News that doesn't receive the necessary attention.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Rift with Philippines would be even more personal for Hillary than for Obama. In 2011 she stood on deck of US Navy warship in Manila Bay as if the sight of her and reminders of US World War II role would cause China to give up its new South China Sea islands-NY Times (Hillary ignored long brewing Filipino nationalism yearning for a less imposing relationship with the US. We've also learned she blatantly lied about her influence in Syria)

First lying about her influence in Syria to win an election, now grossly misreading long-simmering Filipino nationalism yearning for a less imposing relationship with the US: 

At a 2016 debate in Milwaukee, "Hillary Clinton claimed that United Nations peace efforts in Syria were based on "an agreement I negotiated in June of 2012 in Geneva."

The precise opposite is true. In 2012 Secretary of State Clinton joined Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Israel in a successful effort to kill Kofi Annan’s UN peace plan because it would have accommodated Iran and kept Assad in power, at least temporarily. No one on the Milwaukee stage knew enough to challenge her."
"Coverage of the Syrian war will be remembered as one of the most shameful episodes in the history of the American press."

Feb. 18, 2016, "The media are misleading the public on Syria," Boston Globe, Stephen Kinzer, opinion 

10/21/16, "Philippines ‘Separation’ From U.S. Jilts Hillary Clinton, Too," NY Times, Mark Landler, Washington

"When the Philippines appeared to jilt its old ally the United States in favor of China this week, it repudiated not only President Obama and his “pivot” to Asia, but also Hillary Clinton, who made reaching out to the region her signature project as his secretary of state.

The White House said on Friday that it was troubled by the statements made by President Rodrigo Duterte during a visit to Beijing, in which he announced a “separation” of the Philippines from the United States, a treaty ally, and said it was “time to say goodbye, my friend.”

More than anything, the administration appears baffled by Mr. Duterte. He is a flamboyant figure, given to volcanic outbursts. On Friday, his own trade minister tried to pull back much of what his boss had said....

Later in the day, Mr. Duterte himself insisted that by “separation” he meant only that the Philippines planned to be more independent of the United States. 

Mrs. Clinton has not addressed the turmoil between Manila and Washington since last month, when she said Mr. Obama was right to cancel a meeting with Mr. Duterte after he had unleashed a profanity-laden diatribe against Mr. Obama. But a senior official in the Clinton campaign said she shared the White House’s concerns about the Philippine leader’s latest statements. 

If anything, a rift would be even more personal for Mrs. Clinton than for Mr. Obama. As secretary of state, she laid the groundwork for the president’s focus on Asia and, in particular, his reassertion of America’s presence in Southeast Asia. In 2011, she stood on the deck of a Navy warship in Manila Bay to dramatize support for an ally then entangled in territorial disputes with China over reefs and islands in the South China Sea.

A year earlier, Mrs. Clinton thrust the United States into this long-running conflict, saying the United States had a stake in seeing these disputes resolved in a way that guaranteed American ships freedom of navigation through the South China Sea’s busy shipping lanes.

It was one of her first big initiatives as secretary of state. She kept raising it with the Chinese throughout her time at the State Department, and she said later that she viewed the South China Sea as a litmus test in a broader geopolitical rivalry between the United States and China.

“They have the right to assert themselves,” Mrs. Clinton said in a closed-door speech to executives from Goldman Sachs in 2013, which was published by WikiLeaks. “But if nobody’s there to push back to create a balance, then they’re going to have a chokehold on the sea lanes and also on the countries that border the South China Sea.”

On Friday, the United States dispatched a destroyer, the Decatur, into waters claimed by China to assert the freedom of navigation. The action, which drew a warning from Chinese warships and a rebuke from the Chinese Defense Ministry,
was not related to Mr. Duterte’s statements, a senior administration official said. But it was an illustration of Mrs. Clinton’s point, and a reminder of how the South China Sea could erupt into conflict.

The White House is also sending a senior diplomat — Daniel Russel, assistant secretary of state for East Asian affairs — to Manila this weekend to seek clarification of the Philippine government’s position.

