U.S. INTERVENTION: AN EXERCISE OF SOVEREIGNTY?
Professor Roland G. Simbulan
12 June 2002
In a recent TV Talk Show (POINTBLANK, ANC Cable Channel 31, June 5, 2002) where I guested with the former Philippine National Security Adviser, retired General Jose Almonte, the good general practically admitted that he bases his “national security assessments on terrorism” on briefings given by U.S. officials like Mr. Wolfowitz, whom he bragged had given him a comprehensive briefing in Singapore. Since when have national security officials based their assessments on briefings given by foreign officials or is the good general behaving like the colonial lackeys and collaborators who sold out this country and its freedom fighters over a century ago to the first American “visiting forces”. And, like the former and present colonial lackeys, he even has the gall to state that, “inviting American troops on our soil is an exercise of sovereignty.”
In that program, I reminded Mr. Almonte that we are already formally at least, an independent country since 1946, with distinct national interests and security interests from that of the United States and that we should not always base our definition of terrorism on that of the United States’ definition. For example, when U.S. President George Bush Jr. brands as terrorist “axis of evil” countries like Iran, Iraq and North Korea, do we just blindly follow the “Bush-fire” and become cannon fodders against these three countries which have currently full diplomatic and trade relations with the Philippines? And have these above-named countries ever atom-bombed two cities when in 1945, the United States with just two bombs, decimated more than 210,000 civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Terrorism has never been historically the monopoly of the Al Quaeda or enemies of the United States.
As early as 1994, in a paper that I wrote about ongoing secret negotiations between the United States and the Philippines for a status of forces agreement, I warned and made a fearless forecast at that time that the United States, in pursuit of the stability of its global corporate interests, was in fact out to negotiate such an agreement to restore US military presence in the Philippines. But this time, I said, they are out to convert the ENTIRE Philippines into one huge U.S. military base, using the 22 commercial ports of the Philippines as entry points. Some skeptics at that time laughed off this scenario, saying that the Philippines had just kicked out US military bases in 1991. And, as usual, the US and Philippine governments denied it.
Now all this is happening.
After securing a Philippine-U.S. Visiting Forces Agreement in 1999, the two governments have now illegally stretched this document to include all kinds of US military activities on Philippine territory including actual combat missions. The International Peace Mission Report on Basilan recently cofnirmed that US special operations forces are already actively operating side by side with Philippine military forces in actual combat operations in combat zones. If this is “on-the-job training” as National Security Adviser Roilo Golez has put it so the government could insist that US military operations are covered by the Visiting Forces Agreement, then it is. But the Philippine Supreme Court last month cautioned that the VFA does not include activities(i.e. combat) outside of strictly joint military exercises. Meanwhile, the deception continues on the nature of these Balikatan military exercises.
Now, the proposal of Admiral Dennis Blair, Commander in Chief of the US Pacific Command (CINCPAC) to allow US special operations forces to operate in combat missions side by side with Filipino soldiers in the ENTIRE island of Mindanao (Singapore Straits Times, April 26, 2002) does not come as a surprise to us anymore. The visit of the Chair of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Richard Myers, to Basilan, following Blair’s own visit to American foreign legionnaires in that province, as well as the introduction of Seabees to build US military infrastructure, civic action activities, etc. are all indications of an escalation of US military involvement in the Philippines. Only those Filipino officials who rely on briefings given by US officials like Wolfowitz or the right-wing Heritage Foundation which National Security Adviser Roilo Golez relies on for his “national security assessments” will still call these an “exercise of sovereignty”.
The most recent Stratfor Report, prepared by former CIA and State Department analysts, about US plans to re-establish “forward bases” in the Philippines as part of US strategy against international terrorism, should be taken seriously. For the US has, in fact, under the present Bush administration, already reversed the post-Cold War trend of reducing or closing down of overseas U.S. military bases and facilities. Even before Sept. 11, the US-government think tank Rand Corporation, prepared a strategy study titled, “The United States and Asia: Toward a New US Strategy and Force Structure”(May 2001), prepared by Mr. Z. Khalilzad, who is a senior member of the US National Security Council(NSC) which advises the US president on national security issues. The Rand study had observed and strongly recommended:
The Philippine may present an especially interesting opportunity to enhance USAF access in the Western Pacific. After reaching their nadir in the mid-1990s, relations between Washington and Manila have recently improved, culminating in the signing of a status of forces agreement in 1991(VFA). While neither side has expressed any interest in resuming permanent basing of US forces in the islands, the Philippines’ key location in the South China Sea could make it an attractive site FOR FUTURE EXPEDITIONARY DEPLOYMENTS.” (Underscoring supplied.)
This reversal of initial post-Cold War US policy of reducing overseas bases is now best manifested in the setting up of new US military bases in the Middle East, Afghanistan and the former Soviet republics around Afghanistan, and now, to reestablish them in the Philippines, initially under the guise of participation in military exercises.
The overlords and Republican warhawks in Washington must be privately thanking Osama Bin Laden for September 11. And, we can bet you, even the U.S. arms and weapons manufacturers which are the No. 1 merchants of death and destruction in other countries.
We warn that an escalation of US military involvement will lead to an escalation of the conflict. And, as the International Peace Mission to Basilan Report shows, merely improving the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ technical capabilities supplied by the US to provide an effective military solution to this problem is already leading to the escalation of the spiraling violence and human rights violations.
* Article by Roland G Simbulan – For a full professional background of Professor Roland G. Simbulan (Click Here)