Marcos’ belligerent stance vs China is idiotic and will lead to our ruin

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I DON’T mince words on this issue anymore since President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is being goaded by the US to provoke China to a violent skirmish, which would lead to our total loss of even the nine islands and reefs we have occupied since the 1970s, and, more importantly, to our utter economic ruin.

First, a weak country can never win in a fight against a bigger nation, especially against a superpower whose military is the second mightiest in the world. That is not a defeatist stance but geopolitical realism or simple acceptance of reality.

I had goosebumps when, in an interview in Australia, Marcos said he was “standing up to China is a David and Goliath situation. And then he added with a boastful smile, “And of course, you know David won.” That statement is shocking, with our president basing his belligerent stance against China that could get Filipinos killed on a fairy tale.

Since ancient times, except in the case of Alexander the Great’s army that defeated the Persians, no weaker state has ever defeated a militarily stronger state. Coalitions of weaker states, as the Allied forces did in World War 2 against Germany and Hitler) defeat a stronger state. Asean nor any other Asian countries certainly won’t join us in a fight against China.

I was there (in vest and short pants) with foreign correspondents in 1995. A small Chinese vessel blocked the Philippine LST at Ayungin shoal, and when reports came in that PLA Navy ships were approaching, the LST turned around and sailed at its maximum allowable speed.

Breaking protocol, both Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim — both infinitely wiser than Marcos in geopolitics — cautioned our President to cool down. Anwar criticized the intense Sinophobia in the US, which the Marcos administration is also demonstrating. In a November 2023 forum, Lee said: “The Americans are Filipino allies, but are you sure you (Filipinos) want to get into a fight where you will be the battleground?” Touché.

Only claimant

Doesn’t Marcos read newspapers to realize that we are the only claimant in the South China Sea who is challenging the superpower? Not even the very nationalist Vietnam that lost 64 servicemen in a conflict with the Chinese navy in 1988 over the Spratlys has been so pugnacious toward China.

The second idiocy, is Marcos’ belief that the Filipino David can defeat the Chinese Goliath because the USA, the world’s most powerful nation, will help our country, and fight China, since it is bound to do so under the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT)

Indeed, Marcos revealed that he is getting worried over the situation he has put the country in when he said in a recent interview with an Australian broadcast journalist: “The potential for conflict is much higher today than it was before. We worry that conflict could erupt not because of some strategic decision by one country, but the result of some serviceman making a mistake or an action that is misinterpreted.” He doesn’t even realize it is he who worsened the conflict because of his bellicose stance against China.

The Philippine ambassador to the US, Jose Romualdez himself, tactlessly revealed, as reported in a column, that his cousin, the president, was getting worried over our dispute with China that he often calls him at 2 a.m. (Manila time) to ask ‘You’ve got to find out if this thing happened'” that the Philippines can invoke the MDT.

It is naïve to believe that the US, because of the MDT, will wage war against China in order to defend our claims in the South China Sea. That treaty was signed in 1952 when the US was the sole superpower, while China was still a poor country, recovering from its civil war and devastated by famine that resulted from Mao Zedong’s disastrous economic policies.

China

At that period, China would have been pulverized in days if the US had waged war against it on behalf of the Philippines or any other country. But China has grown by leaps and bounds, economically and militarily. It tested its first nuclear fission bomb in 1964, its first hydrogen bomb in 1967, and managed to install the ICBMs that could effectively deliver these weapons to the US in 1981.

It is idiotic to think that the US will risk a war with China, which has 400 nuclear warheads that could be dropped on US cities, killing millions of Americans — for the sake of a country on the other side of the globe.

It is idiotic to believe that the US will honor the MDT. The US goes to war not because of treaties but whenever it wants to, as demonstrated in its war against Afghanistan and Iraq, which was not authorized by the United Nations. One example that it ignored such treaties was its defense pact with France when it refused to help it in the Battle of Dien Bien Phu in 1954, prodding the French to give up its colony to the revolutionary Viet Minh.

It is not really the US president who orders the nation to go to war; it is its political elite, together with its military-industrial complex. And they obviously won’t go to war to protect an expendable ally. The US president would simply invoke other provisions in the MDT that prevent him from declaring war. One of these is that the attack by China, presumably, must be on “metropolitan territory,” which by definition does not refer to conflict in areas under dispute, such as the Spratlys.

Automatically

The MDT does not automatically get the US Seventh Fleet to our shores. Indeed, because of US alliances with 60 nations and groups, academics have studied in detail the real outcome of such mutual defense treaties.

An article titled ” The Myth of Entangling Alliances: Reassessing the Security Risks of US” in the foremost journal on the topic, International Security, concluded: “Great powers typically limit their alliance commitments to weaker states, fulfill them only when doing so does not threaten their vital interests, and use them to deter adversaries and allies from initiating or escalating conflicts.”

