The close shave we have just experienced in Speaker Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan should make the Filipino wonder where is the United States is getting all the umpah that inspite of its withdrawal from Afghanistan, two recessions spelling a depression, and an impending defeat in its proxy war in Ukraine, it is still insisting on pivoting to the Asia-Pacific.
Sometimes the answer is in Netflix. In the opening of the second season of Yellowstone, an American minority teacher Monica asks her students:
“Can you tell me the definition of power?
“It is the ability to direct or influence another’s behavior or course of events.
“When Christopher Columbus first came in contact with Native Americans, it was the Arawak people in the Bahamas.”
She then quotes the Italian explorer from his journal:
“They willingly traded us everything they owned. They do not bear arms and they do not know them. For I showed them a sword and they took them by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance.
“They will make fine slaves. With fifty men we can subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.”
Monica comments: “It’s a very European mentality stemming from oppressive political and religious structures of the Renaissance. Kings and priests with absolute power ruling masses who have none. That was the mentality of the man who discovered America. And it is the mentality our society struggles with today.
“What you know of history is a dominant culture’s justifications for its actions.
“We are all descendants of the subjugated. Every one of us.”
In 1899 Americans were sharply divided over whether to annex the Philippines. Few believed that the Philippines offered a crucial commercial advantage to the U.S., but many saw them as a crucial way station to Asia.
“Had we no interests in China,” noted one advocate of annexation, “the possession of the Philippines would be meaningless.”
That is the Manifest Destiny that President William McKinley used to defend US expansionism. Entering the Asian Century, that destiny will never happen in treachery.
It was not as Andres Bonifacio thought that we lost our first opportunity at independence in Intramuros. It was in the Paris Peace negotiations, the Americans exchanged our friendship for 20 pieces of silver, so to speak, when they literally purchased us from Spain, and have been pulling wool over eyes since then.
The United States, just as its European beginnings, has a longer view. Perhaps only a civilization that spans almost two thousand years enables the Chinese to think farther, wider and deeper. America’s problem today is that the second millennium is over, and China is no longer the weak, fragmented nation that it was when McKinley was flexing his muscles.
Today, Xi Jingpin has just dealt a catastrophic blow to that same expansionism when it literally isolated Taiwan from intruders by showing how the strike force of US Sixth and Seventh Fleets has reached obsolescence and can easily be neutralized.
In the very war games scenario, not by the Chinese but of the American think-tank Center for New American Security, any military attack by the United States or any of its allies, will mean the total devastation of Japan, Guam, and maybe Hawaii and the Philippines. Moreover, the US has no match for the quality of China’s Dong Feng missile technology that can send not only ICBMs but Multiple Independent Reentry Vehicles all over the American mainland, and beyond.
What is curious is that a few days after the Pelosi fiasco, Secretary State Anthony Blinken quickened to Manila. This is ominous because while virtually sending a white flag to China on Taiwan, the US moves forward for the next round of provocations, this time using the Philippines.
This is not as innocent as it looks. The stick has been delivered in advance. Remember that before the change of government from Duterte to Marcos Jr., a threat of sanctions by the United States was conveyed through Ambassador Babes Romualdez, should the Philippines continue to buy 16 Russian military transport helicopters.
Former Philippine defense secretary, Delfin Lorenzana, said the P12.7 billion ($227 million) deal to acquire the Mi-17 helicopters had been cancelled despite a P2 billion down payment.
Now comes Blinken-the-carrot arrives. The question is will President Bongbong Marcos replace Taiwan President Tsai Ing Weng as the American poster boy in East Asia?
Our president will definitely confirm that if he visits the United States next month, even if it were polished as coinciding with a visit to the United Nations.
This is the initiation of Bongbong into the perilous world of hegemony.
Meanwhile, I do not agree to joint patrols with the US Coast Guard in the South China Seas, and suggestions of an expanded pact.
What I wish to pursue is his statement that our ties with the Americans must evolve. But I wish to add – evolve onto abrogation. All this talk about the Philippines having an independent foreign policy is a lot of horse pucky.
With the Mutual Defense Treaty, the Visiting Forces Agreement, the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement and the 2016 Ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, our dice is loaded in favor of the United States and in the disfavor of our genuine national interests. They are swords hanging over the head of our national security. They are magnets for China’s Dong Feng missiles.
A few days before his inauguration, he declared China as our strongest partner. Now, is the President engaging in double-speak? What I am saying is beyond words, let our actions mean what we say.
There is no need for a balancing act but always virtue. Although if he needs one, then cite way before the Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951 Sultan Paduka Pahala signed a Treaty of Independent Tributary States with Emperor Yong Le in 1405. That effectively placed us under the protectorate of China.
An independent foreign policy is based on principles. We cannot face up with other nations if our dice has been loaded by sheer military alliances.
Mr. President, past a crisis solved by China by winning an American war in Taiwan without fighting [i], you are instead allowing the fox to enter our chicken coop. Man up to the US, just as your predecessor Duterte did, and do only what is best for your people’s interests.
[i] Sun Tzu
Adolfo Quizon Paglinawan is the anchor of Ang Maestro – the Unfinished Revolution at Radyo Pilipinas1, co-host of Opinyon Ngayon at Golden Nation Network Television, a political analyst, and author of books.
His third book, The Poverty of Power will soon be off-the-press. It is a historiography of controversial issues of spanning 36 years leading to the Demise of the Edsa Revolution and the Rise of the Philippine Phoenix.
Paglinawan’s past best sellers have been A Problem for Every Solution (2015), a characterization of factors affecting Philippine-China relations, and No Vaccine for a Virus called Racism (2020) a survey of international news attempting to tracing its origins. These important achievements earned for him to be named one of the 2021 international laureates for the Awards for the Promotion of Philippine-China Understanding.
Ado, as he called for short, was a former press attaché and spokesman of the Philippine Embassy in Washington DC and the Philippines’ Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York.