Author Topic: A sustainable, whole-nation, “Kobayashi Maru” solution to China’s aggression  (Read 33845 times)


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Latest discussion spurred on by SND Lorenzana's hinting at a review of the US-PH MDT

Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones,

Happy New Year to you and yours.

Let me re-order my responses so to communicate the message better.

If you feel it's not bad timing on PH's part (note I didn't say "If you feel it's GREAT timing", since
THAT would be straw), then we'll just have to disagree.

I would actually argue that the SND’s statements are not meant for the US alone (see further below), and is actually coupled with backend discussions that already put these statements into context.

Kim is not Goldberg, and Lorenzana’s ties run deep.

While I recognize that these are . . . interesting . . . post-WWII times for the US, if the goal is to completely avoid waves then there will never be a good time for anything significant.

'Naku ha, those are motherhood statements.  :)
"Complete subservience" is furthermore pure straw.
There's a gulf between mature disagreement, and the childish level of scorn towards both the
US and the PH-US MDT itself, that we've seen from the highest level of

Comments about subservience and mendicancy are related. See further below.

The sooner the US gets accustomed to a Philippines that is willing to go its way on occasion the sooner the relationship matures. The better it will actually be for both countries.

More motherhood statements and straw?  :)
The Philippines HAS been going its own way on occasion since the Clark and Subic boot-out, but
again, never with the childish level of scorn towards both the US and the PH-US MDT itself, that
we've seen from the highest level of

You are partly correct in saying that Philippines went its way with the bases boot-out. But it was a half-arsed departure from precedent because it was only the Senate that went its way. To the very end, Manglapus was pushing for an extension of the US bases treaty, and it was the Senate that rejected it.

The Executive department never wrapped its head around what that boot-out really meant. Which is why the government continued to fund the AFP conservatively, as though it still had full access to the Pentagon's coffers.

That, along with the organizational excesses that came with not having to worry about where funding came from, is what led to the force-deficiencies that modernization has been trying to patch for the past 20 years.

It also gave China the opening it needed in Mischief Reef, and the rest is history.

Furthermore, the sooner the Filipino people break out of a mendicant mindset that expects the US to everything for us, that is actually needs to weigh options instead of just "going along", sooner it will actually appreciate the "why" behind the importance of such relationships.

To achieve that goal, sometimes we need to bend the relationship in ways it was never bend before. Think the PMA bamboo analogy.

"Mendicancy" and a total reliance on the US ...are more motherhood and straw, adroth.
At best they are generalities that are only borderline related to the thread-topic, which is that
PH DND Sec wants to try to get a US commitment to include KIG under MDT coverage.

As you noted, the EU is willing to make its own army. Israel gets away with spying on the US, and so on. Yet . . . they remain allies.

Malacanang’s message has three audiences directed at three partly-intertwined problems.

The first problem is with the Filipino psyche. In US-PH relations, this problem manifest itself in the following schools-of-thought:

“The US cares about us and will never abandon us”
“The US is obligated to protect us”
“We must go along with everything the US says because we don’t want them to abandon us”
“The US abandoned us. How dare they”

The common denominator is treatment of the US as a foreign-policy crutch. Attitudes towards this crutch range from mendicant-acceptance to resentful dependence. Consider the following survey on Filipino impressions about the US.

Filipinos like the US even more than Americans do – Pew Research
Data from the Pew Research Center's Global Attitudes Project show Filipino respondents have positive views on the US, Americans, and US Presidents – even better than Americans themselves
Published 6:26 PM, April 22, 2014
Updated 12:56 AM, April 23, 2014

< Edited >

Data from the Pew Research Center's Global Attitudes Project show a higher percentage of Filipinos surveyed – 85% to be exact – having a more "favorable" view of the American people. Americans come second in the survey, with 84% saying they have a "favorable" view of themselves.

< Edited >

74% of Filipinos surveyed, meanwhile, expressed confidence that China "will never replace the US as the world's leading superpower."

< Edited >

Not surprisingly, 81% of Filipinos surveyed saw the US as a "partner" of the Philippines.

< Edited >

This dependence doesn’t just manifest itself in normal common-tao discourse, it runs deep even in the AFP, where JUSMAG and FMS are still looked upon as substitutes for development of a proper procurement service. Easier to be told what you need, rather than doing the hard work to actually figure things out yourself . . . AND actually living with the choices that you made.

Beyond big ticket items, long-time service Timawans even lament how JUSMAG assistance is sought for things as mundane as per-diem for officers who go on overseas training . . . instead of properly funding such travel in-house through proper fiscal planning and responsibility.

