The Asian Pivot – TTG


Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announced his "separation" from the United States on Thursday, declaring he had realigned with China as the two agreed to resolve their South China Sea dispute through talks. Duterte made his comments in Beijing, where he is visiting with at least 200 business people to pave the way for what he calls a new commercial alliance as relations with longtime ally Washington deteriorate. "In this venue, your honors, in this venue, I announce my separation from the United States," Duterte told Chinese and Philippine business people, to applause, at a forum in the Great Hall of the People attended by Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli. "Both in military, not maybe social, but economics also. America has lost."

Duterte's efforts to engage China, months after a tribunal in the Hague ruled that Beijing did not have historic rights to the South China Sea in a case brought by the previous administration in Manila, marks a reversal in foreign policy since the 71-year-old former mayor took office on June 30. His trade secretary, Ramon Lopez, said $13.5 billion in deals would be signed during the China trip. "I've realigned myself in your ideological flow and maybe I will also go to Russia to talk to (President Vladimir) Putin and tell him that there are three of us against the world – China, Philippines and Russia. It's the only way," Duterte told his Beijing audience. (Reuters)


I think it’s safe to say that we have been out-pivoted in the South China Sea. Yes, we are left luffing in the breeze as Xi and Duterte sail to the East on a broad reach. We can kiss off Subic Bay for good this time. I wonder how the business community of Olangapo will adjust to the inevitable future presence of the PRC Navy?

Duterte said he will stop joint military exercises with the US. He also opposes joint patrols of the South China Sea with the US. US officials insist the current treaty alliance, dating back to the Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951, remains in effect. Will the Filipino government go along with their President? How far will our government go to keep the treaty alliance and our hold on the Philippines alive?

I spent a couple of weeks in the Philippines back in 1978 during the first "Tempo Caper" joint exercise. We were based on the USS Cleveland in Subic Bay. I enjoyed it immensely, although I could have done without being knocked out of my hammock by a roaming carabao one stormy night. A year later I met my Filipino Army counterpart at my RECONDO school back in Hawaii. He greeted me like a long lost brother. I'm sure there are a lot of this kind of personal "mil to mil"relationships today. What will become of them?  


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104 Responses to The Asian Pivot – TTG

  1. Aka says:

    my guess is that this guy will be “replaced” soon.

  2. OIFVet says:

    The dominoes are falling! The dominoes are falling!

  3. turcopolier says:

    We did this to ourselves. It is a long time since my father served 14 years in PI. In an unguarded moment (rare for him) he told me I had brothers and sisters there. He spoke excellent Tagalog and Spanish. pl

  4. johnT says:

    Very interesting development.
    I was in out out of Subic in the Navy, early 70’s.
    Indeed what will Olongapo do without us young drunken
    womanizers? Are Chinese sailors as debauched?
    Stay tuned. And grab some popcorn for the predictable
    US response.
    Peace. Out.

  5. Yup. I feel another ‘color revolution’ coming on–a Maidan in Manilla. I can just smell Vicky Nulands baking up a new batch of cookies!

  6. Fred says:

    “the two agreed to resolve their South China Sea dispute through talks. ”
    You can resolve differences by talks between parties? I suspect one has to hold up their side of the bargain too. Surely there isn’t anything of public knowledge that might lead the Philippine government to think otherwise.

  7. Babak Makkinejad says:

    That is what I have been saying, US is not putting any positive vision of the future on the table; not in the Middle East, not in Eastern Europe, and not in the Philippines.
    Prosperity in East Asia is predicated on having productive relations with China. The Philippines does not have the wealth of the United States to adopt an In-Your-Face foreign policy with respect to China. And even if they adopt it, it would be a pose and will decay very quickly.
    Look at India – she is not any more prosperous or secure because of her posture against China. A dead-end policy for a country that has 700 million souls living on less than a $ 1 a day.

  8. RM says:

    My parents met as kids were on Corregidor before WWII. Their parents were US Army Coast Artillery. We visited Subic Bay & Baguio(from Bangkok) for a few weeks in 1985 and really enjoyed it.
    The US was being “shaken down” for more money for basing rights when Mt Pinatubo erupted in 1991 and pretty much took out Clark AFB. That was pretty much the beginning of the end of US military being based in the Philippines.

  9. Peter Eisner says:

    This is an important story, but the main traditional relationship with the Philippines is via the Armed Forces, which were, like many others, caught off guard by the ascension of Duterte, who is stirring things up dramatically. It may be too early to start putting Subic back in moth balls.

  10. TTG,
    Two points.
    Part of the background to this is that, if you are a political leader in a ‘Third World’ country – and the position of such people is characteristically and inevitably precarious – you simply cannot any longer regard the United States as reliable.
    (Do not think that this is the remark of a supercilious Brit – we are not important, because we do not have the power, but are just as unreliable as you, if not more so.)
    One day, you may be regard as in ‘good standing’ – the next, the whole force of the ‘human rights’ propaganda lobby may be unleashed upon you.
    Suddenly, you may be turned into a kind of comic-book demon, so that covert means of destabilisation, and if these fail, all out air attacks, may be unleashed against you.
    So, simple considerations of survival may well mean that you think dealing with the Russians and Chinese a better bet.
    Another critical point relates to the attractiveness of American economic and political institutions.
    In 1989, this was at a high point.
    This did not mean that intelligent people in countries like Russia and China necessarily thought that such economic and political institutions could be simply transplanted to their countries.
    But, insofar as they could not, many were inclined to think that this was because they were, to some extent, ‘backward’.
    All that has now gone.
    An ideological revolution has been happening, which people in Washington and London are simply incapable of even beginning to understand.

  11. asx says:

    Philippines, Turkey, Pakistan. The dominoes are indeed falling. Egypt, Hungary,Serbia,Greece in line.Others are hedging.
    No matter who wins November 8th, they will begin their term with their legitimacy severely questioned. There is enough material out there in public domain that will keep them hobbled. The next four years are more likely to be like the last two years of the previous Clinton term. And the rats are jumping ship sensing this. This will increase the chances of more risky gambits from our side, like the Belgrade bombing.
    We are reaching the point where unless we limit/sever the economic dependancies we’ve had with China, those that have benefited the 0.1% while hollowing out the rest, we will comfortably settle into the role of numero deux. Our Suez moment may already be in the rear view mirror.

  12. PirateLaddie says:

    I think the Chinese still view the US as a convenient cat’s paw, and they appreciate our ability to serve as a foil (distant and easily fooled) to their machinations. Remember that the local Chinese folks pretty much ran the PI when it was still a colony of ours. WW II disrupted the normal flow of governance, since many Filipinos with Chinese blood fell thru the cracks of “solidarity” that guaranteed their leadership. As one of the older Chinese businessmen told me about 30 years ago, “much face was lost, along with a generation of control.”
    Danding Cojuangco wasn’t a “good Chinese” during his service to Marcos, but the installation of his cousin Corrie Aquino (just before I arrived in the early ’80’s) brought them back to the saddle. I always though Pinatubo was God’s way of telling us that the western Pacific was “a bridge too far,” and that we’d be better off folding our tents in the region.
    Aka & Seamus have probably got it right, especially with Queenie coming into ascendancy. Duterte’s power base is the Visayas (traditional Chinese stomping ground, since it’s the breakbulk center for traders) and Mindanao (resource base that’s often uncomfortable taking orders from Luzon). There’s probably a fair number of fault lines that we can encourage — and are likely to.

  13. Croesus says:

    “Philippines, Turkey, Pakistan. The dominoes are indeed falling. Egypt, Hungary,Serbia,Greece in line.”
    We’ll always have Israel.
    willy nilly

  14. kao_hsien_chih says:

    One could say the same about how the ruling class in US is not putting a positive vision of the future with regards the Americans either.
    The future that they are selling is a globalized future where the peons of all races drive uber cars fetching the elites of all races. Since peons and elites will look multicultural, even if they all look, act, and talk the same, it’ll be wonderful and egalitarian, with anybody opposed being racist reactionary antidemocratic bigots.

  15. Warpig says:

    Probably not a Maidan. More slow motion and legalistic, like Dilma in Brazil.

  16. kao_hsien_chih says:

    I hear that Israel is also hedging: many of the influential Israeli political factions are heavily “Russian,” with fairly friendly ties to Putin and his people. If US does openly clash with the Russians in, say, Syria, I honestly wonder if Israel will back us up, or (covertly?) stab us in the back for the right price.

  17. Aka and Seamus,
    I agree that the coup plotters are already plotting their coups. I’m sure Duterte is aware of this and will seek help from China and perhaps Russia, too, to thwart those inevitable coup attempts. Let the Pacific shadow wars begin. Nuland may end up with a bag of cookies stuffed up her butt this time.

  18. Lemur says:

    You don’t your cattle having in group preferences. That may result in common interests which are not elite interests.

  19. Mark Gaughan says:

    I just read this the other day. It’s relevant to this discussion.

  20. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    asx, Croesus,
    Turkey has not “fallen” as a domino, yet. I cannot decipher what kind of a game is going on, but tayyip is still playing both ends against the middle. The US seems to be doing the same thing.
    Interesting times
    Ishmael Zechariah

  21. VietnamVet says:

    I had a Filipino girlfriend in University and visited Manila and Baguio 49 years ago. I followed on the news what was happening there. I find it shocking that a Catholic Country with S.E. Asia’s history of discord between immigrant Chinese who run the shops and business and the native population would embrace Communist China. This and Egypt’s turn towards Russia shows how corrupt and insane American foreign policy has become. For their safety and prosperity, the world is turning against the American Empire. Europe is next unless there is a restoration of the rule of law and government by and for the people in Washington DC. I am afraid of what the crazies in the basement will do next.

