Shared values or just lip service?

TO THE QUICK - Jerry Tundag - The Freeman

An Associated Press report dated March 16 says the European Union wants to step up its naval visits and possibly engage in joint military training exercises to promote freedom of navigation and respect for international law in the disputed South China Sea. It attributed the report to EU special envoy to the Indo-Pacific Richard Tibbels.

Tibbels, according to AP, said the outreach is part of a long-term EU strategy, unveiled in 2021, that seeks to focus its actions in the Indo-Pacific to contribute to regional security amid more intense geo-political competition. The engagement would be grounded on shared values, respect for democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.

There is a comic-snide remark by today's young people when confronted by someone who tries to lay it on very thick: I think I am going to have a nosebleed. Now, I am by no means young, but I did get the same feeling on reading the report and what Tibbels said. Shared values? Respect for democracy and the rule of law? Ha!

Since when has Europe unilaterally wanted to act on shared values in these parts except when it is in furtherance of the wishes and in pursuit of the lead of the United States? Not even if about forty percent of EU foreign trade transits through the area. Without the US getting more aggressive in the area, the EU had been a no-see, no-hear in these parts.

But as correctly described in the AP report, the South China Sea is a disputed area. Indeed, it is a widely disputed area with no less than six countries --China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan-- claiming the whole or parts of it as sovereign territory. Not even the US wants to be a party to a territorial dispute.

The real score here, the underlying motive for all of these sudden pivots to Asia (South China Sea), is to contain China. Containing its enemies where they are has been the Kennedy doctrine of not allowing these enemies the chance to knock on the door of the US. It is so much better to keep them from leaving their own doors. Containment is security.

The US, however, would not be as successful as it is in its containment policy had it not been for the unstinting support of its European allies, configured as either the EU or NATO, or the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Both configurations show how pretty well the US has played Europe to cover all bases: EU for economics, NATO for defense.

The US is playing NATO to contain Russia and is now playing the EU to help it contain China. That is about the long and short of it. So when Tibbels talks about shared values and democracy and the rule of law, "mura kog gi-tubbels" in discomfort and incredulity. It is difficult and painful listening to such platitudes from our former colonizers.

There are no shared values between colonizers and the colonized. Democracy is imperiled when Europe gives solace and comfort to a terrorist leader out to overthrow democracy in the Philippines. Rule of law becomes a sham when the EU jumps on the back of the Philippines, screaming into its ears how its judicial institutions must do their jobs.

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