It pointed out, “The US, as a superpower with many allies, is capable of exploiting loopholes in alliance agreements, sidestepping commitments that seriously imperil US interests.” This is precisely what the case will be with the MDT.

This is not speculation; there is a precedent. President Benigno Aquino 3rd in 2012 met with President Obama in Washington and invoked the MDT during the Scarborough Shoal stand-off, telling the US president that he hoped US warships would come to the succor of Philippine vessels in case the Chinese vessels forced our ships to move out of the shoal’s lagoon.

Obama advised Aquino to keep cool. A week later, Assistant State Secretary Kurt Campbell fooled Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario into thinking that the Chinese had agreed to a simultaneous pullout from the shoal. The gullible del Rosario ordered the Philippine vessels to withdraw, only to find out that there was no such agreement, and the Chinese ships remained in the lagoon. Campbell lied. Our vessels have been barred by the Chinese from entering the shoal since then. It was a no-brainer for Obama, though, as an open conflict with China would risk his bid for reelection, which is scheduled for the coming November.

Scenario

Consider this scenario: If China sinks our Navy or Philippine Coast Guard vessels attempting attempt to supply construction materials for the Marine platoon there to repair the BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal, do you think the US Navy will immediately attack Chinese vessels, which would risk a nuclear war with its No. 1 trading partner and second biggest holder of US treasury bills?

To be quite frank, I am getting worried. Just as Marcos’ coast guard recklessly continues to provoke China, just as Congress is set to formally declare through a law (the Maritime Zones Bill) that it has sovereign rights over areas China and Vietnam claims as their territory, just as the Ukraine war and the Israeli genocide of Palestinians in Gaza rages on, US elections are just six months away.

China may exploit the situation and just resolve this issue, which the US has used to blacken its reputation with its formidable media machine and use not just water or bullets to assert its sovereignty in the Ayungin Shoal and tow away or sink the BRP Sierra Madre.

The likely response of the US would not be a military one. It would instead invoke the MDT’s Article IV: “Any such armed attack and all measures taken as a result thereof shall be immediately reported to the Security Council of the United Nations. Such measures shall be terminated when the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to restore and maintain international peace and security.” And who are the anti-US permanent members of the Security Council, each of which has veto power over any of the Council’s decisions? China and Russia.

Chaotic

What do you think China will be doing during this chaotic period? It would deploy the PLA Navy warships at Scarborough Shoal, maybe even take over our biggest island, Pag-asa, on the grounds that the Philippines challenged its sovereignty in the Spratlys and, therefore, it is necessary for it to defend its territory. US President Biden would find an excuse not to intervene, what with his bid for reelection just eight months away. His generals would advise him the military cannot deal with another problem, what with Ukraine falling to the Russians and the Israelis refusing to stop the genocide of Palestinians.

And when photos of dozens of coffins of Filipino servicemen killed in the skirmish in Ayungin Shoal, of PLA navy vessels stationed at Scarborough Shoal splashed in newspaper front pages, with articles explaining why the US did not come to our aid, as Marcos claimed it would, wouldn’t you think the Filipino elite with a gang of idealistic colonels, will blame the president take advantage of the popular outrage to try to oust him as they did in 1986?

It is idiotic to go to war with a superpower, which we are headed toward, if Marcos doesn’t change his foreign policy toward China. Vietnam has been a militant claimant in the South China disputes. But because of its non-belligerent stance toward China, there has been a massive inflow of Chinese direct investments, making it the third biggest recipient of $1.7 billion in 2022. We got only 15 percent of that, with $270 million, ahead only of war-devasted Laos.

Our trade with China accounts for about 20 percent of the total, while China’s trade with us is just about 3 percent. That means China can stop all trade with us, and the Chinese will hardly feel it, especially the dried mangoes. For us, though, it would be a catastrophe. Marcos should realize that he is bringing himself and the country to ruin, which would happen if he continued his idiotic foreign policy.

And all this crisis is for what? To assert our sovereignty over Ayungin Shoal, which we lost 28 years ago in 1996 when Philippine navy ships turned tail after flying over journalists over Mischief Reef and were blocked by Chinese vessels?


Facebook: Rigoberto Tiglao

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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Dorina S. Rojas

    Does PBBM and his blind followers even know or care about what is correct or incorrect as long as it will make them rich and powerful? I am beginning to believe that the son is not only mediocre in intelligence but also less of a human leader than the father. Budol is real and we are learning our lesson the very hard way.

  2. Christian Fragstein

    To the trade with PR China add another 12,5 % with Hongkong, which surely will be disturbed in case of military conflict. One third of PH exports will be dead. How can a government ignore such facts?

  3. Gagong_tambaloslos

    good insights. if either party doesn’t want to talk or compromise then just let the fighting begin and see what happens.

  4. TOTAL AMBOY DEATH

    Honestly, China should just hurry up. The sooner this ends, the sooner can we Filipinos rebuild – and more importantly, take a good long, hard look at ourselves as a people.

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