Monday, June 27, 2016

SCS Issue: Can be managed but not resolved? By Erick San Juan

SCS Issue: Can be managed but not resolved? By Erick San Juan
A UN tribunal ruling could trigger the next round of brinkmanship in the South China Sea as early as next week. But don’t expect the ruling to end the dispute, especially since the Chinese have already vowed to ignore an adverse ruling.
“It’s…not likely to be resolved this year or by one international ruling, no matter how brilliant the arbitrators are,” said Patrick Cronin of the Center for a New American Security. “So it’s going to be a long term issue for the next administration.” (UN Ruling Won’t End South China Sea Dispute: Navy Studies Next Clash by Sydney J. Freedberg, Jr. 6-20-2016)
Anytime soon the much awaited United Nations tribunal’s decision will be released and this will come in time of the biennial large-scale multinational power projection/sea control exercise called Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC) 2016.
Conducted biennially (every even year) under the leadership of the US Third Fleet, RIMPAC is a multinational, combined sea mobility exercise in which the ROK, US, Australia, Canada, Chile, England, and Japan have participated since 1971. RIMPAC is designed to enhance the tactical capabilities and cooperation of participating nations in various aspects of maritime operations at sea.
The exercise is held with the objective of increasing mutual cooperation and enhancing the combined operations capabilities among the countries around the rim of the Pacific Ocean so that they can ensure the safety of major sea lines of communication (SLOCs) and improve their combined response capabilities in the event of conflict on the sea.
China's debut in the world's largest naval exercise is a "leap of trust" as it teams with the United States and U.S. allies at a time of heightened regional tension over territorial disputes in 2014.
Despite growing tensions between China and United States and its allies over the “militarization” of the South China Sea, China's navy confirmed last June 2 that it will take part in RIMPAC, one of the world’s largest military exercises. China sent five ships to join the Pacific Rim military exercises, that began on June 1 and will last until August 1, near the Hawaiian Islands. China's Defense Ministry said that a fleet of its naval vessels is heading for Hawaii to join US-led multinational naval drills. The ministry said the fleet arrived at waters south of Japan's Daito Islands on Saturday and joined 2 US Navy destroyers there. The 5 Chinese vessels, including a missile destroyer and a frigate, will engage in electronic communication training with the US Navy en route. They are scheduled to arrive in Hawaii on June 29th.
According to official reports, 45 ships, five submarines and 200 aircraft from 27 nations, with 25,000 military personnel, will take part in the event, staging fire, anti-piracy, search and rescue, and, notably, Aegis missile-interception drills. Three Aegis-equipped fleets, from the US, Japan and South Korea, will practice intelligence coordination amid growing concerns of North Korea's nuclear weapons program. This year's exercise includes forces from Australia, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, China, Peru, the Republic of Korea, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Tonga, the United Kingdom and the United States. Russia took part in RIMPAC in 2012, but canceled its participation in 2014, due to interrupted military cooperation between Moscow and Washington over ongoing territorial disputes in Ukraine. (
There will be live ammunitions during the said exercise and our fear that there might be a miscalculation or a false flag op in the process might lead to an escalation of tension and hell will break loose, a convenient excuse? And who will benefit?
The following are from analysts that will somehow give us ideas on the possible scenario after the release of the UN Tribunal decision.
According to Cronin, “There’s some hope after the UNCLOS ruling that we’re going to be at least managing the tensions. China could certainly escalate if they desired, but lately, he said, “the Chinese have been looking to ratchet down the tensions even while they’ve tried to move their influence forward.” In other words, don’t expect fighting, but don’t expect acquiescence to the UN ruling either.
“Patrick Cronin is right: The ruling solves nothing, nor was it meant to,” Gregory Poling of the Center for Strategic & International Security. “It will add additional pressure on Beijing, and it will help define the boundaries of any future negotiations — likely years away — but it cannot resolve the disputes.”
Far from resolving disputes, agreed fellow CSIS scholar Bonnie Glaser, “the ruling is likely to increase tensions at least in the near term. In a sense it already has, as China has rejected the ruling, and many countries of the world have taken sides, with the US seeking to rally nations in support of international law and a rules based order — i.e. against China’s rejection.”
“In the short term, we’ll probably see China engage in some new escalation to punish Manila and signal that it will not be bound by the ruling,” Poling said. For example, said Glaser, “China may establish baselines for its territorial claims in the Spratlys, a precursor to announcing an ADIZ (Air Defense Identification Zone).”
Besides the legal and maritime maneuverings, Poling said, “we will also see the start of the next phase of the battle over competing narratives, this time focused on how many countries Manila and friends can get to voice public support for the ruling as legally binding and demand China complies. The question will be, whether or not they can maintain that pressure from a broad swath of countries over the long term” in the face of Chinese diplomatic and economic pressure.
“The South China Sea territorial disputes are likely to persist for a long time,” said Glaser. “The question is whether they can be managed, not resolved.” (Source: Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.)
In these exciting times, in the midst of the biggest military exercise, let us all be prepared and hope for something better as we await the UN tribunal ruling. And with the incoming president, with his wisdom, we pray that the SCS dispute can still be managed and war can be avoided.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

