Saturday, August 25, 2018

Geopolitical expert: "America needs the Philippines more than the Philippines needs America – Duterte has made it so"



U.S. President Donald Trump talks with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte during the gala dinner marking ASEAN's 50th anniversary in Manila in 2017/ File photo grabbed from ABS CBN

The Philippines is continuing its discussion with Russia regarding the purchase of military equipment like the submarines as part of President Rodrigo Duterte’s drive to upgrade and modernize the Philippine Navy, despite of America’s objection.

Earlier, the United States had warned the Philippine government over its talks with Russia about buying equipment, but the president managed to openly disagree due to several reasons, questioning Washington’s sincerity.


Meanwhile, United Kingdom’s geopolitical expert and Director of Eurasia Future, Adam Garrie, concluded on his recent Asian article that Duterte in a sense, made US needs the Philippines, more than Philippines needs the US.

“Because Duterte has positioned himself in a position to attach multiple strong economic and military powers to The Philippines, the US risks losing the former colony for generations to come if it overreacts to Duterte’s desire to pursue dialogue with Russia over the submarine deal. In this sense, Duterte has been able to do what few leaders of more powerful countries have been able to get the United States to do – sit up, take notice and act cautiously rather than on impulse.” Garrie wrote.

In his previous speech, Duterte reiterated that US has been selling the Philippines old, under-maintained and sub-par equipment which were lethal and even caused Filipino soldiers’ death when a US helicopter crashed.

“It’s very important to me. I owe it to my soldier. We bought six helicopters. They said, they’re refurbished, they were used by NATO. Apparently, they were overused. Three of the helicopters crashed, killing all my soldiers…now you are talking about procurement. Prove to me first that you are in utter good faith but I do not want to communicate with them”. Duterte’s statement.*

Recently, after Duterte’s refusal to stop talks with Russia, the US attempted to sell F-16s helicopters which the president firmly declined.

"We do not need any F-16s. It would be utterly useless to buy it, but I need attack helicopters and small planes for the counter-insurgency," he said.

It was said that Washington directly sent Duterte a letter, not the kind of ultimatum but a letter that spoke of a “special friendship” tone, which was also a surprise, knowing their intimidating nature.

 Garrie cited that though US has no longer bases in the Philippine territory in its name, having access to the country remains important and perhaps indispensable for the US military.

“Unlike his predecessors, President Duterte has mercilessly criticised the United States while also demonstrating that while he considers himself a friend to China, he is by no means hesitant in respect of criticising China." Garrie wrote, stressing the Duterte forced many nations to remain on their toes.

The political expert also mentioned that United States, China and Russia are all taking Duterte ‘very seriously.’

“ This is the case because Duterte has stated that he expects the US to behave in a neo-colonial manner and even expects the CIA to execute him. Because of this, Filipinos throughout the world are prepared for the worst and as a result of Duterte’s consistently strong popularity means that while a nation as powerful as the US could easily topple any Philippine government, if they did overthrow Duterte, the backlash could forever change Filipino perceptions of the United States in a holistically negative manner." Garrie wrote*

“Beyond this even if someone other than the US overthrew Duterte, because of his many warnings about the US, many millions of Filipinos would automatically blame the US for any regime change. This the US is clearly treading carefully, at least for the time being.” He added

To back Garrie’s statement, Duterte’s great relationship with Korea, Japan, China and Russia prove that he was indeed taken seriously.

The Philippine president is also set to visit the major weapons producer this September – Israel.

“Because of this, it is clear that any nation which alienates Duterte will lose out on deals to which ever nation is on better terms with The Philippines. By having all of the major economic and military powers seeking better relationships with Manila, Duterte has transformed a colonial mentality into one where many nations are in a de-facto position of competing for partnerships with The Philippines.” Garrie continued

The political expert also foresee that just in case Trump would impose punitive tariffs and sanctions to the Philippines, Duterte is “the kind of leader who might just tell the US that it can no longer exercise usage rights over strategic military facilities in The Philippines.”

“At such a point the US could either accept this and hope to exude economic pressure over an erstwhile “ally” or otherwise conduct a hybrid regime change operation – one that could backfire terribly on the US.” Garrie said.