  22. Lemur says:

    National Duterteism is a large scale incidence of what happened between Fiji and Australia/New Zealand. When Bainimarama assumed plenary powers, our short sighted leaders sputtered about human rights and imposed sanctions. In response, Fiji instituted its ‘look north’ policy to China and Russia. (Russia recently delivered millions of dollars of new weapons to the Fijian military.) Our traditional influence there has permanently declined.
    What’s rather amusing though is before the coup, the democratic Fijian parliament was moving toward making the country a Christian theocracy, and was strongly pro-native Fijian – two sorts of things our liberal elites hate. The military by contrast represented business interests and an ‘inclusive’ social agenda. It imposed a dictatorship that was more or less an explicit version of the soft totalitarian, left-oligarchic orientation in our own societies.

  23. Valissa says:

    Warning… a very strange music video about cookies, but perhaps symbolically relevant here 😉

  24. Harry says:

    The Israelis raised their price on you.
    How much of this is Obami mismanagement, and how much is just long term economic decline caused by out-sourcing everything to China?

  25. Babak Makkinejad says:

    The military dictatorship is against Indians.

  26. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Yup – a century or more of that and the old motto will truly come to pass: “Workers of the world Unite, you have nothing to loose but your chains.”

  27. Jack says:

    I agree with the points that Babak and David Habakkuk are making.
    Yes, the US no longer has a positive vision of the future. A vision for both America and the world that can be articulated in simple language. This is a direct consequence of the coalescing of elites into the Borg with a totally self-serving agenda. The Borg only cares about its survival and looting as much as possible. Consequently, it is flailing and using the only tools at its disposal – propaganda, violence and destabilizion. Part of the problem is that there is no consensus among the American people. We are deeply divided. One half want to maintain the status quo and the supremacy of the Borg. And of course the privilege that comes from that -welfare, warfare, big government that uses its power to funnel largesse to the few. And then there are the Deplorables. Getting more and more marginalized as the structural framework squeeze them. The propaganda of the Borg has worked so far. But dissonance is growing. The Deplorables took a big step in the fightback by nominating Trump, an outsider reviled by the Borg, and effectively destroying one-half of the duopoly. The Borg is now pulling out all the stops to crown the Borg Queen. They may well be successful this time but they’re on borrowed time. We’re gonna have a very contentious 4 year as the Borg Queen uses more propaganda to buttress her “public position” while her private actions continue to spiral the deep seated fragility in our financial architecture and our foreign entanglements. World leaders notice this and they’re preparing alternatives. Russia and China are quietly forming a bulwark of stability to confront the erratic destabilizion of our Borg. Duterte is just the first among many who will align with this new axis. They really have no choice. The Borgist actions are incoherent and full of hubris. They no longer can be vassals to the deluded Borg as they cling to power as there are only losses with no gain. Post Cold War many were willing to accept American hegemony in return for stability and real economic growth that increased the median household’s income. But they got neither. Instead the world has seen a psychotic Borg that is increasingly incoherent and dangerous and systemic financial leverage that benefited mostly the 0.01%. The Borg Queen is trying to gin up the next Cold War. She’s gonna find few allies other than the hapless EU and the Ziocon complex of Israel and the Saudi. And instead she’s gonna be confronted with an alternative in the world backed up by the military muscle of Russia and China. I continue to believe that global financial instabilities will lead to a series of crises resulting in revulsion to the Wall St financialization backed by big government. There is a civil war brewing here at home and the world at large as the desperate Borg lash out as they get more and more erratic as they get challenged with more strength and determination.

  28. asx says:

    Putin will gladly don the role of patron saint against color revolutions and outright coup attempts. If he can turn Tayyip around from being outright hostile, others can see it is a win-win to align like that.
    Duterte still has too much political capital left to try any shenanigan there now. I suspect he will be left to go the Chavez/Maduro route. In the end all deals with China come at a heavy financial price. They will offload their excess inventory and capacity, and the Asian bank will be the new IMF saving these basketcases.
    In Pakistan, it is the military seeking protection against a coup by the civilian government. The recent military exercises with Russia is an outreach towards that.

  29. Kooshy says:

    David, living here in US I believe the problem is more of an economic issue. IMO, all this different issues, holdings, obligations, around the world that US has made for herself is expensive to maintain and keep. IMO, US’ popolation deep down can’t afford, and do not want to pay any longer to maintain and keep al this obligations, bases, payoffs around the world. Once leaders, people, countries see the money is not coming as easy and in abundance as they expect, they move to the next best offer. Some say we in this country in last few years have spent up to 6 trillion on our forign advantures with nothing to show for. IMO, no one in the world loves us and want us except for the money we pay and spend. That is true even more with Europeans who Americans have saved at least twice.

  30. Alves says:

    If you like Dilma so much, then take her to your own country now that we are finally free from her incompetence and corruption.

  31. BraveNewWorld says:

    Israel has been talking about the pivot to Asia for a long time. The welfare check will still come from the US though.
    The problem for the Neocons is that if you are East of the Mediterranean you can look East to a market of 2/3 of the worlds population. Or you can look West to 1/3 where you can’t compete because of the long shipping distances.
    As for the Phillipines. If the US pushed them into a fight with China the war would be fought in the Philipines. Any one with a TV knows what proxy wars between the great powers means. Total destruction of your country and the elimination of a large part of your population.
    The Philippines has no more choice in siding with China than Canada does in siding with the US.

  32. doug says:

    the peons that drive Ubers are temporary. Driverless cars are not that far away. This will diverge where middle class and below people will hail a driverless car as needed and physical car ownership will become increasingly expensive. The change will be more rapid than that wrought by the advent of the horseless carriage.

  33. doug says:

    Russia has long had excellent ties with Israel. One sign of this is that they have a visa waiver program. Does the US have one with the Izzies yet?

  34. VietnamVet says:

    Exactly. If Syria or Ukraine do not ignite WWIII with Russia, the globalists continued looting of the West’s Midlanders will provoke revolts. Besides the endless wars, there will be another financial crisis. The last time Wall Street, City of London and Frankfort conned the politicians and the public into transferring their bad private debt onto sovereign states and went back to making more bad bets. For the last eight years, there has been quantitative easing, trade treaties that privatize government and right wing politics to flush it down the drain. The next financial crisis will be catastrophic because nationalization of the banks and writing down of the bad debt will have be performed by weakened, incompetent and ideology riven governments, or nothing is done at all.
    The only chance for peace is the restoration of competent sovereign governments that protects their citizens.

  35. Thirdeye says:

    Erdogan’s move towards Russia seems more like a default move than the result of any masterful move by Putin. Turkey stands to make gains by replacing Ukraine as the Russian-European gas transit, so they certainly don’t want to blow that. After the US support of the Gulenist coup attempt came to light – with the moves against Ghaddafi and Assad fresh in memory – what other logical move was there for Erdogan to make?

  36. Tidewater says:

    Tidewater to All,
    I have just looked again at the Wikipedia “Territorial disputes in the South China Sea.” Wiki provides a map. This map shows the existing offshore claims of the nations around the South China Sea to certain islands; to fishing grounds, under-sea mining, oil exploration; to control of navigation, which would seem to give rights to exclude foreign ships, including those of India,which ships fifty per cent of its trade through these waters. China also claims Taiwan; China claims a significent part of Japanese coastal waters.
    So what does China want? Simple. CHINA WANTS EVERYTHING.
    Reminds me of Hunter Thompson’s encounter with the Hell’s Angels.
    While claiming ancient historical rights to certain atolls, reefs, rocks, lagoons in the South China sea, China has changed the basis of its claims from rice paper scrolls of scribes to dredging, coral landfill, and poured concrete. For example, China will argue that a rock is an island, since China and island is now actually there. Which China is now occupying. The ancient Shao Lin warrior monk Wun Hung Lo would be amazed. Where there were reefs with surf breaking over them when he sailed by, and scratched out his sketches in ink on parchment, there are now seven islands, each one with a 9,800 foot runway and support buildings. Some 3200 new acres of land out there now.
    Consider the Spratly Islands. Twenty-nine of these islands, islets, reefs, rocks, are Vietnamese controlled; eight are Philippine controlled; five are Malaysia controlled; two are Brunai controlled; one is Taiwan controlled; and eight are Chinese controlled.
    Vietnam has ancient claims in the South China Sea that include all of the Paracel Islands and as far as I can see, all of the Spratleys. The Philippines do not claim the Paracels, but they apparently claim not only Scarborough Shoal to the north, as well as all of the Spratleys.
    If the Philippines are to surrender to China, which is what they would be doing, Duterte has to explain to his people why their coastal waters will now have to suddenly shrink by what amount, I can only guess, eighty-five per cent? Like they now are back to a two mile limit?
    Surely this would mean Filipino fishermen could not now go into a vast area of the South China Sea. (Unless they paid for fishing licenses from China?) But fishermen from these countries have historically gone all over the place. I have some photos of a rusty and not very big North Korean fishing boat, with shark fins hanging on a wire behind the smoke stack to cure, besides a quay in the Seychelles. Who will China instruct to stay out of its territoral waters?
    I don’t see how Duterte is going to be able to bring this off.
    Further, I don’t see how China is going to, either.
    We are looking at war.

