THE whole universe might be eternal, but nothing in it is, least of all anything man-made. Thus, in recorded history, the fall of mighty empires have been as inevitable as sunset.
Today, the American empire’s sun is lighting up the world in varying degrees and colors of economic, political and cultural brightness. Yet, already there are signs that this sun is beginning to set.
One sign of it is Donald Trump’s mantra before election of “Let’s make America great again” and after election of his “America first” foreign policy. Why these rallying calls if he did not perceive America’s influence as waning? And why did Americans vote for him if they didn’t agree with his perception?
Meanwhile in the East, the Chinese empire is showing definitive signs of rising or even of being on the cusp of covering the world with a different brand of economic, political, and cultural sunlight. Donald Trump is showing signs (like trade barriers) that he is trying to prevent this from happening. Nobody knows what other (covert?) efforts the US is making to stem the Chinese tide but these will all be in vain. Sooner or later the Chinese dragon will overtake Uncle Sam.
In the geo-political game bit-players like us have no choice what cards we will be dealt. Once, we had to play low cards to the US high cards and we became a satellite country of the US economically, politically and culturally. Now, we are again dealt low cards to China’s high and soon we will have no choice but to orbit around China. And there is nothing the US can do to prevent this.
However, we continue to have a choice of how to play the low cards we have been dealt. We can choose to be smart about our shift of orbit. We have a choice of playing to win a battle and lose the war, as the President’s critics seem to want, or lose a battle and win the war as Duterte seems to be playing it. He is playing our cards like a visionary who sees the inevitability of our future being closely wound around China.
The President is playing for a long-term mutually beneficial relationship with a country that experts predict will soon replace America as the world’s top superpower. He sees China as the new sun around which the Philippines will have to orbit but smartly while all that his critics seem to care about is how to weaken him politically. For all they care, we can lose the war but they must win the battle and lure Filipinos into putting them back into power.
We have made great economic strides even as we slowly shifted from our traditional US orbit to around the new Eastern sun, China. The President is playing our cards smart by taking care that we make the inevitable shift to a new orbit without breaking stride.