Trump blows the Philippines the kiss of death
It’s a major cliche, and it’s plenty annoying. The Philippines has a long, long history of screwing things up and then petulantly blaming the United States.
This over-played card is rooted in the colonial experience, of course. Plenty of Philippine politicians made names for themselves by bitterly criticizing American imperial rule during the early twentieth century. A few of them were even sincere.
But since then, the old blame-the-colonial-father-figure act has become routine, often laughably childish, and nearly always hypocritical and insincere.
Case in point: Now-disgraced former Foreign Secretary (and former closet American) Perfecto Yasay’s blustery proclamation that “America has failed us” by not unilaterally evicting Chinese forces from South China Sea islands and reefs that China began illegally occupying and fortifying soon after the Philippines petulantly evicted American forces from Subic Bay in 1991-1992 without a whiff of a plan, much less any demonstrable capacity, for national defense.
Never mind that the U.S. has taken no position on the conflicting territorial claims in the South China Sea, is not obligated to do so, and is neither obligated nor even legally authorized to take action against China over that situation. Especially if the Philippines won’t even stand up for its own interests there after winning in an international tribunal.
No, blaming the Americans became a convenient excuse for doing what this comical thug regime already wanted to do: bend over for China’s easy money as quickly as possible while spouting fake nationalist pabulum about charting an independent foreign policy course.
What a shameless crock of shit from a self-serving traitor — to two nations. (Is Yasay even a bona fide Philippine citizen at this point?)
But none of this is to suggest that the U.S. has always been fair or honorable in its dealings with the Philippines. It hasn’t been, quite obviously.
And one of the biggest U.S. failings was the Nixon Administration’s acquiescence — and even behind-the-scenes cheering — when klepto-strongman Ferdinand Marcos proclaimed martial law on September 23, 1972 and proceeded to loot the nation.
There was plenty of unrest in the country prior to that martial law declaration — some of it real, some of it orchestrated to serve various agendas.
The tragic long-term result was that idealistic opposition to Marcos was driven underground and swelled the ranks of a nascent Communist insurgency overseen by cynical, dogmatic, and bumbling ideologues who proceeded to get a lot of good people killed — and who eventually launched bloody internal purges that finished off quite a few more, which few people want to talk about these days.
Which brings us to the main point of this brief polemic: U.S. President Donald Trump’s outrageous pat-on-the-head response to The Thug’s brutal terror campaign thinly disguised as a “drug war,” and an apparent new round of U.S. acquiescence regarding martial law in Mindanao.
Even if Trump does personally approve of rounding up thousands of mostly petty suspected drug users and dealers and murdering them while they are bound and gagged, that’s not a policy that any American leader should unequivocally applaud during a conversation with another head of state.
But what else can any rational person make of the bizarre conversation between Trump and The Thug, as reflected in a transcript leaked from the Department of Foreign Affairs?
According to that transcript, Trump praised Duterte for doing an “unbelievable job on the drug problem” and “a great job.”
Trump is infamously insincere and manipulative. Even so, his unequivocal praise of a campaign of state-sponsored mass murder is so outrageous as to defy reality.
Assuming he doesn’t personally care one way or the other about murdered Filipinos but was just trying to butter up The Thug, he could have chosen another topic.
Or he could have simply been honest and said, “Look, I don’t personally give a rip, and I’m not presuming to tell you how to run your country, but you must understand that your foul-mouthed cheering of thousands of murders makes it politically very, very difficult for the United States to provide you with the level of cooperation and assistance that we would very much like to provide in furtherance of our mutual interests as long-standing friends and allies. Members of the U.S. Congress, and plenty of individual Americans, are simply horrified by what’s going on in the Philippines today, and you make it worse pretty much every time you open your mouth.”
And then there’s the whole martial law thingy.
Maybe some American policymakers are ecstatic about The Thug’s martial law declaration for Mindanao, because they fear the island is in serious danger of rapidly becoming a regional base for Islamic extremist terrorism.
Maybe those concerns are very legitimate, and maybe some form of martial law is really necessary for a limited time and limited purposes, especially if it will be followed by real commitment to address longstanding grievances and provide true security, fair governance, and the kind of investments in public safety, education, health, and infrastructure that are necessary to provide people with real opportunities and hope for a better future.
But so far, the U.S. hasn’t even publicly addressed the issue of martial law, except in the most superficial terms, and has merely issued a general statement of support and solidarity against terrorist activities in the Philippines, without referencing any concern whatsoever about the loss of civil liberties and protections that martial law entails, and the need to be wary of its potential for abuse.
Maybe that’s to be expected. The Thug is infamously thin-skinned when it comes to public criticism. And the problems on Mindanao are very real.
But let’s hope that adult members of the U.S. foreign affairs and security establishment are at the very least quietly communicating that the U.S. cannot and will not support an unmitigated bloodbath on Mindanao that throws gasoline onto the fire of religious extremism and burns any chance for the region to enjoy a peaceful and prosperous future.
Because Trump has truly failed the Philippines, and there is absolutely no indication that he will ever grow up and become a real leader.
And speaking of failures:
Infamous brown-nosed toady opportunist Rigoberto Tiglao is constantly outdoing himself these days with his unforgivable wild-eyed attacks on actual journalists and the institution of journalism.
His recent hysterical screeds against Rappler and self-serving call for an investigation into the source of the leaked Trump-Duterte transcript, ignoring the relevance of the content of the transcript, bring brown-nosed toadyism down to a whole new dimension of despicable servitude.
What tunnel vision. What a fucking traitor. What a toady.