  37. Imagine says:

    Heavens no thank you. We have too many Ecstasy dealers in the Valley. The free visas keep getting proposed by Sherman, but they keep getting shot down.

  38. Fred says:

    The last time that kind of thing like that happened was the collapse of Rome. The results lasted a thousand years.

  39. Fred says:

    Yeah my bosses are all buying into the self-licking ice cream cone version of the automotive brave new world too. I believe our stock is down about 50% from when the guy who saved it focused on core business principles.

  40. Lemur says:

    As I understand it, the 2006 coup has its roots in the 2000 coup against the multi-ethnic Fijian government.
    Bainimarama attacked the government for leniency against the plotters of the 2000 coup, and linked the governments attitude to the desecration of Hindu temples. Later, he handed the government an ultimatum that included refraining from economic policies which would discriminate on racial grounds.
    The Commodore said at the United Nations:
    “[I]n 1970, Fiji started its journey as a young nation on a rather shaky foundation, with a race-based Constitution, one which rigidly compartmentalised our communities. The ‘democracy’ which came to be practised in Fiji was marked by divisive, adversarial, inward-looking, race-based politics. The legacy of leadership, at both community and national levels, was a fractured nation. Fiji’s people were not allowed to share a common national identity.
    Of the two major communities, indigenous Fijians were instilled with fear of dominance and dispossession by Indo-Fijians, and they desired protection of their status as the indigenous people. Indo-Fijians, on the other hand, felt alienated and marginalised, as second-class citizens in their own country, the country of their birth, Fiji. […]
    [P]olicies which promote racial supremacy […] must be removed once and for all. […] Fiji will look at making the necessary legal changes in the area of electoral reform, to ensure true equality at the polls. […] [E]very person will be given the right to vote for only one candidate, irrespective of race or religion.”

  41. Lemur says:

    That sounds like the the pivoteer narrative. China seems reasonable when its engaged bilaterally. Their ‘claims’ should be read as starting positions in a negotiation imo.

  42. DavidKNZ says:

    FIRST: I would treat anything ‘political’ on Wikipedia with great caution.
    Curious about the mismatching narratives on Ukraine, I turned to Wikipedia. Surely, I thought, an encyclopedia would be factual
    I looked up
    It is a substantial (100,000 word) detailed account butressed up with over 500 footnotes. On first reading it appeared to be a factual account of Russian transgressions against the newly emerging democracy of Ukraine. Yet little mention of the Maidan massacre, nor of the brutalities of the Ukrainian ATO, nor of the world class refugee work by Russia, (surprising unreported). No Nuland cookies, no Soros interventions.
    So I dug a little further.The extensive references were mostly to western MSM or surrogates.
    TIME 55
    Reuters 37
    Guardian 35
    BBC 35
    Kyiv Times 21
    The Washington Post 17
    Further, there was considerable cirularity – an article in Time references an article the the Guardian which in turn references the BBC. Oh what tangled webs we weave.
    Theres also a link ( as well as 9 references) to that font of Western Truth, BellingCat.
    This was an extensive article, albeit propaganda – like the Readers Digest on steroids
    It would have cost a LOT to produce.
    Who paid?? As they say, follow the money.
    SECOND: The Chinese have finesse at negotiation. They will not force an outcome where there is an outright winner and a complete looser.
    They recognise ‘saving face’ is important. Even if what finally transpires is mostly to China’s benefit, both sides will be able to claim ‘success’
    And they are aware that friends in the region are very important at this time

  43. DavidKNZ says:

    If you want to see how short sighted our ‘Leaders’ are, read this:

  44. DavidKNZ,
    The Chinese finesse is evident in this first meeting. Duterte was greeted with full military honors. Chinese newspaper editorials spoke highly of Duterte and the Philippines and advised the leadership in Beijing to respond appropriately to Duterte’s gracious overture. Duterte is also capable of such finesse. He said he would not bring up territorial disputes in this first series of meeting because it would be ungracious to his host. This behavior is a far cry from what I’ve seen in our diplomatic behavior for quite a while. We seem more interested in scoring points with passive-agressive confrontations than in conducting any meaningful diplomacy.
    Perhaps this is all Kabuki theater, but it’s better than acting like a complete ass all the time.

  45. Tom Cafferty says:

    Don’t get too carried away about the Chinese. They are just one good economic crash away from their own little pile of misery. And they are a one percent oligarchy with the best of them. Duarte should ask the Africans how all that Chinese development aid is working out for them.

  46. Lemur says:

    Oh yeah i saw that.
    We should be aiming to become the Switzerland of the South Pacific, instead we’re picking sides in a conflict where we’ll lose no matter who wins.

  47. Lemur says:

    Wikipedia’s political content is determined by two main factors:
    -credible sources (which are value judgments as you outlined above)
    – persistence in wikpedia’s endless disputes system until your POV prevails

  48. Lemur says:

    China’s debt fueled economy is rather irrelevant to their long term rise – they have industrialized, learned valuable technical skills, raised their educational level etc. The real buildup is in social and technical capital, and nobody can take that away.
    As for their foreign aid, at least the countries they operate in get infrastructure instead of IMF loans. Right now they’re in our 19th century Oliver Twist capitalism phase, but the Harmonious Society prescriptions seem to indicate they plan on gradually working toward distributing wealth more evenly.

  49. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Like Uganda, were Indians went, so went with them thrift, industry, commerce, and knowledge. Fiji was not an exception. And the Polynesians’ resentment is also reminiscent of African’s resentment in Uganda (and under the rug for now, in South Africa).
    I personally do not believe it possible that people whose ancestors were vegetarians and people whose ancestors were cannibals could be part of the same nation or country.
    Yes, I know, Papua-New Guinea is a sovereign state – just like the United Kingdom and Port Mosby is just like London. And some day, there will be a university there in Papua-New Guinea every bit as good, if not better than Oxbridge – it is just a matter of money and education.

  50. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Why not? Those cheerful people, called Filipinos, why should they die in wars. Switzerland has had 400 years of peace; with sons burying fathers and not the other way around.

  51. Babak Makkinejad says:

    As an old adversary of the Sassanid Empire, I must say to the decline of Rome with the biblical adage: “Let it decline” and thank God for that.

  52. Tidewater says:

    Tidewater to Lemur,
    Negotiation about what? There’s nothing to negotiate. This is about freedom of the seas. Everybody around the South China Sea has the right to transit and make use of the sea for maritime commerce; to fish in the sea; and to allow military, commercial, cultural alliances east or west among the various nations with littorals on the South China Sea; and to allow port visits from the navies of these alliances. It is common sense!
    If you mean negotiations about oil–I think they had better learn to share. Whatever those negotiations may be, putting the military power the Chinese have put out on those rocks tells us that this is the forced move, increment by increment, by discreet, sophisticated totalitarians. China is a mafia state.
    If there is conflict between Chinese forces and the United States Navy–and I am beginning to think it is better now than later– I hope that we are able to place very squarely on these new artificial islands many J-DAMs. These will go deep down, detonate, and turn everything above it into cracks, broken pipes, out-pouring fresh water from smashed desalination plants, leaking fuel supplies, slanting runways tilting like old Richmond sidewalks, sinking sections of coral rubble…and then, if need be, send in the SEABEEs to finish the return to nature.
    Yes, what I am saying is right out of the blue, right out of nowhere, completely unexpected comes the something unexpected–we must militarily confront China. Now.
    A human cull is going to come, believe it or not. Sooner. Or. Later. Please bear that in mind.

  53. Babak Makkinejad says:

    We have to wait and see the level of their innovation over the next few centuries…

  54. DavidKNZ says:

    If you want to see their level of innovation over the LAST several centuries, read
    ” The Man Who Loved China: The Fantastic Story of the Eccentric Scientist Who Unlocked the Mysteries of the Middle Kingdom” by
    Simon Winchester –

  55. Aka says:

    I think Duterte has made too many enemies that it might not be that difficult to get rid of him.
    And Russia and China may stop a military intervention but Philippines remains (even with flaws) a democracy. Duterte has to face elections. Enough bad press and a strong coalition against him and he would fail.

  56. Alves says:

    Globo? Screw it. I lived under her, saw our economy melt due to her screw ups, had my pension fund smoney stolen by her party mates to finance her party, her election and luxuries for lots of politicians.
    12 million unemployed workers, Petrobras and pension funds busted, all due to incompetence and corruption. Need I say more?
    The bottom line is that our Supreme Court, with more than 70% of its judges appointed by her or by her predecessor, said multiple times that the impeachment is perfectly legal.

  57. Aka says:

    asx ,
    Pakistan’s problem seems to be that US gives mostly a free hand to India for Indias policy towards its neighbors. Probably because US needs India as a ally against China (And India plays everyone. See India-Russia relations).
    And Indians are openly neo-cons (If i may use the word). She meddles in every aspect of its neighbors governance going far as shaping the their constitutions (see Nepal and Sri Lanka) or soft power regime changes (2015 Sri Lanka, Maldives for some time, Nepal for sometime).
    Considering above facts, Pakistan must be worried that US will abandon it over India. Or at least Pakistan must see this happening in the near future.

