Role of Philippines in US Imperial ‘Pivot’ in Asia May Expand

Washington has been building up the Filipino military, like others in the region, to contain a non-threatening China

Recent joint U.S.-Filipino military exercises are a direct military provocation to China even as Washington rhetorically refuses to take sides in rising tensions in Asia-Pacific.

Key US bases in Asia-Pacific. Source: BBC News.

The Philippines is using the U.S. to ward off China’s regional influence and stand up to Chinese territorial claims in the South China Sea. The exercises included mock beach invasions along coastlines facing China.

The U.S. has been building up the Philippines’s military and security forces, offering funding and weapons in exchange for greater American presence in the country.

“China’s increasing belligerence in the South China Sea is pushing the Philippines into the U.S.’s arms,” said James Hardy of IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly. The naval standoff between the Philippines and China in recent weeks over disputed waters had U.S. imperialism at the center of it.

And lucky for Washington. The Obama administration has initiated a ‘strategic pivot’ to the Asia-Pacific region, with the explicit intention of containing China’s rising military and economic sway. Essentially, to maintain U.S. hegemony.

In February, Washington launched a drone strike in the southern Philippines that reportedly killed 15 people associated with Islamic militant groups.

The airstrike prompted angry reactions from some in the Philippines weary of U.S. breach of their sovereignty. One Philippine representative, Luz Ilagan, called for an end to U.S. military intervention in their national affairs.

Ilagan also called for a probe into what she referred to as the “extensive and intensive intrusion of the U.S. military in Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) operations.” She added, “If these reports are true, then U.S. troops are participating in and conducting operations beyond what is allowed in the Visiting Forces Agreement and directly transgressing our sovereignty. More importantly, their participation in these operations is a potential magnet for the Philippines’ participation in a brewing U.S.-instigated regional conflict.”

The so-called ‘pivot’ includes surging America’s military and naval presence throughout the region in the Philippines, Japan, Guam, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, Australia, et al. This expansion is prompted by no direct threat to the American people – just pure, unabashed empire – and it is often met with extreme distaste on the part of the indigenous citizens of these ‘allied’ countries.

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Author: John Glaser

John Glaser writes for Antiwar.com.