How do you turn something from a crutch, into something is simply viewed as an advantageous arrangement? You make it optional. That’s what where the PMA bamboo analogy comes in.

You can’t straighten crooked piece of bamboo just by bending it to its preferred. If you did it will just bend back to its crooked state. You bend it beyond the preferred state, so that when it bends back, it springs to the intended shape.
Malacanang’s statements are hyperbolic at best and “childish” at worst. But at the end of the day, it is a “bamboo” solution for the domestic audience. You need, at the very least, to question the default assumptions of US-PH relations.

Uproar over the anti-US rhetoric is to be expected because it is unfamiliar, almost sacrilegious, in its content. But if we are to “move the needle” on this matter, something other than business-as-usual is called for.

Enter activities like exercises with Russia. No JUSMAG to provide guard rails, to remind the PN to make sure that these activities are actually logistically supportable. Mistakes will be made (e.g., BRP Davao del Sur reportedly ran into engineering issues coming back from Vladivostok). Lessons will have to be learned.

Integral to success is belief in our ability to succeed. At some point, an adolescent – even an overaged one -- has to ride the bike without training wheels . . . dive into the deep end of the pool before he/she is completely ready.

Second audience is China. Keep them off guard . . . and wondering about what our intentions really are. Buy time to shore up our positions. How? See here.

Third is the US. This is discussed further in the next section below. But the important bit to note for now is as follows:

If the out-of-left-field pronouncements of one administration is enough to damage US-PH relations, then the “special relationship” was never as strong as advertised in the first place.

The US now has a better ambassador than in early 2016, and knows how to take the administration’s statements in stride and ascertain commander’s intent.

The US is not as “evil” as its critics claim. Nothing ever is because there are ALWAYS two sides to everything. It is also not the charitable institution that many of its admirers believe. If there is an over abundance in admirers, there is a need to overplay the negative to move the needle towards a more balanced view of the real state of affairs

...and as you noted, the US-NATO treaty is tighter than US-PH. Hence Euro NATO members (as
"the EU") have a lot more rope to play with.

Not so PH, which has furthermore been careless
with its shorter cordage.

One can't upslope a weaker PH position to the durability of NATO.
One can, however, downslope the negative effects of US politics even on NATO, onto the much
weaker position of PH.

Israel? US backing for Israel is rather arguably stronger than even for NATO, and has been for
decades (Simple test lang: how many Israeli citizens in US Congress and Senate? Ask that for,
say, Belgians or any other European country? How about for Filipinos?) Upslope, downslope.

I am under no illusions about the Philippines having even remotely the same leverage as either NATO or Israel, or enjoys the same perception of value.

Past Philippine behavior hasn’t helped that perception one bit. We have been inept in multiple spheres. Not the least of which is how we live up to our defense obligations. No country has had a better front-row-seat to AFP fiascos than the US. Understandably, the AFP has had to contend with US stereotypes.

The US has its own assessments about where it believes the Philippines should direct its resources. Consequently, the assistance and advice it provides is geared towards specific shared concerns, and little else. See JUSMAG.

Our history has also shown that our compliance with the assessments has been predictably favorable. Our decisions have remained within loosely defined – or implied -- US-centric boundaries. As a Timawan in the DND once lamented during the Aquino administration . . . we were painfully hesitant to ask for anything meaningful. We were a known-quantity, that would take what was given.

Anything beyond this . . . the Philippines is on its own.

If it wants anything more, such as firmer assurances with regard to China, it needs to refresh the relationship. It needs to prompt a reassessment of existing pre-conceived notions and calculations. The first step in that is to actually ask for it.

Reception to such overtures can be shaped by how the stage is set. “Antics” that serve to implement the bamboo solution for domestic politics, simultaneously serve to signal a need for a rethink. It is an effort to shape perceptions of value. By signaling that we are willing to go it alone, we are, not only signaling our own house to get its own act together, we are also giving the US reason to refresh its assumptions.

It is, by the way, worth noting that the Philippines is very careful not to alienate our other local partners. This is a "drama" aimed at the one ally that know better than to think that we really want to cut ties.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2019, 01:46:27 AM by adroth »


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One must wonder how much of China’s internal debt woes can be attributed to the billions spent on building, and then maintaining, its artificial islands in the WPS. More ammo for the #4thoption #kobayashimaru and the threat of economic retaliation.