New Opportunities by Erick San Juan

New Opportunities by Erick San Juan

"Are you with us or are you not with us?"

A question raised by President-elect Rodrigo Duterte to US Ambassador Philip Goldberg in a recent meeting in Davao City. And Amb. Goldberg answered, "Only if you are attacked."

Is this a valid answer coming from a long-time ally? I believe so, as an observer of events, we have written about this on how far the US can extend its helping hand when our country will be needing the Big Brother’s help.

Yes, for a time we have doubts on Washington’s sincerity in extending its support to us if ever we will encounter a military clash with our neighbors specifically with China on the South China Sea issue. This is because of the close economic ties between US and China and its bilateral meetings on military matters in the Pacific region.

Even though we have several treaties with the US on defense and security, as we know, these treaties are lopsided and we are at the losing end and yet our leaders seem not to bother to correct such wrongs.

Now that the country’s incoming president asked that crucial question, it is a good start to check our relationship with Uncle Sam. And during the campaign President Elect Duterte said that we have to change some of our foreign policy and be less dependent with the US.

As the incoming president, and it is a little over a week to take the seat of the highest office of the land, incoming President Duterte has to wait for some of the ongoing developments in the country. One such issue is the upcoming decision that will come from the Permanent Court of Arbitration from The Hague on the territorial dispute on the South China Sea.

As what my friend Prof. Rommel C. Banlaoi wrote in his commentary in RSIS (Rajaratnam School of International Studies) – “The Duterte presidency could open many opportunities for the improvement of Philippines-China political relations. But Duterte has to be cognizant of two major challenges that might affect his administration’s achievement of that goal: The first is the result of the international arbitration of the South China Sea dispute between the Philippine government and China. The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) at The Hague is expected to render its decision soon. Should the International Arbitral Tribunal not offer the Philippines a total legal victory on the case, even a partial legal victory can yield some political purposes domestically and internationally."

Duterte has the option of using the result of the arbitration as his main political
leverage in resuming bilateral talks with China. But there is a strong likelihood that
Duterte will not pursue this option, as China will not want to see him raising the
arbitration case in the process of resuming any bilateral discussions on the South China Sea disputes.

As a confidence building measure, it is likely that Duterte will keep mum on the
arbitration result and set it aside for the time being while his administration exerts
efforts to repair the Philippines’ damaged political ties with China. But there is no way for the Duterte administration to withdraw from the arbitration process because of domestic and international considerations.

Domestically, the arbitration case has the approval not only of the Filipino public but also of key national leaders involving past presidents, the senate president, the speaker of the house, justices of the supreme court and concerned department
secretaries. Internationally, the international arbitration case has the support of the
Philippines’ security ally, the United States, and other strategic partners in regional
security like Japan, Australia, South Korea, and key members of the European Union and Asean. Especially now that the ASEAN integration is in the offing. The globalists are very optimistic of the Asean economic and geo-political unification. No spoiler state will be tolerated.

But if bilateral talks with China fail to bear fruit that will redound to the benefit of the Filipino people, particularly on Filipino fishermen who are greatly affected by sea disputes, Duterte can use the arbitration decision as a fall back option. Thus, China also needs to exert its own efforts in fixing its broken political relationship with the Philippines as it takes two to tango, so to speak.

The second is the implementation of the Enhance Defence Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with the US. The Duterte administration is duty bound to implement EDCA
considering that the Philippine Supreme Court already declared its constitutionality.
Moreover, the Philippines remains as a security ally of the US which views EDCA as a tool to enhance this alliance. While Duterte will not put any obstacle to the EDCA’s implementation, his administration will avoid the previous administration’s excessive pro-Americanism of embracing Philippine-American alliance at the expense of Philippines-China political ties.”

