Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Sustaining the War Machine

Sustaining the War Machine

By Erick San Juan

The world thought that the “war on terror” days of former President George Dubya Bush has ended as he finished his second term as US 43rd President. Unfortunately, the Obama administration has continued what Dubya started.

It is important to analyze the confluence of events after the tragic attack on the World Trade Center in September 11, 2001. The world has witnessed how the Bush Jr. era has conveniently categorized sovereign nations as Rogue States, Axis of Evil, Arc of Crisis – the main goal of which is to implement regime change to these unfriendly nations.

The countries that fall under these categories are reportedly threat to Uncle Sam’s national security, therefore it’s the Americans’ duty to “restore democracy” and help the people regain their freedom against a dictatorial (or totalitarian) regime.

When the global war on terror (GWOT) started and the hunt for the villain – Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda network, became Bush’s obsession, it dragged all countries who were against this terror network. They used the strategy of tension that sowed fear worldwide.

From that day on until the so-called capture and death of the feared leader of big terror group – Osama bin Laden, we had witnessed the growth of arms sale and the “rebuilding” of nations destroyed by the efforts of United Nations and the US peacekeeping forces to restore democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The unfinished business of Bush Dubya on the “rogue states” - North Korea, Cuba, Iraq, Iran and Libya, is now in the hands of the current US President. We know what happened to Iraq and recently with Libya, and the demonization of North Korea with its satellite rocket launch. And now the world is in the wait and see mode on the impending attack on Iran.

There could be no other reason as some pundits see it, that the continuing demonization of sovereign states is to sustain the dying (almost dead) economy of the most powerful country in the world. An outside enemy has to be created to justify the need for securing one’s territory in the process.

That is the reason why Uncle Sam has to declare its return to Asia-Pacific in order to secure its ties with his allies in the region to fight a perceived common adversary – China. With the use of some mainstream corporate media, China now is being projected as the bully in the neighborhood thus creating tension in the region.

Uncle Sam succeeded in this scenario for some countries, especially claimants in the disputed areas in the South China Sea, ordered the needed war materiel to secure their territories.

It is very clear how some of our leaders kowtow to Uncle Sam’s line of protecting our right as claimant to the SCS and bought two Hamilton class cutter (museum grade) and ordered a squadron of F-16 jet fighters. For those who are not aware of the scenario they’ve created, it seems that we owe them our military modernization. Sad to say we are actually taken for a ride and not treated as a long time ally for we actually bought these military hardwares stripped down with its weapons and other important gadgets.

As long as the world is being fed with fear and hatred against one another, there is always a threat for a possible world war. And if PNoy will not play his cards well, so to speak, we will again be used as a witting tool in this war game that Uncle Sam's military industrial complex wants to achieve in order to sustain its war machine.

We hope and pray that the US visit of PNoy will be fruitful and will truly benefit us.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Is this the Stigma that We Have to Bear?

Is this the Stigma that We Have to Bear?

By Erick San Juan

It is quite alarming to know how the world sees us through the internet by some known writers and bloggers together with the different comments posted in news articles from various media outfit here and abroad.

There is one particular sentence I noticed in an article by Peter Lee (The Riddle of the Scarborough Shoals) in Asia Times online (May 19, 2012): “The Philippines, on the other hand, is cruelly described as a military doormat. It's also a doormat that probably reads ‘Welcome China’.”

I came across with the term US “military doormat” from our friends in the progressive group (some say left-leaning), actually the term used by Renato Reyes that describe our country, was ‘US colonial outpost and doormat’. Whether we like it or not, this is the painful reality that we have to bear, the stigma of an ally/slave kowtowing to a perceived master.

How are we going to free ourselves from such a stigma?

The statement from Peter Lee’s article tells it all, our relationship with US and China. The re-appointment of the Presidential envoy to China, Domingo Lee and Cesar Zalamea is quite strange the way Palace defended their appointments. According to PNoy, Zalamea (veteran banker) will help to negotiate with Chinese investors to invest in the country while Lee (Chinoy businessman) will attract tourists from China to spend their vacation here. That’s really a “Welcome China” doormat.

