Peace at all cost

THE Philippines is obviously caught between the United States and the People’s Republic of China, the two superpowers vying for supremacy in our part of the world. The Panatag Reef and Spratly’s, which are claimed too by several Southeast Asian countries and of course China, are being used as excuses so the two superpowers could get on each other.

It is a practice of these warring powers to “sub-contract” their wars to pursue their global or regional interests, a habit they acquired during the cold war (1947-1991). In the present instance China has North Korea for proxy while America apparently has President Benigno Simeon Aquino III to do its bidding.

America simply won’t openly go into war for us with China over Panatag Reef for economic and military reasons. The US relies much on China today for its economic survival. Besides, the rising dragon of the east is not a military pushover. It is a formidable regional power as it is also armed with advanced weapons of mass destruction.

Due to our geographic proximity to China and our alliance with the US, the Philippines has a vital and undeniable role in furthering American interests in Southeast Asia. However, our role is no longer exclusive and indispensable as it used to be when Subic and Angeles are the only military facilities capable of handling US forces in Southeast Asia. Vietnam, a former American enemy, already served notice recently that the former Soviet naval base in Cam Rahn Bay, a deep water facility like Subic, is now available to American forces.

As the US began pivoting its forces from Iraq and Afghanistan to Southeast Asia, the Philippines, incidentally because of Clark, Subic and the General Santos International Airport; has again become a viable key in containing China. Suddenly our country again becomes a frontline in this “little cold war.” We all know that in war, to be in the frontline is to be in the most dangerous place of the battlefield. Nevertheless, in view of our military and economic weaknesses and our geographic proximity to China, our alliance/dependence on faraway America, a declining power with a lingering economic crisis; is not strategically sound.

This “chink in our armor” so to speak is aggravated by the absence of a heavy industry that would sustain the Philippines in war and the presence of a huge number of Filipino workers in Hong Kong and Macau.

Another concern for the sustainability of our participation in this little cold war is the unmistakable dominant economic role that China will play in the world this century. All of these tell us that it’s to our best interests that we remain prudent if not neutral in this conflict.

As of the moment, the best course of action for us is to seek a peaceful and honorable resolution over Panatag Reef and the Spratly’s as soon as possible.

Aquino should not allow our country to become a proxy in a regional conflict that entails grave consequences for our nation. Yes, we America’s friendship is precious but also the benevolence of the middle kingdom.

And we need peace more than anything else if we are to emerge a prosperous nation this century.

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