Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Philippines-In the Middle of a Geostrategical Fault Line

Philippines-In the Middle of a Geostrategical Fault Line
By Erick San Juan

Since the March 11, a triple disaster hit Japan, then a major fault line has emerged-the new geostrategical fault line. It is a fact that Japan is a very close and important ally of Uncle Sam in this region. Although, a year before the said disaster, tensions between Japan and the US escalated due to the relocation of the US Marine base in Okinawa that even led to the resignation of its Prime Minister. Now that the said base will be transferred completely to Guam by 2014, it would be a question of who will control the maritime supremacy in the region.

Eyes are now focused in the Philippines with Japan now coping of what was left after the triple disaster. It will take a decade for the Japanese to rise again and it will be a very costly one.

There are several factors that put us in a tight situation when it comes to our relations with both Beijing and Washington. Even if the present administration is doing a balancing act, we cannot do away with the past administration’s reported “secret deals” with these two giants.

To our regular followers, both in our writings and on the airwaves, we discussed and wrote about the importance of our country in the region’s geopolitical play. As was always written in history books, our location is strategically situated where major chokepoints transverse.

Added to this is the fact that we are one of the major claimants in the disputed areas in the South China Sea. Furthermore, this dispute over the contested area is not just among the ASEAN members and China but also of the US. Why is this so?

Geographically speaking, both the Philippines and China, and so is the rest of the ASEAN members are permanent residents of the region while the US does not. But the fact remains that there are permanent American interests in the area.

“The United States is a trading nation. One-half of our sea coast faces Asia, the site of our largest markets and some of our closest friends and strongest allies. The continued creation of American jobs is dependent on selling American products overseas. Without doubt, the importance of American interests in Asia will grow, not shrink in the coming years. We may not be "planted" in East Asia (and the Southeast Asia) permanently, but we are bound to the region by permanent interests. And for the last 100 years that has meant maintaining a tangible presence in the region-first by colonies, then by military victory, and today by invitation."

"Given these strategic considerations-time, national goals, and geography-the key question a strategist in this region must address is, Is it possible to accommodate the interests of all the major players in this region-to achieve the ends all wish to achieve-without conflict?" (Balancing Interests in the Strategic Triangle by Rear Admiral Michael McDevitt)

As what General Joe Almonte, former National Security Adviser, expressed succinctly and pointedly. He said: “given the realities in the region today, the US and China must really come to terms, not just with the evolving situation but come to terms with what they feel are their interests and that of the interests of the rest of the world. When China claimed last July that the SCS is their core interest, it means that their claim of sovereignty in the region is not negotiable like their claim of sovereignty in Taiwan and Tibet. Now, if you look at the map, the SCS is really a maritime heartland of the region. Anyone who controls that body of water will control both insular and peninsular South East Asia. And if that happens, whoever controls will have an influence, heavily, in the Indian Ocean and the Western Pacific. If we are not careful, we will become a province of China.”

Translation - PNoy and his strategists (if he has any) must act fast but with caution when it comes to handling the issue at hand with China and the US. For a short period of PNoy’s administration, a lot of crucial events happened with our diplomatic relation with Beijing that calls for a lot of transparency in the process. We have gone through a lot of secrecy from the previous administration that we are now feeling its aftershocks. We had enough already and we cannot take another dose of such leadership style.

"At the end of the day, everything comes down to what is best for our country and our people. Absent any action and resolve on our part, other countries might well decide what is best for us." (The South China Sea disputes by Roberto R. Romulo)

PNoy should be wary in dealing with our 'friends and allies' for any mistake might lead to a situation that will take us all in a mutually assured destruction.

God bless the Philippines!

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