and treaty ally and America would not let us Filipinos down.
Anti-Americans and hard-nosed realists must have been cursing us at The Times for seeming to have ignored their frequent reminders that we Filipinos must not to ever count on US aid if we were in a real war with China. It’s true that our Mutual Defense Treaty with the US talks only about conflicts in the Pacific–not in the West Philippine Sea and the entire South China Sea. It’s also true that before the US military and its commander in chief in the White House could make a move, they must get the go-ahead from the US Congress–if it means America must go to war in aid of us Filipinos.
And there are a dozen other reasons why we must not put our faith in the United States too much.
One of these reasons is also why we think there are things we Filipinos can do to make it imperative to come to our aid in an armed conflict with China. (Is it obvious we tried to skirt the word “war”?)
This reason is that the American people in general are indifferent to foreign affairs. That most Americans are focused on their private, personal and family problems. And that the US economic recovery has been choppy, and therefore America cannot afford to be involved in another war front.
But this, in our thinking, is precisely how it can become imperative for the American public and American decision-makers to want to come to our defense–notwithstanding the weakness of our defense treaty and the restrained financial situation of the US government.
There was no North Atlantic Treaty Organization treaty that would compel America to enter the war and defend Europe from Nazi Germany.
There have been several occasions when the USA entered a limited war in the Caribbean and Africa because it was both in the interest of the American Republic and the sentiment of the US public to do so.
We Filipinos have a great army of goodwill creators in the United States–our OFWs, Fil-American citizens, Filipino green card holders and Filipinos in the US armed forces.
They can, if effectively mobilized, serve as promoters of our cause in the American heartland, the US Congress and the executive departments.
We must–and can–make ourselves America’s most valuable friend in its pivot to Asia.
Valuable enough for the American people to feel emotionally compelled to give us all-out support against the Chinese invasion of our seas, shoals, reefs and islets.