At long last, independence from the Eagle’s claws

I NEVER thought I would see it in my lifetime.

At long last we have a president that in more ways than one declared our independence from the United States. The American Eagle has dominated our foreign policy, much of our economy, our worldview and of course, our culture ever since they colonized us at the turn of the century.

He may or may not succeed in terminating the Visiting Forces Agreement with the US and the more crucial Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement. His advisers may even succeed in convincing him that it may not be timely to cross the US at this time. It will certainly be at some economic and national security cost, we have to admit.

We also cannot after all underestimate the Americans’ ruthlessness — despite all their lip service to peace and the rule of law — in getting back at nations and world leaders they have concluded is their enemy.

They even invaded Iraq, killed its president and created the chaos in the Middle East that has killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, falsely claiming that Saddam Hussein had coddled Osama bin Laden and helped him in the 9/11 attack. And the US got to fool the world at the time, claiming that the invasion was necessary to save the world since Saddam had “weapons of mass destruction” — an allegation totally proven as a lie today.

The likes of US citizen Maria Ressa, Rappler, the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism and Vera Files will undoubtedly get a boost in their finances from CIA-linked entities like the National Endowment for Democracy to intensify their anti-Duterte attacks. We cannot discount the possibility that the recent targets of Duterte’s wrath — the Ayalas and the Salim (Manny V. Pangilinan) conglomerate — will decide to go all out against President Rodrigo Duterte to take him out. After all, their conglomerates are under threat and the US is a powerful ally.

Whatever the outcome, Duterte’s declaration of independence — which are practically what his pronouncements to end the military agreements and even to ban his Cabinet from visiting America mean — is nothing but historic.

He is the first-ever Philippine president to openly attempt to drag us from our servility to, and even fear of, the US.

Pronouncements
Most of our elite are still servile to the US: Witness the knee-jerk reaction of billionaire executives (and our former ambassadors to Washington) Albert del Rosario and Jose Cuisia against Duterte’s independence pronouncements.

Cuisia even showed how much of a US lackey he is when he claimed that Duterte’s move would only benefit China — which happens to be America’s biggest rival now as a superpower. But of course Cuisia, even when he was ambassador to the US, was chairman of the distributor of Chevrolet cars in the Philippines and for most of his working life was with the biggest, US-owned insurance firm in the country, Philamlife. He is the epitome of the elite that is so intractably linked to US business.

We have an elite and a middle-class so smitten with the US that we have glossed over the fact that while the American occupiers of Japan and Germany — their enemies in World War 2 — poured billions of dollars and trade, and undertook drastic economic reforms, for these two countries’ reconstruction that they became industrial powers in two decades’ time, they merely continued their pre-war policy of extracting gold, lumber, cheap sugar and coconut oil here, locking in the structures of our underdevelopment that persist to this day.

Military bases
The US also simply viewed our country as a location for their two biggest military bases so that they supported one corrupt president after another as long they didn’t rock the boat of US military presence.

Read the files on the Philippines leaked by WikiLeaks, or the 2017 University of California PhD dissertation of Joseph Scalice and you’ll be shocked at how purported “nationalists” and “principled” political leaders all sought audiences with the US embassies’ “political attaches” in crucial times — to tell the Americans they should be in their list of “leaders-to-be-supported” by the US government.

I myself was a witness to two cases when the US intervened with our sovereignty to pursue their own interests.

First, contrary to common knowledge, nobody really wanted the Anti-Money Laundering Law, passed in 2001. Not the elite nor the congressman who have millions of dollars hidden somewhere. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s astute advisers pointed out that it could be used as a weapon by an unscrupulous regime against its enemies — as indeed it was by President Benigno Aquino 3rd to take out, through its propaganda impact, Chief Justice Renato Corona.

Arroyo herself didn’t want it, and there were intense debates among this inner group at that time. But in one of these meetings for this debate, an aide handed her her cellphone, she went out of the room, returned and said: “The Americans want this bill badly. That was [US President] Bush who called.”

