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The far-reaching and complex US objectives of the 9/11 War cannot and will not be achieved without dominance and control of the Far East/Pacific region. The key stronghold of American imperial power in the Far East is the South China Sea, and the key to the South China Sea is the Philippines.
In Bulatlat.com, investigative journalist Bobby Tuazon succinctly describes the current US "intervention" in the Philippines as a key part of a larger "global enterprise"—"a new global security framework gives the United States guarantees not only for the entrenchment and expansion of its various military installations but also for armed intervention whenever and wherever threats to U.S. vital interests occur," while also providing "security guarantees vital for the global free trade and U.S. economic hegemony under the guise of globalization and economic restructuring."
By understanding these dynamics, one can begin to comprehend the importance of the Philippines in the context of the long-term global agenda that was pushed into violent high gear on 9/11, and why it was chosen as the place for America's first post-Afghanistan military expansion.
Focal point of US power in the Far East
There is an old saying in the intelligence world: GOD stands for "Gold (financial assets), Oil (natural and mineral resources) and Drugs." In a more modern version of this adage, the "G" includes "Geo" (as in geoeconomics and geostrategy), as well as "corporate Globalization."
Professor Peter Dale Scott explains that "all US wars in modern history—from Vietnam to the Gulf War to 9/11, Afghanistan, etc.—have involved overt and covert alliances with drug proxies and narco-trafficking criminal syndicates that are simultaneously involved in and with oil. The global narco-economy is inextricably tied to the petro-economy, and both are vital to the larger global economic and financial system itself. Drug and oil proxies assist US geostrategic aims, and vice versa."
"GOD" is in abundance in every major theatre of the 9/11 War, from Afghanistan to Georgia to Colombia to Yemen. The Philippines is no exception.
1. The Philippines is geographically central, the gateway to Southeast Asia at the heart of the South China Sea. The Philippines is the fulcrum from which the US can project its military, intelligence and economic power throughout the Far East region. (Just look at the map.)
2. The South China Sea region is the Eastern frontier of the "Grand Chessboard" as described by Zbigniew Brezezinski in his Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives, a book that continues to serve as a virtual blueprint for the 9/11 War. In Brezezinski's "integrated, comprehensive and long-term geostrategy for all of Eurasia," he details how Asia is the final stop in a NATO expansion across the Eurasian continent all the way to the Pacific Ocean. He also discusses the nurturing of US-led (pro-western) military alliances in the Southeast Asian region, the importance of "the US management of its relationship with China." Among the regional flash points: Taiwan, North Korea, Indonesia and China itself (which the US is simultaneously engaging and containing).
Brezezinski: "The far eastern mainland is the seat of an increasingly powerful and independent player (China), controlling an enormous population, while the territory of its energetic rival–is confined on several nearby islands—and half of a small far-eastern peninsula provide a perch for American power." (note: the Philippines are among the "nearby islands.")
"Suppose China does not democratize but continues to grow in economic and military power? A 'Greater China' may be emerging, whatever the desires and calculations of its neighbors, and any effort to prevent that from happening could entail an intensifying conflict with China."
"To accept China as a regional power is not a matter of simply endorsing a mere slogan. There will have to be substance to any such regional preeminence. To put it very directly, how large a Chinese sphere of influence, and where, should America be prepared to accept as part of a policy of successfully co-opting China into world affairs? What areas now outside of China's political radius might have to be conceded to the realm of the reemerging Celestial Empire?"
"In brief, US management of its relationship with China will inevitably have direct consequences for the stability of the American-Japanese-Korean triangular security relationship."
3. The Philippines has historically been America's key military base, listening post, and naval port in the Far East region.
4. The South China Sea is the world's second busiest international sea lane. More than half the world's supertanker traffic passes through the region's waters. It is a major "chokepoint," as vital to the world economy as the Panama Canal or the Suez Canal. The United States continues to patrol these seaways. In fact, as Michael Klare points out in his book, Resource Wars, "the US is obliged by treaty to ensure the security of Japan, and this, in turn, entails an obligation to protect Japan's vital supply routes. American warships also transverse the South China Sea when sailing between US bases in Japan and the Persian Gulf area."
5. Nearly all of Asia's energy imported from the Middle East and Africa pass through the Strait of Malacca and through the South China Sea. The bulk of the world's liquefied natural gas passes through the South China Sea. A South China Sea that is "managed" by the United States and its allies is vital in the proposed transportation of (still unrequited) Central Asian oil and gas from its source to its ultimate markets. The demand for oil and energy in developing Asia, particularly China, will grow rapidly in coming years.
