Too little, too late

TO THE QUCIK - Jerry Tundag - The Freeman

It is truly amazing how short-lived a lie can be. By now allowing US forces into Philippine military bases after kicking them out just a short two decades ago, we have proven exactly how false and brittle our so-called sense of nationalism is.

In 1991, 12 senators voted to abrogate the RP-US Bases Treaty, feeling that the presence of US troops in several US bases and facilities, the most prominent being Clark Air Base and Subic Naval Base, was an affront to our sovereignty and a manifestation of our colonial mentality.

Rallying behind such motherhood statements, unrealistic in the sense that the Philippines has neither the power nor the influence to back up its claims of sovereignty, the so-called Magnificent Seven went ahead and drove the Americans out.

For the sake of finding out who they were, here are their names: Juan Ponce Enrile, Joseph Estrada, Teofisto Guingona Jr., Agapito Aquino, Sotero Laurel II, Jovito Salonga, Victor Ziga, Orlando Mercado, Rene Saguisag, Wigberto Tanada, Aquilino Pimentel Jr., and Ernesto Maceda.

These 12 set us adrift on nothing more than the promise of a coming wind on a windless day. They were so proud and confident without the basis to sustain them. And you can say all you want in their defense, but here we are, asking the Americans to come back.

And why are we asking the Americans to come back? Because we are in deep shit with China, that's why. China has been bullying us, pushing us around and taking away our territory. It didn't even have to fire any bullet. It was enough for China to humiliate us with water cannons.

And for that water cannon incident, we promptly tucked our tail between our legs and came running to the US for help. While previously we enjoyed a sort of formal marriage with the US with the Bases Treaty, now we come running to the US like a whore.

Even then, as we prepare to spread our legs, we still find it appropriate for the dignity of whores to put up some pretense. And so we still find it necessary to qualify and define the American comeback as a mere "limited access."

It is truly amazing, this ability of ours to kid ourselves and still manage to believe our kidding. Look, not only have we abrogated the Bases Treaty, we have in fact made it a part of the Constitution itself that no foreign forces would be allowed, ever, in the country.

And why? Because we felt that foreign forces (pronounce that as US forces) are an affront to our sovereignty and a manifestation of our colonial mentality. Pay attention to the fact that I used the word felt. In other words, we acted on something so significant on the strength of nothing more than feelings.

We did not care to look beyond our feelings that in our neck of the woods, we are surrounded by potentially hostile neighbors whose interests over security and dwindling natural resources interlock with ours and that, eventually, will come into conflict with ours.

We did not care to look beyond our feelings that, when those conflicts arise, we will be entirely on our own, that we do not have the capacity to defend ourselves, that the only partner we could have relied to do that for us is precisely the one partner we chose to kick out of our lives.

And now we want the US back. How stupid we really are. Even if the US does come back, as it probably will on a "limited" basis, it probably can only temper Chinese bullying but will not totally stop China nor force it to give back what it has already taken away. What we have is a case of too little, too late.

Remember, China has read the US well. It has studied the enemy and would not have acted in the way it did if it did not know the kind of response the US would make. That is why Russia copied the Chinese lead with its own assertions in Ukraine.

Just as the US will not go to war with Russia over Crimea, so will the US not go to war with China over Philippine claims in the Spratlys. The two decades of American absence allowed China the fait accompli. If only we had more of pragmatism and less of pride. Now we have to pay dearly the price of folly.




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