The recent appointment of Ambassador Sonia Brady as our new ambassador to China by President Aquino is more approriate and welcomed by the diplomatic community.

But as I have written before it would be a win-win solution and to ease the tensions at the same time in the South China Sea if all the claimants and China will jointly explore its riches and share with all its wealth. Initially, the energy company of Mr. Manny Pangilinan will try to jointly explore (and later will start drilling) oil/gas in Recto Bank with China’s national oil company.

Anyway, China is very firm with its decision to solve the territorial issues in the SCS bilaterally. Presently, there’s allegedly no point to ask for a third party to negotiate the matter with China. If this administration will consider the matter seriously, PNoy has appointed the right person as ambassador to China and not just people favored by his loop.

With the confluence of events, our country together with the other claimants should accept reality wholeheartedly that China is our neighbor and like any community of civilized men, we have to resolve disputes peacefully.

Uncle Sam in the background

Yes, he will always be and with the recent warning from The Future Asia Project, a part of the Washington DC-think tank International Strategy and Assessment Center that specializes on American security issues, the SCS disputes will worsen courtesy of China’s continued hostilities towards its neighbors.

Added to this is the visit of some US ships, including US most advanced submarine recently in Subic – (translation), the timing is very suspicious, why now? Uncle Sam knows something we don’t know and sadly as if nobody is minding the store (again), is the possibility of a conflict not far behind? Or maybe they are just testing the waters and how far the ripples they created will go. Will it reach the shores of China? What will be their reaction? Just asking.

With this scenario they are trying to create at our expense, and the mere fact that the second cutter (named BRP Ramon Alcaraz) from Uncle Sam is again stripped down with all its weapons, we are really living to our name as an overused military doormat.

We have to be united under one ideology and gradually remove this “US military doormat” stigma or we will suffer a mutually assured destruction in the process.

Wake up Pinoy!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Diplomacy and Prayer Power

Diplomacy and Prayer Power
By Erick San Juan

Maintaining peace in the most contested area in the world is not an easy task. Being one of the claimants in the disputed area of the South China Sea, our country has always been on the lookout for a possible regional conflict if things will go out of hand.

Sadly, every time there is a crisis in the SCS, our government doesn’t have the right man for the job as our ambassador to China who will take care of the problem diplomatically.

Why is the PNoy administration so lax about this? As if there is no urgency to solve the issue of such a very crucial post. I’m sure the government has a pool of able men and women where he can choose from to assign in the said post, especially coming from the career diplomats of DFA or from the just recently retired expert like Ambassador Erlinda Gavino, who's not so old and can still be of service to the nation in this turbulent times. The President wish to recycle as ambassador to Beijing his favorite Chinoy friend, Domingo Lee.

Diplomacy is the only solution

As an observer of events, it is such a relief to know from our President himself down to his cabinet members, has already declared our intention as a peace-loving nation to solve the Scarborough Shoal (Panatag Shoal) crisis diplomatically. As much as possible, no more word wars and agitations (except the lone voice of provocation by Gov. Joey Salceda who wanted to boycott all products from China).

Beijing wanted a bilateral solution, but our DFA Secretary Albert del Rosario has seek the help of the United Nations as mediator to solve the problem. Obviously, there is no point at all (at this time) if we will insist our claim/right to fish at the Panatag Shoal for this will only add fuel to the already fiery situation. Instead, let us wait for China to reach out to our offer of diplomatic talks that will somehow ease the tension for the moment.

Meanwhile, now is the right time to gather our acts together as a sovereign nation, that is, if the present administration still value our sovereignty. Let us not waste time putting our hopes high to a supposed ally/friend who will help us in times of need.

The Panatag stand-off is a wake-up call to all of us, as a nation. We must stand firm on our own in solving problems like this and not depend so much to Uncle Sam. Our high-ranking government officials had swallowed their pride and looked like fools at the D.C. meeting. Is this not enough insult to our sovereignty?

