Tag Archives: foreign

Unstoppable Philippine Army Juggernaut of Doooooom!

Unless you really have not been paying attention these past few weeks you will know that the dispute over the Spratley group of islands have flared up yet again. You have China, Vietnam, Taiwan, and a host of other countries including our very own Philippines are disputing the territory.

I love our response to the situation. Beef up the army! Talk tough with the Chinese then threaten them with the increased might of the glorious Philippine army! Which has, by the way, has been unable to prevent any of the insurgencies that have plagued our country. Nor have they been able to make a dent in the terrorist organizations operating in Mindanao, Even with US military aid and intelligence. I gather they will send our PT boats against that new aircraft carrier the Chinese are building.

I also have more bitter news for the Aquino government. The U.S.A will not come to our aid in a shooting war, no matter what our treaties say. I’m not even thinking about the interests of the big corporations which have a say in American politics. Of course they don’t want a war with their most profitable trading partner. These interests can be set aside for the right price. After all if America goes to war with China they probably won’t have to pay their massive debt to that country. The Americans will not fight because their people are not ready for it. There is no will for another war and rightly so. They have just begun to get out of Iraq and Afghanistan. Asking them to fight now would be like asking them to engage in another war after Vietnam.

What now then? The way I see it our country has two options. Fight the Chinese or try and make a deal and get something out of the Spratley’s to our benefit. In essence sell the Spratley’s to the Chinese. Before I detail what each option would entail I would just like to make a categorical statement. We will not be able to claim the Spratley’s ever. China is just in too strong of a position for them to lose this territorial dispute to a country which is probably not even considered a minor power.

If we still decide to fight after knowing this fact, building up our army is not the way to go about it. The gap is just too large. Even if we spent a hundred times what we have just spent to upgrade our military we would not achieve anything close to parity. Our money and effort should be spent on coalition building. Joint exercise with Taiwan, Vietnam and any other countries who are willing. Diplomatic visits and alliances with other countries bordering China. Essentially we have to make sure that if it comes to war we will not be fighting alone. Ironically when it comes to China countries like Vietnam and Taiwan with more proximity and a higher stake in the situation would actually make more stable allies than the Americans.

A better course of action would be to sell the Spratley’s to the Chinese. Of course the nay-sayers will point out that all that oil is worth more than the money we will receive but again I say that we will never be able to mine that oil. It actually has 0 value to us right now. We might as well get something out of it.

Of course it would be political suicide for any leader to actually suggest that the islands be sold. Any “sale” would have to be achieved by subtler means. There are plenty of territorial dispute cases in the International Court of Justice. The Channel Island dispute with the islands going to England for example. Our country could do everything it can to make sure that it will lose any ICJ case that China starts. In return since China can’t really pay us outright they could assume some of our national debt “in the spirit of greater cooperation and charity with its Asian neighbors”. The Filipino people always ready to believe another conspiracy theory could be told that the Chinese bought the ICJ ruling. There we go the Chinese get the islands and we get a greatly reduced debt and no one is the wiser about it.

These are really only examples of the alternative ways we can approach the problem. The main point is that our current solutions of relying on American intervention and upgrading our military will not solve our problem and will actually lead to disaster.

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America World Police

No this is not a rant about the evil American Empire. In fact I appreciate them taking the role of international police force. I get most of the benefits of their actions, a safer world, pressure on terrorists, some sort of control over the more extreme states, etc without having to pay for it.

However it does seem that one of the major factors of their country’s decline is precisely this. They just spend too much playing police. Take the war on terror for example. How much do they spent deploying their military every day? A million dollars? A billion? Those numbers may actually be too small. God forbid a tank blows up. Then you would probably double your day’s expenditure. That’s money that they could be using at home. Creating jobs, developing infrastructure, etc. No wonder China is gaining on them.

There is actually already a growing movement in their country for them to lay down the mantle of world police. You see the criticisms in their culture all the time. From movies like Team America, comments and jokes form south park and other comedians, to people simply posting on blogs on their latest blunders.

Is America to blame for this role though? And can they quit now as everyone wants them to? I would actually say that due to various external and internal factors in their history the U.S. could not help but be anything but the world’s police force. I also think giving up the mantle now would be disastrous for them. More so than the amount of money they sink for it everyday.