Twin Towers
Our anti-money laundering bill, and similar bills around the world at the time, was being aggressively pushed by the US as part of their reaction to the 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers in New York. The Americans saw anti-money laundering bills as a way of cutting off finances for terrorists, especially the al-Qaeda.

The second instance of American interference was when it forced us to join what they ironically called the “Coalition of the Willing,” their cover that the world supported their invasion of Iraq. In reality the “Coalition” consisted of only three military forces, the US and its dummies, the United Kingdom and Australia, with others, mostly the independent Eastern European nations that had been begging the US for aid after they left the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, sending non-combat forces like medical teams.

Again, there were intense debates in a small cluster of Arroyo’s Cabinet over whether to join the Americans or not, and I’m proud to say I was the most vociferous in pointing out that the US had not produced an iota of evidence proving that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

The debates continued past dinner time and in one of the breaks, a senior foreign affairs official took me aside and said: “Sorry, Sec[retary] Bobi, but the decision has been made. This is all for show. Let’s go home.”

Thanks to the US, we participated in one of the most immoral and illegal, as well as bloodiest, invasions of a sovereign country in history, one that devastated an ancient civilization, and killed 600,000 people, mostly Iraqi civilians. Perhaps worse, the invasion created so much chaos in Iraq and its neighboring countries, since the fall of the old totalitarian regime unleashed ethnic animosities that appear to get worse each year. It triggered so much hatred against the US and the West, which would have delighted Osama bin Laden.

Interventions
Many don’t even recognize, or refuse to recognize, the most recent US interventions in our affairs, which, if not for Duterte, would have been economically disastrous for us.

I’m referring to the American machinations that led to the Scarborough stand-off and then to the Aquino government’s filing of an arbitration suit against China in 2013. The US has no business at all in the South China Sea, yet it has become crucial for it to maintain its hegemony in Asia.

As I have shown — and proven — in detail in so many columns (as well as in my book Debunked), the US used us as a proxy in their conflict with China, brilliantly maneuvering to trigger the Scarborough Shoal stand-off, then fooling Aquino and his foreign affairs secretary del Rosario to order our vessels out of the area, which effectively gave up to the Chinese our sovereignty there.

The arbitration suit was such a patent cover-up for Aquino and del Rosario’s bungling. But more importantly, it gave the US a huge propaganda weapon to portray China as an expansionist in the South China Sea and as a rogue country that refuses to comply with the international rule of law.

If Duterte had been as noisy as Aquino over this arbitration decision, we would have made China — the superpower in our area of the world — our enemy, the only country to do so. Can you imagine the implications of that foreign-policy stance?

Arbitration
The irony is that, again, as I have written in so many columns, we got really nothing from the arbitration ruling. The ruling even recognized that China has a claim to Scarborough Shoal that of course competes with our claim, but over which the arbitral panel had no jurisdiction to rule on.

The ruling even demoted the status of our islands in the South China Sea, among them Pag-asa Island, which is the second biggest island there, as a mere “rock,” which therefore is not entitled to an exclusive economic zone.

What we got is the reincarnation of the old US bases military agreement, now called the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement which Aquino agreed to in 2014. The pact really involves the new worldwide US strategy of having facilities in remote outposts, where it could store “forward” its war materiel, and use anytime it is at war. A cheaper version of huge sanding American military bases.

Aquino begged the US to intervene in the 2012 Scarborough stand-off with the Chinese. US President Obama in effect replied: “We can’t, as this would risk war with them. But it would be a strong message to the Chinese, discourage their aggression, if we had a new form of military bases in your country.”

“Yes, sir, that’s a good idea,” Aquino and del Rosario in effect told Obama.

That’s how bad our servility to the US has been.

 


 

Email: tiglao.manilatimes@gmail.com
Facebook: Rigoberto Tiglao
Twitter: @bobitiglao
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Filed under: Manila Times Columns

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