“The Chinese are too strong, too assertive. That is why a Pax Sinica is very threatening to us,” said an analyst from Vietnam’s Diplomatic Academy to a reporter from the Atlantic magazine. Vietnam has cause for concern, China invaded it 17 times.
Vietnam is not resting on China’s assurances that it is only interested in business and harbors no imperial ambitions. Vietnam recently spent $200M to rehabilitate Cam Ranh Bay, probably the largest and most important US naval base during the Vietnam War, to make it available for use by foreign navies.
In Vietnamese “making Cam Ranh Bay available for foreign navies” means laying out the welcome mat for the US. In Chinese “laying out the welcome mat for the US” means containment, a bad word to the communist tyrants in Beijing. The phrase also means containment in Vietnamese and English but it’s a good word as far as they and the rest of the civilized world are concerned.
Everybody wants to keep China in check. (No pun intended) Nobody wants Pax Sinica or Chinese hegemony. Everybody welcomes increased “US meddling in Asia-Pacific affairs”, to use Beijing’s characterization of US presence, because no civilized country wants an utterly corrupt totalitarian regime exercising exclusive control over the South China Sea. Everybody wants someone who can guarantee that Beijing will not make unilateral moves that violate “the rules-based order that has served the region for six decades.” Everybody understands that a countervailing power to Beijing is necessary and the US is it. It’s the only country that can keep Beijing from running wild.
Why point out the obvious? Because there are those in this country who still persist in promoting juvenile nationalism, blind anti-Americanism fueled by outdated Cold War propaganda. Well, times have changed my dear Jomanians and we have to adjust to new realities: a former oppressor is now our bodyguard against a future oppressor, yesterday’s imperialist is now our only protection against tomorrow’s imperialist.
The best national security decision made so far is to allow the US access to Subic and Clark. We are not selling out, we are simply doing what is best for us, at this time and under the circumstances. If Vietnam can open Cam Ranh Bay to a former enemy why can’t Subic and Clark be made available to an old friend and ally? Besides, there is a commonality of national interest between the US and the nations around the South China Sea: the US wants freedom of navigation, we want freedom from Beijing’s incursions into our seas.
Will the occasional US visits turn into permanent US bases? Maybe they could but it definitely won’t happen anytime soon. The US cannot afford permanent overseas bases right now, “places not bases” is the new Pentagon mantra. Besides, experience has shown that bases agreements are messy and expensive while visiting or status of forces agreements are neater and cheaper, both for the US and the host country, so why go back to it?
The Jomanians’ fear that US bases will return and become US territory once again is not grounded on reality, it comes from robotic thinking. We have to celebrate a new era in Philippine-US relations instead of mindlessly chanting slogans that give Beijing an erection.
Another thing to keep in mind is the new US Pacific strategy does not stand on access to Subic and Clark. The US can port its ships and land its planes in India, Australia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Japan, South Korea, and soon in places like Cam Ranh Bay. We need US presence to fend off China more than the US needs Philippine hospitality to keep the sea lanes open to navigation. We have to live with that reality until we become strong enough to stand up to China or any other ambitious neighbor.
(UPDATE) Here’s how Bayan Secretary General Renato Reyes, a Jomanian caught in a fucking time warp, sees what’s happening between the Philippines and the US:
- “In a time when the Philippines should be asserting its sovereignty and charting an independent foreign policy, Aquino is groveling to the US for economic and military aid in exchange for the transformation of the entire country into a US military outpost in Southeast Asia. The US, meanwhile, has made a mockery of Philippine sovereignty as its supposed ‘visiting troops’ have become permanent fixtures in the country.”
Occasional visits to Subic and Clark does not a transformation of a country to a US military outpost make. Besides those visiting troops lend equipment, train with our troops, and share intel that we can use against the enemies of the Philippines: the CPP/NPA and the Moro rebels. If you’re a Filipino who loves his country okay lang makipagtulungan sa US against the enemy, di ba?
- “Aquino’s visit to the United States is the culmination of months of meetings, negotiations and discussions for increasing US troop presence in the country and reaffirming unequal economic and politico-military relations. Aquino and US President Barrack Obama are expected to once again reaffirm PH-US special ties which are nothing more than neo-colonial relations.”
Neo-colonial relations. Ano yun? That sounds like something that can only be explained by neo-Cold War rhetoric. Walang ibig sabihin yan neo-colonial na yan to anybody who does not subscribe to the Jomanian paradigm. It’s like the whole idea of Mama Mary to a non-Catholic.
- “There have been a lot of meetings the past months to ensure that US troops will be rebalanced from other regions towards Asia. The Philippines has been eyed for its strategic value for US hegemonic interests in the region. They are bringing back more US troops and more warships. It’s as if the bases are back in the country. We are considered ‘important’ to the US because we allow our country to be used to project US military power in the region. We are the doormat for US troops in Southeast Asia, a convenient footstool for the US encirclement of China.”
Tanginang mixed metaphors yan…doormat/footstool?
But seriously, parang the thing that Bayan’s Reyes really finds objectionable is the “encirclement of China.” Okay lang ang encirclement of China, okay lang i-contain ang China para hindi siya nag-aangkin ng hindi kanya.
Actually okay lang kung anti-American sila. Eh yun sila. Ang hindi ko maintindihan ay yun kinakabit nila yun anti-Americanism nila with being pro-China. Bakit kailangan nila kumampi dun sa umaagaw sa ating territoryo? This Jomanians have a weird sense of nationalism.