6. The South China Sea is rich in oil and gas. The Philippines themselves contain a wealth of oil, natural gas and land. The region has become the focus of intense oil and gas exploration by multinational energy companies in the past year.
7. The South China Sea is the gateway to the renowned Golden Triangle, one of the world's key heroin-producing regions on earth. Since 2000, when the Taliban destroyed much of the opium crop (that supplied approximately 75 percent of the world's heroin), the Golden Triangle has supplanted the Golden Crescent as the number one opium source. The Philippines is both a key drug transit nation and an internationally renowned money-laundromat.
8. Southeast Asia is a key developing economic region. Leading multinational corporations and investors have vital long-term interests in the region, including oil and gas. Asia will attract increasing interest as many Asian economies have adopted the "structural reforms," deregulation and privatization formulas pushed by the IMF and the World Bank, etc. following the "Asian economic crisis" of the late 1990s (that many authorities believe was an orchestrated financial conspiracy). Asia will become even more attractive as a haven for outside investment if western markets and economies continue to deteriorate.
9. The Philippines is home to Islamic separatist and guerrilla groups that can be exploited, manipulated and (at least partially) controlled by CIA and other intelligence agencies, and propagandized as terrorists (due to historical ties to Al-Qaeda), and/or otherwise targeted for destruction (for nationalistic tendencies). Where US interests require force, violent intervention (terrorism) is utilized. The fact that some of these guerrilla groups are also drug traffickers fits the pattern of accommodation that is mirrored in other 9/11 War hot spots (Central Asia, Latin America, Balkans, Yemen, etc.)
10. The Philippine leadership remains deeply connected to Washington and global financial oligarchs. The neo-colony's ties to corporate elites, and members of the current and former Bush administrations, are historical, persistent and well documented. Essentially, the Philippine government continues to function as a US proxy.
The role of the Philippines takes on even greater significance when viewed in the context of the larger 9/11 War agenda, which includes, among others:
Control of key natural resource regions and transit routes; seizure, consolidation and control of final supplies and deposits of non-renewable world energy supplies.
Control of international drug traffic, and management of covert narco-money flows (through world financial system).
Geoeconomics (neoliberal corporate globalization).
Geostrategic positioning in defense of and/or expansion of western "security" interests (superpower hegemony).
Legitimization of neo-fascism. Removal of anti-western imperialist/anti-globalization political opposition groups and nationalist movements.
Ongoing manipulation of terrorist groups via intelligence apparatus (CIA, Pakistani ISI and other affiliated proxies) to carry out imperial covert agendas.
War-industrial complex (neo-Cold War).
Corruption, fraud and government-corporate crime. For a multitude of reasons, new as well as time-honored, the US is in the Philippines to stay.
Balikatan: The First Step
In November 2001, after secret negotiations between George W. Bush and Arroyo, a new "bilateral defense consultative mechanism" was formed between the US and the Philippines. The Pentagon approved a ten-fold increase in military assistance to the Philippines, effective starting in 2002, and scheduled to increase every year thereafter. In exchange, President Arroyo offered to reopen the port of Subic Bay to the US for the maintenance of warships. In April 2002, Stratfor revealed that US armed forces are in the process of building a military base on Basilan.
Operation Balikitan began in January 2002, with no public discussion and in contravention of the Filipino constitution (which does not allow the deployment of foreign troops on the company's soil). This "six-month training exercise" brought 700 (reported) US Special Forces, Green Berets, intelligence operatives and military "advisors" to the southern Philippines, armed with state-of-the-art weaponry.
The White House and the mass media have consistently portrayed Operation Balikatan as a police action aimed against the Abu Sayyaf, a Muslim guerrilla group supposedly linked to Al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. But President Arroyo herself denied this connection in an interview with Le Monde and other publications, in which she declared that the ties between Al-Qaeda and Abu Sayyaf have been non-existent since 1995. As further clarification, Arroyo asked US Secretary of State Colin Powell (made at the World Economic Forum on February 2, 2002) to stop referring to the Philippines as the "second front" in the "war on terrorism."
Six months later, Arroyo is requesting an extension to the operation. On July 5, 2002, in an unprecedented move, President Arroyo announced that she is taking over the responsibilities of foreign secretary after Vice President Teofisto Guingona announced his resignation over the continued presence of US troops. Arroyo's stated objective: forge even "closer ties with the United States."
Larry Chin is a freelance journalist, an Online Journal Contributing Editor and a frequent CRG contributor .Copyright © Larry Chin 2002. For fair use only
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