Mr. Obama has generally sought to play down the rift, in part because Mr. Duterte is so erratic that it is not clear he will able to follow through on his threats. The United States remains enormously popular among Filipinos....

Privately, though, administration officials worry that Mr. Duterte could suspend American access to Philippine military bases, which would constrain the United States military presence in the region. He has already talked about ending joint exercises for American and Philippine troops."...

[Ed. note: It's extremely presumptuous of the US to have military bases in the Philippines in 2016. How would Americans like it if the Philippines put military bases in the US?]

(continuing): "The tensions with the Philippines could escalate further. On Capitol Hill, some are agitating to withhold aid from the Philippine police because of hundreds of extrajudicial killings of suspected drug dealers. Invoking the so-called Leahy law, which prohibits military aid to foreign units that routinely violate human rights, could provoke an even more sulfurous reaction from Mr. Duterte. 

China is likely to provide lucrative economic inducements to the Philippines, and could make them contingent on further weakening its links with the United States. Some former officials worry that China is playing divide-and-conquer in the region, calculating that if it can peel the Philippines away from the United States, Malaysia and Vietnam will follow.

The real destructiveness of this is signaling to the region that the oldest American ally can potentially be snared or lured into nonaligned status, Jeffrey A. Bader, a former China adviser to Mr. Obama, said.

That is a terribly destructive signal to Malaysia, to Vietnam, to Thailand, to Singapore, to Indonesia, he added. “It has to send a signal to other countries about the effectiveness of China’s soft power.”

As part of his charm offensive with Beijing, Mr. Duterte said he would brush aside a ruling in July by an international tribunal in The Hague that found in favor of the Philippines in its territorial disputes with China. He said Manila would enter into direct negotiations with Beijing over the South China Sea.

Though the White House welcomed that news as potentially reducing the risk of a military clash in the South China Sea, it could also undercut the administration’s policy, which is to encourage the parties to abide by international law. China has long sought direct talks with its neighbors; American officials worry that this would enable China to bully them.

Mrs. Clinton is likely to keep a low profile on this issue in the final weeks of the campaign. For one, a senior aide said, she has had no contact with Mr. Duterte or the people around him, and hence no way of assessing his motives. But the official said she remained as committed as ever to the principle of freedom of navigation and lawful commerce in the South China Sea.

In her remarks to Goldman Sachs executives in 2013, Mrs. Clinton recalled having contentious discussions with Chinese officials over their broad — and in her view, spurious — claims to the South China Sea. At one point, she told them that, using their rationale, the United States could claim the Pacific Ocean from California all the way to the Philippines.

“We liberated it,” she said. “We defended it.”
Mrs. Clinton also expressed sympathy for the Philippines in its clash with China over one of the disputed territories, Scarborough Shoal — a dispute that Mr. Duterte now seems ready to forget.

“Why are they intent upon picking this fight and asserting this at this time?” Mrs. Clinton said to the group. “Why are they slamming into Filipino fishing vessels? You know, a poor country that is just desperately trying to get its growth rate up and making some progress in doing that. So it bears watching, and obviously it matters to all of us.”"


Added: More humiliation for US taxpayers: We're also paying for "anti-terrorist trainers" in the Philippines. The US has no interest in stopping Islamic terrorism within its own ever-expanding borders, has been importing it as fast as it can for decades, and is utterly unqualified to be "anti-terrorism" trainer to the world. 

"Duterte voices a long-simmering Filipino nationalism that seeks some freedom from United States tutelage."...

Oct. 13, 2016, "Rodrigo Duterte Could Tear a Giant Hole in America's 'Pivot' To Asia," National Interest, Michael G. Roskin
"Beijing and Manila may be moving towards an accommodation that could tear a gigantic hole in the US ‘pivot’ to East Asia. Manila’s newly elected President Rodrigo Duterte has vowed to turn away from the United States and towards China if he can regain Filipino rights to Scarborough Shoal. A mercurial personality, Duterte recently cursed President Obama and demanded the removal of US anti-terrorist trainers. He has also called for an end to joint patrols with the US Navy.