Forget the Trade War. China Is Already in Crisis

Even if the second-largest economy resolves the current slowdown, it will remain mired in a debt-driven slump.
By Michael Schuman

Once again, the world’s investors are turning their worried gaze toward China. And for good reason. Economic growth in the third quarter sank to 6.5 percent, the slowest pace since the depths of the global financial crisis in 2009.

< Edited >

Tariffs on Chinese exports to the U.S. imposed by President Donald Trump are starting to pinch the country’s factories. A steep and unexpected plunge in imports in December signaled just how sharply the economy is decelerating. That’s led Beijing to turn the volume down on its bravado and negotiate with Washington to defuse the conflict.

A trade pact, if it happens, may soothe investors, and perhaps even juice economic growth—at least temporarily. But it won’t bring an end to China’s woes.

< Edited >

What goes widely unnoticed is that China is already in crisis. No, it’s not the sort of hold-on-for-dear-life collapse the U.S. had in 2008 or the surprising, ferocious meltdowns the Asian Tiger economies experienced in 1997. Nonetheless, it’s a crisis, complete with gutted banks, bankrupt companies, and state bailouts. Since the Chinese distinguish their model of state capitalism as “socialism with Chinese characteristics,” let’s call this a “financial crisis with Chinese attributes.”

< Edited >

What would likely have laid other emerging markets low was just another day’s work for China’s powerful mandarins. The government organized a stock bailout and clamped down on capital outflows. Crisis averted.

That approach is representative of Beijing’s overall strategy toward its debt problem. The government—obsessed with social stability—isn’t allowing the debt bomb to detonate. But the financial crisis with Chinese attributes is inflicting the same damage on the economy anyway.

< Edited >

China is dealing with another feature of a financial crisis: capital flight. Because of strict controls, money can’t gush out as it probably would under a less restrictive regime.

< Edited >


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Heydarian's latest piece actually lends support to the following section of the thesis that puts the spotlight on the points to ponder about the PH-US MDT

Evaluating the "3rd option": MDT

How Washington’s ambiguity in South China Sea puts the Philippine-US alliance at a crossroads

Richard Heydarian writes that the Philippines could ‘downgrade’ its long-standing association with the US if Washington remains unclear on its commitments in disputed waters

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 31 January, 2019, 3:23am
UPDATED : Thursday, 31 January, 2019, 10:31pm

< Edited >

The Philippine defence chief openly lamented Washington’s “ambivalent” position on the exact coordinates of its commitments to the Philippines, especially in light of the South China Sea disputes. He explicitly questioned whether the Mutual Defence Treaty is “still relevant to our security” instead of just serving “the interest of other nations”, namely the US.

The first problem with the alliance is the very text of the treaty. According to Article V of the MDT, “an armed attack on either of the Parties is deemed to include an armed attack on the metropolitan territory of either of the Parties, or on the island territories under its jurisdiction in the Pacific or on its armed forces, public vessels or aircraft in the Pacific.”

Yet, Washington has equivocated on what exactly it considers to be part of “metropolitan” Philippines and the “island territories under its jurisdiction”.

To the Philippines’ horror, its ally largely stood by when China occupied Philippine-claimed Mischief Reef in 1994 as well as during the months-long Philippine-China naval stand-off over the Scarborough Shoal in 2012.

The US has repeatedly refused to clarify whether its treaty commitments apply in the South China Sea, where the Philippines is at loggerheads with several other claimant states.

Moreover, there are doubts whether the treaty provides expedient military help in the event of conflict between the Philippines and any hostile third party. According to Article IV of the treaty, each party “would act to meet the common dangers [in their area of jurisdiction] in accordance with its constitutional processes”.

< Edited >

By calling for a formal review, the Philippine defence establishment likely hopes to compel the US to revisit both the text and its interpretation of the MDT in ways that are more mutually satisfactory. In exchange, Manila may grant US troops expanded access to its military bases, particularly the Bautista and Basa airbases bordering the South China Sea.

< Edited >


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The Philippines is not afraid of Chinese ‘debt trap’ — Teddy Locsin Jr.
Janvic Mateo (The Philippine Star) - February 17, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines is not afraid of the so-called debt trap strategy of the Chinese government, according to Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr.

Speaking at the Hungarian Institute of Foreign Affairs and Trade during his official visit to Hungary on Thursday, Locsin said the Philippines has experienced worse in the past under the Western financial system.

“The West went into paroxysms of ecstasy over our people power revolution, which was a rebuke to communism as a way forward,” he said, referring to the 1986 People Power Revolt that toppled the Marcos dictatorship.

