U.S. Foreign Policy Games

Foreign policy is a strategy employed to deal with other nations. Rules of theForeign Policy is how we work together foreign policy game emanate from the collective imagination of the government. A listing of the rules so the governed could participate would be nice.   For example, Breitbart’s Pamela Geller reported the formation of a global police force to fight terrorism that would operate in the U.S. “… Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced at the United Nations that her office would be working in several American cities to form what she called the Strong Cities Network (SCN), a law enforcement initiative that would encompass the globe.” As Geller points out, this brilliant foreign policy decision bypasses Congress and could override the Constitution in favor of the United Nations. Not good.

October 3, 2015, President Obama expressed condolences over the loss of life in a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan. Doctors Without Borders is a Non-Government Organization (NGO) bringing healthcare to the impoverished around the globe. Interspersed with praises for the NGO, the Commander in Chief demanded a full investigation before he would say more. Excellent decision.   The talking drums are alive with blow-back that the Taliban, consistent with past practice, used this hospital as cover for their running gun battles with coalition forces. War is filled with horrors. A war-horrors ranking system would place schools, hospitals, churches, synagogues, and mosques used as killing fields close to the top.

Continue reading

Déjà vu Somalia

Dedicated to the memory of Brett Fredericks. Thank you for your service.

On October 3rd and 4th, 1993, two years after the Cold War was declared ‘over’, the U.S.somalia military was in Somalia and they were still fighting. In 1992, President George H.W. Bush deployed 28,000 U.S. troops to Somalia to protect food and medical supply lines to the millions of starving people who suffered at the whims of a gaggle of warlords. The newly-elected Clinton considered the mission important, so the military, including the Delta Force, 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (1st SFOD-D), were in Somalia executing the orders of the Commander-in-Chief.

This was the setup for Black Hawk Down the First Battle of Mogadishu, which was part of Gothic Serpent, an operation to capture Mohamed Farrah Aidid, perhaps the vilest of the Somali warlords and self-appointed president of Somalia. Of the eighteen Americans who died on October 3rd and 4th, 1993, five were Delta Force. Seeing an American soldier’s body dragged through the street enraged an American public. Instead of turning the furies of hell loose to smash the evil, the U.S. withdrew its troops in March 1994. But, why was the U.S. really there in the first place? Did George H.W. Bush, President and former CIA Director, really care about suffering Africans?

Running from the problem didn’t solve it. Twenty-two years later the warlords still battle it out in Mogadishu. In December retired Delta Force member, Brett Fredricks, was murdered there by Somalia’s Al-Qaeda-affiliated Al-Shabaab rebels. The questions are what is the current political situation, what or who is Al-Shabaab, and why did former Delta Force member Brett Fredericks die on Somali soil? Continue reading

Guam and the Rising Storm

Guam wanders in and out of the news feeds with the regularity of a failing Christmas tree

Satellite image of the Guam. IKONOS Quickbird satellite image

Satellite image of the Guam. IKONOS Quickbird satellite image

light.  Because I was there and because people I still care greatly about are there, I grab any posting about Guam tossed out from the world’s media like a lifeline.  I like Guam.  From its natural beauty and its people to its place in the historic context of humans and their wars, Guam is compelling.  I doubt that the Russian jets that periodically circle the island figuratively mooning the U.S. military[1] are there for snapshots of the magnificent and imposing cliffs.  And I don’t think that the Chinese siting of ICBMs placing Guam in the crosshairs is accidental.[2]

Once again, I feel the effect of impotent anger surging through the twists and turns in my brain awakening my desire to protect my country and the rainbow of people who I love.  The anger I sense is not directed toward Russia or China; countries do what countries do.  The anger is directed to the U.S. central government whose policy decisions a decade or more ago have come to fruition, cost a bloody fortune, and weakened the U.S.’s ability to protect itself, and I was part of the process.

Hafa adai is Chamorro for ‘hello’ and the first words I heard as I stepped into the terminal at Guam International in Agana, Guam in late 1997.  As one of the forward troops for a business development team, I was on the island to explore local partnering potentials for a Base Operating Support (BOS) contract that was expected to be awarded sometime around the turn of the new century. The 1997 study submitted to Congress to consolidate base operations and transfer about 2,300 military and civilian jobs to a private contractor was the result of a commercial activities study to compare costs between government and private sector providers.

