Monday, August 30, 2010

When Foundations for a Regional Conflict Were Laid…

When Foundations for a Regional Conflict Were Laid…
By Erick San Juan

China said on Thursday it had used a small, manned submarine to plant the national flag deep beneath the South China Sea, where Beijing has tussled with Washington and Southeast Asian nations over territorial disputes.

The submarine achieved the feat during 17 dives from May to July, when it went as deep as 3,759 meters (12,330 feet) below the South China Sea, the official China News Service said, citing the Ministry of Science and Technology and State Oceanic Administration.

Chinese news reports did not say where the submarine went, whether it visited disputed waters, or why the announcement was held off until now. It was the first time a Chinese submersible vehicle has gone that deep, said the reports. (Source: Phil. Daily Inquirer Online 8/27/2010)

And . . .

[Adm. Robert Willard, U.S. Navy]:
"The overall security, the maritime security and security of the air space in these international waters - vitally important. So the role of the United States Navy will be to maintain a continued presence in the region and to continue to work together very closely with our partners in the region to ensure that the sea lines and air lines of communication remain safe."

Admiral Willard says the U.S. Navy continues to monitor movements and provide military assistance in the South China Sea, a vital artery for trade with some of the world's busiest shipping lanes. The sea holds valuable fishing grounds and largely untapped oil and natural gas fields.

Given these scenarios and as one of the legitimate claimants on some of the islands in the South China Sea, we are in a helpless situation wherein most of our military officers has been trained and schooled in the U.S. (translation – the Philippines have to tow the line of the US foreign policy). And recently, the US will provide us with the necessary firepower to protect our maritime territories. Enough reasons that were clearly laid out by the US’ intention to establish a permanent presence thru our waters which is the shortest route between the Pacific and Indian oceans where half of the world’s oil tankers passes through.

After reading several articles on the internet by leading authorities on the growing disputes between US and China, both countries are actually testing each others capabilities in naval powers while the rest of the region just have to wait and see for who will make the first move that will trigger the next regional war.

But, US intervention, in which it aims to take a dominating role in the South China Sea disputes, will further complicate this issue, said Su Hao, director of the Center for Asia-Pacific Region at China Foreign Affairs University.

"It is supporting territorial claims of China's neighbors in order to contain China, but its intervention will have limited impact as long as China sticks to its position," Su said.

"China must be persistent in regional cooperation, bilateral and multilateral cooperation," urged Su, "but not have a sensational reaction and fall into the US' trap."

Gradually, Beijing is being drawn to Washington’s trap as the US Department of Defense's latest assessment of China's military, "2010 Annual Report to Congress on Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China", was released. The US has provided the world with sobering news about China's military buildup and modernization.

"Other than limited credit given to the Chinese military's overseas peacekeeping efforts and humanitarian assistance, the annual report is making vague accusations over China's military power, growth and intentions," declared the Global Times. "The report calls for sustained and reliable US-China military-to-military relations. Yet, given the recent US military activities surrounding China's Yellow Sea and the South China Sea, including the symbolic presence of the aircraft carrier George Washington, has US military shown willingness to build mutual trust? The report illustrates the Pentagon's hostility against the Chinese defense sector. It also sent a confusing message to the world about China's military role."

The official Chinese reaction is no less irate. China described the assessment as exaggerating and distorting China's military strength.

"We firmly oppose this report," said Jiang Yu, a spokesperson for China's Foreign Ministry.

The US report also "ignored objective facts" and is "not beneficial to the improvement and development of Sino-US military ties", said Geng Yansheng, a Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman.

Methinks that the release of the said annual report only heightens the tension between US and China and contributes to the growing mistrust between them. Sadly, the South China Sea will be the arena for the next regional conflict as foundations were laid by the two powerful nations.

When and how are we going to make a stand as a sovereign nation despite the fact that our leaders seem to kowtow to Uncle Sam’s wishes. We must take the lead to resort to peaceful dialogue and not through military might that will only add to the adversaries’ hostilities. We can’t afford to be at war, much more to a war that will never benefit us. May God bless and unite our people. May He touch our leaders, wake them up to reality, have the wisdom to do what is right and what will benefit the nation..

Sunday, August 22, 2010

For Whom is the VFA?

For Whom is the VFA?

By Erick San Juan

The week following the call of Senator Miriam Santiago to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) was filled with uncertainties and vague answers as to the fate of the said treaty. According to presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda, the Palace is open for the review of the VFA but its abrogation is not an option in the discussions made.