The incoming president has to play his cards well so as not to hurt any feelings from the diplomatic circle but the most important factor is his commitment to the Filipino people above everything else.

For now, we are in a wait and see mode but as far as President elect Duterte’s pronouncements on very crucial issues is concern, the Filipinos are satisfied compared to the (almost) past administration.

May God grant him wisdom to lead this country towards greatness and be respected by the rest of the world in the process.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Orlando Carnage: A False Flag Op? by Erick San Juan

Orlando Carnage: A False Flag Op? by Erick San Juan

Was the Orlando shootings last Sunday an act of terrorism or another false flag operation?

In the heat of the election season in the United States and such ‘shooting incident’ will occur, thinking class will surely include in the list the possibility that the latest incident can be labeled as another covert operation. But who benefits?

A logical analysis from Stephen Lendman published at Global Research online which says – “It’s too soon to know whether Sunday’s Orlando incident was terrorism or false flag deception.

Yet it has distinct earmarks of the latter, likely the latest example of domestic state terror, another fear-mongering pretext for out-of-control militarism, endless wars of choice, and domestic repression, America more a police state than free society on a slippery slope toward full-blown tyranny.

Muslims are alleged Washington’s few evil geniuses target of choice, falsely blamed for numerous state-sponsored domestic crimes – 9/11 the mother of all false flags. It's a pity that the American public is reportedly made to believe the Islamophobia scare bogey., according to the editorial of Manila Times today June 15, 2016.

Convincing evidence indicates the alleged Boston bombers, San Bernardino bombers, Sandy Hook shooter, a shoe bomber, an underwear bomber, Times Square bomber, shampoo bombers, synagogue bombers, and numerous other convenient patsies blamed for similar incidents were victims of elaborate hoaxes, state-sponsored false flag deception.

Pre-dawn Sunday, alleged heavily armed gunman Omar Mateen managed to kill or wound over 100 individuals at Orlando’s Pulse LGBT nightclub before city SWAT police killed him.

According to, Omar Mateen, an American with Afghan bloodline worked with the Department of Homeland Security and was employed by G4S Security Company as a licensed professional security guard with the capability to carry firearms on duty and passed all the security clearance and background checks. G4S security was contracted by the DHS to protect federal buildings, nuclear facilities, etc. All his firearms are legal and with permits.

Dead men tell no tales. All we know is what authorities say and the mainstream media repeat without due diligence checking.”

Another dead end? Until another so-called investigation will unearth evidences or clues that can lead to the real mastermind of the shooting. But for the meantime, the world has to be wary of the possible consequences this event has created or will create in the process. Just like the impact that was created after the September 11, 2001 or what is known as 9/11 terror attack in the heart of the mainland U.S.A.

One of the impact was analyzed by Mike Larson (editor of Safe Money Report) in his article Terror Hits Home in Worst U.S. Mass Shooting on Record, he writes : “As a financial analyst and writer, it’s also my job to put acts like these into a broader context — particularly with regards to what it means for markets. I said earlier this year that Europe’s economy could suffer in the wake of recent terrorist attacks there, and that those attacks were just in a list of reasons to avoid over-committing capital to the region.

I actually think the economic impact will be more muted here. Tragic “lone wolf” attacks, like the one in Orlando, can happen at any time. They may have a short-term impact on tourism.

But the U.S. is still perceived as a safer destination, in part because we are much farther removed geographically from some of the world’s worst hot-spots. It also doesn’t seem that terrorist groups like ISIS have the same kind of on-the-ground personnel and support networks here that they have in the Middle East or Europe.

If anything, this kind of news will likely reinforce the resolve of whichever presidential candidate wins this fall to boost defense spending. The goal? Take the fight to our enemies on their home turf, so they can’t hit us as hard in our own back yard.”

Sounds familiar? Another one of those ‘history repeating itself’ scenario because of the impending (or some say – ongoing) financial collapse, another war is needed just like what happened in the past two world wars.

Such war that will keep the war machines or the M-I-C, military industrial complex working and prop up a dying economy by reviving a dead foreign enemy that started this global war on terror (GWOT).

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

SCS: Cooperation or Confrontation?

