Filipino President and his threat to "cut ties" with the United States
October 21, 2016
This brief article is in response to my young granddaughter’s query and attempt to pick my brains on a very current subject matter. Here’s what she sent me via Messenger: 'Hello Lo! Kumusta? Just wanna get your opinion (since you are in America and you know what is really happening there) about Pres. Duterte's decision of cutting the ties between US and Phil and rather get in partnership with China. He just announced it today that he's cutting the military and economic ties to US, and put full dependence on China. Was it a wise move for the country? Cause Russia's preparation against US that may lead to WWIII is quite alarming.'
Here, then, is My Take:
You ask a very good question. First of all, the probability of a major world war is remote. What is happening is called posturing, particularly on the part of China and Russia as they extend their influence and flex their muscle in various parts of the globe. This is because of the implosion of the disastrous foreign policy of the U.S. under the Obama administration. As a consequence, the weakness of the U.S. leadership has emboldened both China and Russia to wild forays that unfortunately include the South China Sea 'encroachments' by the former.
Secondly, 'cutting ties' is not as simple or clear cut as it may seem. To begin with, what exactly does Philippines' President Rodrigo Duterte mean when he says 'cutting ties'? If he means abrogate treaties, agreements and/or pacts it would require support and action from Congress and would require exhaustive if not near-exhaustive debate and deliberation among various 'stakeholders' – i.e., the Filipino people and its numerous business, political, military, media and other communities plus the general public at large that includes Filipinos in the Philippines and those abroad. Unless he declares and establishes (legally or illegally) totalitarian rule by way of either Martial Law or a Revolutionary Government, he cannot whimsically impose his personal will (e.g., cut diplomatic ties with the United States) upon the people of the land. In this matter, he has to be extremely careful because the repercussions will likely be detrimental and possibly catastrophic to his country. It has been through that route before and as mantras go, people say, 'never again!
There lies the rub. While Russia and China are very deliberate and irksomely smart (to the U.S. at least) with their moves, Duterte’s own may be considered 'innocently smart'. I am of the opinion that he is not that familiar or appreciative of the political and economic realities in the United States and his purview is limitied to the repercussions of his war on illegal drugs and hence, he is merely reacting emotionally and out of personal pride. What makes it smart is that whether he is aware of it or not, if Hillary Clinton wins the election on November 8, I predict the U.S. economy will go on a tailspin and plunge that nation into a turmoil. In that sense, Duterte’s 'alignment' with China will be to his credit and to the benefit of the Philippines. This is borne of the stark reality that China will shortly surpass, if it has not already, the size of the U.S. economy. There’s no stopping its rise to the top because the United States‘ own is propped up by money from China (some five trillion dollars according to some accounts). In other words, under this scenario the Philippines will be aligned with the 'winner' by default. The Filipinos, in effect, will have a new 'big brother'.
For its part, Russia’s goal - or should I say Putin’s ambition - is to reclaim its old glorious position as a super power sans the failed ideology of communism. The Philippines’ close ties with it notwithstanding its new China connection, will further enhance the Philippines’ future economic and military opportunities.
That said, all of these interplays will characterize a small portion of a looming new 'world order', thanks to the self-destructrive “progressive” ideology of Obama, Clinton and the Democratic Party. However, if on the other hand Donald J. Trump wins, there’s no telling how vastly different the picture will be. Duterte may still be a winner because before he successfully breaks them, he could re-establish or at this (still early) point re-strengthen his country’s 'ties' with an old ally. We shall see soon enough.