The size of the potential contract definitely had the big boys’ attention.  The retired generals, astronauts, and high-ranking former government officials who inhabit the upper echelons of defense contractors’ ivory towers were working their political contacts in Washington, D.C. We foot soldiers were exploring the local possibilities. There is a great deal of money involved in the acquisition of one of the big BOS contracts and, once everybody teams up for the kill, the doors of each contractor’s business development team are incarcerated; the doors are retrofitted with cipher locks and redecorated as war rooms. Business development at this level is fun and exciting and the foreign policy decisions driving the acquisition are not even on the radar. Continue reading

What’s Up with China and Japan?

Tension charges the Pacific rushing to fill the global atmospheric voids and drenching the

Lightning over the South China Sea (Dean Mullin)

Lightning over the South China Sea (Dean Mullin)

world’s peoples with anticipation of the first lightning strike of the storm, that violent discharge of energy that loose the bonds of war.  Friends and colleagues scattered throughout the Asian Pacific Islands are convinced that the storm, should it unleash, will begin between China and Japan.  Their opinions are echoed by no less than U.S. Pacific Command commander. “I am concerned,” Admiral Samuel Locklear, Commander of US Pacific Command, told reporters here when asked about the current state of tensions between Japan and China. “I would say that any time you have two large powers, two large economic powers, two large military powers that have a disagreement that they’re not talking to each other about, that has no clear diplomatic end state in sight, that the cost calculation can grow….”[1]  Another writer describes Japan as an ‘unsinkable American aircraft carrier’ and cites that as the red flag waving in the dragon’s face.  Are the economic and military dynamics between China and Japan the only reasons for the rising storm?  

Engagement first sino-japanese war (oil painting) (Wikipedia Commons)

Engagement first sino-japanese war (oil painting) (Wikipedia Commons)

Scholars are all over the geopolitical spectrum on Sino-Japanese history and the causes of the centuries old rift between China and japan.  Oh, the learned men and women agree on the major dates of specific milestones between China and Japan:  China’s first mention of Japan about 2000 years ago followed by cultural exchange; Japanese sovereignty and diplomatic relationship development about 400 years later and their first war 200 years after that; a long period of mutually beneficial maritime trading until the 1600s; Japanese piracy during that same time frame; and the final tearing of the Sino-Japanese relationship beginning in 1598 with Japan’s Hideyoshi’s Korean invasions through the reign of the Shoguns, World War I, World War II, the Cold War and here we are. 

After reading a selection of diverging analyses, struggling through dynastic timelines and cultural sidebars designed to drive my little engineering brain straight round the twist; it hit me that China and Japan are simply two peas fighting over the same pod.  They are the Asian Pacific long version of the U.S.’s feuding families; the Hatfields and McCoys.  It is nice to back on solid, quasi-Boolean ground with comfortable true-false options. 

O.E. Westad, London School of Economics, opines that Japan is unnerved by China’s dynamic economy, which puts Japan’s to shame.  He lays the rising tide of the Chinese youth’s resentment, bordering on hatred, of Japan back on the Chinese leadership of the 19th century. 

“…The real explanation lies further back. Japan’s rise in the late 19th century was seen as an affront by China, which had always felt entitled to the mantle of regional leadership. Mao Zedong and other founders of the Chinese Communist Party adopted these views and bequeathed them to their successors. 

 Most Chinese today therefore regard Japan’s wealth, and its position as America’s main ally in Asia, as results of ill-gotten gains. Even when the Chinese state was at its weakest, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, its elites felt that the Confucianism China had exported to its key neighbors — Korea, Japan and Vietnam — was the root of a common culture. Other countries in the “Confucian zone” were supposed to simply accept China’s natural leadership.

Beijing’s policies in the South China Sea today resemble those of the Qing empire, China’s last ruling dynasty, in the late 18th century. The emperor then, Qianlong, liked to speak to the “myriad nations” to the south as a father would address his children. Current Chinese leaders, who are exerting their influence in countries like Vietnam and Laos, echo his paternalism.

