They may have referred to him as the “Donald Trump of the Philippines” but Rodrigo Duterte doesn’t seem terribly interested in making America great again. In fact, when it comes to our military, the new President of the Philippines is talking about making America leave again. The firebrand politician, who recently declared that he’d rather be with China than the United States, is tired of being treated like “a dog on a leash” and is threatening the military force agreement we have with his nation. (Washington Post)
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte launched another impatient broadside at Washington on Tuesday, threatening a bilateral defense deal that has expanded the U.S. military presence in his country…
But on Tuesday he was at it again, saying he hated having foreign troops in the Philippines and telling the United States not to treat his country “like a dog with a leash,” the Reuters news agency reported.
He also questioned the 10-year Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) signed in 2014, which expanded military ties between the two nations and enabled the United States to deploy conventional forces in the Philippines for the first time in decades, rotating through five bases. The deal was heralded as a key element of President Obama’s strategic rebalance to Asia.
My oh my, how quickly some people can forget the past and turn on their friends. It would be nice if President Duterte could remember a bit more of his history. If it weren’t for the United States, the Philippines might not even have their own country. Our military presence there, which stretches back a very long ways (with some interruptions), is likely the only reason that other large powers didn’t see this island chain as a valuable asset to pick up. Even after the rejection of the U.S. Bases Extension Treaty while Aquino was in office and the transfer of our bases to their government, America remained a loyal partner in all international matters. In return, the Philippines lent us their support during both the cold war and the war on terror.
Also, the United States has stood by the leadership of the Philippines in an unwavering fashion for a very long time now, sometimes when it was at least questionable as to whether we should have. We didn’t even bail out on them when Ferdinand Marcos was in charge. That was a wild and violent time. I happened to live there for a few brief stretches in the early 80s and it was a period when the country was still under marshal law. Going out off of the naval base we were constantly warned that there was a curfew in effect. Once that witching hour arrived there was nobody on the streets except for jeeps full of soldiers with machine guns and they were authorized to simply shoot you if they wished. If you were caught out in town when the curfew approached you needed to find a business or other building to duck into and hunker down until morning. But somehow the American government stuck with Marcos and let him run his own nation.
This may be a case of Duterte needing to be careful what he wishes for. He has a free hand right now, but if he voluntarily falls under the sway of China, he’ll find the “leash” he’s on to be quite a bit tighter, I assure you. And having those islands turn into a satellite state for the Chinese would be bad news for the west as well.