Some pundits are saying that the ongoing crisis is a clear "moro-moro" between Washington and Beijing. The presence of the USS North Carolina, a nuclear attack submarine, in Subic is perceived as a silent provocation by a supposed ally against China at our expense.

We have to be wary on the real intentions of Uncle Sam or we will enter a war again not of our liking. Let us remember all our past leaders who sold this country for their benefit. I will not get tired reminding the present leadership to unite the people for a common cause – to put this nation back on its track coupled with one clear ideology that will be our anchor in times like this.

Sadly, even our educational institution is slowly removing subjects that tackle the concept of nationalism and patriotism and the values derived from studying history. How can we develop a true Filipino ideology with this kind of educational system?
I hope that our Department of Education will take this observation seriously as the school opens next month.

Prayer Power

Lastly, as I always say in my radio program (daily from 5:30-6 pm at DWSS 1494Khz on the AM band), let us all pray harder that the nation’s problems will be solved peacefully, both domestic and international. We were glad to hear that our Church leaders has issued the Oratio Imperata.

An Oratio Imperata is an ordered prayer for a special intention besides the ones prescribed by ritual that the pope or the bishop of a diocese may require to be said during Holy Mass.

According to news reports, Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles pointed out that an Oratio Imperata is a powerful prayer that has helped the country overcome crises and has spared it from numerous disasters in the past. He added that “There should be an Oratio Imperata on the conflict over Scarborough Shoal [because] quarreling won’t solve anything”. (PDI May 15, 2012)

Indeed! May God bless us all.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Hacking: Blame Game by Erick San Juan

Hacking: Blame Game by Erick San Juan

Several Philippine government agency websites were hacked which they believed to be from China. Television news reports said that the hackers defaced the government websites and left a message in Chinese characters. Some of the offices attacked were the Official Gazette, the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office, the Presidential Museum and Library. The University of the Philippines website was also defaced last April 20,2012 reportedly by Chinese hackers who said that the Scarborough Shoal belongs to them.(Sun Star May5,2012) Last week, the government's Philippine News Agency website was hacked late Wednesday afternoon. But it was immediately restored to it's normal operation.(ABC5 Interaksyon May 9,2012) Even the broad sheet, Philippine Star's website was hacked. The hackers left a message on the defaced site in Chinese characters.

It's unusual that all the said sites were hacked and defaced but no files were allegedly deleted from the sites. The plot thickens when Filipino hackers retaliated on China after the series of cyber attacks on Philippine sites. They vandalized the China University Media Union website with these words- "Chinese government is clearly retarded. Scarborough Shoal is ours."

Who will police the police? Who really controls and regulate the net? Presently, the United States of America at any time can block with impunity both the work of internet operation and it's various national segments, thereby ensuring the conditions for a solution of their political and military objectives in cyberspace. This is primarily due to the fact that the global computer network control system reportedly through the internet's 'Corporation for the Assigned Names and Numbers' remains under the complete control of Washington DC. Several nation-states like China and Russia proposed initiatives aimed at the development of multilateral, transparent and democratic internet control from the U.S. to the United Nations.

The U.S. government has the ability to use information technologies to address its priority foreign policy objectives and influence anywhere in the world. The US State Department and the US Agency for International Development(USAID) have allegedly spent $70 million for the cyberspace control.

The Pentagon considers the cyberspace as a complete environment for military operations. The concept of 'cooperative access' approved by the Committee of Chiefs of Staff of the U.S. Department of Defense in December 2011 ensure the success of Pentagon's tactical and strategic operations anywhere in the world through it's military psy ops and diplomatic operations. The U.S. dominance in the information environment made it possible for them to virtually control the internet system completely.

Pundits believe that it's possible that the internet will be used at the proper time to destabilize the global society and nation-states through the information war.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization(SCO) and the Eurasian Economic Community(Eurasec) created a legal framework for the management of national information space including the internet. The rules are based on principles of international law that will respect state sovereignty, non-interference in the internal affairs of other states and threat of force.