Statements and press releases from the different departments made the review of the VFA, and much more its abrogation, a minor issue and not the immediate concern of the administration. Such disposition changed overtime when the US Pacific Command Chief Adm. Robert Willard visited the country and attended the RP-US Mutual Defense Board meeting at Camp Aguinaldo last August 18. According to the Department of National Defense Spokesman, Eduardo Batac, “This matter is being taken up by the Senate. It has been presented. We will wait for the debates or action on this,” and “… we will just heed the recommendations of the legislators. When there is necessity for us, we will review it (VFA).”

In reference to the Joint Resolution No. 3 filed by Sen. Santiago, the Congress as a whole can terminate the VFA. Now the ball is with the legislators and the country will just wait on how long they will “dribble” the decision on the matter. Like Sen. Santiago, I can sense the urgency to resolve the VFA issue because we might be overtaken by events unfolding on the US-China relations when it comes to the South China Sea territorial disputes. As one of the claimants on the disputed islands, together with some of our neighbors, we are being led (like a herd of cattle) towards a regional conflict where China is the main enemy.

An increased defense alliance with the U.S. leading to a quiet escalation of its military presence will make the Philippines a pawn in the Pentagon’s plan of containment and encirclement of China. If Aquino III makes the mistake of succumbing to this pressure, he runs the risk of antagonizing Beijing’s trade ties with Manila and its growing investments in mining, electronics, and other industries. It could provoke retaliation from China in the disputed Spratly islands. (Source: Center for People Empowerment in Governance)

Even the US government (and our government) kept on denying that there is no American military base in Mindanao and that their troops are here only for military trainings, but we just cannot deny the reality that the US is using the VFA to have their military base here. As reported by the New York Times – “at least 600 American troops under the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines, headquartered in the Philippine military camp in Camp Navarro in Zamboanga City, have remained in the country and have been using the VFA as a means to stay.”

Moreover, the controversial agreement has created an atmosphere of dependency on the part of our AFP and will continue to do so now that the US government has approved the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation’s (MCC) $434 million to fund three projects in the Philippines for five years. On top of this was the reported $18.4 million worth of precision - guided missiles and the suggested leasing of a squadron of F-16 along with T-38 supersonic trainers, aircraft for maritime patrol and two FFG-7 guided-missile frigates to provide a recognized capability to enforce the Philippines’ offshore territorial claims.

Based on the abovementioned facts, Filipinos should be wary on the US visit of President Aquino III next month for this might be the beginning of what the previous presidents did – the continuing subservience to a perceived master. If this scenario will push through, let those who voted for PNoy ask, where is the CHANGE you promised?

And the rest of us will say – for whom is the VFA anyway?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

RP’s Role in “Asian NATO”

RP’s Role in “Asian NATO”

By Erick San Juan

Who could have thought that the naval incident that happened in March can create tensions that might lead to a regional conflict and a global war in the process. I am referring to the March 26 sinking of the South Korean corvette Cheonan in the Yellow Sea where US took the lead of putting the blame on North Korea. But it didn’t end there, after four months, tensions began to build up again using the incident for the US to conduct naval exercises – first with South Korea and then with Vietnam. The timing is perfect as the ASEAN countries met for the Asian regional security meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam. In the said meeting, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has announced her intention to begin meddling on a grand scale in the already difficult disputes about the islands and oil in the South China Sea, parts of which are claimed by China, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei. As the New York Times sums up Mrs. Clinton’s demarche: ‘Opening a new source of potential friction with China, the Obama administration is stepping into a tangled dispute between China and its smaller Asian neighbors over a string of strategically significant islands in the South China Sea’.

Through Sec. Clinton, Washington expressed its willingness to help facilitate meetings with countries which has claims over the disputed groups of islands in the South China Sea. ‘Though presented as an offer to help ease tensions, the stance amounts to a sharp rebuke to China. Beijing has insisted for years that all the islands belong to China and that any disputes should be resolved by China. In March, senior Chinese officials pointedly warned their American counterparts that they would brook no interference in the South China Sea, which they called part of the “core interest” of sovereignty.’ (Source: Mark Landler, ‘Offering to Aid Talks, U.S. Challenges China on Disputed Islands,’ New York Times, July 23, 2010)

The renewed interest in South China Sea, as tensions build up between US and China, put our country in a very difficult situation as “Retired Navy Adm. James Lyons, in a commentary in the editorial pages of The Washington Times (August 11), said the US should consider leasing a squadron of F-16 along with T-38 supersonic trainers, aircraft for maritime patrol and two FFG-7 guided-missile frigates to provide a recognized capability to enforce the Philippines’ offshore territorial claims.”

