Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Pivot in Asia Part 2

A little over a year now when Russia hosted the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in its Pacific port of Vladivostok.  Back then. Russian President Vladimir Putin has signaled that Moscow’s interest in Asia is rising as the traditional market for its energy and raw materials—the euro zone—wallows in crisis and stagnation. And After America’s much-ballyhooed “pivot to Asia,” it is now Russia’s turn. (Source: Russia's Pivot to Asia? by Ariel Cohen, Ph.D.)

Why not, given the following statistics Russia can rebalance the two ‘superpowers’ in the Asia-Pacific region – United States and China. To wit: Russia produces more oil and natural gas than anyone else on the planet and because of this Russia is the number two oil exporter in the world and supplies 34 percent of Europe’s natural gas needs.

Since Vladimir Putin first became president of Russia, the Russian economy has grown at a very rapid pace.  The following is from Wikipedia…

Under the presidency of Vladimir Putin Russia’s economy saw the nominal Gross Domestic Product (GDP) double, climbing from 22nd to 11th largest in the world. The economy made real gains of an average 7% per year (1999: 6.5%, 2000: 10%, 2001: 5.7%, 2002: 4.9%, 2003: 7.3%, 2004: 7.2%, 2005: 6.4%, 2006: 8.2%, 2007: 8.5%, 2008: 5.2%), making it the 6th largest economy in the world in GDP(PPP). In 2007, Russia’s GDP exceeded that of 1990, meaning it has overcome the devastating consequences of the recession in the 1990s.

During Putin’s eight years in office, the industry grew by 75%, investments increased by 125%, and agricultural production and construction increased as well. Real incomes more than doubled and the average salary increased eightfold from $80 to $640. The volume of consumer credit between 2000–2006 increased 45 times, and during that same time period, the middle class grew from 8 million to 55 million, an increase of 7 times. The number of people living below the poverty line also decreased from 30% in 2000 to 14% in 2008.

According to Bloomberg, Russia has added 570 metric tons of gold to their reserves over the past decade.  In the United States, nobody seems to be quite sure how much gold the Federal Reserve actually has left.

And when it comes to military power? Yes, the United States is the most powerful military on the planet, but Russia is reportedly in the second place. But given the following, US and China has to rethink their positions in the field of military hardware and technology - Russia has allegedly introduced a new “near silent” nuclear submarine which is far more quiet than anything the U.S. has.

The Borey Class submarine, dubbed Vladimir Monomakh, has a next generation nuclear reactor, can dive deeper than 1,200 feet, and carries up to 20 nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM).

Each of these “Bulava” ICBM’s can carry ten detachable MIRV warheads, what they call “re-entry vehicles,” capable of delivering 150 kiloton yields per warhead.

So, while Obama is gradually reducing its military budget, Vladimir Putin is working hard to modernize Russian nuclear forces. And on top of this, Russian missile forces will hold more than 200 drills during the second half of 2013.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin made headlines all over the world when he climbed into the cockpit of Russia’s new “fifth generation” fighter jet and announced that it was far superior to the F-22 Raptor.

And last but not the least, It is estimated that Russia has more spies inside the United States today than it did at any point during the Cold War. (Source: Russia by Michael Snyder, Economic Collapse Blog August 8, 2013)

Now Russia has every right to turn to Asia-Pacific region and neutralize the growing arms race in the midst of brewing tensions in the contested waters in the East and South China Sea.

In the case of the Philippines, it is perceived by pundits that this is the right opportunity to rekindle our ties with Russia in all aspects. The not-so-good image we have been projecting for quite some time now as Uncle Sam’s doormat in this part of the globe should now be put in the past as a bad part in our history.

It is about time that our nation’s leaders must put the best interests of the Filipinos when forging an alliance with another country. History has taught us better and we must learn from past mistakes in order not to repeat it.

Our alliance with the United States has its ups and downs and the fact that we are the inferior nation, the treatment that we got from the big brother was and always be lopsided. Sadly. we allowed this to happen for so many years and our leaders (mostly collaborators) permitted the white masters to shortchanged  us despite the fact that we have been loyal to Uncle Sam all these years.

Like the suggestion in the editorial of the Business Mirror (September 12, 2013), Our friendship with Washington, however, should not prevent us from attempting to deepen our relationship with another world power—Russia—especially since there were attempts at this in the past. In 1813 then-Tsar Alexander I endorsed the idea of establishing relations with Southeast Asian countries in an attempt to secure food and raw materials for the Russian Far East. In 1817 the Russians sent its first diplomatic mission to Manila and established its first consulate here.

In the mid-1970s, at the height of the Cold War, then-President Ferdinand E. Marcos sought to build ties with what was then called the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, fearing that waning American involvement in the Vietnam War would reduce the Philippines’s significance as a US ally. He dispatched his aide-de-camp, then Maj. Jose Almonte, to India, where he was endorsed by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. From there, Almonte flew to Moscow to establish diplomatic relations. These ties are now over 35 years old.

Let us not waste our time and resources, this is the right moment of re-establishing our ties with Russia and other nations who could be of help to us. And hopefully be given the proper treatment as long as our leaders will always put the nation’s interests first before their pockets. Remember that we have to show respect to ourselves as a sovereign nation so that other countries will respect us in return.

 "Quid pro quo."

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