  58. Alves says:

    Just to add something regarding Greenwald: his life partner was a candidate for the city council of Rio in the elections that just happened, as a member of a socialist party that supported Dilma and ran based in the coup discourse.
    Looks like “he” self-financed his own campaign, transfering money worth 3 times his declared assets.
    After discovering those little details, it no longer is a surprise that Gleen does his best to smear Brazil, despite having been well received here and past history of worthy causes.

  59. mike allen says:

    President Duterte is an interesting guy. He is one of few presidents of Visayan instead of Tagalog descent, not pure Visayan though, his grandfather immigrated from China. He reportedly bragged to the Philippine media that he once shot a fraternity brother in law school who teased him about his ancestry.
    I understand he has not yet given in to China on the sovereignty issue of the Spratly’s and the Scarborough Shoals. And he has not yet abrogated mutual accords like the Visiting Forces Agreement and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement that I have heard (so far anyway!). Just last month he was quoted as saying: “I never said get out of the Philippines, for after all, we need them there in the China Sea. We don’t have armaments.” Although he has asked US SOF that were helping the Philippine military fight the modern day Moro insurgency to leave Mindanao.
    I miss the Subic Bay of the old days. Once saw a shadetree mechanic there brazing a cracked water pump on the street next to his car. Did a better job than I or my machinist uncle could ever have done. Witnessed a sidewalk balut-eating contest (100 year old eggs) between a Navy Chief and a papasan bar owner. Fell in love with a teenage Senorita there, but I was only a teenage Pfc myself. Music everywhere and the locals loved the sound of singing, everybody sang. It was like the traditional music culture of Appalachia or Mississippi Delta or perhaps the old Welsh tradition. And my most favorite T-shirt that I ever owned I bought from a street-vending silk-screener there and had him label it “Olongapo U Alum”.

  60. Alves says:

    In the next 6 months or so the electoral tribunal might say that he and Dilma were illegaly elected, so it can happen, and, to be honest, it should happen.
    Another impeachment is unlikelly because Temer is good at politics (Dilma lost the support of roughly 70% of our congress) and criminal investigations of the president will have to wait until he is out of office

  61. Lemur says:

    Sorry Babak i didn’t catch the thread of either of your replies

  62. whack says:

    US response to this will be the usual attempts of colour coded revolutions, assassination and increased support to it´s Al Qaeda mercenaries, Abu Sayyaf most notably. US will probably even ship in isis at a later stage.

  63. Lemur says:

    Let’s deconstruct this Paul Revere call in the night a little
    1. Who is the ‘we’ that will confront China, and why will they do it? Are you referring to the oligarchs, the Jews, the ideologues of the ‘liberal global order’ and their depraved, decadent, parasitic politicians? I am not them. These people actively want to replace the historic nations that formed the West. What’s the point for us in fighting China if we’re slated for minority status? We’re just bleeding now so those lucky imports from the global south enjoy a superior geopolitical position, and our corrupt elites get to stay elite elites.
    2. I suppose calling the yellow peril ‘sophisticated totalitarians’ is fighting words to rally the ‘liberal global order’ for its death match against the evil commies. Well, China is an authoritarian state, not a totalitarian one, for the record. Secondly democracy is a cultural quirk of the West; I don’t see why China’s political system is relevant. Are they corrupt? probably. So are we. The ‘liberal global order’ is just a justification for a managerial elite to turn their populations into a atomized, de-cultured mass of strip mall surfs who in their state of engineered degeneracy can buy lots of useless sh*t without anyone interfering (also known as ‘human rights’). Indeed, our form of totalitarianism is light years ahead of current Chinese practices.
    3. China as a Great Power or potential super power will establish hegemony over its sphere of influence. All that area used to be tributaries to China. That’s the reality of power differentials. And unlike the US, Chinese hegemony will most likely be strictly political, unlike the cultural poz the US insists exports. We’re not going to go to war because China secures its near abroad like any Great Power must do. There’s nothing we can do about it with a nuclear power like China, which will soon outmatch us conventionally in the region with a couple of decades.
    4. The South China Sea is not nearly such an essential waterway as the lugenpress make it out to be:
    5. All those Asian countries have overlapping, dubious claims. Bilateral negotiation is the best way to resolve that. Not war. Just watch. The Philippines will get a great deal from China in exchange for bilateral negotiations. Soon all those other ‘allies’ will jump on the bandwagon, leaving the US no excuse to poke its nose in as ‘security provider’. But instead warhawks like yourself would much rather start a major war over legal technicalities in China’s back yard that do not effect the interests of the everyday citizen in the West.

  64. Amir says:

    You stand corrected: Brazil’s current regime themselves have acquired her personally from “fraud” though they maintained that she was was involved in mismanagement and misallocation of the budget (which is also done by previous governments but those profited PERSONALLY from their shenanigans). Your request for banishment of your former president, who was illegally impeached by a congress full of crooks, speaks volumes.

  65. Amir says:

    They will do a Belgian (political equivalent of going Dutch): half the family collaborates with the German invader & the second half will join the Allied Resistance, while they basically spare each other internally and sell to both externally.

  66. Amir says:

    You mean how much China invested in Libya prior Ghadafi’s lynching and how much Libya is profiting from the liberation by Sarcopoleon and Obomba?

  67. Amir says:

    It will happen much faster than you think. As an example, just watch the largest airplane being built in China in a couple of years, not a century. Antonov and with that European Aerospace knowledge, is moving from Kiev’s to Peking’s hand.
    Innovation is mostly persistent infinitesimal improvement anyway. The Big Leap is mostly a posthoc analysis.

  68. b says:

    There is some interesting history behind Dutere’s relation to the U.S.
    Not only the hundred years old U.S. brutal fight against “Muslim insurgents” in Mindanao, but a U.S. agent accidentally blowing himself up in a hotel room onyl to be scurried away by U:S. special services and various explosion “attacks” by “Islamist insurgents” in the city where Duterte was mayor just while he was trying to make peace with the Moros.
    In short: He didn’t appreciate that.
    Meiring, murder, subversion, and treason: Duterte’s beef with US
    Mindanao, Duterte, and the Real History of the Philippines
    The guy currently has favorability rates in his population that compare with Putin – 80%+-. It will be difficult to “color revolution” him. Some other method will have to be tried …

  69. Pundita says:

    TTG, thanks for discussing this. Here’s how I call the situation. From the Philippine Star, November 27, 2015:
    “Nine Chinese drug cartels operating in Metro Manila are behind the illegal drug operations in the country, an official said yesterday. Interior and Local Government Secretary Mel Sarmiento said some Chinese syndicates have businesses as “legal fronts” while others have connections with influential persons. […] what is worse is that these syndicates have penetrated even the smallest municipalities in the country, he added. […]”
    The US has been aware of this situation at least as early as 2012. See:
    There are other cartels doing business in the country, which is a major transnational hub for the illegal drug trade, but it’s Chinese cartels that are the biggest problem. They are a double problem if you read through the first report, in that officials clearly believe the Chinese cartels have gained influence at the highest levels of Filipino business and government. .
    I don’t think there’s any question that the Chinese cartels in the Philippines are controlled by China’s military/civilian gov. And so I think it’s reasonable to assume that aside from a cut of the profits, Beijing has used the cartels to destabilize a US ally. (I’d further assume that Beijing redoubled its efforts in this regard after the Obama admin announced an ‘Asia Pivot.’)
    Looked at from that vantage point, Duterte’s dislike for the Yankees had little to do with his ‘China Pivot.’ When I put myself in his shoes I would have done the same thing he did:
    He’s been emptying the ocean with a sieve in the attempt to stop the drug trade from destroying the country. But this has meant killing thousands of little guys with no end in sight, which is increasingly falling back on him — and his government.
    So at all costs, he must try to persuade China’s government to yank the Chinese cartels from the Philippines. If the price was denouncing the Americans, sacrificing an island, and going hat in hand to China, it was a Sophie’s Choice but one he had to make.

  70. turcopolier says:

    Congratulations on the numbers. In re US/Filipino relations I know that you cannot resist a chance to be critical of us. IMO the US decision, taken in an imperialist period of history worldwide, to retain control of the Philippines after the Spanish left was a bad decision. My father loved the Filipinos (evidently in many ways) but he always said that permanent retention of the Islands was out of the question because there were too many people in the islands who did not want it and would fight over it. As for the Moros the conflict between Christian and Muslims in Mindanao is far older than the US presence in the islands. pl

  71. LeaNder says:

    great comment, kao.
    Babak, I looked into your NYT suggestion. Interesting story. One of the stories that could draw me into a longer thought enterprise indeed. … I am still somewhat undecided. Mainly since this would need a way too long study starting with a solid bibliography. But OK, my focus/angle would be art/archeology/conservation, let me give you a glimpse:
    Ohalo II – Early Sea of Galilee Project (since 1989)
    Initiator and director of inter-disciplinary research at the 19 ky site of Ohalo II, with research colleagues from the fields of Anthropology, Archaeology, Botany, Genetics, Geology, Micromorphology, Palaeontology, Palynology and Zoology. The research partners are from the Haifa University, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv University, Bar-Ilan University, Israel Antiquities Authority, Department of Isotopes at The Weitzman Institute, The Geological Survey of Israel, Western Michigan University and the Canadian Museum of Nature.
    Ohalo on the internet:
    News on the National Geographic web site: “>

  72. mike allen,
    Yes, Olongapo was quite the place. During the lead up to our deployment, we were constantly reminded about the need for secrecy. We weren’t even allowed to mention the name of the exercise. Imagine our surprise when we were greeted by a huge banner hung across the main street of Olangapo reading,
    All we could do was laugh. We would often trade our c-rations for plates of chicken adobo in the small villages within the training areas. I had three Filipinos in my platoon so we didn’t really need our attached PC (Philippine Constabulary).

