Saturday, 05 May 2012 11:50
Clintons to Aquinos: “Mutual in Mutual Defense Treaty means BOTH ways, not just one-way.”
Well, they did NOT say that. But they might as well have.
State Secretary Hillary Clinton told the Philippines the US is taking a “neutral” position on the current China / Philippines head butting contest but “will sell the Philippines arms to upgrade its defense capabilities”. In diplomat-speak, that means, “Here’s a paddle. Start paddling, buddy. Stop bothering me”.
I hope Defense Sec. Gazmin and Foreign Affairs Sec. Del Rosario got to visit their relatives in America and got to buy plenty of Chinese-made Nikes because those are the only things they will get out of Washington these days. The Philippines is like the Octomom – its relevance and market value to America just isn’t worth as much as it used to be anymore. Gazmin and Del Rosario did not have a “Chinaman’s chance” (pun intended) of getting Pres. Obama to commit sending the mighty US 7th Fleet steaming into the South China Sea (or West Philippine Sea, or Southwest Caloocan Ocean, or Northwest Charice Pempengco Beach, or whatever silly, presumably patriotic name they are calling it this week).
*We had the snub coming
No one should be shocked at being snubbed by Obama. Apart from him being busy trying desperately to keep his job, his rejection of Pres. Benigno “Pnoy” Aquino III’s 9-1-1 call had been forthcoming for the past 20 years.
When the Philippine Senate voted in September 1991 to eject Clark Air Base and Subic Naval Base, they practically put up a giant sign with klieg lights proclaiming to the world, “Welcome to the Philippines. We are rich in natural resources. Our people are educated, skilled, hard-working and are English speakers. We are strategically located as the Gateway to Asia. And oh, by the way, we just kicked out the powerful American military – the only ones with enough fire power and juevos to DEFEND us. Well, we HAVE juevos – but you may as well fry them for ‘tapsilog’ as our enemies will eat us for breakfast since we are totally WEAPONLESS now. Helpless as naked toddlers, really. So, please, have your military do target practice on our hapless, token, paddle boat- equipped Navy and the museum-vintage, propeller-driven bi-planes of our Air Force. Come and enjoy our beaches – after you invade us, of course! – Dept of Tourism”
What surprises me more is that it took 20 years for anyone to even hassle the Philippines. We basically have had our pants around our ankles since November 1992 when the last American forces left! Don’t get me wrong. It gives me no pleasure pondering the prospect of the BRP (Burp? As in sinking?) Gregorio del Pilar being pulverized into fish food by powerful Chinese warships, much like the HMS Thunderchild was melted into worthless goop by the heat-rays of Martian fighting machines in HG Welles’s War of the Worlds. (No. Not the Tom Cruise movie. That was pure rubbish. The classic 1898 novel).
And the fact that the Philippines even wasted money sending people to beg the White House for support – was mind-boggling. WHY? America had been waiting all this time for PHI to realize the folly of its ways since 1991. I saw this a long time coming, myself. So, at the risk of sounding arrogant saying I told you so, I TOLD YOU SO!
*Reasons why America will NOT help the Philippines
First, in the interest of complete disclosure, I clarify that I personally like the Aquinos. I supported Ninoy when he was in stockade during Martial Law, campaigned for Cory before it was fashionable, think Pnoy is one of the most decent Philippine Presidents, and even had a big crush on Kris (Okay. That was too much information. Sorry). But one only needs to look at events from the point of view of US administrations – both Democratic and Republican – to understand the recent ‘diplomatic GTFO’ Hillary just gave Del Rosario and Gazmin.
America had always come to the rescue of the Philippines in recent history. Yet, the Philippines had often betrayed Uncle Sam. And now it is time for Manila to ‘pay the piper’.
*When Mutual Defense is not mutual for the Aquinos, Arroyo
So, for those with early-onset “Political Alzheimers”, or those too young to know, allow me:
1980 - Marcos had already imprisoned Ninoy Aquino for seven years. Pres. Carter lobbied the then-dictator to permit Ninoy medical treatment in America with his family. Aquino was not only treated but, in exile, was able to organize the Philippine Opposition from Boston for the next three years, protected by America from Marcos’s reach.
1986 – Defense Sec. Juan Ponce Enrile and Lt. Col. Gregorio Honasan plotted against Marcos. This, coupled with Ninoy’s assassination in 1983, ignited the People Power revolution. Marcos was in a quandary, remain in power “by all costs”, or relinquish grip quietly without bloodshed? Again, the US – through Pres. Reagan, this time – helped Enrile, Honasan, the Aquinos and averted the potential slaughter of many Filipino lives by pressuring Marcos into exile in Hawaii. This allowed for Cory Aquino to become President.
