• US-PH pact part of US new global war strategy


    What her mother was stopped by the Senate from doing, President Aquino has managed to do two decades later: Incorporate the Philippines into the United States’ global military strategy.

    President Cory Aquino tried hard in 1991 to have a new treaty with the US allowing it to maintain its military bases, primarily that in Subic Bay that had been a strategic base of the US Pacific Fleet. The Senate, though, despite Aquino’s overwhelming popularity and political power at that time, rejected Cory’s demand, against which she even tried to undertake a mini-People Power street action.

    Her son Benigno 3rd, now President, didn’t bother to get the Senate’s approval, and got his defense secretary to sign a military agreement with the US ambassador, called the “Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.”

    For such a 10-year agreement that binds the country even beyond his term and which conscripts the nation—obviously not without risk—as a cog in imperial America’s global defense network, Aquino didn’t even bother to consult the Senate, whose approval of any treaty with other nations the President enters into the Constitution requires.

    As of this writing, the actual treaty hasn’t even made public. What the Foreign Affairs department has released is merely a sanitized “question and answer” material that doesn’t even support its assertions with references to provisions of the treaty. Why can’t it even include as annex the actual signed treaty? (News Editor’s note: The government made the document public on Tuesday.)

    It’s mostly a propaganda sheet, and we can’t be sure if it accurately interpreted the agreement’s provisions. For example, the Q & A emphasized, as if to say the people want it anyway: “A recent Social Weather Station survey showed at least 7 out of 10 Filipinos support measures to strengthen the country’s defense capabilities and that the Philippines may ask its partners in achieving this objective.”
    No wonder, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago who chairs the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee was irked and exclaimed, “The Senate has not been given the courtesy of being furnished a copy. I feel as if I have been slapped or ordered to melt into the wallpaper.”

    The senator would go ballistic if she were told who undertook the negotiations with the US for the treaty.

    2nd rate PH negotiators
    The Philippine panel was headed by Defense undersecretary Pio Lorenzo Batino, who appears to have had such a mediocre career that there isn’t any background on him available in the Internet, other than being appointed to his post weeks after Aquino assumed office in 2010.

    The other members were Ambassador Lourdes Yparraguirre, Ambassador Eduardo Malaya, Justice undersecretary Francisco Baraan 3rd and Defense assistant secretary for strategic assessments Raymund Jose Quilop.

    Ambassadors Yparraguirre and Malaya are mere fixtures. Yparraguirre is our current ambassador to Austria, and Malaya to Malaysia. They were given the extra task as members of the panel when DFA assistant secretary for American Affairs Carlos Sorreta was suddenly yanked out of the panel last month.

    Having scant expertise in military affairs or in military treaties, and joining the panel only several weeks ago, the two ambassadors were obviously mere stamp-pads for the pact.

    While known to be sympathetic to the US, having been educated and assigned there, Sorreta though is known to relish going over things with a fine toothcomb.

    Was he pulled out to speed up the pact as Obama was scheduled to arrive the following month? Indeed, US Ambassador US Philip Goldberg had to deny to the press that Sorreta’s axing was done to get the draft pact finalized by the two panels.

    These are the people who negotiated with a superpower for a military treaty?

    In contrast, the US negotiating panel was headed Ambassador Eric John , who is the State Department’s senior Advisor for Security Negotiations and Agreements in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs. John is known as the US’ principal officer for international security arrangements and treaties. US Ambassador Goldberg, a former state undersecretary for intelligence with a reputation for playing hardball, was rushed to assume his post here to add muscle to the US negotiating panel.

    That the military agreement was hurried for President Obama’s visit—US press called it his sole concrete achievement in his Asian tour—is obvious in that the defense department’s website even yesterday had only one news item on it: “PH-US to resume talks on enhanced defense cooperation.”

    The most important part of the treaty—at least going by Aquino’s and his officials verbal calisthenics and the “Q&A” issued by the DFA— is that US military will be allowed to build facilities in Philippine military camps to warehouse its supply and war materiel (except for nuclear weapons) that it will “pre-position” and for its troops, as the Q&A put it, to enter the country “on temporary and rotational basis that will be held in Armed Forces of the Philippines’ facilities.”

    Aquino officials claim that such crucial provisions indicate that the US has bent backwards to respect our Constitution that bans military bases. That’s complete hogwash.

    No wonder Obama was so defensive in claiming that the pact is not designed to contain China. It is part of the US’ new global war strategy: Maybe the enemy is North Korea, but then it could also conceivably be China.