Externally countries who hate the States now would not stop hating them if they did not get involved. In fact they might blame them more for not helping in their problems. Even without these problems the poorer countries would still focus their hate on them for being the most prosperous country. Whether that hate is deserved or not. After all the leaders can’t very well blame themselves right?

Internally the citizens would urge their government to stop injustices around the world. After all whether America becomes the world police or not, the holocaust still happens, children still get sent to mines in Africa, the Middle eastern States still fight amongst themselves. The only difference is there would really be no one around to stop it. This is particularly true in times of prosperity. Where the people do not have enough problems of their own and participate in the problems of others. This situation is unique to America. I mean sure citizens in my country could demand that the government do something about child trafficking in Africa, but deep-down we would know that the government does not have any power to do this so we would not expect anything. While people in America would have a valid expectation that there government can indeed do something about these injustices. Of course there are also enormous short-term economic benefits to being the world police which really does make it inevitable.

Still now that it is actually hurting them, they just cannot drop the role. There has already been too much ill will generated in the past. Take the war on terror for instance. If the U.S. army were to abandon every single outpost in the middle east and leave the terrorists to their own devices, would said terrorists say “ thank you, come again!” ? No. They would take it as a sign of weakness and then begin pressing for their revenge. I would not be surprised if there is another tragedy on the scale of 9/11 within 10 years.

Is the US screwed then? Will they be forced to spend all the money on the worlds problems and none on their own?

Probably. I can’t really offer any creative solutions. I mean after seeing what they are going thru I doubt they can convince anyone to take over for them as global gestapo. Sure you can deputize people when they want to be deputized. Like in the case of France in Libya. But as soon as the immediate situation is handled everything gets tossed back to good old U.S.

All I can really offer is a suggestion. Right now the most expensive part of being the world police is the war on terror. So my suggestion will focus on that but can easily be adapted to other situations. Make your carrot, a gilded armored carrot. Then make your stick so long and sharp that whoever gets hit by it will never forget. In fact just make it into a sword.

The gilded, armored, carrot. Everyone who supports the U.S. must be rewarded financially. They must be rewarded so well that they will be able to live lives those who don’t support the U.S. can only dream of more. More importantly they must be guaranteed this life. After all what use is this wealth if they die in the process? US troops must protect them from any and all harm. Even if it means trading American lives for theirs.

The sword. Be harsher towards the terrorists. I would not mind if more of them died “while resisting arrest”. In fact I would not mind at all if the people harboring them die in the shootout. Sure human rights advocates and other people like that will complain. But there really is no other way. You have to show them what it truly means to stand against you.

It will be a long and difficult path. The tactics that have to be used will be harsh. Draconian even. But one day he U.S. may finally find itself safe to rectify its mistake and lay down the mantle of world police.

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Change! Change! Change!

It seems that both the U.S. president Obama and our president here Noynoy Aquino are both suffering from lower than expected approval ratings. Obama’s has been increased a little by the execution of Bin Laden but both presidents still have not recovered the shine that their names had in the elections.

Their defenders blame it on the media and the unrealistic expectations of the people towards them. After all they reason. You cannot expect one presidency to change the course of the country within a year or two of his inauguration. The previous administrations just did too much damage. Of course, they also say the media deserves its fair share of the blame since they only report the negative and not the positive.

You know what? It’s their own damn fault. Look at the campaign Obama ran. “Change you can believe in”. “ A new beginning”. “ A leader who can deliver change”. The whole tone of his campaign was to set him up as this pseudo messianic figure who would deliver the country from the hands of Bush onto the promised land. Noynoy’s being patterned after his campaign did the same thing except changing Bush to Gloria Arroyo. How can you not fail to live up to expectations when you set them that high?

They should have read the wimpy kid series. Specifically the second one that was just made a movie. Rodrick gives pretty good advice. “Learn to lower expectations”. That way when you do your job well people are more appreciative of you. Both presidents seem to be actually doing better than their predecessors. It’s just that they set the bar so high for themselves that it doesn’t matter anymore. It’s like Bush promising that the war in Iraq would be over quickly with few casualties. If he said straight up in the onset that it would be a long drawn out affair with many casualties but that it was absolutely needed then the result would have been more acceptable for the people.

