'Peace at all costs' with the MILF could mean a greater RP war
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2010-09-12

Quite a number of folks were alarmed when the head of the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines)-MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) Peace Panel, Marvic Leonen, announced that the government panel was open to considering alterations in the Constitution in order to attain peace with the MILF in Mindanao.  

The sense of alarm was certainly justified. The aborted MOA-BJE (Memorandum of Agreement-Bangsamoro Juridical Entity) was voided by the Supreme Court for violating provisions of the Constitution. That MOA-BJE was seen as a Balkanization of the Philippines. Thus, Leonen’s pronouncement was perceived as openness to a similar MOA-BJE.

If Leonen was trying to promote confidence building by saying that, then he can be considered naïve. His pronouncement can be compared to a poker player showing his cards to his opponents before they start betting. His qualification to negotiate the peace with the MILF comes under serious question.

Does Leonen understand his mission and his objective? He is terribly wrong if he thinks that PEACE AT ALL COSTS is his objective. A “peace at all costs” attitude will render Leonen no different from British Prime Minister Alfred Neville Chamberlain (Prime Minister from May 28, 1937 to May 10, 1940) who was blamed for not having stopped Adolf Hitler in 1938 by signing the 1938 Munich Agreement which historians considered led to World War II.

The 1938 Munich Agreement which Chamberlain signed allowed Hitler’s Nazi Germany to annex the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia. That emboldened Hitler and led to his 1939 attack on Poland which triggered World War II. It was believed that in 1938 Hitler was not ready to go to war and had Chamberlain refused to accommodate Hitler’s demand for the Sudetenland — the German Fuehrer would have lost face as well as political clout and his aggressiveness would have been effectively stopped. 

Chamberlain proudly displayed the Munich Agreement upon his return to the UK — claiming “Peace in our time” as he waved the useless document. His “Peace in our time” was good only for one year. Mankind experienced the costliest and bloodiest war in history as a result of Chamberlain’s miscalculation and naiveté. Leonen and his negotiating panel will be similarly condemned by generations of Filipinos if he makes the same mistake. 

Does Leonen et al realize that the US has an extraordinary interest in this MILF peace negotiation? Leonen and his negotiators cannot hope to forge an acceptable peace accord without factoring the US agenda. “Peace in our time” coming from Leonen et al could mean peace with the MILF but the country becomes the frontline of a US-China conflict in the South China Sea. That would mean we will contain a pocket rebellion but the entire nation will be placed at risk in the feared US-China conflict.

If the US interest in Mindanao is secured, China will see the operations there of US armed forces as the staging ground for military offensives against China. With Japan now poised to remove US bases in Okinawa by 2013 and if the US cannot operate military installations in Mindanao — that will confine the US to purely a defensive stance with having to operate from Guam, Wake and Hawaii. Without a military presence in Mindanao, the US will also lose its access to the big oil reserves in the South China Sea.

Are Leonen et al aware of these US-China dynamics and how Mindanao figures in all these? Geostrategist Robert D. Kaplan recently cited on CNN GPS that the naming of the special envoys to Afghanistan, Pakistan and Israel “freed up the Secretary of State’s time to make more trips to East Asia.” That reinforces the importance of our region to the US.

The US went to war in Iraq to corner the oil of Iraq (Saddam Hussein was the convenient excuse) and the US almost considered an Iran excursion. Iraq and Iran are known to have the biggest oil reserves after Saudi Arabia. The oil reserves in the South China Sea is said to be as much as that of Iraq or Iran. Other than the offensive capability which military presence in Mindanao provides, the US gains proximity to the oil reserves in the South China Sea. The US has gone to war for lesser reasons.

National Security expert Victor Corpus had long studied the possibility of a US-China conflict. His sellout of a book — America’s Dim Mak Points — outlines how this conflict will likely be fought. Before Vic Corpus left for a Washington posting, we met at the Peninsula Hotel lobby and there Vic warned that if the US gets it desired offensive capability in Mindanao — it is very likely that China will resort to a preemptive strike.

Most of the Western powers that figured in the Boxer rebellion in China had long forgotten how they have humiliated the Chinese people and how that episode and the subsequent events have rendered a national trauma to the Chinese psyche. That humiliation of the Chinese is passed on from generation to generation in China.

The US was an active participant in that bitter episode of Chinese history as was the UK which is the lesser partner in the current US-UK hegemony. Like the Jewish people after the fall of Masada, expect the Chinese to also say in their heart of hearts and in the very core of their Chinese souls — NEVER AGAIN!

The timeline of the events surrounding the aborted MOA-BJE reveals the tremendous pressures Madame Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) underwent from the US and China. She was in the US meeting with President George W. Bush when the MOA-BJE was initialed. When that was made public, she had to rush to China on a one day trip. Upon her return from China, the GMA controlled Supreme Court subsequently scuttled the MOA-BJE.

Thanks to a largely idiotic Philippine media, few Filipinos are aware of these developments and its possible dire repercussions. Our media will gladly feast on hostages being slaughtered, the romance between Robin and Mariel, the break up of James and Kris and the donnybrook between Claudine and Angelica.

Don’t you think that you deserve to be informed of the risks that you and your loved ones are facing in this US-China looming conflict in the South China Sea?

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