Such a shift would be catastrophic for US policy in the Pacific and a low-cost Chinese victory. It would be irrational for Beijing to decline Duterte’s offer — such a decision would indicate that China is committed to a highly nationalistic and hostile course in the South China Sea, one that brooks no compromise. It might even suggest that China sees the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) as having primacy in maritime policy.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton proposed the pivot in 2011, but little came of it because the United States was — and still is — bogged down in the Middle East. The US ‘rebalance to Asia’ lacks enthusiasm as both sides of the Pacific fear China but also desire commerce with the economic giant.

Perhaps the most enthusiastic would-be ally of the United States is Vietnam. Although the two states have endured a tortured relationship, Vietnam still has economic and Communist Party ties to Beijing. The Paracel Islands are occupied by China but in 1974 the South Vietnamese (under US advice) attempted to reclaim the closest portion of them. They failed, with bloody losses. Should Washington now support Hanoi’s claims in the Paracels?

Further south, the Philippines needs US help. The Philippines depend on US military support, and the US needs the Philippines to form an anti-China coalition. Many suppose that Duterte’s temper tantrums will pass.

But Duterte voices a long-simmering Filipino nationalism that seeks some freedom from United States tutelage. It has been an invidious relationship from the beginning. The 1898 war with Spain was supposed to be over Cuba, but assistant navy secretary Teddy Roosevelt — a follower of the naval theories of Alfred Mahan — ordered an attack on the pathetic Spanish fleet in Manila Bay instead. The United States quickly wrested control over the Philippines, although then US president William McKinley confessed he could not find the country on a map.

The Philippines were touted in the United States as a ‘coaling station’ that thrust Americans into Asian commerce. Most Americans liked having an empire. Filipino nationalists proclaimed a short-lived republic and Emilio Aguinaldo led a three year guerrilla war that was brutally put down by US forces. Some Filipinos still remember an American general ordering troops to ‘kill everyone over ten’.

In reaction, US students protested and figures such as Mark Twain and Andrew Carnegie founded the Anti-Imperialist League to decry the empire. Nearly forgotten, the Philippines fell to Japan in 1942 and gained independence in 1946.

Major US bases continued beyond independence at Subic Bay and Clark Field until 1992 when Manila demanded too much to renew the leases. China noted the US absence and soon seized Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands. Now China bars Filipino fishermen from Scarborough Shoal, just 123 miles west of Subic Bay. China muscles closer, forcing Duterte into a tight corner.

Filipino culture has been described as four centuries in a Spanish convent followed by 50 years in Hollywood. ‘Discontinuity’ doesn’t quite capture it. The image of fawningly pro-American Filipinos is incomplete, with some nationalists and Muslims bitterly resentful towards the United States. 

Crime flourishes in the Philippines. So far some 3,000 have been gunned down, many of them innocent. According to Duterte’s 91 per cent approval rating, Filipinos don’t seem overly concerned. Duterte bristles at US hectoring on human rights and plans to send home US Special Forces advisors and end joint naval patrols with the United States. He says the Philippines will now buy arms from China and Russia and hopes to establish a new, friendly relationship with Beijing, one not subservient to the United States.

How can the United States block Chinese expansionism if there is a gigantic hole in the ‘first island chain’ that runs from Japan through to Vietnam? An international tribunal just found for the Philippines in rejecting China’s claims to the South China Sea, a ruling Beijing said from the beginning it will ignore. Will Duterte push Filipino’s claims or seek a special deal with China?

Another part of the Asia pivot, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) finalised last February after seven years of negotiations — seems unlikely to get Senate approval. This rare case of Obama–Republican cooperation collapsed because Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders all denounced it as harmful to American workers. An altered and renamed TPP could conceivably pass later, with many businesses and economists saying that it will boost the US economy. Without it, an Asia pivot lacks economic feet."...


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