Sunday, January 27, 2013

Pivoting to a Possible War

Pivoting to a Possible War
By Erick San Juan
''If this Japanese wolf again attacks America's Pearl Harbor or Australia's Darwin, how do you know it wouldn't receive another nuclear bomb? The world would hail if Japan receives such a blow.”
The abovementioned quote is from Senior Colonel Liu Mingfu, Chinese Military officer of the National Defence University as a reaction to the growing tension between China and Japan over the disputed territories in the East China Sea.
Liu said, "What makes it a very complicated situation is the ‘meddling’ of Uncle Sam (again?) by dragging Australia in to the picture." Col. Liu is actually warning Australia not to follow the US or Japan into any military conflict with China. A wise advice?
He elaborated further by using a figure of speech ''Australia should never play the jackal for the tiger or dance with the wolf,” for him, ''America is the global tiger and Japan is Asia's wolf and both are now madly biting China.” Of all the animals, Chinese people hate the wolf the most. 
And to put weight on what he actually meant  he added, “China was a peaceful nation but it would fight to the death if seriously attacked.”
  Liu concluded that his views do not represent China's government policy but he said that they were consistent with what mainstream Chinese political and military leaders think, if not what they say.
(Translation- Perhaps it was the Chinese government who ordered him to openly inform Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard as she prepares to deliver a speech for Australia's national security.).                         Again, the world is witnessing an exchange of rhetorics a.k.a. a ‘war of minds’ in the midst of growing tension in the China Sea (both South and East). If not taken with much caution by countries involved, it might lead to ‘war of arms’ soon.
With so much hostilities brewing in the said region, the rest of the world is watching the cofluence of events with nervousness. For there is a reason to be anxious because what the world is witnessing right now is a repeat of what had happened before the Second World War. Alliances are in the making while arms race is ongoing especially the almost simultaneous change of leadership both in China and in Japan while Obama is now on his second term.
These leaders are in the works in strengthening their country’s military capabilities in the middle of a global economic downturn. Even US President Barack Obama has allegedly metamorphosed according to critics as Mr. good guy Jekkyl into President Hyde. If this is the case, the world has to be prepared for the possible scenarios that might lead to a regional conflict. Like what Col. Liu said of a plot that would justify a nuclear attack.
The pivots that will create the war.
The much-hyped US pivot to Asia-Pacific has intensified the already tensed situation in the region, and now – it's Japan’s pivot to the south.
As what Richard Javad Heydarian wrote in his article on : “After decades of self-imposed pacifism, Japan is beginning to carve out a new role in regional maritime affairs. Newly elected Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has launched a charm offensive across the Pacific, with Australia, India, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam among the countries Tokyo is bidding to align against China's rising assertiveness. Abe has vowed to revisit Japan's pacifist constitution, re-calibrate its security alliance with the United States, and steer the  establishment of a so-called "democratic security diamond". It is a proposed strategic alliance of like-minded Indo-Pacific countries that share similar anxieties about China's growing naval might.”
PM Abe’s so-called ‘democratic security diamond’ is about his vision of “a strategy whereby Australia, India, Japan, and the US state of Hawaii form a diamond to safeguard the maritime commons stretching from the Indian Ocean region to the Western Pacific. And, he is willing to invest ‘to the greatest possible extent, Japan's capacities in this security diamond.’
China is likely at the top of Abe's foreign agenda, though not only for economic reasons. Last year, in a controversial essay published before the parliamentary elections, Abe expressed his commitment to forge ahead with a more muscular and assertive foreign policy aimed at containing China. (Ibid)
The new Japanese PM is doing his rounds in visiting some ASEAN countries. He actually visited Australia (a non-ASEAN country) first because “Canberra's significance lies in its status as the other spoke - together with Japan - in the US-based "hub and spokes" alliance network in the Pacific.
The three Pacific powers - Japan, the US, and Australia - have been in a constant state of interaction and cooperation under the Trilateral Security Dialogue (TSD), while the 2007 Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation has served as a linchpin in the evolving Japanese-Australian strategic partnership.” (Ibid)
That is why  Col. Liu Mingfu seems nervous when he warned Australia because this growing ‘security diamond’ alliance will actually contain China in the process.
It seems that every leader in this region has not wasted time in preparing for a possible conflict, and we know that China is doing the same. But the nagging question is, is the Philippines ready for such eventuality? Unfortunately, the country (especially the ruling party) is very much attuned to the coming mid-term elections. So what else is new?
Then again, are we going to reach that scheduled election day?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The U.S. Never Left PH