SCS: Cooperation or Confrontation?
By Erick San Juan

‘Cooperate where we can; confront when we must.’

Strong words from U.S. Pacific Command commander Navy Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr. last June 4 at the recent 15th annual International Institute for Strategic Studies Asia Security Summit, known as the Shangri-La Dialogue, in Singapore.

Harris said, “We want to cooperate with China in all domains as much as possible, so we have to have a view, and I have a view of cooperation where we can, but we have to confront them if we must."

“I would rather that we didn't have to, but we have to operate from a position of strength against all outcomes, and that's why you have the Pacific Command, among other things, out there.” (Report by Karen Parrish DoD News, Defense Media Activity)

And on the side of China, Adm. Sun Jianguo, deputy chief of the Chinese military’s Joint Staff Department, dismissed what he characterized as U.S. interference in Asian security issues, and rebuffed accusations that Beijing risked isolating itself through its assertive behavior and expansive claims in the South China Sea.

“We were not isolated in the past, we are not isolated now, and we will not be isolated in the future,” Adm. Sun said at the  same Shangri-La Dialogue, an annual gathering of Asian and Western defense officials. Instead, he criticized other countries for retaining a “Cold War mentality” when dealing with China, saying they may only “end up isolating themselves.”

This reaction came about when U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter on Saturday told the conference that China risked erecting a “Great Wall of self-isolation.” He urged Beijing to abide by international law and respect the outcome of The Hague arbitration case, which was filed by the Philippine government in 2013 in a bid to curtail China’s territorial assertions in the South China Sea. The ruling is expected within weeks.

China’s denunciations of the tribunal and its legal authority dominated the discussions at the Shangri-La Dialogue. Several Asian and Western defense chiefs—including those from Japan, Malaysia, Britain and France—urged compliance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, or Unclos, under which the tribunal was established, though only a few of them referred directly to China.

“The timing of this conference was very sensitive for China, coming just ahead of the tribunal ruling", said Bonnie Glaser, senior adviser for Asia at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies. “The Chinese were very much on the defensive.”

A senior Chinese delegate admitted as much, saying they face an uphill task in overcoming foreign propaganda against Beijing. “International public opinion is still being controlled by the Western world,” said Maj. Gen. Jin Yinan, a professor at China’s National Defense University. “In such unfavorable circumstances, we must still do our best to use public forums to explain China’s position.” (Source: Maritime Spat Simmers as U.S., China Talk by Chun Han Wong)

There seems to be a never-ending word war between the United States and China when it comes to the disputed territories in the South China Sea. Such confrontational exchange of fiery words were also carried over at the annual Strategic and Economic Dialogue which started Monday (June 6) in Beijing.

The intent of the high-level talks, which President Barack Obama launched in 2009, is to try to find common ground. U.S. officials, for instance, have said they would seek Beijing’s help in pressuring North Korea over its nuclear program. Last week, though, Washington took additional steps to cut off Pyongyang from the global financial system—a move that could expose China, North Korea’s largest trading partner, to negative economic effects. (Ibid)

"China and the US need to increase mutual trust," Xi said at the opening of the annual strategic dialogue, calling for redoubling of efforts for the two powers to manage conflicts and avoid strategic misjudgment".

"Some disputes may not be resolved for the time being, but both sides should take a "pragmatic and constructive" attitude towards those issues.

"The vast Pacific should be a stage for cooperation, not an area for competition," he said.

Speaking for the US, Secretary of State John Kerry called for a "diplomatic solution" to the problem.

"We are looking for a peaceful resolution to the dispute in the South China Sea and oppose any country resolving claims through unilateral action", he said, referring to China's increasingly aggressive expansion in the area.

The Beijing dialogue is perhaps the most important meeting between the world's two largest economic and military powers, giving them a chance to seek agreement and iron out disputes on a range of issues related to security and economics.

The meeting is the eighth of its kind and is set to cover a number of key issues beyond the South China Sea, including climate change, cyber-security, terrorism, trade and economic cooperation. (Source: Agence France-Presse)

Despite the ‘confrontational overheated talks’ at the Shangri-la Dialogue, China’s leader Xi Jinping and US Secretary of State John Kerry tried their best to muster diplomacy and cool heads at the Beijing Dialogue. This is the other side of mutual agreement and cooperation that they have to face in order to live peacefully and avoid circumstances that might lead to confrontation.

Let us all hope for the best, for the meantime..