Can we be the Israel of the US in Asia?
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2012-06-28

The announced US pivot of 60 percent of its naval forces to Asia was in anticipation of their next big future adversary — China — in the biggest economic battleground, Asia. With Russia aligned again with China, with India and Iran as minority partners, the area to fight for is Asia with its vast markets and booming economies.

For us Filipinos the US naval realignment has far reaching consequences. Many of our countrymen think it’ll be for our protection without realizing that we could become the frontline of the US-China War. Already, our naval capabilities are being upgraded by the US, as announced during President Noynoy Aquino’s working visit to the US, to be able to effectively patrol and defend our coastline. The conflicting claims of the Philippines and China over the West China Sea provide the biggest reason for this upgrade.

The question now is this — to what extent will the US go to empower us to resist Chinese aggression? Will the US opt to develop our defense capability to approximate that of Israel, the US chief proxy in the Middle East?

Developing a proxy to undertake its dirty job suits American foreign policy. Ever since the Vietnam War, US administrations have encountered stiff domestic resistance to sending American men and women to fight and die overseas. The US need to maintain its power in Asia isn’t matched by the American public’s willingness to fight another war to attain that end, especially if the adversary is mighty China. Without the economic muscle that it has today, China sent Allied Forces in Korea, commanded by the legendary General Douglas MacArthur, back to the 38th Parallel during the 1950s Korean War.

Transforming the Philippines to be the chief American proxy in Asia is easier said than done. Are we capable of becoming a major power overnight? Is the US financially equipped to undertake that capability building process? Up to what level of weaponry will the US give us? We don’t want to be suckered into fighting a war without a decent Chinaman’s chance — pardon the pun — of winning it. At the very least — to survive it.

Philippine capacity to absorb a sudden upgrade of defense capability would be very much in question. It’s only in fairy tales and in the movies where washed out boxers like Rocky Balboa become World Heavyweight Champion. You don’t just move up from having a substandard defense capability to being state of the art equipped. The easier part is providing the weaponry. The hard part is the ability to fight effectively with the new technology.

Compared to the Jews, we were never players in world politics. The Jews may have been stateless until after World War II but the fact is Jews have been important players in many world events — from financing wars to controlling key sectors of a nation’s economy. The Jewish lobby in the US wields more clout than US allies like Canada and Australia in shaping US foreign policy. We don’t have the benefit of a Filipino lobby with similar clout.

The US support for Israel has been maintained even during bad economic periods in the US because of the intense pressure exerted by the powerful Jewish lobby. The Jews control the banking system, the media and Hollywood. They can easily manipulate American minds and sentiments. Do you recall a Hollywood movie ever produced that played positively on the Arab perspective in the Middle East conflict? Arabs can be allowed to look good if they’re fighting enemies like the Soviets during the Cold War but not when they’re fighting Israelis.
Vietnam, which is now already allied with the US, a former enemy, could fit more the role of an American Israel in Asia. Vietnam has the war experience and has shown national grit and determination to win against lopsided odds. Two advantages that we have over Vietnam are that we have been a longer US ally, vassal actually, and our location is more strategic. US naval power can hardly be projected from Indochina, as it could be effectively deployed in the Philippine archipelago.

If there’s no way that China will reasonably settle the conflicting claims with the Philippines, then we may have to work hard to convince the US to arm and train us to be like Israel. The least we can do is to defend our islands with a good fight — ang mamatay ng dahil sa iyo (to die for you) as we sing it in our national anthem. We don’t want war. We’ll try to avoid war as much as we can but if China will simply grab what’s our sovereign right — then it’s no longer a matter of choice but one of national integrity. We wouldn’t want our posterity to see us as cowards who ran away like chickens in the face of an enormous enemy force. We can be forgiven for losing but not for refusing to die fighting.

Yes, we do have a military option for our China problem and that’s to convince the US to transform our armed forces to approximate the defense capabilities of Israel. We, however, must prove ourselves worthy of it.

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Shakespeare: “Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.”

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