I am not saying that it was not a good electoral strategy. It undoubtedly was. They did beat both their opponents by comfortable margins. But in doing so they set up their presidencies to be disappointments for everyone who voted for them. In fact if you think about it. Both presidents did something that is commonplace among all politicians. Lie to the public. Make promises during election time that you know full well you cannot do. Pretty strange for two people running under the banner of change.

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Libyan Conflict

 I apologize for this belated blog entry. I know the world has already moved on from this and i should have wrote about it earlier.

If you’ve been watching the news or have wondered why the oil prices rose then you will know that there is some sort of war in Libya. The story is not really unique. Strongman tyrant in power, revolutionaries appear probably funded by first world countries, U.N. or NATO or whomever decides to intervene and bomb/invade the place. Really nothing that different from the average middle eastern or African story.

 What i would really like to talk about is the reaction of the world in general and my country in particular. Somehow we still blame the Americans for starting this war. I even saw a picture of some protesters outside the American embassy here with placards saying “Don’t make Libya into another Iraq”. Allow me to profoundly say “lol no”.

I have no doubt that the United States starts their fair share of conflict whether by overt or covert means. But they did not start this one. Think about the situation at hand. America has just gotten past a major deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan (which could have been handled a LOT better if I might add). They spent billions there and countless troops to give some semblance of freedom to the countries. Which doesn’t really matter in the long run because as soon as they leave another military strongman will take over. The voters in their country just threw out the previous administration at least partly due to the Iraq and Afghanistan war.

Consider all these things and you will see that the United States just isn’t ready for another war. It’s not the military capability. I remember reading some piece of trivia saying that one carrier battle group of the United States Navy could take on all the other navies in the world and still win. And they have eight or more of them. The capability to make war is certainly there. The weapons, soldiers, etc. What is not there is the willpower. The American people just are not ready for another war. They will probably not be ready for another generation. In fact I think if China were to invade Taiwan, under a suitable diplomatic pretext, the US would not send troops to help. Beyond the customary saber rattling and threats of course.

Look at how the conflict itself turned out. The US sent missiles and a few planes. When it came to actually stopping a ground offensive against the rebels who were the ones who stepped up? The French! In other circumstances the US army would be the first ones to send planes over.

Give credit where credit is due, and blame where blame is due. We have to examine each situation individually and make decisions based on that. Not on some preconceived notions we may have.

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Entitlement

So many topics to blog about and so little time to do it in. I apologize to any readers I have out there for any delay between my opinions and the news.

 

Recently three Filipinos were caught and convicted of being drug mules in China and were sentenced to death. Naturally there was an uproar in our country and a demand given to the Chinese government for the commutation of the death sentence. We even sent our vice-president to negotiate with the Chinese over the issue.

 

First off, if we really wanted to help our innocent countrymen, wouldn’t we be better off sending our best lawyers who are versed in Chinese jurisprudence to appeal their cases? I understand that there were overwhelming evidence against them. Still if we believe in them then maybe we could argue that the drugs were planted? Maybe they were framed? Or it was not their bag and it was just an unhappy coincidence? If they are innocent why send a negotiator to beg for favor when we can send our best lawyers to fight for their freedom?

 

Of course the whole argument is only valid if they are indeed innocent. Which we knew that they were not. We knew they were guilty of the crime and yet we are still angry at the Chinese government for convicting them. We still ask for leniency knowing full well that they broke the law. What arrogance we as a people have. Are we some sort of exalted country, whose citizens are somehow immune to the laws of the nations we visit? It’s a wonder that any nations would welcome us into their borders if we are.

 

I wonder how we would react if a fictional foreigner, lets call him Daniel Smith, came into our country and violated our laws. He then gets caught and convicted. Then asks his mother country to intervene and either commute the sentence or totally exonerate him for it. Would we smile and give way, I wonder? Or would we fight and complain and stress that he broke the laws of our country, hurt our people, and must be punished for it. Why do we think the Chinese should react differently than we would and have? Do we believe that we are inherently better than them? So much so that we believe our citizens have partial or total immunity from laws in places they visit while they have none here? Why should China’s own citizens be punished more for committing the same crimes that ours have? In their own country no less.