It is unlikely that China’s neighbors will appreciate this now any more than they did then. Qianlong got involved in a war in Vietnam in the 1780s that severely weakened his empire. Since then, the countries in the region have had their own waves of nationalism, often in response to Western colonialism. Indonesia, a country of 248 million, does not regard itself as “small,” even compared with a giant like China. It is bound to seek to counter China’s power unless Chinese attitudes and policies change….”[2]

Westad’s foreign policy approach has great merit[3], but the recent Japanese history of the atrocities committed in China during World War II cannot and should not be ignored.  The Japanese government continues to deny its World War II crimes in China and the U.S. did little to hold the Japanese government responsible. The Nanjing massacre, according to Japanese revised history, was a lie that the U.S. used to excuse the use of atomic weapons.  The war criminals that led the Nanjing Massacre are enshrined by the Japanese as ‘martyrs’.  Japan’s Prime Minister visited the shrine in December 2013 and his tribute and revisionist views continue to draw global rebukes.[4]  Although graphic, the world’s citizens need an awareness of the level of Japan’s atrocities at Nanjing between December 1937 and February 1938.[5]  Continue reading

China: A Morphogenetic Creation

[Author’s Note: A special word of thanks is due John Malch and the Webmaster at the Full-Spectrum-Dominance docking site for forcing the questions that needed asking.]

For 2,000 and more years China lived under imperial rule.  China’s silk, tea and the sciences

The Qing Dynasty ruled China from 1644 to 1911. (Source: Shutterstock / Hung Chung Chih )

The Qing Dynasty ruled China from 1644 to 1911. (Source: Shutterstock / Hung Chung Chih )

brought home to Europe by Western explorers donated fuel to restart the engine of Western civilization after the dark ages.  Thanks to China’s development of the compass, gunpowder, paper making, and printing,[1] we in the West  have been able to find ‘the war’, wage it, record it and get the word out to everyone else about how well it all went.  Like any other large central government, Chinese imperial rule bred massive corruption, a military turned inward on the people, a nanny-state to keep the citizenry predictable and rebels easily identifiable, and the required surveillance to calm the state’s paranoia.  And then, in 1912, the 2,000 years of imperial rule was over; ousted by a few insiders that liked the ring of the word ‘republic’.


The three-year old Pu-Yi, Emperor of China (standing); his father, Prince Chun, and his younger brother.

The three-year old Pu-Yi, Emperor of China (standing); his father, Prince Chun, and his younger brother.

The embryo of the Chinese republic was an interesting hybrid.  As the cells of the new body politic came alive, “the embryological processes of differentiation of cells, tissues, and organs and the development of organ systems according to the genetic “blueprint” of the potential organism and environmental conditions”[2] began to unfold; the morphogenetic creation that is China today was underway.  China’s imperial rule ended bathed in corruption rather than blood.  The Qing/Manchu Dynasty’s Aisin-Gioro PuYi, China’s last emperor, abdicated the Dragon Throne by proxy; the Empress Dowager Longyu, the mother who adopted him, signed the paperwork.

The Set-Up

China was up to its imperial neck in debt when the toddler, PuYi, assumed the Dragon Throne in 1908.  Foreign entanglements, particularly with Britain, had “humbled the Qing in

Sun Yat-sen (seated, second from left) and his revolutionary friends, the Four Bandits, including Yeung Hok-ling (left), Chan Siu-bak (seated, second from right), Yau Lit (right), and Guan Jingliang (關景良) (standing) at the Hong Kong College of Medicine for Chinese.

Sun Yat-sen (seated, second from left) and his revolutionary friends, the Four Bandits, including Yeung Hok-ling (left), Chan Siu-bak (seated, second from right), Yau Lit (right), and Guan Jingliang (關景良) (standing) at the Hong Kong College of Medicine for Chinese.

battle, carved out rich territories and extracted huge payments”[3]. The imperial goods were pawned for state income because income from other sources had slowed to a trickle. Provinces separated from the empire, citizens revolted and demanded a republic.  The revolutionaries were rewarded on October 10, 1911 in Nanjing when Sun Yat-sen was installed as the first president of the Republic of China. In a last ditch effort to regain central control, General Yuan Shikai became the court appointed prime minister.  General Yuan Shikai wasn’t overly attached to the idea of a republic but he did want the Qing dynasty gone by whatever means necessary.