Lyons said,"Now that President Barack Obama’s administration has directly challenged China, the US should expand its relations with ASEAN by building on our Mutual Defense Treaty with the Philippines.”

Then in August 14, a news item came out through Reuters, " A senior Chinese military strategist called planned US naval exercises in the region a provocation and accused the Obama administration of seeking to encircle China and pursuing a “chaotic” approach towards Beijing. The commentary, in the top paper of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) was China’s latest verbal broadside against Washington, which Beijing has accused of stirring tension in the region with a series of military drills near its borders.

“On one hand, it wants China to play a role in regional security issues. On the other hand, it is engaging in an increasingly tight encirclement of China and constantly challenging China’s core interests,” Rear Admiral Yang Yi wrote in the Liberation Army Daily. The Pentagon plans new joint naval exercises with ally South Korea and will send a US aircraft carrier into the Yellow Sea, between China and the Korean peninsula.

Given this scenario, as perceived by the world community, Taiwan News ran a feature entitled "China reports: the US means to set up another NATO in Asia," which cited Chinese news media, scholars and analysts warning that "The US is establishing another 'NATO' in Asia to contain China as evidenced in the ongoing high-profile naval exercise with South Korea and a perceived intrusion in South China Sea affairs. These moves including explicit intervention in Asian affairs underline the US's schemes to challenge China over its growing presence in this area...."

Chinese scholar Shih Yongming, asserted that "The US is capitalizing on the contradictions among East Asian countries to form a front against China," in reference to U.S.

Now that the Filipino nation is in a very tight position between the growing US – China rift that could affect our stand as one of the claimants in the disputed group of islands and our friendly relations with both countries. It is high time that our leaders and the Filipinos as a nation to show a united stand amidst the growing conflicts besetting this region.

As US Retired Navy Adm. James Lyons put it - “The new Philippine president will come under intense pressure from China to prevent any expansion of US activities. However, neither we nor the new Philippine government should be deterred by Chinese bluster from doing what is right.”

This is the litmus test that will show the real color of P-Noy, if what they say is true that he is not an American lapdog. Let us all be vigilant and always be on the lookout when it comes to his administration’s foreign policies. As we always say, for the benefit of all PINOYs!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

When Stability Means Something Else

When Stability Means Something Else

By Erick San Juan

Washington has pledged to provide the Philippines with $18.4 million worth of precision-guided missiles this year to use in its fight against Islamist militants in the south, according to a military document seen by Reuters. This news or can we call it “leak” was picked up by several online news agencies last July 29 and by print media on the following day through Reuters.

"Fiscal year 2010 assistance for the Philippines provides a precision guided missile capability to assist Philippine armed forces' counter-terrorism efforts in southern regions to combat the activities of the Jemaah Islamiyah and the Abu Sayyaf Group," said the document, which was shown to Reuters by a defense department official on condition of anonymity.

Methinks that this is a deliberate leak which will make RP a possible target. Why use guided missiles when the military usually engaged in low intensity conflict? And why only now? It has been a decade of the so-called US military aid to fight terrorism in the south and not a single true to life development or hi-tech fire power was given to our AFP. Then suddenly, a precision guided missile capability will be part of this year’s US military assistance to us? To have this kind of weapon that will be used to fight local insurgents seems too much of a good thing. Although, any help that can bring peace and security in some parts of Mindanao is something that is very much welcome by Filipinos who wanted a lasting stability in that region. But is it really the immediate concern of Washington or is there something else?

To quote some news reports as compiled by Michel Chossudovsky’s Preparing for World War III, Targeting Iran :

In turn, large scale weapons transfers have been undertaken under the banner of US "military aid" to selected countries, including a 5 billion dollar arms deal with India which is intended to build India's capabilities directed against China. (Huge U.S.-India Arms Deal To Contain China, Global Times, July 13, 2010).

The US has military cooperation agreements with a number of South East Asian countries including Singapore, Vietnam and Indonesia, involving "military aid" as well as the participation in U.S. led war games in the Pacific Rim (July -August 2010). These agreements are supportive of weapons deployments directed against The People's Republic of China. (See Rick Rozoff, Confronting both China and Russia: U.S. Risks Military Clash With China In Yellow Sea, Global Research, July 16, 2010).

What is crucial in regards to US weapons transfers to partner countries and allies is the actual timing of delivery and deployment. The launch of a US sponsored military operation would normally occur once these weapons systems are in place, effectively deployed with the implementation of personnel training. (e.g India).

