If RP won't, neither will the US
TO THE QUICK - Jerry S. Tundag (The Freeman) - July 10, 2019 - 12:00am

Nobody wants to go to war with China. Not the Philippines, not the United States. And it is not about being scared or something. For the Philippines, it is a war it cannot win. For the US, it is a war it can win but at a very terrible cost, and for which it is clearly unwilling to pay.

The days of the great global American policeman are over. It is no longer the only kid in the block with the big stick. Besides, big sticks are no longer the only weapons of intimidation. In fact, lest we forget 9/11, the US is more wary of the tiny needles that can prick its side than the big sticks that can conk it on the head.

Of course, Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte was just trying to upset the equilibrium of his critics when he said America should go to war with China. Why, for good measure he even said the United States ought to fire the first shot. He clearly just wanted to make sure people like Federico Pascual do not get a good night's sleep. Reading FDP later, PRRD was right, ha ha.

Those who think Duterte chickened out amid Chinese provocations in the South China Sea must belong to the tiny minority in the latest Social Weather Station survey which placed the president's net satisfaction rating at a new record high of plus 68. The great majority just does not see war as an appropriate and practical policy in our South China Sea situation.

As for the United States, I have always maintained that almost nothing moves in this world without America knowing. From the first shovel of sand China dug up to start its highly visible and impossible-to-keep-secret island-building activities in the South China Sea, America promptly saw and knew what China was up to.

But America did nothing, unless you call PR warnings as something. And of course the US and some allies did so-called freedom of navigation sail-throughs in the contested waters. But it is nothing new. They have been doing it for years. What makes it different this time is they have to announce it beforehand, a by-your-leave so to speak, which is just fine with China.

America does not want to go to war with its biggest trading partner and creditor, especially at a time of great domestic turmoil over a president whose election by way of its vaunted democratic election process is not being recognized by a growing liberal sector that would rather respect skewed individual rights than the product of their own system.

With hot and cold wars already keeping it busy on so many fronts, when even border security and immigration can quickly engulf it in a confidence crisis, and race becomes a subject even in awards meant for skills and technical excellence, then America does not need another war when it is already gobbling its own self up.


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