General Yuan Shikai (1859-1916)

General Yuan Shikai (1859-1916)

Shikai made an offer the imperial family could not refuse.  When faced with beheading, Empress Dowager Longyu, Prince Yikuang, and the Empress Dowager’s head eunuch, Xiao Dezheng each took over $1.6 billion in silver to the bank.  The rest of the royal court was given the leave-or-lose-your-head option only.  PuYi left the Forbidden City, and as he grew into manhood ruled a Japanese controlled corner of North East China briefly.  Later, Chairman Mao allowed PuYi to work in the Botanical Gardens until his death in 1967, from complications of kidney cancer and heart disease.  We know this history through Jia Yinghua’s, The Extraordinary Life of the Last Emperor.[4]  An historian and former government official, Yinghua, compiled the fascinating history of China’s pivot point between imperial rule and a republic from the secret archives at Zhongnanhai, the Chinese leadership compound, and from interviews with relatives of the imperial courtiers. Continue reading

Wizard’s Chess

The pieces on the geopolitical chess board are in play in all three dimensions. Politically, nations are reacting to cultures in transition. Economically, there is a reordering of monetary and commodity values. Militarily, there is movement on a global scale. The tension mounts. The fishmongers ramp-up the volume as they compete for our attention with their wares wrapped in newsprint, byte segments and blog-tissue. The neurons that, in a single black box fleck of time, take data and make information we can understand, are fairly glowing with activity. Scandals riddle the federal government. Gold is dropping like a rock and oil is skyrocketing. The U.S. is hunting Snowden, the NSA whistleblower. Egypt is in flames. North Korea is playing games. India and China are facing off. So much is happening simultaneously, it is difficult to focus the present picture of our little globe. We humans do like our patterns and pictures to help us understand how events impact us individually. What is going on?

Is there, as some believe, a conspiracy of the global elite? It is no theory that a group of elite people, the Bilderberg Group, representing “government, finance, industry, labour, education and communications”[1] have been meeting annually to discuss the world situation for over fifty years. The Bilderberg Group even summons individuals from the bourgeoisie to attend from time-to-time. In Montreal, they interviewed President Obama before his first run. While I have no doubt they would like and, perhaps, even try to be puppet masters, there are too many variables. Humans, as individuals and groups of individuals, are too unpredictable.  On the other hand, it would not make sense to discount the Bilderberg Group and their agenda. There is no doubt that the members are players on the global stage and specific initiatives, such as the United Nations Agenda 21, are integrated into plans and vigorously promoted.

What is the problem with the UN’s Agenda 21 and its benign label of ‘Sustainable Development’? “Agenda 21, Sustainable Development, is the action plan implemented worldwide to inventory and control all land, all water, all minerals, all plants, all animals, all construction, all means of production, all energy, all education, all information, and all human beings in the world.  INVENTORY AND CONTROL.”[2]—Rosa Koire.  For a start, it removes resources from the hands of individuals and places them in the hands of a bureaucracy and it herds people into central population centers. Agenda 21 is the antithesis of the founding principles of the U.S., the concept of Natural Law. “Life, faculties, production — in other words, individuality, liberty, property — this is man.” Frédéric Bastiat, The Law (written in 1850). The U.S. Agenda 21 process is well underway in central planning processes.

If not a global puppet master, what then? Wizard’s Chess in three dimensions-political, economic, and military- appears to be the game of choice.  In Wizard’s Chess, the pieces move of their own

Let the games begin.

Let the games begin.

accord when commanded by the player. “When a piece is taken, it is removed by the attacking piece, often in a barbaric manner where the losing piece is smashed violently by the winning piece.”[3] Depending upon the number of players, the chess board can become a chaotic place.