With the recent bullying by China, many political wags have been saying that "Might is Right". China will not abide by the rules and now blaming PNoy for his belligerency. Both concerned governments should talk, talk, talk to avoid conflict. Be ever vigilant with psy-ops and blame game that could lead to a shooting war.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

2+2=0 Divided by Provocations by Erick San Juan

2+2=0 Divided by Provocations

By Erick San Juan

An unacceptable mathematical sentence in the field of mathematics but in social science is possible. After the so called 2+2 meeting of our Defense and Foreign Affairs Secretaries with their counterparts in Washington DC, the result is zero.

Nothing new was presented, all rhetorics and doublespeak from our long time ally. Before the Scarborough Shoal incident, the much awaited 2+2 meeting was anticipated with excitement for this will be the first time that such event will take place. But hopes like bubble burst and the supposed “big time” meeting was a big disappointment. The mere fact that our cabinet officials went there hoping that our 'big brother' will come to our rescue in the recent stand-off. What we got is the same line issued by Uncle Sam before that they will not take side in the disputes over the contested areas in the South China Sea.

So WTF that we have to seek help from Uncle Sam when we already knew that they will remain neutral on the issue? Are our officials too confident that Washington will help us because of the existing Mutual Defense Treaty? After the said disappointment, some solons including Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile think that it is better to terminate the MDT (Mutual Defense Treaty). Others want the Visiting Forces Agreement abrogated. Good thinking, but when will the action take place or this is just another set of praise releases? It is high time that the VFA Commission should come up with its review of the agreement and take the necessary actions that will benefit us more than the US.

Now is the right time to review, not just the treaties, but our relationship with Uncle Sam. Are we just one of their client countries who will buy their obsolete war hardwares? As some pundits see it, we are not getting any special treatment from Washington as a long time ally in this region. In fact, we are being used as a pawn in a possible regional conflict by pushing us to preserve our territories in the guise of protecting our sovereignty and purchasing their junky war machines.

Sadly this is what the Pnoy administration is doing. By leaking to the media that it has plans of purchasing planes/jets and other military hardwares. This is plain stupidity because provoking China into word war may actually lead to a shooting war. The worst the so called war ships are not even equipped with the usual gadgetry and weaponless. To the dismay of our military, now they are looking for other suppliers. Good!

Worst of all, some former Filipino citizens (now Americans) are planning to do some mass actions against China here which can add more fuel to the already fiery situation. The provocations being set by the group of Loida Nicolas Lewis is not helping at all and will place the efforts of the Department of Foreign Affairs in jeopardy. Last Friday, Secretary Albert del Rosario met with United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki-moon hoping that the ongoing tension in the Scarborough Shoal will be resolved through mediation. But if Lewis’ group will continue with their agitations at the Chinese embassy here, we are all looking for trouble.

The present leadership should stop with its press releases of “ifs” and “maybes” of having several war materiel purchase (which are 2nd world war vintage)instead let us unite the country and resolve the issue at hand with outmost care and a lot of diplomacy. This is the only solution to our problem with Beijing. Obviously, we are nothing compared to their military might plus the fact that Uncle Sam will not stand beside us in such dire situation.

Let us all see this circumstances as a wake up call to all of us (including former Filipinos) to unite and help the present leadership resolve the dispute diplomatically.

PNoy should be clever enough to choose between war or profit? Scarborough Shoal stand off or the joint oil and gas project of Philex Petroleum and China's CNOOC at Recto Bank? It will be peace and prosperity for the nation Mr. President! This will be your living legacy.

