MORE HOLES AND RAGGED EDGES IN THE AMERICAN ALLIANCE SYSTEMSeptember 22, 2016
Last week I blogged about the new Philippine President Duterte, and the growing estrangement of that long-time US ally/puppet in the Pacific. Others have noticed this as well, most notably Russia, as this article shared by Mr. B. outlines:
I noted in my previous blog that Mr. Duterte was a less "nervous" view of China than does his "big ally across the pond," though the Philippines have certainly opposed Chinese claims in the South China Sea. I also pointed out, however, that the Philippine president has also aired some strong displeasure about America and its current leadership. The bottom line for the Philippines, as with other US allies, is that the "big stick unipolarism" isn't working; in fact, it's driving allies away from the USSA. Consider only the Obama Administration's attempt to influence the outcome of the BREXIT referendum in the United Kingdom with the statement that if BREXIT happened, the UK would go to the "back of the queue in trade relations with the USA, a blatant threat to a long time ally, and one moreover, with which the US shares a language, culture, and from which it receives its core institutions and conceptions of law.
The BREXIT happened anyway. The message? We didn't bow to Berlin before, won't now, and won't bow to Washington either. (Although the bowing to Mecca appears to be proceeding apace, unfortunately.)
And now Manila appears to have had it too. The question is, what, really, is going on?
Here's a suggestion, from the article:
Jaime S. Bautista, former ambassador to Russia and professor of international law at the Philippine Christian University and Ateneo de Manila Law School, believes the Russian and Filipino leaders have a lot in common.
Putin, Bautista writes, is the tough leader who is able to hold immense Russia together and overcome the nation’s enormous challenges. “In our recent elections, Filipinos elected Duterte to the highest position in the country, seeing in him a macho, decisive, and a man of action who could impose law and order throughout our archipelago, and build an inclusive economy.”
He adds: “Based on my diplomatic experience I can appreciate that Russia, as a Pacific power with its own pivot to Asia, can influence events to preserve the peace and prosperity of our Pacific region.”
And this crucial insight from the Philippine Ambassador to Russia, Carlos Sorreta:
Philippine Ambassador to Russia Carlos D. Sorreta, who was the Director of the Philippine Foreign Service Institute, agrees. “Both Russia and China want a stable Central and East Asia,” he wrote in a discussion paper titled Security Developments in the Asia Pacific: Philippine and Russian Perspectives. “They want their 4209 km border secure. China has replaced Germany as Russia’s largest trading partner. Russia is selling arms once again to China. China’s moneyed investors have been looking at Russia.
“We believe that all this would not necessarily translate to Russian support for China’s efforts to claim the South China Sea. China clearly wants to be the dominant power in the region, something that could jeopardize Russia’s efforts to engage the region and develop its Far East area.
“The Russian International Affairs Council believes that Russia should implement flexible geo-political maneuvering in its relations with China. This would necessitate a careful balancing at that requires Russia to maintain good relations with China while deepening ties with countries in the region that may have issues with China.
“I believe this is a good strategy and one that that the Philippines could support. It is a strategy that would require Russia not to take sides on who owns what, but would allow it to support actions that are based on the principles of international law and that reduce tensions.”
The Philippine government of Mr. Duterte has read the geopolitical cards correctly, for this is indeed the pattern we've seen emerging in Russia's geopolitics in the Far East. I've been arguing that with the heavy Chinese investment in Russian energy and infrastructure development in sparsely-populatied Siberia, that the Russian response to this, in order to check undue Chinese influence in the region, would be to develop much closer ties with other nations able to counterbalance that influence by their own geopolitical, economic, and potential military weight. And that obviously means Japan. But it includes strengthening ties with India, and with the strategically located Philippines as well.
From the Philippine point of view, however, there is another reason that this foreign policy will not disappear, whatever Washington's reaction to Mr. Duterte's government might be, for the geopolitical reality is that the Pacific is turning not into an American lake, but rather, that the region is emerging as the first "multi-polar" part of the world, in spite of the best efforts of the USA to prevent that. This multi-polarity is not only evidenced by China's growing power, but by Japanese rearmament, and by the careful balance of power multipolar type of diplomacy that Russia has been pursuing. If anything, the Pacific is turning into a quarto-polar region, dominated by the intermeshed interests of the Pacific Powers: Russia, Japan, China, the USA, with India always hovering close by to provide a "deciding vote" as a fifth power on the edge of the region.
Like Japan, in other words, the Philippines is confronting the fact that the American empire, in the long term, is, if not in decline, then at least not the trusted ally it once was.
And the USA has only the post-9/11 "unipolarity" and bullying trade deals and foreign policy - and Zbgnw Brzznsk - to blame.
See you on the flip side...