 The U.S. Never Left PH
 by Erick San Juan 
For the past few months, the country has witnessed incidents that could lead to the nagging question, do we have the US military bases again? But on second thought, they never left, and worst, they have the whole archipelago as their base a.k.a. military outpost in the region.
From dumping ‘toxic waste’ to our waters, to finding a drone in our shore, to destroying precious reefs in Tubbataha and these are just the recent ones.
For the record, the US military bases left some two decades ago but it seems that the provisions in the said Military Bases Agreement (MBA) which was signed in 1947 were still very much in effect.  Like the “US maritime vessels shall not be subject to the navigation laws of the Philippines.” There must be a memory lapse somewhere and they forgot that the said agreement was no longer in effect. 
This happened recently when the US Navy minesweeper ran aground on a coral reef at the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park. Angelique Songco, head of the government's Protected Area Management Board that supervises the marine park said that the marine park's management would file a formal protest with the US government over the behavior of the Guardian's commander who prevented park rangers from approaching the vessel.
She said that park rangers were not allowed to board the ship for inspection and were told to contact the US Embassy in Manila. Their radio calls to the ship were ignored, she said.
"The ship's commander ordered a general alert and deployed personnel into battle position when our rangers tried to approach their ship to assess the situation, forcing them to back off," she said in a phone interview.
"They were well inside the marine park, stuck in the North Atoll of Tubbataha, and we were being prevented from coming close," she said. (Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer/ Asia News Network 1-20-2013)
Such show of arrogance is a masterpiece of how some Uncle Sam's officers treat its ally and holds true the perception that we are its ‘doormat’ in this very strategic area in the Pacific.
With its world renowned high-tech radars and other military hardware, why in the world did the ship hit the reef? And why is it in the area in the first place? Many questions left unanswered (as of this writing). But one thing is clear here, incidents like this will happen in the future and the government will just be contented for whatever reason that the US government will issue.
The fact that we don’t have the MBA anymore is not an assurance that US will follow our country’s laws and constitution at that, remember, we still have the Mutual Defense Treaty and the Visiting Forces Agreement, both pacts were in place for the continuous US troops’ deployment here.
This is the legacy of our past leaders, kowtowing to a perceived master and entering agreements that are very one-sided. After we did our role as Uncle Sam’s cannon fodder in WWII here in the region, what we got were treaties that has benefitted only their interests. We were shortchanged in the process and now history is being repeated by people who never learned from the lessons of the past.
As what UP Prof. Roland Simbulan critically wrote in his book, The Bases of Our Insecurity – “It is the US bases’ Philippine location in the South China Sea that places all the countries of Asia within their reach. Essentially, these bases are launching pads for wars in Asia: they are springboards for interventions.”
This was written in 1983 but the present scenario of US military’s pivot to Asia-Pacific with the Philippines as its springboard is a good copy that they will never leave us in order to complete their ‘operation’ in the region.
And with “the presence of the installations and their operations in the Philippines were not enough, our people are forced to become accomplices in US wars and acts of aggression, our lives endangered, our aspirations destroyed and our future strangled.” (Ibid) Translation – we are like a huge magnet attracting more enemies and putting the whole country in the crosshairs.
With this scenario in effect, our relationship with China is not getting any better as our leaders began parroting the dictates from the West that we have to show acts of aggression and/or provocations against China.
The continuing saber-rattling of G2 (China and the US) here in the region, using us as their pawn is a masterpiece that some of our high ranking officials has failed to see. That in order to avoid conflict in their own backyard (in China and in the US), they will create an outside enemy and will force their citizenry to unite against this ‘virtual aggressor’. Presto, civil war in China will be avoided and so is a possible second revolution in the US. We have to remember that both nations US and China are like twin brothers wherein their economies are intertwined that when one collapsed, the other followed. We could be the epicenter of conflict in Asia.
If PNoy and people in his loop will not heed our warning, this country will be just what I have been saying, Phili-finished!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Asia-Pacific, the Next Battleground?