China, the Wizard’s Rook, is trying the wings of its newly found economic growth. With the tentative measure of placing troops in Mali, China is stepping off-continent. At the economic chess board, China is also ‘stepping out’, broadening its horizons with arms sales according to Reuters. “China’s volume of weapons exports between 2008 and 2012 rose 162 percent compared with the previous five-year period, with its share of the global arms trade rising from 2 percent to 5 percent, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said.”[4] For instance, China’s recent sale of missiles to Turkey has NATO all abuzz.[5]

China is busy taking care of business politically as well. Overcoming past bad blood with Russia, China is reaching out for an alliance. The Diplomat points out that managing expectations about the relationship; expanding bilateral trade in energy and arms; and cooperation on international security affairs was the focus of a March 2013 conference between Russia’s Putin and China’s Jinping.[6] In the Indian Ocean, China is building harbors for trade but according to Stimson’s Ellen Laipson, “China’s maritime objectives in shipbuilding and port construction around the Indian Ocean are driven by commercial interests, although it’s reasonable to assume that the large investments could later evolve or be adapted for military purposes.”[7]

While the U.S. is the reigning superpower in the region, its light is fading. Combinations of other countries, like India, Pakistan, China, and the Koreas, are moving their respective chess pieces to fill in the voids and take up the slack. The U.S. is, arguably, the largest super power the world has ever seen. For the decades it engaged the Cold War (1947-1991), it grew to be a full service super

Waiting in the wings.

Waiting in the wings.

power provider. It built infrastructure, protected and manipulated countries without conquest, bolstered, bought and traded its way to its objectives, fought political wars, and ‘policed’ the world.  The U.S. played its pawns; installed and toppled leaders, bought and sold countries, and befriended and betrayed rogue groups. The U.S. may be a poor empire builder but she is a great super power who, until recently, controlled the seven seas. She is the Wizard’s queen and she is on the run. No one with any wisdom, however, would count the queen in check.

Russia, the Wizard’s Bishop, is on the move, double-time, since Vladimir Putin re-ascended the presidency. Putin does not trust the U.S. and most in the U.S. do not trust Putin. Each side has valid reasons for their distrust. Putin senses that the U.S. is a tired super power and is moving to fill some of the void. Putin knows, as we all do, that the U.S. is strapped for cash as he bolsters his oil and gas resources and backs Syria’s Assad. Putin has noted the U.S.’s current penchant for kinder, softer tactics like ‘winning hearts and minds’ and ‘leading from behind’ as he backs Iran. Arming both hemispheres of the world, a business area traditionally under the almost exclusive control of the U.S., has become a pastime for Putin’s government. The Wizard’s Bishop and Rook have teamed up on some policy fronts. Their combined capabilities rival the Wizard Queen’s.

Others of the Wizard’s pawns are moving smartly to avoid becoming victims of the super-storm cells that are swirling about in an apparently random fashion. India has a rocket, Agni-V, which can accurately deliver a payload over 3,000 miles. Pakistan is redoubling its nuclear saber rattling in its dispute with India over the Kashmir region, a legacy of the colonial breakup. Of course, India is reciprocating. Venezuela is buying missiles and submarines. North Korea is bellowing about its nuclear capability. Brazil, if it doesn’t disintegrate, is an emerging giant and prepared to defend its position. The Arab conflicts, mostly a Shi’a/Sunni issue and a legacy of decolonization, are ripping the Middle East apart. Every player, except the U.S., is amassing gold bullion; a sign of coming monetary upheaval.  Bread baskets in countries across the world are being fortified with defenses; yet another sign of global insecurity.

The Wizard’s chess boards are chaotic on all three levels; political, economic, and military. While chaos is disconcerting and unsettling to the human psyche, creative solutions frequently precipitate from the mess. While the Wizard’s chess game is unfolding quickly, others are preparing to play the next game. The odds-makers cipher the probabilities and the poker players are amusing themselves shuffling the geopolitical deck.  If the old Queen is placed in check, the world will look different. The key to stability on all three levels of Wizard’s chess, is the behavior of the Queen. Can she withdraw to her color without sacrificing her power? At the moment it is dicey. As China and Russia emerge from socialism and communism to trade-based economies, the U.S. is rocketing headlong into that failed experiment. It has never been more important that the U.S. hold onto its founding principles for it is a dangerous game being played. If the U.S. Queen fails in her withdrawal strategy and is captured, the destruction will be monumental and cultures of the world will reel backwards.