    The features of the pact are essential elements of the US global war strategy, which had changed in a big part due to the lessons of the Gulf and Iraqi wars. One lesson is that America’s military might require massive pre-positioning of its armed forces’ war material and supplies. It’s the old lesson of Napoleon Bonaparte: “An army marches on its stomach.”

    Help fill US troops’ stomachs
    In the new US global strategy to which Aquino’s military pact closely hews, the Philippines will help fill the American troops stomachs, as it were, by being a territory where its supplies will be pre-positioned. This is the new buzzword in US global war strategy.

    America’s old global super-power strategy with its network of military bases around the world had been designed during the Cold War, which would have really involved massive nuclear strikes on the USSR and China by missile submarines (think “Subic”) and bombers (think “Clark”). That kind of war among nuclear powers obviously would not have taken long.

    In contrast, the lesson from the Gulf wars as well as the Afghanistan and Iraq invasions was that the wars the US would wage in the 21st century would be long conventional wars that would require long, and massive supply lines. The US had also learned from the Vietnam war that the longer the war takes, the more likely will public opinion go against it, forcing US leaders to end the war quickly.

    The sudden refusal of the Turkish parliament in 2001 to allow the US to attack Iraq using its air bases had become a huge logistics problem for the Americans, and was purportedly one of the real reasons for the delay in its invasion.

    As the US Government Accountability Office in a September 2005 report to the Congress Committee on Armed Services explained it:

    “With fewer troops permanently stationed overseas, prepositioned stocks of equipment and supplies have become an integral part of the Department of Defense’s ability to project forces into conflict areas faster. The importance of prepositioned stocks to the US military was highlighted during recent operations in Iraq. The military used equipment and supplies stored at land sites in the region and offloaded much of the stocks from its prepositioning ships.

    “The availability of the sites gave the United States the facilities it needed to assemble forces for combat.

    “Recognizing the importance of the department’s prepositioning programs, Congress has made significant investments in these programs. In recent years, the services have collectively used over $1 billion each year to operate and maintain their prepositioning programs; by fiscal year 2005 this amount had declined to about $724 million, since a large portion of these stocks were used to support military operations in Iraq. However, billions of dollars in future investments will be needed to recapitalize equipment and develop future programs. The recently published National Defense Strategy indicates that prepositioning will continue to be an important aspect of DOD’s defense posture in the future.”

    That office was referring to defense department’s March 2009 document entitled “The National Defense Strategy of the United States of America” which summarized the US new global war strategy for the 21st century.

    Calibrated stance vis-à-vis China
    Obama’s “pivot to Asia,” its calibrated stance vis-à-vis China’s expansionist claims in the South China Sea, and Aquino’s “enhanced” defense agreement with the US are all derived from this March 2009 document.

    The document even identified as one of the US military’s four “forward regions” —or areas where its military might must be felt— “the East Asian Littoral”, which is where China claims a huge swathe of, covered by its infamous 9-dash line, also called China’s “Ox’s Tongue” territory.

    I’m sure the Chinese are avid readers of documents on the new US global defense strategy, and it would be obvious what Aquino’s military pact with the US is.

    Nice job, President Aquino. We just raised a few notches up the tension between our country and China. I hope we get something out of it, as there isn’t any mention at all that the agreement requires monetary compensation for the use of our armed forces’ land and facilities.

    What Obama just said in their joint press conference was that he’ll ask his officials to organize a US business contingent to the Philippines at some time. Great, and thank you, Mr. Obama.

    I’ll explain more the US new global strategy and how Aquino’s pact is a mere execution of that on Friday, with verbatim quotes from US military literature.

    FB: Rigoberto D. Tiglao


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    1. I think this treaty is beneficial to us. As we try to modernize our AFP and build up a credible defense posture. The senators who booted out the American bases should have thought about our Territorial Defense capability before they kick them out. And as you see as soon as the Americans were out the Chinese took one of our shoals.

    2. Migs Doromal on

      “Nice job, President Aquino. We just raised a few notches up the tension between our country and China. I hope we get something out of it, as there isn’t any mention at all that the agreement requires monetary compensation for the use of our armed forces’ land and facilities.” (R.T.)

