When diplomacy becomes collateral damage

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When America sneezes, the world catches a cold?

Not anymore, at least if you were to ask President Rodrigo Duterte, who would rather cover his face to protect himself and his fellow Filipinos from what in his view amounts to a virus that is supposedly being lugged around by US President Barack Obama.

Duterte on Monday seemed to be referring to the germ of colonialism of the American variety that had been stricken to oblivion by the bolos of Bonifacio and his fellow Filipino revolutionaries more than 100 years ago.

He must have felt he did not need anybody, not even the leader of the most powerful nation on the planet, to lecture him on how to run the government of the Philippines, not even on how to carry out a war on drugs that he had set his sights on early in the campaign for presidential elections that he won by a landslide.


“I am a President of a sovereign state and we have long ceased to be a colony,” Duterte said, and then more, before dropping his usual Filipino cuss word, to which this throng of reporters has gotten accustomed to hearing from him. They were at a pre-departure press briefing before he left for Laos for an Association of Southeast Asian Nations meeting.

Obama had telegraphed the message (warning was more like it) that he planned to raise his concerns with Duterte in a bilateral meeting over the crackdown on illegal drugs in the country that had been reported to involve extrajudicial killings.

Well, the meeting was not going to happen, not after Duterte had dropped those words like a homemade bomb, for which shortly thereafter, however, he expressed regret for the after-effects.

“While the immediate cause was my strong comments to certain press questions that elicited concern and distress, we also regret it came across as a personal attack on the US President,” a statement that he released said.

Obama canceled anyway, asking his people if “constructive, productive conversations” were still possible given Duterte’s tirade.

That he did showed that he was missing the forest for the trees, accustomed as he and probably past US Presidents were to talking down on sniveling, groveling Third World “democratic” and dictatorial leaders alike waiting for US military and economic crumbs to be thrown their way.

“Who is he to confront me [on the issue of human rights]? As a matter of fact, America has one too many to answer for,” Duterte had also said earlier, according to another report.

“Everybody has a terrible record of extrajudicial killings,” he added in the same report.

In the Philippines, it is on record that some American general with racial hatred in his heart turned Samar into a “howling wilderness,” so where does that leave the mighty United States of America?

Unlike Balkan leaders in recent memory who had been found to be guilty of genocide, none of the American forces who napalmed the Vietnamese countryside actually paid dearly for their perceived crimes against humanity.

Apparently rubbing it in but at the same time not particularly excited about the one-on-one, Duterte, when asked after arriving in the Laos capital of Vientiane whether the meeting with Obama would go ahead, replied, “Maybe, if I feel good. I don’t want to quarrel with him. He’s the most powerful President … on the planet.”

Incidentally, in one of the last acts of Obama’s so-called “pivot” to Asia, he is expected to announce greater help in clearing bombs dropped by US forces on Laos during the Vietnam War.

You can bet your bottom dollar that ordinary Laotians were among the, well, “collateral damage” of a war that the United States lost in an absolutely embarrassing way.

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10 Comments

  1. I’m sure your good ‘friends’ the chinese are very happy with your President right now. Of course everyone there will say “we don’t need the US Navy to help us against the Chinese taking your territorial waters, we can beat them with our Navy…..NOT”. Everyone talking about colonization-and ther WERE many abuses but consider this. You would all be speaking Japanese if it weren’t for MacArthur (who LOVED the Philipinos people, well known). If you Einsteins really think that a tough talking tin hat dictator can get away with insulting our President, well you saw the result…Good luck with your very good friends the Chinese, they would NEVER take advantage of you and I’m sure if they do colonize I’m sure they will leave VOLUNTARILY just like the US left Subic…Actually they probably won’t. Oh well, I guess you can all learn Chinese for your new masters. -From the son of a serviceman who served with MacArthur -and risked his life to beat the much more cruel to PI Japanese Army as any rational person no matter how much they hate America will admit.

  2. Publicly, President Obama said of President Duterte: “he’s a colorful guy.” And on canceling their private meeting in Laos, Obama said he knew it would become nothing more than a public spectacle in the press and could not be constructive.