  73. Alves says:

    It is hilarious when we see foreigners defending the crooks we threw out of power, as if we absolutely must keep a crook in power just because there are others around.
    The impeachment is not about saying that other politicians are good and/or honest. We are not blind to the fact that other people also need to be excluded from political life, but we have to do it following our own laws and using our own legal and political system. The public prosecutors and judiciary branch of our government are working on several other cases.
    And, like I said, the supreme court that her own party appointed decided multiple times that the impeachment is legal. Live with it.
    By the way, I do not want her banished. I would like to see her in jail, after a criminal process (that now can happen), but you too are free to take her home if you like her so much. Put her to run something for you. I am sure you will like it. 😉

  74. Pundita says:

    ‘Make a wish list’: Russian ambassador says Moscow ready to provide assistance to Philippines

  75. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I agree; Lulu and Dilma extended government help to the 100 million or so poor people in Brazil.
    It is rich when someone complains about corruption in their administrations; like the previous administrations were paragons of virtue.
    Unlike Roosevelt, the rich people in Brazil are unwilling to give anything to the poor; “Let them eat black beans for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.”

  76. LeaNder says:

    David, living here in US I believe the problem is more of an economic issue.
    It seems to be, it no doubt essentially is, but you should also read David’s comment more carefully.
    One day, you may be regarded as in ‘good standing’ – the next, the whole force of the ‘human rights’ propaganda lobby may be unleashed upon you.
    there is more then a grain of truth in this from my obviously highly limited perspective.
    There are more serious human rights concerns and there is “human rights” used as propaganda weapon in what might be a larger no doubt–I am no expert on that–economical/political struggle at its core. More prominently post 9/11 but maybe in more limited ways even before.
    The only thing that at the moment seems to help us, is the US and Russia coming to terms.
    If you have the patience, I enjoyed this man’s struggles initially on Greece, over what was called over here the “Greek crisis” on economical liberalization in Russia.
    The Clinton Global initiative and thus the Clinton Foundation surfaced for me the first time, when they, if I recall correctly had one of their annual events at least partly on Greece. Tzipras had slight problems to dance on that glizty event. Others no doubt may be better prepared.

  77. Vic says:

    Thanks Secretary of State Kerry. Another case (remember Thailand) of Foggy Bottom concerns for abstract concepts of humanitarian ethics preempting real world military concerns over strategic lines of communications in the Pacific. Heads must be spinning at the Pentagon.
    Kerry and the egg heads at State need to re-read Kissinger and his writings on real politic. Good intentions and high moral character are no substitute for power politics in international relations.
    If Clinton at State was a case of the flu, Kerry is stage 4 cancer. He needs to go. The PI issue never should have risen to this level of concern. It was avoidable.

  78. kooshy says:

    “There’s nothing to negotiate. This is about freedom of the seas.”
    Yes is about freedom of navigation and commerce at sea, but prerequsite for free and safe navigation is to have security at sea, and a prerequisite for security is to establish control. IMO that is what China is doing to the most important open water access she has for commerce around the world to indian ocean Europe ME where her oil comes from Africa, etc. Currently the control and security of S. China sea is with US, it seems to me geopolitically speaking, China no longer feels secure with that arrangement, and she looks to maintain control and provide security on her own. I think we will not be able to stop their design without a war no matter how much we blow in our propaganda pipes.

  79. LeaNder says:

    always complex matters, no doubt. Thanks for your responses.
    Sorry another nitwit comment: At one point in the 9/11 universe someone’s* list collections made me look into whatever caught my eyes. It initially drove me nuts, since he also didn’t answer inquisitorial questions about his lists.
    But I followed the list arbitrarily to whatever surfaced on his items to links on the academic layer/aspect he had added at one point. The Indian/Pakistan issue had among others in the WOT caught my attention in the academic aspect he added. Thus an interest in Hinduism on the American side more arbitrarily caught my attention. Maybe since I find the Mahabharata interesting, less then the diverse Indian gurus? 😉
    * he was/seemed also highly rational in a larger crazies context and interested in IT. At one point he seems to have shifted mainly to that context, before he went silent online. …

  80. Balin Somkuti, PhD says:

    Sorry to correct you but the only thing americans saved twice was their future. Which we call now the ‘American century’. With the majority of the world’s industrial capacity under the Kaiser’s or the commies rule that would have been impossible.
    Please save us from this falsely altruistic, exceptionalist Bravo Sierra.
    Just as the real crusaders’ leaders FDR and Eisenhowe had multiple motives. Freedom was a side effect -like many decisions confirm- not the primary goal. That is how real politicians make decisions.
    England has no friends but interests.

  81. OIFVet says:

    The US elites get plenty of return on the money spent to maintain the Empire. They are your problem, not the colonials in Europe. Europe is paying a heavy economic price due to its corrupt and bought-off local elites following the Borg’s orders to conduct economic warfare on Russia. And all Europe got in return is a lousy migrant tsunami that only destabilizes it and brings it closer to an all-out civil strife.

  82. kao_hsien_chih says:

    Not disagreeing with that view at all. We are talking about fundamental collapse of society through abuse of rules and institutions, all perfectly rational in the short run, but rests on the exploited people staying dumb and putting up with the abuse. They will not, and take down the whole corrupt structure with it if the problem continues unabated. People like Bismarck understood the problem of stability, as did great law-givers of all civilizations: unless everyone has something positive to look forward to in the workings of society, they will not contribute, and without their contribution, the society is dead.
    Both Clinton and Trump thrive on fear mongering–how awful and rotten “the other guys” are. Much, if not most, of US gov’t policy is about the “bad” people and how they must all be stopped. Well, as the saying might go, Assad didn’t take away my job or call me deplorable, so to speak.

  83. doug says:

    Yeah, couldn’t agree more. Just pointing out the hostility of our neocons to Russia doesn’t match the reality that Israel has good relations with the Russians. I’ve always found that particularly odd.

  84. turcopolier says:

    They play every side against the middle (them). Now the Turks and the Filipinos are doing the same. pl

  85. Kooshy says:

    With all due respect that is not fair to what Americans did during and after the wars in Europe for whatever thier reasons or end means were. In Iranian term this kind of mentality is called “one who wouldn’t show appriciation for what one sees”

  86. Kooshy says:

    I fully agree, they are our problem, but I think you do understand that our problems become your problems, since you are subsideries, weather you like it or not.

  87. OIFVet says:

    The US is not paying one lousy cent in rent for its bases in Bulgaria. Who is the subsidiary in this relationship? The Maritsa power complex was sold to AES Corp and to Entergy for a pittance, these entities have realised billions in profits since. Who is the subsidiary in this neocolonial relationship? The economic costs of the sanctions against Russia fall on Europe. These sanctions benefit the US while Europe bears the costs. Who is the subsidiary in this instance? The US destabilizes countries on Europe’s periphery in pursuit of the Borg’s profits, while Europe deals with the consequences. Who is the subsidiary? The fact is that Europe is paying a heavy price for having its elites serve the US interests, and gets nothing in return. Americans are paying a heavy price for their acquiescence to the Borg, but keep blaming anybody else but themselves. It gets very tiresome, particularly when they do so in a parade of misspelt words.

  88. Tidewater says:

    Tidewater to Lemur,
    I have some sense that you know a lot about China and the Pacific. Possibly also economics or business. Thank you for your patience and good-humor. I see a lot of very interesting things in what you have said. Nice, too, about Wikipedia, however I do wonder about what DavidKNZ, commented. “Political” Wiki.” Nice, too. Thanks. By the way, I generally always start with Wiki. I also, from time to time, have checked the sources in the “footnotes.”
    It ought to be noted that Paul Revere only was responding to something he perceived as a real threat that he saw happening…Could that not be called “situational awareness?”;)
    I probably don’t need to point out a Reuters report from 2:38 p.m. today, October 21, 2016: ‘U.S. Warship challenges China’s claims in South China Sea.”
    I have quickly chopped it up. Perhaps that was unnecessary. The entire article clarifies a great deal, in my opinion.
    “The latest U.S. patrol, first reported by Reuters, is expected to anger Beijing and could further escalate tensions over the South China Sea. The destroyer sailed within waters claimed by China, close to, but not within the 12-nautical mile territorial limits of the islands, the officials said…”
    “It was the fourth challenge that the United States has made to what it considers overreaching maritime claims by China in the South Sea in the past year, and the first since May.
    “China, Washington’s main strategic rival in Asia, claims almost the entire South China Sea through which about $5trillion worth of trade passes each year. The United States has expressed concerns they could be used to restrict free movement.
    “China’s Defense Ministry said it had declared its “baseline” for the Paracel Islands in 1996, something the United States knew. Despite that, the Chinese government said, the United States had sent a ship into Chinese “territorial waters.”
    “A statement from China’s Foreign Ministry said the U.S. ship did not ask for permission to enter Chinese territorial waters, and had broken both Chinese and international law.
    “The ministry accused the United States of deliberately creating tensions.
    “China has a runway on Woody Island, the site of the largest Chinese presence on the Paracels, and has placed surface-to-air missiles there, according to U.S. officials. Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims on the Paracels…”
    Further along: “Duterte’s announcement on Thursday was a significent turnaround after a tribunal in the The Hague ruled that China did not have historic rights to the South China Sea in a case brought by the previous Philippine administration and strongly backed by the United States.”
    Further: “The United States Navy will continue to conduct routine and lawful operations around the world, including the South China Sea, in order to protect the rights, freedoms, and lawful uses of sea and airspace guaranteed to all. This will not change,” Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson said during a trip to China in July.”
    Finally: “Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam all have rival claims in the South China Sea, but Beijing’s is the largest. It argues it can do what it wants on the islands it claims as they have been Chinese since ancient times.”
    The USS Decatur is a sacrifice ship, in my opinion. If the Chinese go mad and attack or sink it–and it was shadowed by three Chinese warships– I think we could see something like the Spanish American War.
    Am I too sanguine? I am afraid my view of things is so dark that I dwell in a place in the mind where I would be regarded as demented and get what the British call an “ASBO” if what I think is going to happen in the near future were set forth in some detail. Certainly, I would be silenced.