[2] Behind the Green Mask; Rosa Koire; http://www.democratsagainstunagenda21.com/

[4] Reuters; China replaces Britain in world’s top five arms exporters: report; http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/03/18/us-china-arms-exports-idUSBRE92G0L120130318

[6] The Diplomat; April 12, 2013; A Russia-China Alliance Brewing?; http://thediplomat.com/2013/04/12/a-russia-china-alliance-brewing/

[7] International Business Times; June 27 2013; Ellen Laipson; New Geopolitics In The Indian Ocean Region?; http://www.ibtimes.com/new-geopolitics-indian-ocean-region-1326305

Are the Philippine Bases Back in the Inventory?

A couple of years ago the government contractor rumor fly wheel began to spin the yarn that military bases in the Philippines were being resuscitated. Fantastic as it seemed at the time, it may be so; at least for Subic Bay and Clark AFB. The Hill’s Carlos Munoz said …“The deal to reopen Subic Bay and Clark Air Force Base was struck during Dempsey’s visit to the Asia-Pacific region to

An aerial view of the station and, to the left, Naval Air Station, Cubi Point. 1 Jan 1990; PH1(NAC) DAVID R. SANNER

An aerial view of the station and, to the left, Naval Air Station, Cubi Point. 1 Jan 1990; PH1(NAC) DAVID R. SANNER

attend the Shangri-La defense talks held in Singapore last Saturday…” (06/06/12).[1] More recently, The New York Times Asia Desk ran a Floyd Whaley piece confirming that “…A subsidiary of a major U.S. defense company is bidding on ship repair and logistical support contracts, and the Philippine Department of National Defense has reserved large portions of the former base for future use by the Philippine military and its allies, principally the United States.” (April 26, 2013).[2] If it is true that the U.S. and the Philippines kissed and made up, it is good news for U.S. Pacific forces stuck on vulnerable pieces of land like Guam.

It seems like only yesterday, I was dealing with an antsy Johnston Atoll Base Commander, an Air Force Colonel, preparing for General McPeak’s visit. The general was on the return leg of a visit to the Philippines to decommission Clark Air Force Base, located about forty miles northwest of

Mount Pinatubo eruption from Clark AFB

Mount Pinatubo eruption from Clark AFB

Manila. General McPeak’s airplane was also carrying the last Clark AFB commander and his wife back to the U.S. For Johnston Island, General McPeak was a big deal; a four-star general, chief of staff of the US Air Force, and a decorated Vietnam fighter pilot combat veteran.

It is no small wonder that the Johnston Island Base Commander was worried about everything from flag protocols to FOD, Foreign Object Debris. Air Force service members are, in general, obsessed with FOD on runways and taxiways because it breaks airplanes. The Base Commander took FOD to a whole new level when he directed a full sweep of the island accompanied by stain removal. Roads, sidewalks, maintenance yards, and parking lots were spit polished and gleaming in the tropical sun; a shining city with no hill. In preparation for the visit, the fruit and snacks were inspected and re-inspected and the tour route of the environmental remediation projects was arranged and re-arranged. Island residents, civilian and military, were washed and re-washed before donning their Sunday best. I was relieved when General McPeak and the others finally landed and taxied to the terminal.  General McPeak was a tightly packed, no nonsense, squared-away general. Following introductions, the premier tour commenced immediately. The only departure from the itinerary was that I, as the contractor manager, was assigned to take care of the Clark Base commander’s wife’s dog. Bummer, I got to step and fetch it to every whim of a cool canine while our base commander drank Tums.

By late afternoon, the visit was all over and the general’s jet was serviced, cleaned, re-provisioned and ready to fly. If the tour had gone well, we’d be celebrating at the Waikiki club at the edge of the lagoon by sunset. If not, we’d be drowning our sorrows at the same location. We contractors huddled outside the debriefing room waiting for a sign; white smoke for all clear or black smoke for trouble. The general made no comment on the touted plutonium clean-up project, the unique Agent Orange RCRA Part B facility, the innovative weathered diesel project, or the JACADS operation. In fact the only thing he said was that Johnston Island looked like a gypsy camp. We were not properly painted in accordance to Air Force Facility Standards. And so the base commander worried about his future and the contractors drowned their sorrows.