  3. The President of a country is free to say whatever he or she wants, obviously. However, the problem is there are consequences just outside that country’s borders that should be appreciated by those in the government and out. For instance, American citizens (including politicians of all ranks) could ask, rightfully, why should the military send sailors, ships, and planes to the area if they are not wanted? It does cost a huge amount of money to send naval forces (or maintain them) far from American shores. Second, why should America and other countries invest in a country if they will be ridiculed? There are plenty of countries that welcome foreign direct investment besides the Philippines. Third, the consequences are not just felt by America or the Philippines. These statements will also affect all the countries in the region. The Filipino President can speak freely. But that doesn’t mean poorer relations between the two countries will affect the security situation in the East and Southeast Asia and other countries, like Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Japan, etc. might pay a price they never expected if China feels emboldened. Will the President be on a fishing boat with Filipinos when it faces a huge Chinese ship armed with the latest weapons in the middle of the ocean? No.

  4. If to the Prussian Carl Von Clausewitz “war is a continuation of politics by other means,”

    does Du30 maybe think that “waging war with words is a continuation of diplomacy by other means.”

  5. …”The true essence of foreign diplomacy is through sincere, honest, constructive and cordial negotiations to enhance a “win-win” situation into a mutually beneficial of both parties”…

    How constructive and cordial was it when….”Obama had telegraphed the message (warning was more like it) that he planned to raise his concerns with Duterte in a bilateral meeting over the crackdown on illegal drugs in the country that had been reported to involve extrajudicial killings.”…

    …”“I am a President of a sovereign state and we have long ceased to be a colony,” Duterte said, and then more, before dropping his usual Filipino cuss word, to which this throng of reporters has gotten accustomed to hearing from him.”…

    …”The Philippines should avoid of being a laughing stock and risks of isolation the likes of North Korea among the comity of nations.”…

    Ah, ah, ah…too far out (study N Korea history thoroughly), then come back to the forum for the sequential comment. We want to decern if you have learned a valuable lesson instead of mere disinformation.

  6. @Robert
    You talked like we Filipinos have an identity …. You are totally wrong because it was lost since the Americans conquered and buy our country from the Spaniards. Up to now the way of life, the customs (ceased to be existing) is nowhere found in this country. Yes we are a country of dependents, beggars and thirst for western culture that is why even a national language is not known to be used by each inhabitants in this place and ENGLISH is their preferred mode of communication (eg. print , books, news etc.). Now tell me what is the use of being a Filipino …. it’s a consolation only in papers we are called for.

  7. The Philippines is a sovereign nation. Undiplomatic maybe our President Rody, he showed to the world that nobody living in his own glass house could just throw stones. America has many “sins” to the Filipino people. What President Rody said that 600K died in Mindanao due to American massacre is a fact that not even the American Army historians could deny. Remember the Balangiga Samar Massacre among others. Even when their biggest Bases outside US are still here, we received a pittance compared to Turkey, Israel and others. In other words, they treat as like dogs. What bother’s me now is the CIA might plan to overthrow PDU30 and ask for help with drug syndicates and oligarchs. and even the Abu Sayyaf (remember, the US created Abu Sayyaf). Are we expecting then that money would flow into the military generals down to the battalion commanders? This is what they did in the CIA-instigated EDSA 86!

  8. I know these Americans having resided in the US for 26 years. Number one rule : Do not mock them. They are a proud nation. What we should do ? Play your cards well. Stick to your game plan.

  9. The true essence of foreign diplomacy is through sincere, honest, constructive and cordial negotiations to enhance a “win-win” situation into a mutually beneficial of both parties.
    Lacks of statesmanship and art in foreign diplomacy on the side of Duterte eventually leads to an abrupt cancellation of the planned meeting between Obama and Duterte in Laos. It was a sort of a “whore” jibe which should not be repeated in any international gatherings. The damaged has done and Duterte acknowledged his mistake and openly regretted his bad deeds. The Philippines should avoid of being a laughing stock and risks of isolation the likes of North Korea among the comity of nations. Is this what might be called a “Civilized Philippines?”

    • We have been a laughing stock? Wow. And you think because of these emotional expression the 100 million Filipinos would care about what the foreigners would think? What is being civilized? Colonizing n killing? Slavery perhaps? Take it and laugh all you want