US-RP relation

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Monday, April 28, 2014


AS I noted in yesterday’s column, “US imperialism,” it is difficult for critics of United States designs in the Philippines to separate their c

riticisms of US government and US big business interests from their criticisms of the interests of ordinary or “typical” Americans. As a result, ordinary Americans are hurt by criticisms that are actually directed at US policy makers and US monopoly capitalists.

I know this because every time I write about this “sensitive” issue, “typical” Americans who read it and even some Filipino readers immediately raise objections.

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In the past, insults were even hurled at me through e-mail. Still, I presented yesterday’s column, which was in reaction to the visit of US President Barack Obama’s visit to the country, in an objective manner as possible.

I understand the mindset of the militants because, to use a cliché, I have “been there and done that.” Since I am now outside their fold, however, I can also better appreciate the sentiments of ordinary Americans and Filipinos regarding US-RP relations.

Anyway, here are two mails that strayed into my inbox yesterday. The first one is from John B. Deiters of the USA:

“Your article (yesterday) lacked insight, thoughtfulness and a sense of history.

“While you were still a gleam in the eyes of your ancestors, American blood was being spilled on your homeland of the Philippines. Americans had no imperialistic goals, only those of world peace.

“A dreadful world war needed to be won and the Philippines was critical in that effort. As Americans, we asked nothing of the Philippines other than a place to bury
our dead and (to be allowed) to go home to live in peace.

“Americans will fall victim to tornadoes and hurricanes the next six months. Will the Philippines step forward and send aid to the poor of America in terms of military security, food, housing, fresh water, hospital ships and cash?”

I see in the views of Mr. Deiters the same popular interpretation of US designs in the country. While it is popular, I won’t say it is the correct one. But I won’t argue with him for now.

The second letter is from Mike Boylan (msboylan17@gmail.com):

“The typical American derives no benefit or profit from the Philippines; most couldn’t identify it on a map. The only time most hear of it is in the aftermath of another human tragedy or some story of corruption on a Guinness Book level.

“So by all means let them (the militants) burn the American flag and chant “US go home.” Let US citizens at home see their beloved flag desecrated by an ally. Newton’s Third Law of Motion states: ”For every action there is a reaction.”

“Perhaps the US government will heed the demands of the demonstrators and leave the Philippine military to face China by themselves. Of course (it) would never abandon a friend and ally, would (it)?”

***

Before US President Barack Obama arrived in Manila yesterday afternoon, the foreign secretaries of the US and the Philippines signed the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, which expanded the previous Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) to allow increased “rotational presence” of US military forces in the country.

Both the Philippines and US obviously hope that the new agreement would provide a deterrence to the increased activity of China in the South China Sea. The Philippines cannot counter militarily China’s bullying, so it ran to the US for help.

It would be interesting to monitor, though, how things will play out. The “rotational presence” of US forces in the Philippines was lesser under the VFA than under the new agreement. Yet frictions still erupted years ago when some US soldiers committed crimes in Philippine soil and they couldn’t be prosecuted and punished thoroughly.

(khanwens@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 29, 2014.

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