What we are dealing with is a carefully coordinated global military design controlled by the Pentagon, involving the combined armed forces of more than forty countries. This global multinational military deployment is by far the largest display of advanced weapons systems in world history.

The present context is characterized by a global military build-up controlled by one world superpower, which is using its numerous allies to trigger regional wars. (M. Chossudovsky)

The above mentioned report is the real reason why RP and other US allies will be getting “military aid”. Therefore, the planned precision guided missiles in the Philippines will serve as a magnet and we will be an easy target when the regional conflict between China and the US arises. And because of our very strategic location, our country is also relevant in Washington’s plan in the Middle East. I hope that we will play our cards well and pray that this scheme will not start an expanded regional conflict (or be part of a war) not of our choosing. God bless us all......

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Cheonan Incident- A Prelude to a New Pearl Harbor?

Cheonan Incident- A Prelude to a New Pearl Harbor?

By Erick San Juan

"Three of the largest submarines of the US Seventh Fleet surfaced in Asia-Pacific ports last week, the South China Morning Post reported Monday [July 5,2010].

The appearance of the USS Michigan in Pusan, South Korea; the USS Ohio in Subic Bay, the Philippines and the USS Florida in the strategic Indian Ocean outpost of US and UK at Diego Garcia was a show of force not seen since the end of the Cold War, the paper said, adding that the position of those three ports looks like a siege of China." (Global Times, July 8, 2010)

I was surprised that this important news did not reach our local papers, if it did, the usual “for humanitarian purposes only” reason can never be acceptable because of the glaring fact as shown from respectable print media that this is a show of force by the US in the Pacific region. And, what could be the acceptable alibi for a US submarine’s presence at the Subic Bay port? Such presence is actually against our constitution given the fact that the submarine is equipped with nuclear armaments. This reality also explains the “friendly visits” of some top US diplomats to our newly elected leaders. It must be taken as a warning to all of us to be cautious in our dealings that might drag us to a war because our “friend” said so. To quip (from South China Morning Post by Asia correspondent Greg Torode, "It is another sign that the US is determined not to just maintain its military dominance in Asia, but to be seen doing so...that is a message for Beijing and for everybody else, whether you are a US ally or a nation sitting on the fence." (From a veteran Asian military attaché with reported close ties to both Chinese and U.S. military officials).

Need I say more? That is why I kept on reminding, together with other patriotic Filipinos, to review the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) – an agreement that is crucial as we enter a very exciting moment in world history.

It was also mentioned in the report that the shift from the Atlantic to the Pacific ocean of US military forces is the new military hub of Washington for this century. That is why the “four Ohio class Tomahawk-armed submarines were operationally deployed away from their home ports for the first time”. (Ibid) The justification for the said move could be the realization of the globalists’ agenda of a possible war using the Cheonan incident that happened over four months ago as a pretext. The fact that China is not one with the globalists in punishing North Korea for the alleged sinking of the South Korean warship – Cheonan. The show of military might by the US is perceived by the Chinese military as actually directed against their nation.

It should be remembered that the growing tensions between the US and China has been building up since January when the US revealed the $6.4- billion arms package for Taiwan. Then in May, China refused the planned visit to Beijing by US Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

I would like to share this quote from Dr. Jaime Sison following “The Art of War”. China has already established a lot of choke points worldwide in preparation for global conflict. US cannot just bully China.

China’s claim in some parts of the Asian waters like the group of islands in the South China Sea has affected the Asean nations who share some of the disputed islands in that area most especially our country. What's very alarming was the response of China. It's defense establishment recently conducted a large naval drill and air exercises using live ammunitions. It is believed that China's exercises were not pre-planned but a response to the 4 day joint military exercises of US and South Korea near the Yellow Sea. China reiterated it's territorial claims in the contentious waters were indesputable. China's defense ministry spokesman Geng Yang Sheng said, "Any territorial disputes should be resolved with relevant countries alone through dialogue and negotiations and not through the United Nations." (Agence France Presse 7/31/10)

We cannot afford to be on the sidelines and watch the unfolding of events that might lead to a global conflict designed by a few heartless people who wanted to rule the world. The arena is right here. The needed pretext is ripe for a justified realization of the globalists’ agenda, as tensions grow in Asian waters.

A deja vu of Pearl Harbor incident is in the offing. The Japanese were provoked to attack and the American soldiers based in Hawaii became the collateral damage that sparked the World War II. The world should never repeat the wrong part of history. God forbid!