  89. crf says:

    Maybe this site isn’t big on predictions, but I expect the Philippines will sign a deal for either Russia or China to build or rehabilitate a nuclear reactor there within the next year. The US built a plant in Bataan, but walked away leaving the Philippines in debt. The plant, essentially complete, was never operated, partly due to concerns after TMI and Chernobyl. Duterte has proposed reopening it.
    The US needs to re-evaluate its position with regards to Asia’s developing economies. There are lots of areas that fall in to the category of foreign policy: Energy, food, scientific and industrial partnership, and military and security, trade in goods in services, finance. The US seems to deal mainly in the military areas, and in trade. It has neglected so many other facets of foreign policy. There is a lack of strategic thinking.
    Many of these problems may stem from conflict between Congress and the President. Obama spent a huge amount of capital getting congress to okay the idea of the executive signing trade deals with just a final yes/no from congress (Fast Track Trade Authority). Outside of trade agreements, areas of foreign policy that require cooperation between congress and the executive seem to have withered. Maybe Duterte’s actions will serve to jolt the US out of its torpor.

  90. Tidewater says:

    Tidewater to Pundita,
    Funny about that. You make the Chinese sound like a Mafia state. Or should the word “Triad” be worked in here, somehow.
    But Duterte did not and does not face a Sophie’s Choice. His actions against the drug cartels and the druggies remind me of the wars in El Salvador or Guatemala against feral street children. Very typical of Spanish legal system and authoritarian and criminal Spanish South American state-sanctioned actions (Los Desaparecidos); and also very Guardia Civil (as in the 60’s) against the Spanish gypsies. Sophie faced almost immediate death if she did not sacrifice her child. She did so, and lived. Duterte did not, and does not, face the same immediate existential danger.
    In my view, I think what we will see in the near future is the question raised in the Philippines whether or not any elected leader or his administration has the legal power to dismember his country. Surely that must be done by national referendum. Assuming it is ever allowed to get on a ballot. Which I doubt. I’ve heard of General Galtieri (by force, in the Falklands) trying to enlarge his nation; and Norway, by satellite photography and mapping, surprisingly doubling its size in the last decades. I have never heard of any country voluntarily diminishing itself in such a suspect, and pusillanimous fashion.
    Duterte is a Quisling. Quisling was executed. Quisling, by the way, is a fascinating person. He was sent out to Ukraine where he worked with Nansen’s desperate relief efforts to somehow staunch the suffering and starvation there caused by Jewish Bolsheviks, who traded Slavic lives (being unempathetic to their fellow countrymen) in order to build up Communist capital from grain sales. He had a young Ukrainian woman with him when he returned to Norway. His wife and family welcomed him back into his home. No doubt there was some emotion. They all wanted to know who she was. Quisling told them, “She is my wife.” Very awkward situation. He had gotten married again while he was in Ukraine. Psychopath.
    What about Duterte?

  91. Pundita says:

    Tidewater, thank you for your reply. was using “Sophie’s Choice” as a metaphor to quickly convey the idea of a choice that must be made betwen two options that are both awful. But while Duterte doesn’t face immediate death, his country does in a manner of speaking. He was telling the truth when he said that the Philippines was in danger of becoming a narco state. If it’s not there yet, it’s teetering on the edge.
    What’s more, his life would indeed be in imminent danger if he tried to go after the most powerful drug syndicates operating in Philippines, which are controlled by Beijing. But that’s not the biggest issue from the viewpoint of US defense policy.
    As little as a decade ago, ‘black’ or deviant globalization referred to the globalization of crime by nonstate actors. What’s been happening in the Philippines points to state use of globalized crime syndicates as a military tactic. In this case the Chinese state, in order to fight American influence in the Philippines. To whatever extent this tactic had been deployed by governments in earlier eras the convergence of highly interconnected globalized trade and advanced technologies in this era puts entire regions of the world under a very new threat.
    Perhaps a better way to put it is that it’s a new twist on an old threat.
    In fact, the $64 question is the extent to which China’s PLA is deploying this ‘Phillipines tactic’ in other nations that are US-friendly and in bad economic shape.
    In any case from this viewpoint, it’s moot whether China can be considered a Mafia state. They’re using transnational crime networks that they control for strategic military purposes to hollow out an entire country.
    So while the term ‘weaponized’ has gotten over-used in recent years, in the Philippines, Beiing has quite literally weaponized contraband.
    And the worst of the situation for Duterte is that China’s drug syndicates have gained influence at the highest levels of Filipino government and business sectors. This surely extends to the banking sector, although I haven’t seen specific mention of this. (As to the military, I don’t know.)
    So to fight the drug war, he’s been reduced to going after tadpoles — while the sharks are out of his reach because the sharks sit in Beijing!
    His popularity still remains high in the country but he knows that won’t last, if the death tolls keeping mounting among the little guys while the drug lords keep getting off.
    Now why don’t you see discussion of this angle in the press? Because after years of being upstaged by SOCOM, the U.S. Navy has finally gotten hold of a military threat to the USA that requires lots of boats — new boats, swifter boars, expensive boats. So they don’t want to hear about Chinese dope syndicates beng the problem in the Philippines.
    Of course there is actually a military threat from Beijing in the China seas. But from Duterte’s point of view, joining with a grand coalition to defend sea lanes in the South and East China seas and Filipino territorial waters is not his top priority. His entire country is going to be under water if he can’t get control of the drug syndicates.
    (I don’t call them Triads because I don’t know whether all these syndicates are technically Triads.)
    So Duterte is not a quisling. He is a shrewd, desperate man who got handed an opening by Obama shooting off his mouth. This was the perfect excuse to storm off in high umbrage to Xi, and hang Scarborough Shoal.
    However, Duterte has not actually shut the door on the USA, and my understanding is that most of the country’s military still supports maintaining a good relationship with the USA. The bad news is that it doesn’t matter anymore who’s in charge in the Philippines, until and unless the cord can be cut between Beijing and the drug trade there.
    As what if anything the US military could do to help in that regard — it’s a little late in the day to ask that question.

  92. Amir says:

    With “We”, you means “Mr./Mrs. Alves supported by a neocon segment of my country’s government”:
    By the way, it would certainly increases one’s credibility if one realizes that what one sows, one will reap: Certainly worth a smile.

  93. shanks says:

    >And Indians are openly neo-cons (If i may use the word). She meddles in every aspect of its neighbors governance going far as shaping the their constitutions (see Nepal and Sri Lanka) or soft power regime changes (2015 Sri Lanka, Maldives for some time, Nepal for sometime).
    Of course she does;There’s too much stuff happening on the borders of India to not interfere. with blowback sometimes. Some are brought to heel, others grit and buy time while others are actively at war. Right now, Sri Lanka is being politely told how to behave(over China basing rights) otherwise there’s a repeat of the LTTE encouragement by India waiting to happen. And that was vindictiveness by India when SriLanka allowed Pakistani ships to refuel during the 1971 Bangladesh war.
    The Indian state is slow and ponderous and slowly murderous when it decides to act. Follow the next action over the Indus water treaty needling with Pakistan

  94. Babak Makkinejad says:

    US diplomats fly around the world, flash their metaphorical eyelashes, and foreigners all over themselves trying to curry favor for her.
    Europe is no exception; Europeans want to be vassals of US. If US discards Europe, it would be Europeans that would be running after US, begging her to return.
    Bulgaria is basically making it profitable for US to stay engaged. She could have taken the high road and decided to be independent and stand on her two feet; like Cuba or Vietnam or Iran or North Korea.
    I suppose it is the same dynamics in play at the national level as the individual level – wishing to belong to a group.