Asia-Pacific, the Next Battleground?
Erick San Juan

If this happen, people will be repeating history that has caused millions of lives in the past. We are talking here of the centenary of the First World War and in the same period a hundred years ago when the brewing regional conflict has started and dragged the rest of the world into a world war and after which laid the foundations for the Second World War.

At present there are several flashpoints that can trigger a conflict in this region and like before, two superpowers are involved here that has established their ‘clout’ either economically or militarily (or both). Virtual alliances are formed and if ever a conflict will start, such alliances will surface and then another war begins.

In our past article (can be seen, we cited the brewing conflict between China and Vietnam over the disputed area being claimed by Vietnam in which China (also as claimant) has started its oil exploration. And now, with Japan over the disputed islands of Senkaku (in Japanese) and Diaoyu (in Chinese).

This tension between China and Japan intensifies as the United States showed its support for Japan, an ally which in fact, as stated by some pundits believe that US is using Tokyo as strategic tool to put pressure on Beijing. Actually, like any other ally in the region, US and Japan have this Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security that they will jointly help each other in times of aggression from an outside enemy.

Sounds familiar?

Yes, same holds true in the Philippines with our Mutual Defense Treaty with the US and its offspring - the Visiting Forces Agreement, any misunderstanding with China will surely intensify because of our relationship with Uncle Sam. And how Uncle Sam is using this territorial dispute to contain China, or worse to provoke China into a war via a witting pawn like our country.

Through such military agreements, nations like ours are forced to ride the arms race bandwagon, without thinking that we are also using our precious resources that will dig our own grave. Remember – everything is for sale in the US and we will never be treated equally as an ally, we will always be an inferior ally and a willing slave to a perceived master, allowing to be shortchanged in the process.

When are we going to wake up and assert our right as an equal partner? Sadly, this can only happen if we will have a true Filipino ideology and unite.

Political – Economic – Strategic Crisis

A few days ago, three prominent analysts discussed the issue over Press TV ( and one of them, from Executive Intelligence Review (EIR) Mike Billington. He sounded the alarm (like what we have been warning since the middle of 2012) that any day now, or maybe weeks, an impending war is in the offing.

“This could be literally any day or any week if these wars are kicked off through an attack on Syria or Iran or perhaps, even to start in Asia as it has [had] in the past.” (Mike Billington)

The Sino-Japanese dispute is just one of the other brewing clashes in the region, specifically in the South China Sea where the Philippines is also one of the claimants trapped in the web of economic and geopolitical turmoil.

Just like what was pointed out by the analysts over Press TV, the situation in the Asian region, may it be in the Middle East or in the Pacific region, is like a ticking bomb, a time bomb that was planted by some evil genius in the US via the military-industrial complex.

The timer was already set through the arms race, translation – countries are in their buying spree mode of war materiel in spite of economic hardships and the global economic downturn. And like what we have been saying so many times now, that how the military-industrial complex is cashing-in hard-earned money from developing countries just to protect their sovereignty against an imagined aggressor.

There is now a race against time, when humanity is faced with the reality of an impending war. Any miscalculation or plain stupidity could light the bomb that will explode into a global war.