 

We then take the low road. Offering snide comments only the small fish are being caught while the big ones are let free. Insinuating bias against our countrymen and implying that they should be set free. Did the Chinese do something wrong in arresting the minions? Were they not supposed to catch the “small fish” while at the same time building a case against the bigger ones? Think of the consequences of the suggestion. What would prevent people from becoming drug mules if there was no punishment involved? What would motivate them to stay in regular law abiding jobs, if they can get so much more pay as drug minions. At no risk to themselves to boot. Would not the kingpins organization prosper at this? They would have so many applicants that they can take the best people and put them to work for the cartel. Whether we like it or not catching the drug mules is part and parcel of going after the kingpins.

 

The whole thing is just disappointing. I have long thought that we have a false sense of entitlement buried in our national consciousness which makes me expect this type of reaction. It probably has something to do with our successes in people power or some other historical occurrence. What is truly disappointing is that not one person had the courage to tell the popular opinion that it might be wrong. It might just be acting like a spoiled brat. Instead you have Binay, Roxas, and the president….. our glorious leader, bending over backward to try and arrange clemency. It is just so disheartening. How can we expect meaningful change with leaders such as these?

 

There is nothing wrong with attempting to help our fellow countrymen. But help them in such a way that shows other countries that we respect them as well. Nations, like people, interact with each other with the expectation of mutual benefit. Remove that from the equation and no nation will want to deal with us again. Like I send earlier. Send in the best lawyers. Prove that they are blameless. But… but… if they truly have wronged then they must bear the consequences. It is what we would demand others do.

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Filipino First -> Only

In honor of the recent People Power Revolution anniversary I thought it proper to do a piece on nationalism. By “nationalism” though I don’t mean celebrating how awesome it is to be Filipino (and it is) or how our heroes are great (and they are). Instead I will focus on how nationalism is actually hindering our growth and progress as a country. More specifically I want to show that it’s our misconception of the idea of nationalism that’s doing this.

Think about it. Really think about it. What ideas do our professors, commentators, and intellectuals espouse as nationalistic? One hundred percent ownership of Filipino’s for companies? Nationalistic. One hundred percent ownership for foreigners? Un-nationalistic. The Philippines claiming ownership of the Spratley Islands and risking a rising superpower’s ire? Patriotic! The Philippines giving up its claim in exchange for other concessions? That’s traitor talk! Americans out of the bases? Yes go Philippines! Americans staying in bases? Well anyone who suggests this is obviously bribed right? I’m not saying that our current crop of nationalistic ideas are unnationalistic but I do assert that it takes more than an underlying “screw you foreigner” motive for an idea to be nationalistic;that some ideas which don’t handicap expats may actually be more nationalistic than those that do. I’m convinced that throughout history our collective idea of what is nationalistic has become perverted into what is protectionist.

Nationalistic ideas at their very core are ideas that will benefit and promote the country. Ideas that no matter the ideological lean of their content will better us as a nation. Consider the original definition’s implications to those of this new one; no idea should be rejected at face value just because they happen to suggest helping foreigners in some shape, way, or form. Each idea should have their pro’s and con’s individually weighed critically. Those that pass; where pro’s outweigh the cons, should be considered nationalistic as they help our country. Those ideas that don’t, shouldn’t. If this means that such controversial ideas such as one hundred percent foreign ownership of corporations or ownership of lands is considered nationalistic, then so be it. I’m not saying it necessarily has to be, but if an impartial study dins it so…so be it.

Running a nation is a very complex endeavor. Each day our leaders are faced with thousands of decisions; each of them with a thousand possible courses of action. Locking out a certain subset of these choices, even if they are the most beneficial for our country, due to some misunderstood idea of nationalism hurts us as our leaders cannot pick the best and most efficient paths for fear of being called traitors. We already have enough disadvantages without further handicapping ourselves with a misguided mindset.

I hope this article reaches some people, it goes against plenty of what is taught in schools nowadays. The fact still remains that limiting our options due to artificial constraints inhibits our growth as a nation. I’ve already stated what my personal definition for a nationalistic idea is. I’d like to leave with my definition of what nationalism is. In my opinion it is “Doing whatever you have to do to make your nation great”

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