      The point is that our territorial integrity is under threat by China which by the manifested declarations and actions of its Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) leaves no doubt of its expansionist goals of claiming the South China seas which it sees as a means to deter a future nuclear strike by the United States. READ: China’s new nuclear submarine base built underground in the province of Hainan. It is the largest nuclear submarine base on this planet. With South China sea under its claimed territories, it will be able to restrict the movement of nuclear subs of its enemy.

      When two giants in the jungle collide, the little animals scamper for safety.

      In the case of the Philippines, we have cast our lot with our American allies. Once, they were our oppressors, now we consider them friends and fear another foreign oppressor lurking in the horizon.

      We gained a security blanket through EDCA. Like it or not, it is the best deal you will ever get. Perhaps we should put to task those senators in 1991 who voted to give the Americans the boot like ex-convict/ plunderer ERAP, JPE, Jovito Salonga, Wigberto Tanada, Rene Saguisag, and others.

      Please tell your readers, Mr. Tiglao what better suggestions or solutions you have in mind?

      Two years after the Americans left Subic and Clark, China came and stole our Mischief Reef.

      One thing is certain, there will be wars in the near future and China and the USA will be the main players and those nations that revolve around their orbits cannot escape the wrath of carnage and destruction that war brings.

      So, please let us stop quarreling over why our American friends are not paying us RENT, etc.. Perhaps if we invite the Chinese they will pay us RENT? I know that is not your point. But, funny isn’t it? Perhaps, but the Chinese are serious about its military build-up and it has a near-term reason for doing so.

      And so must WE.

    3. victor m. hernandez on

      This must be a really top philippine defense secret. And Sen. Miriam is pissed off, and I symphatize with her feeling ‘ being slapped and melt into wallpaper”. I don’t think it is justiciable issue by the supreme court. The one important gain by the usa is able to sell its armaments to bouy up their economy, it being a highly a ‘war economy”. The more the philippines, goaded by the usa, piss off china, the more arms they can sell to the usa, and the more usa defense budget it can spend. Yes, the asia pivot strategy of the usa makes the philippines as a crucial componenet of its new defense strategy. Is it a one-sided advantge for the usa? Will the philippines get some benefits and advantage of it, as secretary of foreigne affairs says, that it is a partnership? ill it bring more employment for pilipinos; and will it improve further the economy that takes into consideration an inclusive growth? Or will this be just a ‘war’ issue. basic economic allocation of resources is a mix of guns and butter, and not guns or butter. How will the mix turn out with EDCA?

    4. The US is treading a very careful path in containing China at the same time not directly antagonizing it (as it owes China trillions of dollars). PH is only too willing, given Aquino’s lapdog obeisance to USA, to be a pawn in this game. Call me paranoid but that certainly how it plays out in the West Philippine Sea affair. But as Mr Tiglao has correctly pointed, this EDCA has exposed the PH to greater risk – all for naught. What is this government doing to protect the national interest? Where is OUR interest in the EDCA? How can EDCA further the stability of this region? Aquino’s government is simply too subservient to the wishes of the American government.

    5. Why didn’t you mentioned of usec. fancisco baraan who has no experience in whatsoever in drafting a major or international agreement. He does not even have a legal stature who made a name before his appointment by Pnoy. He was only a practicing lawyer in Pangasinan handling very petty cases. I never heard of him in the national scene beforehand involved in constitutional cases or of national importance.
      I think his role in the panel representing DOJ is to see any probable conflict with the EDCA and the constitution. He has never been a constitutionalist.

    6. What will the Philippines get out of it? We will provide the brothels- SCREWED by the US again!

      • Come on Apostate, We face the fact that there is an imminent and very possible threat from china. The only option to stop this is th seek help from US. No other nations will be willing to help us in the event that china invade our country.

      • Ikabod Bubwit on

        China has no intention of invading the Philippines. China has nothing to gain from invading the Philippines. What China want is the Spratleys and the oil and gas in it. The Spratleys is not part of the Philippine Metropolitan territory and so the US is not obliged to defend the Philippine interests there (or the so-called EEZ). It is China that is claiming the Spratleys as part of their territory (through their 9-dash line eck-eck !!!). The Philippines and the whole world considers the Spratleys as part of international waters. The Philippines only wants to protect its EEZ in the Spratleys. Those insisting that China is threatening Philippine metropolitan territory is grossly mistaken and are just using this as an excuse for the US to re-colonise the Philippines (through the EDCA). The US will never fight China to protect Philippine interests in the Spratleys. The Philippines will have to do that for itself. Nobody else will do that for the Philippines, least of all the US.