In the overall scheme of Cold War (1947-1991) phytoplankton, Johnston Island was too small to be seen with the unaided eye. The Philippine base closures were, by contrast, significant.  The Navy’s Subic Bay and the Air Force’s Clark AFB, have histories that go back to the Spanish Colonial period. The Philippines was a well-documented key player in WWII’s Pacific theater.  The advent of the Cold War ushered in a whole new era of military service. Michael Haydock’s article in VFW Magazine provided an outstanding overview of the lay of the Cold War landscape, “The Cold War in Asia took place in a vast theater. It stretched from the icy waters north of Japan—where a downed flier could freeze in six minutes to the muggy jungles of the Philippines and beyond to the desert wastes of the Australian outback. In many instances the duty, necessary and often dangerous, was little-known or even secret from civilians at home.”…

What began as support to the Filipino fight with Communist led rebels, the Hukbalahap (Huks), the military arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines, taking advantage of an emerging nation ended with a vital role providing forward base support to Vietnam.  The U.S. faces increasing challenges from China, North Korea and other Asian players. The current Pacific military base locations are either too far away, such as Hawaii, or too close, such as Guam and Japan. The Philippines is in the ‘Goldilocks’ zone, which offers sufficient time to launch a counter-strike in the event of a missile attack.  Clark Air Base’s runways can land the largest U.S. military airplanes and Subic Bay, once the largest American overseas military base in the world, has a harbor capable of handling submarines and the largest naval vessels.[3] If the goal can be realized, bases in the Philippines are an excellent investment.

There is trouble in paradise, however. It seems the U.S. government cannot keep its word to the Philippines. According to Philippines Politics Buzz, “While the Philippines keeps hoping for USA to come for a rescue and honor the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) during the china’s (sic) invasion in Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, USA opted not to side with the Philippines but take its neutral stance proving that the USA-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty is futile. The very important decision of USA proves that they could not honor what they have signed for the Philippines.”… [4] This decision will, no doubt, lead to re-examination of the wisdom of dealing with the U.S.

On July 29, 1991, Ted Galen Carpenter issued the Cato Institute Foreign Policy Briefing No. 12: The U.S. Military Presence in the Philippines: Expensive and Unnecessary.[5] I disagreed with Carpenter then, and I disagree with him now that I have re-read the discussion. I have never bought either the ‘diminishing threat’ or ‘implausible missions’ concepts in Asia. The Pacific is an enormous theater and there are not too many places to hide. The U.S. has a decreasing military land base from which to maneuver. The Philippines is an excellent, strategically located base for operations, if they can be convinced the U.S. government is a faithful ally. Why is it that both the Islamic extremists and Communists are so hot to trot for a Philippines takeover? Islamic extremists do not comprehend western civilization. China is not a friend of western civilization and they are increasing their military presence. With the world swirling in a geopolitical maelstrom, one would think the least the U.S. government could do is keep its word, for once.


[1] The Hill; Carlos Munoz; 06/06/12; The Philippines re-opens military bases to US forces; http://thehill.com/blogs/defcon-hill/operations/231257-philippines-re-opens-military-bases-to-us-forces-

[2] The New York Times; FLOYD WHALEY; April 26, 2013; Shadows of an Old Military Base; http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/27/world/asia/27iht-subic27.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

[3] Business Insider; Robert Johnson; June 8, 2012; The US Will Open Massive Philippine Bases Not Occupied Since The Cold War; http://www.businessinsider.com/the-us-is-reopening-massive-philippine-military-bases-not-used-since-the-cold-war-2012-6

[4] Philippine Politics Buzz!; Philippine close deal for ISRAEL MISSILE SYSTEM after USA dishonored MDT for China’s invasion in Scarborough; http://pinoypolitikas.blogspot.com/2013/06/philippine-close-deal-for-israel.html

[5] Cato Institute Foreign Policy Briefing No. 12:The U.S. Military Presence in the Philippines:Expensive and Unnecessary; Ted Galen Carpenter; July 29, 1991; http://www.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/pubs/pdf/fpb012.pdf