REMEMBER George W. Bush’s hysterical claim in 2003 that Iraq had horrible “weapons of mass destruction” – WMDs, deadly chemical and biological weapons that could kill millions – which the US and its allies used as an excuse to invade Iraq?
That was one of the most terrible crimes against humanity in our generation. It killed a million Iraqis and triggered the civil wars chaos that continues to this day in that country, in Afghanistan, in Syria, in Yemen and in Libya.
Remember that even the supposedly best newspapers in the world swallowed hook, line and sinker that claim, probably the worst hoaxes ever foisted on humanity in the 21st century? That the New York Times, which a few of my colleagues think is the modern bible, profusely apologized that they were hoodwinked by Bush over WMD, that their coverage was so totally wrong? That an American Pulitzer Prize winner was found to have fabricated her articles on the WMD?
Reading US State Secretary Anthony Blinken’s statement yesterday – as his predecessor last year did – praising the 2016 arbitration “against China,” and making the totally unfounded claim that “China continues to coerce and intimidate Southeast Asian coastal states,” and how, except for a few, the political elite and media are praising it and still can’t see it as a sham, I can only conclude the following:
As Bush’s WMD claims were fabrications to demonize Iraq and then invade it, the current lies over the arbitral award have been adopted by US strategists as the key US black propaganda to demonize China.
The supposed Tiananmen massacre, the suppression of anti-Beijing movements in Hong Kong, the alleged genocide of the Uighurs – all these the US has been disseminating, most of the world, and especially Asia, have ignored. In contrast, the arbitration line has had some traction.
The US has been intent on making the arbitration’s conclusion, as it was supposedly made by an international body, as its main thrust to portray China as being out to turn the South China Sea into a Chinese lake, thereby pushing Southeast Asian countries to seek protection under American military might.
This is because the US is terribly worried over China. In the past two decades, China has developed so rapidly, economically and militarily- and even socially as 800 million of its people have come out of poverty, according to the World Bank – that there is no doubt that it will soon be, or already is, a superpower at par with the US. Being in Asia, it is a given that it will be the hegemonic power in the region, eclipsing the US that has been its lord and master since after World War 2.
As the US used its WMD lie to demonize Iraq, which was fast rising as the anti-US leader in that part of the world, it is using this arbitration outcome to demonize China.
Because the US has been the most powerful nation since World War 2, American narratives still dominate how the “free world” looks at what’s happening on the planet, which is embraced uncritically by our elite. If Washington, D.C., the New York Times, and the Washington Post say so, then it must be so.
This explains why even as cold facts are presented, even otherwise intelligent people like the Harvard-educated Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. and the former Washington, D. C. military attaché Delfin Lorenzana, can’t see through this arbitral deception. A few examples:
– Lorenzana insists that the arbitration upheld our sovereignty over the Spratlys and ruled that those Chinese claims are without basis. The bare truth: It ruled only that the Philippines exclusive economic zone (EEZs)) covers certain features in the Spratlys (our Kalayaan Island Group, including the purportedly natural-gas rich Reed Bank). However, it was totally silent on China’s and Vietnam’s claims that the entire Spratlys is their sovereign territory. But the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) was specifically intended to provide guidelines that would facilitate countries’ voluntary agreement on how overlapping EEZs or overlapping territorial waters and an EEZ will be settled.
– The ignorant Yellow senators like Ana Theresia “Risa” Hontiveros and Francisco Pangilinan claim that if Duterte implements the arbitration award, the Spratlys will be ours. The truth is that not only China, but Vietnam also claims it. Even if one assumes the arbitration ordered China to vacate the Spratlys, we still have to contend with Vietnam, Taiwan, and even Malaysia. We treated Vietnam by spending P1 billion for the arbitration which in effect portrayed Vietnam as the more legitimate claimant.
– Locsin claims that the arbitration invalidated the nine-dash line, and therefore China has no basis to claim the Spratlys and other areas that line encompasses. This is false: China’s claims on the Spratlys, Paracels, Pratas and Macclesfield are totally based on other things, such as its declaration of sovereignty before and after the war. Even foremost Sinophobe Antonio Carpio has explained this in his column but dismisses it as without basis. On the basis of what power can he declare so, he didn’t explain.
– Locsin dramatically says the arbitration is part of international law, a “North Star” that will be guiding how nations will undertake relations with each other. That’s total, unadulterated cow dung. How can an arbitration, with one country even refusing to participate in it, be a precedent for international jurisprudence, especially as many of its rulings contradict international practice, as its conclusion that small islands can’t have an EEZ? Japan’s Okinotorishima, among many examples, is the size of a bedroom, but Japan fiercely defends its EEZ?
Why have I been writing so many columns on the arbitration? One reason is that after studying it for eight years, reading the voluminous tribunal documents, it is incontrovertible to me that it is the biggest sham ever foisted on the nation. I have to write on it, as only a few of us seem to be able to see through this arbitration deception.
It is despicable that while pretending to be flag-waving patriots, Aquino’s gang undertook it in order to pressure China to allow an ambitious gas-extraction project by an oligarchic triad led by First Pacific, which is mostly owned by an Indonesian.
This oligarchic project is being unraveled by Solicitor General Florin Hilbay’s exposés: That Albert del Rosario, Carpio and Aquino’s US lawyers from the start wanted a joint exploration with China as a compromise agreement. That was the arbitration’s real intent.
In our 75 years as an independent nation, we never had an antagonistic stance against any country, even with Malaysia when it was funding and providing refuge to Muslim separatist rebels. China during the Aquino 3rd regime is the first country we’ve ever had an openly hostile stand against. Fine choice, it is the superpower in our neighborhood, and we were just fooled by the US to take such a belligerent foreign policy.
If Duterte had not reversed the insane foreign policy of his predecessor, we would have been cut off from the economic activities of a superpower which with the pandemic would have resulted in our economic meltdown.
The US piggybacked on the oligarchs’ contemptible stratagem since it would demonize China as not complying with the international rule of law.
On a practical basis, we need to move on, and stop all this unproductive obsession with the arbitration ruling. All the natural gas in the Reed Bank (believed to be more than those in Malampaya) will be left untapped, if we don’t agree on a joint development of it with China and Vietnam. China isn’t desperate for it, as most of its gas and oil deposits are in the northernmost Xinjiang region and offshore in their territorial waters. Vietnam won’t dare to extract gas there, as China will certainly drive them off. Do we prefer a 100 percent of nothing or one-third of something?
With all our bluster over defending the “West Philippine Sea,” we’re the most pathetic claimant. China’s response to the Philippine suit was to spend $100 billion to transform its seven claimed reefs in the Spratlys into artificial islands with all the necessary facilities to make these into military camps and to house over 3,000 troops. Vietnam has 2,000 soldiers on the 29 features it has occupied.
We have 72 soldiers on the seven islands we occupy and on a rusty World War 2 grounded vessel with even the barracks there leaking whenever it rains.
Yet senators like Panfilo Lacson prefer to spend P15 billion for the construction of a new building for the Senate in Bonifacio Global City.
Years from now, we will be thankful, and astonished, at how a provincial mayor who became president saw through a deception most of our political and intellectual elite couldn’t.