 Scary indeed!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Action-Reaction Cycle in Dangerous Times

Action-Reaction Cycle in Dangerous Times
By Erick San Juan
Rhetorics usually precede armed conflicts and hints at the important issues over which the upcoming war will eventually be fought. Thus, through leaders’ rhetoric, one can witness a not yet fully materialized "war of minds". This may then, ideally speaking, prompt one to try to remove the spiritual incentive to fight a war; to cool down the "war of minds" before it turns into a "war of arms". (Drazen Pehar’s analyses in the argumentation made by George Lakoff of the University of California at Berkeley, in his seminal paper on ‘Metaphor and War’)
We cannot ignore the fact that we are living in dangerous times where flashpoints are brewing and ready to explode into a regional conflict or worst, a global war. Here in this region, in Asia-Pacific, there are several disputed areas where the so-called action-reaction cycle is being engaged by leaders and government officials centered on issues where a possible war might erupt.
Rhetoric and oftentimes doublespeak were being used extensively by world leaders to avoid (or maybe delay) a ‘war of arms’. But the nagging question is for how long?
For every action taken by either of the G2 (US and China) in the disputed areas centered in the South China Sea (SCS), a reaction follows eventually and if not handled with utmost diplomacy, it could lead to something else.
This holds true in the case of the Philippines, wherein we have witnessed several action-reaction cycle over some territories that we as claimant has been fighting for over the years. But because of diplomacy and respect for existing laws and/or treaties, we restrain from engaging in more provocations that can lead to violence.
Although we cannot ignore the reality that our country is perceived as ‘the loyal ally’ of Uncle Sam in the region and this alone is believed by Beijing as a provocation on China. And. as expected the reaction from mainland China (when it comes to our relation with the US) is not always pleasant. As what some pundits say that the stubborn and bullying ways of China in the SCS are actually the reasons why the claimants turn to the ‘big brother’ for support.
But not all claimants.
Take for example, Vietnam, as what Colonel Tran Dang Thanh shared in his views on foreign affairs with an audience of deans and professors drawn from Hanoi's many universities (in mid-December) : “Thanh heaped scorn on the notion that Vietnam could rely on American support. "They never have and never will treat us well. If they're nice here, if they praise us there, support us in the South China Sea, it's because they're trying to use a small fish to catch a big one." (State secrets revealed in Vietnam By David Brown)
Colonel Thanh’s reaction to America’s strategy of using smaller countries to fight China, translation-Uncle Sam’s way of using proxy war or witting pawn in his game of war, is a sad reality of what our present leadership is doing.
But like all other claimants, Vietnam will not take things sitting down, “Getting back the Paracel Islands (from which China evicted South Vietnamese troops in 1974) will be difficult, Thanh acknowledged, but we've got to try, going at it cleverly, avoiding a direct clash. We told the Chinese, he said, that our historical claim to the islands is better than yours. Let's fight it out in the International Court of Justice. If it rules against us, we'll accept that.” (Ibid)
Vietnam could also be as stubborn as China when it comes to protecting their territories vis-à-vis their sovereignty, but there are several things to be considered when it comes to the solidarity among their citizenry. As what Thanh pointed out in his discussion, “he pounded away at the notion that war with China is unthinkable, without ever quite saying so. There are 1.3 billion of them, and only 90 million of us, he noted. Thus, for Vietnam, China must be a special case. "We must never forget that they've invaded us over and over, yet we also must always remember that China made great sacrifices to supply us in our wars against France and the US. We must not seem ungrateful for that."
Breaking the vicious action-reaction cycle in the disputed areas in the SCS could be a difficult task knowing that all claimants will fight for their territories no matter what it takes.
A regional conflict is in the offing, yes, it could be delayed but in these dangerous times any miscalculations and/or provocations of any sort might be the trigger that will ignite the fuse of a possible global war. God forbid.