Surfing through waters of war and peace

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Last of two parts
The imminence of war between the United States and China over the South China Sea is perceived at a time when America is rent by internal strife. This is a most unlikely condition for a nation to go to war against another. In the past two world wars, America was at peace with itself, entering the hostilities only when it became the target of the enemy’s fire.

In the First World War, President Woodrow Wilson was fixated on maintaining America neutral in the war between Germany and the Allies led by Great Britain and France, but the moment German U-boats sank the US merchant ship RMS Lusitania, America declared war against Germany. In the Second World War, though America was the instigator behind the scene for Britain to declare war on Germany in 1939, it did not join the confrontation until Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941.

If, as suggested in the IDSI study, that war between America and China is nearing, it can only mean that China is about ready to deal the US a catastrophe like the sinking of the RMS Lusitania in World War 1 or the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. As a rule, only when the US is hurt does it ever dare to enter war with an enemy, because the government, given its pretension to democracy, must get the people’s approval of such entry into hostilities.

Coming down now to the South China Sea tension, what possible action can prod the American people to agitate for war against China?

To begin with, China has never been known to start a war with an enemy. The infamous Rape of Nanking and the Nanking Massacre perpetrated by Japanese troops on residents of Nanking in 1937 were what brought China to join up with the Allies against the Axis in World War 2. So China needs to be hurt first by the US, then war with it.
Will the US go to war against China at this time?

Upheavals caused across American states as a result of the murder of George Floyd actually amount to one great deterrent for America to risk a war of world scale, as a hurting of China will bring about. If at all, President Trump needs to contain that contagion as much as he does the coronavirus pandemic before embarking on the big adventure of trying to bring China down to its knees. Otherwise, he will be committing the mistake of Czar Nicholas 2nd in focusing on the concerns of war with Germany in 1917, a focus that saw the internal uprising of the Bolsheviks gaining ground and eventually bringing down the Romanov dynasty that ruled Russia for centuries.

A colleague holds that war with China is Trump’s last recourse to generate votes in the US November polls where his reelection bid is at stake. This view needs a lot of rethinking. As pointed out in the first part of this article, a war in this era can only be a nuclear one, and one in which according to Mao Zedong only half of the population of China — and none else — will survive. Why risk a war that Trump even in his most insane mindset must recognize as one bringing about the total annihilation of Americans?

No, Trump can never be serious about risking war with China. If at all, what he can have in mind is skirmishes by foot soldiers, just enough to picture to Americans that China is the evil one and he is needed, being a staunch anti-Chinese president, as the one single savior of the United States.

President McKinley did that when the USS Maine was blasted in 1898, justifying America’s war with Spain for the possession of the latter’s occupied territories in the Asia Pacific region like Guam and the Philippines. President George Bush Sr. did that when the New York Twin Towers was exploded in 2001 to justify America’s formation of the Coalition of the Willing for an attack on Iraq, which resulted in the capture and execution of Saddam Hussein. The Gulf of Tonkin incident (reportedly taking place on August 2, 1964) had to be faked to justify America’s war against Vietnam.

But how are we to get assured that false flags as those in the preceding paragraph– in this case meant merely to ignite small-scale conventional warfare between China and the United States just for purposes of getting votes for Trump — will not escalate into a nuclear confrontation? The killings of two American sentries and blaming it on Filipino insurgents ignited the outbreak of the Filipino-American war in 1898, resulting in the deaths of 200,000 Filipinos.

Mao Zedong’s dictum has never been disproven: “A single spark can start a prairie fire.”
No matter that US false flags after false flags take place in the South China Sea, President Duterte has manifested wisdom to deal with the same in an appropriate peace-saving manner.

In June last year, for instance, there was this accidental ramming by a Chinese vessel of the Filipino fishing boat Gemver-2. The incident caused momentary serious disruption of Filipino-Chinese relations, with traditional US rah-rah boys led by the tandem of former ambassador Albert del Rosario and former senior associate justice of the Supreme Court Antonio Carpio widely fanning anti-Chinese hysteria. What had not been ventilated at all was the fact that the Chinese vessel rammed into the Filipino fishing boat in the former’s desperation to escape from the pursuit of seven mysterious boats. An informant alleges that those seven boats were out to create an incident the likes of USS Maine or Gulf of Tonkin by which to start a “prairie fire”. True, virtually just moments after the ramming of Gemver-2, del Rosario and Carpio, joined in by US Ambassador Sung Kim, led a chorus of traditional US mouthpieces in the Philippines in agitating war with China; Kim already invoked the Military Defense Treaty, calling for US military intervention.

For a week, tension hung between China and the Philippines. It had been the quietest seven days of President Duterte. At the end of the period, he declared the incident as an accident, nothing to worry about. And China-Philippine relations became even firmer.

The incident demonstrated how vital the Philippines is in whatever attempt the US may make to advance its war designs with China. By virtue of the military treaties it has had with the United States — the Military Bases Agreement (MBA) of 1947, the Military Defense Treaty of 1951, the Visiting Forces Agreement of 1998 and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) of 2016 — the country has become the fulcrum for maintaining the delicate balance between war and peace in the region, i.e., vis-a-vis US hegemonic designs in the region.

True, the MBA was abrogated in 1991 by the Philippine Senate but it has been cleverly resurrected by the EDCA, which makes military bases of the Armed Forces of the Philippines open to use by the US military, both its men and machines, including nuclear missiles not subject to inspection by Philippine authorities. In the case of the VFA, it was abrogated some six months ago. But of late such abrogation has been suspended according to an announcement by Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. All told then, it is as if the military stranglehold exercised by the US over the Philippines from the time of its occupation of the country in 1900 has remained unperturbed.

Still, with President Duterte persisting in his stance of independence from the US in foreign policy, there appears no way the US can prevail on him to declare war against China. The President’s consistent refusal to push the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling deemed detrimental to China and favorable to the Philippines testifies to this.

As long, therefore, as Duterte heads the nation, Trump will not have a hold on the Philippines by way of making it fodder for firing at China. He shall have been deprived ultimately of that one single alibi to go to war against China in such a calibrated manner as limiting confrontation to conventional warfare. It will be a missiles warfare he will have to resort to in the event he decides to engage China in hostilities. But Chinese forward military bases in the South China Sea have long been in place to frustrate any US first-strike attempt.

In the end, no US first strike, no hit against China, no war.

That, by way of saying peace on earth to men of goodwill.

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