  95. Pundita says:

    Thank you for your reply. From Wikipedia’s article “Illegal drug trade in the Philippines”
    “About nine Chinese drug cartels are involved [in] most illegal drug trade in the Philippines.[12] The U.S. Department of State found out that Chinese drug cartels are behind the trade of methamphetamine hydrochloride on the Philippines.[1][5]
    [The] President divulged the names of the members of a large Chinese triad group in a interview with PTV-4 on July 7. The members of the triad group included Chinese drug lords, namely Wu Tuan, aka tatay Co, Peter Lim, aka tiger balm, and Herbert Colangco, with the three under the protection of Marcelo Garbo Jr, one of the Philippine National Police generals named by Duterte on July 5.[13] ”“Chinese Cartel Involvement
    So with regard to your remarks it seems the CCP didn’t do all that good a job of wiping them out — or maybe the CCP resurrected them when they found them useful.
    Also, Duterte himself explicitly named China as the chief culprit. Here I turn to AFP via the South China Morning Post, July 28, 2016:
    “China the lair of major drug lords, says Philippines’ Duterte
    China is harbouring major drug lords who smuggle narcotics into the Philippines, the president said on Thursday as he pressed on with his ruthless war on crime.
    Rodrigo Duterte made the remarks even as the two countries continue to bicker over an international tribunal invalidating Beijing’s extensive claims to the South China Sea.
    “Where is the big fish [in illegal drugs]? If you want them, go to China. Look for them there,” Duterte told soldiers and police during a visit to a military camp.
    “I wanted to talk to the ambassador. That is how serious it is. Now, how do I fight this? We cannot just go there and just declare war,” he added.
    He did not identify the alleged drug lords and a Chinese embassy spokesman could not be contacted for comment.
    Duterte had previously asserted that most of the illegal drugs in the Philippines originated from China and that many Chinese had been arrested for smuggling drugs into the country.
    But it was the first time he explicitly named China as the lair of those responsible for the trafficking.
    Ah but he did identify “alleged drug lords” by name, and in public — on July 7. (Could it be SCMP chose to run a news report that contained statements they knew were contradicted by key facts?)
    Anyhow, from all that I got the impression there are plenty of actual Chinese nationals involved in the drug trade that is plaguing Filipinos.
    However, my line of reasoning does not depend on the ethnicity or nationality of the gang members. I’m speculating that a number of these organizations, no matter who mans them or where they’re based, were brought under the control of China’s military. And that this was done for the express purpose of destabilizing the Philippines, an American ally.

  96. Tidewater says:

    Tidewater to Pundita and Pacifica Advocate,
    First of all, thank you both for a fascinating exchange of ideas.
    Now, I want to be provocative. But I am not an old China hand. ;
    Pacifica Advocate writes: “…the actual case is one where a single party system exerts solid control over all white and grey areas of commerce and law, with very little room being allowed for “black” cultural spaces where the party exerts no control or authority. Long story short: where the party has power, there are no cases of drug dealing or drug manufacture.”
    Pacifica A., it seems to me you have a lot of faith in the “party” idea. You mean, as in Russia? Haven’t we seen enough and learned enough about how Communism actually worked to understand Orwell’s ‘Some are more equal than others?’
    Question. How is China actually ruled? Is there a state within a state in China?
    I stumbled across a useful article recently, that seems to date back to 2013. The article is one of Global Post’s two part series about China’s Poly Group. Global Post stems from Public Radio International (PRI). The article is “China’s Poly Group: the most important company you’ve never heard of.”
    Two points to start with. The reformer Deng’s son-in-law He Ping was a president of Poly Group. Also, Poly Group is a front company for the People’s Liberation Army(PLA). So right away two anomalies show up. The Chinese Army owns private corporations? And big ones? Poly Group is now a multibillion dollar conglomerate. And the Communist party leadership places its family members inside of Army owned corporations? In other words, the scions of communist party top leaders have a special place within a system that seems to me to be a system that has created one of the world’s greatest conflicts of interest ever. What kind of army runs–and owns– multibillion dollar businesses? The Egyptian army? What would Oliver Cromwell think about one of his Roundhead Captains slipping away from his troops at Kilkenny and dispatching a packet of instructions to New Model Army Global Investment Sector, with illegal connections to the City, to short some shipments of beeves and round shot, thereby picking up a few quid for the Retirement Fund? They fail the CG inspection, but Orinoco is up 28 pence per pound!
    “A common, albeit mistaken, maxim of Western media is that China is a country controlled by 12 old guys in a smoky back room, where all princelings, the state and Party are connected and working together. But some China watchers say that while there are times of cooperation, divisions and competition also run deep.”
    And: “Derek Scissors, a senior research fellow for Asia economics at…the Heritage Foundation [and now at the American Enterprise Institute] says China’s Foreign Ministry can’t rein in most powerful state-owned enterprises (SOE’s) because their connections to Communist Party and military royalty shield them from reproach.”
    Communist Party royalty? Chinese People’s Liberation Army royalty? PRINCELINGS? Does this not sound like Saudi Arabia?
    How did this situation come to pass? Here goes. I assume that it is accurate to say that there was an explosion of military run businesses in China in the last years of the decade of the 1980s. Further, that Mao’s fears during the Vietnam years, which led him to create the Third Front, put the PLA into the heavy manufacturing industry and railroads, in a big way. Hundreds of billions of yuan were given by the government to the PLA in order for the Army to move an enormous amount of industry deep into the heart of China. Mao feared a nuclear attack from either America or Russia that would wipe out the great coastal cities.
    This set off the first stage of the creation of a powerful Military Industrial Complex inside the Chinese government. When you say MIC about China, it seems to me that this phenomenon in China is very different from the Military Industrial Complex in the USA. In USA, one’s entrance into the MIC comes when one retires from military service; in China, it begins when one joins up. It is service, but ownership comes with service. Am I not correct to suspect that a young officer in the PLA would not only receive a salary for his military duties, but might also receive shares in the industrial companies that his particular military organization might OWN and RUN?
    It seems to me that the reforms of Deng Xiaoping betrayed the Chinese workers. They had thought that they were the owners of Chinese industry. Instead, ownership of the various factories and businesses were turned over to those who ran them at the time of the reforms.
    This betrayal was forseen by Chairman Mao. That is one reason for the Great Cultural Revolution. And why Deng spent four years working in a factory. And his son was thrown out a four story window and ended up a paraplegic. Mao saw what was coming.
    When Deng finally got into power, he realized he had an old-style Chinese problem. In order to institute the Four Modernizations he had to remove a vast amount of dead wood and nepotism from every area of government, so he could bring in the bright young engineers and technocrats. (Who, in turn, would create their own nepotism.) But the old revolutionary veterans and their scions had been snout-deep in the trough for decades and needed a quid pro quo. So Deng gave them a large part of the Third Front industrial base they had put into central China. This was Army built industry and Revolutionary veterans well-entrenched in the bureacracy now were forced to resign lucrative positions and sinecures and enter the capitalist system. As Mao saw, an unacceptable paradox. Deng helped the transition of a powerful group into corporations like China Poly Group (as it became) and he gave these new so-called SOE’s tremendous freedom. He did not look over their shoulder. It is said that once he became curious about how much one of these SOE’s was getting out of Saudi Arabia. He summoned them into his office. So how much were they making? “Two billion” was the reply. “Not bad,” said Deng. Bows, I assume, and free to go.
    Soon SOE’s were on a roll. Military “third-line” factories moved back to the vital, vibrant coastal regions. They got into everything that can be imagined. And they kept themselves deeply hidden by front companies. You can see that if you look at the website of China Poly Group. Their past is of the “state’ not the “Army.”
    By 1989, top Communist Party leaders began to have some doubts about the arrangement. Decrees were issued; for example, a decree that prohibited lower-ranking officers from becoming involved in the daily operations of militarily owned companies. (Their own companies? They had stocks in their portfolios of these companies? Can anyone explain to me how this would work for a young Chinese army or navy officer?)
    The top Party cadres had thought that any problems created by the SOE’s would be handled discreetly at the top, by meetings with a handful of senior Army brass. It didn’t work out that way, at all. By 1989, it seems to me that civil authority in China must have had conflicts of interest in every sector at every level. For example, in law enforcement, it would be completely routine for the police chief of a city like Shanghai to own businesses such as bars, nightclubs, or brothels. Would the Chief have to turn his eyes away from drug business in his nightclubs? Of course he would. Suppose you had a nice downtown piece of property that a senior member of a police department badly needed? (To expand his nightclub, without which it might go under?) Would the policeman not have ways of getting it? (Paul Theroux has a novel with a plot along these lines.)
    There is a conclusion among the American think-tanks that the attempts in 1989 to control the SOE’s completely failed.
    Then came Tiananmen Square. The PLA –with the involvement of Triads–did what the Party wanted done. Triads smashed democracy demonstrations. The PLA kept the lucrative status quo intact for the Party heirarchy, their scions, and their scions’ increasingly interconnected and growing family financial, business,career and social interests. The democracy movement was brutally repressed.
    It is not true to say that the Communist Party destroyed Triads after Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule. Triads are back! They have always been useful. (Shanghai, April, 1927.) Both in Hong Kong and on the Mainland. There are possibly more than a hundred thousand members of Triads both at Hong Kong and on the Mainland. (Or is it more than twice this number?)
    Is there is now a synergistic relationship between the Triads and many SOE’s?
    During the first part of the 1990s, the government encouraged the SOE’s to begin to rationalize their vast empire of businesses, turning them into ‘group companies.’ They became conglomerates; management and production became more centralized. Greater success followed.
    By 2016, there is a state within a state. How to define or describe such a state? The Military Industrial Complex? Certainly the SOE’s are strong enough to be an independent part of the MIC. ( What could be other sectors? Energy? Oil?) And it appears certain that SOE’s can challenge the government. They can ignore any concerns some party leaders might have about promulgating narco-states. Though Pundita is pointing out that that could also be the policy of another sector of government, the intelligence sector and Party leadership. I agree with Pundita, but throw in a glitch. I think Communist Party heads might NOT have a choice. They have to be complicit, as it were, with themselves. They have to understand who and what they are, in order to continue with the problematic hybrid compromise and the corruption.
    Derek Scissors says: that SOE’s have a well-established record of doing just what they like. They are known for “going it alone.” They refuse to answer to government officials. All are not under control and will not be under control in future. An example of serious Party weakness: “The Foreign Ministry is not the final arbiter anymore.”
    If the Party leadership’s attempt to rein in the militarily-owned SOE’s failed in the late 1980’s, who is to say that any agreement the Chinese government made now with Duterte to stop the drug trade, particuarly the “precursor” trade, would work? Would any such attempt by the government to rein in the Triads and the SOE’s simply be understood by these autonomous powers with their strong hold on their bosses as being subject to being interpreted as a plea? Gestures might be made to console the Party leaders. The flow of chemicals might then slow for a while. But it would all be phony. What can Duterte say, three months later, when it all starts up again.
    I don’t see how the Chinese Communist Party can lay down the law, threaten force, begin the extensive internal investigations needed to set up a juridical process which would have to go deep into financial matters of many powerful people, party colleagues, the families of colleagues, family relationships, the princelings. The nepotistic arrangements and agreements and conflicts of interest that exist all through the Party structure cannot be disturbed. There are too many cross-currents. If disturbed, so-and-so’s family member is going to jail, is going to be shot, this kind of thing could destablilize the entire corrupt, hybrid Communist/Capitalist structure.
    The idea that I am raising is this: that the current government of China will not rein or prevent a group of the SOE’s /Triad syndicates from carrying out drug smuggling operations offshore, say against Mexico, where in fact there is also a serious problem, with consquences for el norte; it could not stop it even if it wanted to. For the Chinese, the internal price is simply too high.