The rest of the world is in the wait and see mode on the outcome of the continuing dispute at the Scarborough Shoal. It is not cowardice if we just step backward and analyze the condition with much cooler disposition. God help us all.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Nuke War is for Real by Erick San Juan

Nuke War is for Real by Erick San Juan

Every man, woman and child lives under a nuclear sword of Damocles, hanging by the slenderest of threads, capable of being cut at any moment by accident or miscalculation or madness. (John Fitzgerald Kennedy, U.S. former President in his address to the United Nations Assembly, Sept. 1961)

The abovementioned quotation was also cited in the documentary film "Countdown to Zero", wherein the ultimate goal is to reduce to zero the nuclear weapons worldwide. There are about more than twenty-three thousand nuclear arsenals in the world where Russia tops the list with the United States not far behind. This is the documented number of nuclear weapons (as of 2010) but nobody knows how many more that were not disclosed by some countries.

The threat of nuclear war is for real, especially now that there is so much tension in two regions, the Asia-Pacific and the Middle East. So many provocations and agitations, rhetorics and doublespeak. The rest of the world is nervously waiting and hoping that the first nuclear strike will never happen. We all know that some countries from both regions are capable of launching a nuclear weapon if the need arises.

Nuclear First Strike Doctrine

For 25 years, up to the inauguration of George W. Bush, U.S. policy was that there would be no American first-use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear armed states. But the world has witnessed the use of preemptive strike policy by Bush and his gang of chicken hawks. And after 9/11, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has proven the US wrong in using such policy. The rest is history, hoping that the present US leadership will not repeat a bad history.

That is why President Barack Obama's goal of reducing the role of nuclear weapons and setting out on a path toward their elimination is at a critical juncture. After his Prague speech (at the Carnegie International Nuclear Policy Conference, March 29, 2011) he promised to the international community that he will "put an end to Cold War thinking" by reducing the role of nuclear weapons in their national security strategy. President  Obama has ordered a review of the requirements for how the military should plan for the potential use of nuclear weapons. (Source: Reviewing Nuclear Guidance: Putting Obama’s Words Into Action by Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris)

 President Obama who won the Nobel Peace Prize several months after his inauguration has turned out to be one of the most militarily aggresive American leaders in decades. Even the liberals voted for him because of his opposition to the Iraq war. But he decimated Al Qaeda's leadership. He overthrew Libyan dictator Khadaffy. He ordered drone  attacks in Pakistan and covert wars in Yemen and Somalia. He authorized the assassination of an American citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed by a drone strike in Yemen. Obama ordered and oversaw the 'killing' of Osama bin Laden by Navy Seal. (Peter L. Bergen,director of the New American Foundation, IHT 4/30/12)

While on the other hand, China through its Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said (over a year ago) that "From the first day China possessed nuclear weapons, the Chinese government has solemnly pledged never to be the first to use nuclear weapons at any time or under any circumstances and has always strictly adhered to this pledge."

But we should continue to be wary of Obama who metamorphosed into a bird of prey and on the confluence of events, after the recent failure of North Korea’s satellite rocket launching. Strong threats against South Korea has been released by NoKor’s present leadership. Now that they have suffered the consequences of not following the advice of the United Nations, backed by the US, stricter sanctions were given to them especially food aid for the starving Koreans. The peaceful Korean Peninsula is now threatened by a possible conflict in the offing, if such issue will not be resolved soon.

PNoy’s Trips to US and UK, is history repeating itself?

And for the Philippines, we are in the wait and see mode as our Defense and Foreign Affairs secretaries went to the first 2+2 meeting in Washington to discuss defense and foreign policies, including the very controversial Scarborough Shoal stand-off.

After this defense meeting, President Aquino III will be visiting the White House (next month) and followed by his trip to London by the same month or June.

We are living in very exciting times and as an observer of events unfolding, we are witnessing a repeat in history which could be worst than what happened during the time of former President Arroyo. Will PNoy play his cards better than CGMA or is he going to suffer the same fate as Mrs. Arroyo?

With all the agitations around us and the possible regional conflicts in the offing, a nuclear world war is not far behind. Let us pray hard that it will not start in our own backyard, may it be by accident, miscalculation or pure madness.