Thursday, April 16, 2015

Our WPS Situation

Its hard to foresee 10 years into tomorrow what the situation shall be in the WPS.

I think this is so because the strategy playing out upon those disputed waters are practically beyond our effective control. We may only play a passive deterrence.

Our ability to project a credible military presence over those waters are completely preempted by the rising tensions. However, through good planning and good foresight, I am of the opinion that we can structure a defense-in-depth in the WPS that over time will allow this Republic the option of credible deterrence even in the absence of a near-par force. This in turn would afford us with better diplomatic choices.

For now, our best defense is to consolidate and to build.

Let us not forget where our strengths lay. National development and human progress are still our most reliable allies; sound economics partnered with a cohesive, inclusive, internal strategy on nation-building.

I am still of the opinion that the true nature of the issue central to the predominating crises in the WPS  is one that is economic only. If things seem to be taking a turn for the worse, it is because this basic nature is now being transformed into reasons more compatible with active warfare.

Deescalation and demilitarization are still the better of our most immediate COAs open to preserving our advantages in the current form. Artificial islands are not conferred EEZs the same as natural islands per UNCLOS but still, I am personally at a loss as to how to perceive the PRC build up as nothing else but another subtle form of aggression.

What Countries do are always more telling than what they say. 

The language of States is rule and always involves the expenditure of national power. What power does or does not do is always more real and immediate than what its representations in the diplomatic realm indicate or does not indicate. Our experience at Bajo de Masinloc and at Mischief Reef are proof of this. National power unfortunately always involves the burden of arms and all nations know it.

Conversely, our allies among the nations also express in the same manner, the will of their States - but in a way consistent with the friendship between our peoples. Imperfectly at times but never deceptively.

I can not help but interpret the PRC efforts at expansion in the WPS as aggressive. 

I wish it were otherwise. But as they say, hope is not a method. Hope is a means, yes. Any good leader's gravitas must inspire with hope precisely because of situations such as these. But a method, no. Method is what we do with hope.

Our hope is still a peaceful resolution of the WPS imbroglio - with the PRC and all across ASEAN. My own hope is to expedite resolutions in the latter first and then with the former.

Again, our best defense is to consolidate and to build.

We seem to be in the front-line of a number of things. Climate change, peace reform, and international relationships - these are not necessarily bad and war will not necessarily proceed from any of them. So we have to be wise as to what we do. Never falling short nor exceeding the spirit of the defense.

We can not take our allies for granted so we have to look into ourselves as well. 

We must see what we too may contribute not to fan the flames of war though at times this not a choice, but to help bring our world into the new age. When we are joined with our allies - in peace and in war - if we do all we can, we will stand with them honorably.

Yes, because we can.

Dredgers deposit sand on the northern rim of the Mischief Reef, located 216 km west of Palawan, in this Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative satellite image taken on February 1, 2015 and released to Reuters on April 9, 2015. REUTERS/CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative/Digital Globe/Handout