1989 - Now-Col. Honasan led 3,000 mutineers, including elite Philippine Scout Rangers and Marines, in a coup attempt against Pres. Cory. Rebel vintage T-28 trainer planes dive-bombed Camps Crame and Aguinaldo, Villamor Air Base, Fort Bonifacio, etc and Malacanang. Shaken but unhurt, Cory fired an S.O.S. Pres. George HW Bush (41), through advice of Defense Sec. Dick Cheney, immediately dispatched two Carrier Strike Groups from the fearsome US 7th Fleet (Pacific) to the Philippines. The armada consisted of two nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, 4 Guided Missile Cruisers, 4 Anti-Aircraft warships, 4 submarine destroyers (or Frigates), supply ships, cruisers and others for a total of close to 40 warships, more than 150 fighter bomber jets, radar jammers, reconnaissance planes, AWACS, and helicopter attack and gunships, and a classified number of nuclear-powered Ballistic and conventional “fast attack” submarines.
The legendary USS Enterprise launched Operation Classic Resolve, in conjunction with the USAF’s Vietnam War-hardened 5th Tactical Fighter Wing already stationed at Clark Air Base in Angeles, Pampanga – Pres. Cory’s hometown. On Dec 1, 1989, US F-4 Phantom fighter-bombers from Clark buzzed PAF rebel planes with orders to shoot them down if they engage. Quickly, the rebellion was suppressed and security restored. F-14 Tomcat and F/A-18 Hornet fighter-bombers from the carriers off Manila Bay – together with 100 combat-ready US Marines on the ground – continued to protect the US Embassy, Malacanang, and vital power and water installations around the country from further dive-bombing by the insurgents.
1991 - For 14 gruelling months, the US and the Philippines were in heated deadlock regarding the future of Subic, the largest US naval base, and Clark, the largest Air Force base outside the mainland. The Communists and a handful of Philippine senators wanted the bases out. The US wanted to stay to keep protecting the Philippines and US interests. This time, the US asked support from Cory, politely reminding her of past US diplomatic goodwill towards the Philippines, in general, and her family, in particular, such as: Carter granting them exile from Marcos in Boston; Reagan pressuring Marcos out (allowing her to become president); and the elder Bush saving her presidency and possibly her’s and her family’s lives with overwhelming and expedient US military firepower from Clark, Subic and the Pacific Fleet.
Sadly, despite these – including numerous disaster rescue assistance and other past favors from Uncle Sugar, and her campaigning for the bases, she still let America down – the bases were ejected during her watch.
More embarrassing is that one of the senators who closed Clark and Subic is Cory’s brother-in-law – Sen. Agapito “Butz” Aquino – Ninoy’s brother and Pres. Benigno “Pnoy” Aquino III’s uncle! What gratitude!
2004 – Pres. George W. Bush (43) assembled a Coalition of the Willing for Operation Iraqi Freedom (2003-2011). Bush was initially fond of Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who is a child of a former president, just like Dubya. However, despite repeated requests from Washington to keep a Philippine presence in Baghdad as a symbol of solidarity with America, Arroyo caved to local leftist pressure and withdrew the 51-man Philippine Contingent – a move that greatly disappointed the younger Bush. To add insult to injury, this snub of America by GMA was publicly and loudly celebrated by detained former President Joseph Estrada who – as a senator in 1991 – went against Dubya’s father by ejecting the bases, then – as President in 2000 – unabashedly begged Pres. Clinton for economic assistance, like nothing happened.
*Payback’s a (rhymes with itch)
2012 - Well, fast forward to today. The world has come full-circle. The current US Secretary of State – and basically, in-charge of international rescue operations – is now Hillary Clinton, and the President of the Philippines is now “Pnoy” Aquino, Cory’s son. Hillary must have recalled that it was just before her husband Bill’s first term as President that the Philippines arrogantly told America, “Take your military (Clark and Subic) and shove it”.
The Philippines may have the Mutual Defense Treaty in hand. But US administrations – Republican or Democratic – do not easily forgive – nor forget– supposed allies that betray them. So, today – specially with China being America’s foremost business partner – it is laughable for the Philippines to expect the White House to even lift a finger in the Scarborough affair. America could not count on PHI, so – as Hillary probably sees it – Manila can just “talk to the proverbial hand”.
Washington just does not give a spit anymore. You want a divorce? You want me to LEAVE? Ya got it. Don’t call me up in the middle of the night when an intruder breaks in at your apartment. You can almost hear Hillary quoting that other illustrious American diplomat, Lady Gaga, “You should have made some plans with me, you knew that I was free. And now you won’t stop calling me, I’m kinda busy. I’m kinda busy. I’m kinda busy. Stop calling, stop calling. I don’t wanna talk anymore”.
(Note: Dr. Gener served as combat medic with Navy special operations and Marine Corps units during the Mt Pinatubo volcano eruption, Operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Deny Flight and Restore Hope in Somalia. He earned his bachelor and medical degrees in the US when not writing military and political commentaries. Send your feedback to email@example.com or Philippine News. Oh, he still thinks Kris Aquino is ‘hot’).
by Dr. Ariel Gener, MD
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