“Still the West threatened our new democracy with financial destruction if it did not pay back every dollar lent by Western banks to the dictatorship which stole every cent of it. Democratic victory was good for a pat on the back, but not good enough for debt forgiveness,” he added.

< Edited >

In his lecture, Locsin also said the Philippines under the Duterte administration was able to manage its disagreements with China over territories in the South China Sea.

He said the government was able to do so “without retreating an inch from our rightful and inalienable ownership of everything within the widest extent of our sovereign reach in history and international law.

Locsin did not discuss recent activities of China in the disputed region, including the construction of various facilities in features within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

< Edited >

Locsin, however, reiterated the so-called “independent foreign policy” pursued by President Duterte since assuming office in 2016.

“When I first addressed our foreign ministry on my assumption of office, I told them how a truly independent foreign policy should be pursued,” recalled the foreign affairs secretary, the third to serve under the present administration.

It is not independent foreign policy if you simply switch the master before whom you are kneeling. You are still on your knees before another master. An independent foreign policy means getting off your knees and on your feet – and standing up for your country. That is true independence,” he noted.

And while the Philippine Constitution renounces war as an instrument of national policy, Locsin said it only refers to offensive war and never to national defense.



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An example of what economic retaliation against China would look like can actually be found in what Manila Water and Maynilad are currently facing in light of their tightening the screws on the Filipino people.

Duterte gives go-signal to release new water deal
By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos  January 8, 2020, 8:50 pm

MANILA -- President Rodrigo Duterte said on Wednesday he has ordered the government's lawyers to transmit the new water concession contracts to two water concessionaires Manila Water and Maynilad.

Speaking before the new presidential appointees, Duterte said he is giving the water companies the options to either accept the fresh deal or just let the government take over the water distribution system.

"You know, we are facing problems in and out of our country. Great problems. Locally, it’s the water issue. And I have given the go-signal to our lawyers to present it to the concessionaires," the President said in a speech delivered at Palace's Rizal Hall.

"And so I gave them the choice, not an ultimatum. We do not do that because we do not own government. At sinabi ko sa kanila (And I am telling them), ‘sign the new contract because if you don’t, I will nationalize, take over the operations and I’ll send you to jail.’ I have two years to do that and I can do it," he added.

Duterte's tirades against the two water firms started when the Permanent Court of Arbitration in Singapore, in its separate rulings, ordered the Philippine government to pay PHP3.4 billion and PHP7.39 billion to Maynilad and Manila Water, respectively.

The Singapore court made the ruling following the losses the two water firms allegedly suffered due to non-implementation of increases in water rates.

The President insisted that the existing deals with Manila Water and Maynilad that contain "onerous" provisions are "null and void" from the very start.

He also maintained that the present water contracts violate Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Practices Act.

"But having been a prosecutor for so many years, my instinct really was, you know, to me and to the lawyers here, if you read the contract, you just use your two eyes, you will notice that right at the beginning it is already null and void. Iyon ang mahirap (That's the problem). And if I go against one, I will go against all," Duterte said.

"It was really at that time a conspiracy to defraud government. You'll see, if you place the two documents: Republic Act 3019, that’s the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices and you place them face-to-face with the contract of the consumers, distributors, you would notice that all of the prohibited transactions in the Anti-Graft Law are really in the document itself," he added.

In a chance interview on the sidelines of the mass oath-taking of presidential appointees, Panelo said the new water deal is still being "fixed" because there are "mechanics" that still need to be settled.

"'Yung mechanics noon, kailangan pa nilang mag-konsulta sa development bank, 'yung mga expert doon sa financing. May mga financing aspects 'yun eh. Hindi ganoon kasimple 'yun (We have to consult the development bank, the financing experts with regard to the mechanics. There are financing aspects there. It's not that simple)," he said.

No assurance to drop raps vs. water firms

Earlier, the President also ordered the filing of appropriate criminal, civil, and administrative charges against the owners and legal counsels of Manila Water and Maynilad, as well as the agents and lawyers of the governments involved in the crafting of the water concession deals.

Duterte, in his latest speech, said he could not guarantee that his plan to file cases against the two water firms and other responsible individuals would be dropped.

"If you sign the contract sans the onerous provisions, but I do not give you a guarantee that no charges will be filed. For all that I can really say about this, I am not the only Filipino who is interested in the prosecution of crimes," he said.

"That contract was never shown to the public. It was kept out, and suddenly we have a liability. You rob as blind in front," he added.

On Dec. 12, 2019, Duterte threatened to order a military takeover of the operations of the two water concessionaires, in case the government fails to make amends with Manila Water and Maynilad. (PNA)