Erick San Juan | Columnist
Security is the most complicated issue associated with the construction of new architecture in the Asia Pacific region especially with the ASEAN countries as the center. Traditionally bilateral treaties are the main components of security in the region. During the Cold War, the system of regional security was based on the ‘umbrella’ principle. In those years, the US created an extensive network of quasi-alliance consisting of nation-states, not related through multilateral formats of security apparatus but committed to Washington. The US initially opposed a multilateral security system in the Asia Pacific region, recognizing it as a threat to the existing bilateral agreements.
Even after the end of the Cold War and the disappearance of bipolar confrontation, security architecture in the region has not changed. Moreover, Washington draws a line in modifying military-political alliances with key allies like Japan, South Korea, Australia, Philippines and Thailand, as well as strengthening the network of new partners such as India, Indonesia, Vietnam and Myanmar. The west operates without regard to the countries’ approaches to their national security and seek their greater susceptibility to models of regional integration as promoted by the Americans. At a time when countries in Asia Pacific are trying to reduce tensions in the region, Washington Ok’d Japan’s modernization of its military and national security. Observers believed that Japan will support the US in their military-political activities in the region. No doubt about it, because Japan after the second world war became a close ally of the USA and it became an integral partner of the Trilateral Commission which started as a global organization of Japan, US and Europe whose early mandate was to return the war loots where they belong.
With this commitment of the Japanese government, plus the saber-rattling with China, it has to change and modify its constitution. A radical departure from it’s being a non-nuclear state, a country who learned from its past mistakes and has refused to participate in wars anymore. With the impending threat from China, it is now devoted to the joint activities with the west.
Good for the Japanese? What about us and the other Asian neighbors? Any escalation of war in the region, whether we like it or not, we will be drag to go to war again. The big question mark is- “Are we secured? Will our big brother Americans help us?”
In the recent article of Victor Avecilla at the Manila Standard, August 12,2014, he asked this question- “In the event that a shooting war breaks out between the Philippines and Communist China, will the US and the UK be just as ready to assist Manila in the fighting?”
Avecilla cited the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty between Manila and Washington DC and legally speaking, the US is duty bound to rescue us. (Yes we ratified it but the US Congress did not). He added that it is impossible for the Americans to intervene especially now that America is in financial crisis. (Plus the US owe China trillions of dollars). He also cited some pundits that the US will still help the Philippines because America cannot afford to allow the sea lanes in East and South East Asia converted into a Chinese lake.
Just like what my pro-American father warned me in the past that the Americans are good people per se but you can’t trust all the people running it’s government. Even Mr. Avecilla commented, “Sadly, the historical record provides Manila reason to doubt if America can be taken on its word.
To quote- “In December 1941, when the Japanese invaded the Philippine Islands after their sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, US President Franklin D. Roosevelt sent word to Manila that reinforcements were on their way to America’s citadel in the Far East. Those promised reinforcements never came.”
“The US had no colonies in Europe at that time, but it had one in the Pacific-the Philippine Islands. In 1942, President Roosevelt agreed with the UK that the war in Europe against Germany and Italy shall take priority over the war in the Pacific against Japan. Meanwhile, the Philippines had to bear the ordeal of brutal enemy occupation.”
“After the successful invasion of France by allied forces in June 1944, Roosevelt focused his attention to the Pacific. The original plan was that the US military forces will by-pass the Philippines and launch the allied offensive against Japan from Formosa (now Taiwan). Fortunately, General Douglas McArthur vehemently objected to that plan and prevailed on Roosevelt to liberate the Philippine Islands prior to an invasion of Japan.” That was the American version of history. The truth of the matter, when the US government found out that Japanese General Tomoyuki Yamashita was already in Manila to collect the war loots, Roosevelt immediately instructed MacArthur to return to Manila and locate Yamashita.
Avecilla narrated that in contrast to the way the US treated us, a former colony, it invested heavily in the economic recovery of its erstwhile enemies- Germany and Japan.
There were several inconsistencies in history which I unmasked in my book, ‘Raiders of the Lost Gold. Lastly, Avecilla stated that the historical record may be subject to various interpretations but there is one message it clearly conveys-‘that the Philippine government will be better off assuming that no military assistance will readily come from foreign countries in the event a shooting war does take place against China and that the Philippines should start beefing up its military arsenal immediately and explore unconventional diplomatic solutions to the serious breach of Philippine sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea.’
Need I say more?