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The Philippine diplomatic strategy with China: From dumb to dumber

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As soon as I get optimistic that Philippine politicians and strategists can not be any more stupid, they prove me wrong! They are idiotically provoking China into a full-scale conflict – a conflict that we can only walk away from with a bloody nose – at best!

First, the Philippine Navy dismantled structures that the Chinese have built – legally or illegally. Now, the PHI government is giving contracts to explore oil at the disputed sites. If this isn’t “stirring a hornets nest”, I do not know what it is.

The Philippines had decades of opportunity to explore for oil in the Spratlys – decades when a strong American military presence and support were not only available, but permanently stationed there. But, never did it. Pres. Marcos was smart enough in the 1970s to recognize the Americans’ clout and made bold public and official pronouncements of ownership of the Spratlys. But, did we explore for oil? Nah. At least, not as aggressively as they want to do now.

Marcos was removed from power in 1986. Cory Aquino had 6 long years to drill and develop the Spratlys while the American military muscle was sitting idly by at Clark and Subic – military power she herself used to her decisive advantage to repel an attempted coup d’etat. Did they drill?

No. Instead, 21 senators, led by then-Senator, and later disgraced Ex-President, Erap Estrada, kicked out the US bases – the only semblance of security in the Philippines. And, now, Pres. Aquino 2's administration chooses to butt heads with the (obviously awakened) “Sleeping Giant”? Now? – during this ‘perfect storm’ of a) China’s military superiority, b) absence of US military presence in the PHI, c) indifference of the US towards the PHI, d) the US being beholden to China because of American investments, and e) the comedic, if not disastrous, level of Philippine defence readiness?

Are you kidding me? Who is the genius advising Pres. Aquino 2? Lindsay Lohan? Congressman Weiner? The Three Stooges? Dumb and Dumber?

These actions could not be any stupider, if they tried. Agitating China now with these actions – dismantling their “illegal” structures, and encouraging oil prospecting – are very provocative diplomatically and can very easily ignite a full-blown military bar-brawl with China. A very powerful China!

Theodore Roosevelt, in 1900, warned, “Speak softly but carry a big stick”. The PHI government is doing the exact opposite – it is “talking trash while armed only a twig”. The Philippines needs to defuse the situation with China immediately while quietly working feverishly to bring massive amounts of US military materiel assets (ie, fighter planes, bombers, frigates, aircraft carriers, submarines, etc,…) and personnel based in the country. It is called ‘military build up’ – what Desert Shield was. Buying, or talking about buying, six brand new marginally- adequate planes is not Operation Desert Shield.
It took half a year even for the greatly mobile US military and the Coalition to transport and situate state-of-the-art assets in the area of conflict (AOC) before ‘pulling the trigger’ (Desert Storm). Meanwhile, the US Secretary of State was “talking softly” with Saddam Hussein, “giving (him) a chance to withdraw from Kuwait”.

The US did not ‘talk trash’ to Saddam BEFORE assembling the mightiest army at one concentration in history. It patiently waited for 6 months ( Aug 1990 to Feb 1991) until every tank, Hummvee, missile launcher, personnel carrier, battleship, combat control center, sniper, etc. was in place. But once all the overwhelming firepower was “locked, cocked, and ready to rock”, the American Coalition took only 100 hours to shove Saddam out of Kuwait and hightail it back to Baghdad in 1991.

That – is strategy!

Had Saddam attacked the fledgling token US “defense force” in Saudi Arabia before the Desert Shield build-up, military strategists are unanimous that Saddam Hussein – whose Iraqi military had been supplied with modern US military hardware by America itself when it was an ally – would have had a very good chance of wiping them out.

Saddam made the mistake of waiting for the US to be combat-ready in-country to defend its ally. We can only hope China makes the same mistake now.

By Ariel Gener




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