  97. Tidewater, Pundita, Pacifica Advocate, Mariner and others,
    I am fascinated by this discussion and your contributions. I’m learning a lot and I’m sure others are, too. Thank you all.
    Tidewater, the system you describe with the example of Poly Group may be different from ours, but it is not inherently better or worse than ours. It sounds more like our MIC on steroids and extending to a wider slice of the economy. Sure the situation in complicated, but I doubt the Chinese Government is near as helpless as you propose.

  98. Pundita says:

    In your first reply you told me the CCP wiped them out. In your second reply you told me they didn’t. Make up your mind.
    In your second reply you also told me I was wrong to claim that Duterte had explicitly named China as the chief culprit. I didn’t make the claim; Duterte did, and I sourced his statements. Yet you attributed to me a statement I did not make — when the evidence of who actually made the statement was staring you in the face.
    But then I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know.
    As I was saying, my speculation is that Duterte sharply pivoted toward China because he wanted Xi’s help in shutting down Chinese drug gangs in the Philippines and believed Xi had the ability to do this. And I think he’s so desperate for the help he’s even willing to sacrifice Scarborough Shoal and dynamite his country’s relationship with the USA.
    Now we can keep this up for the rest of the year — with you starting diversions and me coming back with the same point, or until Col. Lang 86’s us both.
    However, in light of recent events — Duterte walking back a little on ‘separation’ from the USA (Oct 22) and the US walking back a little on criticism of Duterte’s drug war (Oct 24) — it’s possible someone in the Obama administration suddenly put two and two together and asked Duterte, ‘What do you really need by way of help from us?’
    That’s a lot to hope for at this late stage, but on the plus side I don’t think any of this is personal with Duterte — or rather I’d say he’s much too desperate to put personal considerations above the drugs issue. He just wants those gangs shut down. If the USA can take a serious whack at it, fine. Ditto China. Or both; many hands make light work.

  99. Pundita says:

    TTG, I can’t find your comment to the effect that you found the discussion among various commenters on this thread interesting. But to reply to a comment that seems to have vanished — well, you started the ball rolling, which is why I thanked you earlier. My brain has appreciated a break from chewing over country situations in the Middle East.
    I hope the following excerpts from a news report today will interest you and others who’ve been reading this Asia Pivot thread. My comments follow the excerpts.
    “Protocol on drugs with China a big boost in Philippines war on illicit substance
    Gulf News
    October 26, 2016
    Manila: The Philippines top anti-drugs executive said President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent agreement with China on curbing illicit substances will go a long way in boosting the government’s drive against the menace.
    According to Director General Isidro Lapena of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), the Protocol on Cooperation on Drugs, which he signed recently with Hu Minglang, Director General of China’s Narcotics Control Bureau, will greatly enhance the government’s bilateral capability to go after drug suspects.
    The protocol was signed last October 20, 2016, during President Duterte’s visit to Beijing.
    “Under the protocol, which will be effective for five years, the two countries agreed to establish and maintain cooperation on sharing information on drug crimes. Such information includes an updated list and complete profile of drug suspects and status of arrested drug personalities who are citizens of each country,” Lapena said.
    Both countries likewise agreed to set up mechanisms against movement of illicit drugs across their respective borders and establish a mechanism for joint investigation on special cases.
    Last July, several days after his inauguration as the new Philippine President, Duterte accused China of contributing to the country’s problem on illegal drugs.
    He said that his basis for making this statement is that a considerable number of the unclaimed fatalities in the government’s drive against drugs are Chinese.
    “Most of the people that they send [into] the Philippines do drugs. And these include those who are already in prison,” Duterte said.
    […] ”
    Bingo. Yet I doubt the Filipino military got their first indication that way; this on the supposition the U.S. would have shared intelligence with them on Chinese drug gang activities in the Philippines, which has been known to the US since at least as early as 2012.
    However, a large number of druggies and penny-ante drug dealers dumped on a country certainly suggests that drug-dealing networks are deliberately being created in the country.
    In any case I hope the U.S. military has been exerting itself since Duterte’s volte face to learn just how many other countries might display the same pattern of, uh, Druggie Dumping as is evident in the Philippines.
    This, on the somewhat uncertain premise that the military doesn’t already know. If they already know and are studiously looking the other way, or using drug dealers to provide them with intel on terrorist activity — I’d say that’s being too clever by half, if Beijing has been using drug networks to destabilize American friendlies. Of course the information in the Gulf News report isn’t hard evidence that this is what Beijing has been doing, but I find it suggestive evidence.
    It’s just occurred to me that this Druggie Dumping is reminiscent of a DDoS attack on a computer network or website. So if the PLA is indeed using Druggie Dumping to destabilize a country, they’re operating on the same principle as a DDoS. I’ll be darned.

  100. Pundita says:

    Oops. Well I just found your comment. [chuckling]

  101. Pundita says:

    US wants to continue campaign against militants in Philippines
    By Raul Dancel – Philippines Correspondent In Manila
    Octobere 26, 2016
    AFP via Straits Times
    MANILA • The United States wants to remain involved in the campaign to quell militancy in the southern Philippines, its envoy to Manila said after President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to kick out US forces.
    US Ambassador Philip Goldberg said yesterday that the security threat in the conflict-plagued region is “very serious”, warning that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is among a number of foreign militant organisations trying to increase its involvement there.
    “We’ve helped the Philippines as it has reduced the threat over time,” he told ABS-CBN television.
    “But we are concerned obviously about any new intrusion of ISIS or any other group that wants to take advantage of open space in the south of the Philippines. So we want to continue doing that.”
    The US deployed a rotating force of about 600 troops to Mindanao from 2002 to 2014. The presence was scaled down after the US deemed the militants had “largely devolved into disorganised groups resorting to criminal undertakings”, according to a US statement in 2014.
    Militant attacks spiked after that, most notably with the home-grown Abu Sayyaf group abducting foreigners and locals to extort ransoms.
    Mr Goldberg warned that foreign militant groups such as Jemaah Islamiah are in Mindanao. “We are not just dealing with Abu Sayyaf but groups from the region like Jemaah Islamiah,” he said. “We see increasing efforts from ISIS to become involved.”

  102. Pundita says:

    Tidewater, Thanks returned for following the discussion and contributing to it. Regarding your question, it doesn’t really apply to my points because I’ve been thinking in purely military terms about the China-Philippines situation.
    I had proposed that as part of its response to the American “Asia Pivot” China has been using drug gangs to destabilize the Philippines, and specifically because of the country’s relationship with America. This way of looking at the situation moots your concern about whether the CCP can control drug gangs. The party wouldn’t be directly controlling the drugs or any of the gangs, China’s military would. In short, I was thinking in terms of a weaker state using asymmetrical warfare against a more powerful one.
    However, since this morning, when I read an AFP report I quoted in an earlier comment, I now think my idea was too fancy. From the report, China’s government seems to have simply ‘dumped’ thousands of their country’s drug addicts and drug dealers into the Philippines — and probably as part of Xi Jinping’s famous anti-corruption drive.
    But whether it was a Druggie Dump or, as I’d originally envisioned, a covert military operation with PLA officers posing as drug dealers, it would work out to the same difference: the Philippines would be destabilized. This would throw a monkey wrench into Obama’s perceived attempt to play Lord Nelson in the South and East China seas.
    If the White House would say that wasn’t what they intended to convey — for decades China’s leaders watched the U.S.-led NATO coalition expand right up to Russia’s European border, and all the while telling Moscow they wouldn’t do that.
    Then Americans announced an Asia Pivot. This sounded to China’s generals like Washington was trying to gin up a Southeast/South Asian version of NATO, to expand right up to China’s shores.

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