The power vacuums that President Duterte and China fill with self-interest

The late Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi, demagogue. (Photo by MAHMUD TURKIA /AFP/Getty Images)

By Joe America

If you are decently skilled at critical thinking, you recognize the absurdities that emanate from the Philippine and Chinese governments. The contradictions abound.

President Duterte is against corruption, but FOR the Marcos and Arroyo families. He is against drug addicts but has arrested no major drug supplier and has not tried to cut off the flow of goods from China. He advocates for independence but insults the United States and praises China. He would die for Filipinos and he would also give away sovereign rights to the West Philippine Sea. He hates democracy, the system that gave him his authority.

It can go on and on. I think the point is clear.

China is the same way with her latest absurdity proposing that ASEAN institute a policy of independence that would bar interference from outside nations. This is specifically targeted to keep the United States out of Asia. By proposing the policy, China interferes. Haha. China regularly says one thing and does another. “We are occupying the islands to protect fishermen, not for military purposes.” The islands are militarized. ”We agree that Philippine and Chinese vessels should leave Scarborough Shoal.” Chinese vessels stay. “The South China Sea is sovereign to China.”

Well, it is not, by any standard but Chinese insistence.

The Duterte and Chinese governments play the power card, knowing that they can authoritatively talk to any point and push their agenda forever as long as there is no legitimate opposing power.

In the Philippines, extreme acts are supposed to be moderated by the Legislature and the Judiciary, but President Duterte has successfully captured or neutralized them. Political parties in the Philippines are mainly just a collection of friends. Parties here do not have deep policy commitments. So there is no institutional opposition to the Duterte government. The Liberal Party is neutralized by assigning it the label of “yellow” and tagging it as “divisive, destabilizing, and disloyal”. Jailing Senator de Lima is the punctuation mark, the shot across the bow. President Duterte means business.

China pursues the same self-determined goals using the same methods, slandering other nations freely whilst holding herself above reproach. Working to divide and conquer other states. Insisting on bilateral negotiations on island conflicts and ignoring the UN arbitration finding the same way President Duterte ignores the Constitution. Now China seeks to dominate the ASEAN agenda.

The problem in both cases is that a legitimate opposition is hard to construct.

The Philippines, by history and geography, is fractured among regions and families and bitter legacies. There is no charismatic opponent to President Duterte who is also an organizer and unifier among disparate interests. The power of the President is so profound that it takes great courage to go against his will. Pushback is weak. Media quake. Legislators quiver.

ASEAN is also fractured, with each nation highly independent. There are few ties that bind. So China has an easy time poking and prodding and pushing her way forward, one little step at a time.

What has to happen to stop the demagoguery from becoming invincible?

A legitimate opposition must emerge, both in the Philippines and in Asia.

For the Philippines, I suspect this might be an alliance of people who are committed to human rights, democracy, and freedom as a legitimate policy-based political party. Such an effort would try to unify people around a positive message and set minor disputes aside. It would be able to put together the kinds of rallies and shows that would attract membership. Filipinos seem to need that showmanship.

For ASEAN and non-ASEAN states facing the same problems in dealing with China, I suspect there are two ways.

One, the US could be invited directly into the action by a member state, such as Viet Nam or Singapore, on terms acceptable to the inviting state. They and the US would then try to put a figurative wall in the sea blocking China’s further adventurism and returning the South China Sea to the international community.

Two, a significant military alliance might be formalized among several states, not all being ASEAN members. It would be structured to replace the US as the primary military power in the region. Joining forces might be Japan, Viet Nam, Australia, Singapore, and perhaps India, but maybe not the Philippines (for logical if absurd reasons). Korea is questionable because of animosity with Japan. The goal would be the same. Insist that China respect the sovereignty and rights of other nations, including free passage through the South China Sea.

Barring that kind of action on either front, we can pretty well guess that the 21st century will be the century of the demagogue . . . and obedient subjects.


163 Responses to “The power vacuums that President Duterte and China fill with self-interest”
  1. karlgarcia says:

    Maybe the raid of the Parojinogs of the Kuratong Baleleng infamy was their start to remove the ” you go only for the poor and helpless addicts.” Of course there is more than meets the eye here.

  2. karlgarcia says:

    “SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Several Asian nations are seeking to bolster informal alliances among themselves, regional diplomats and officials said, unsettled by growing fears that the United States could not be relied on to maintain a buffer against China’s assertiveness.

    Countries including Australia, Japan, India and Vietnam are quietly stepping up discussions and co-operation, although taking care they do not upset Beijing, the diplomats said. No one was yet talking about a formal alliance.”

    They still do it “quietly” and with care so Beijing would not be upset.

    • Thanks, Karl. I think to be effective, they have to go formal. China calculates they will remain afraid.

      • karlgarcia says:

        China’s Global Times described a new regional bloc as a “ridiculous utopia”, in response to a Reuters report that Australia, Japan, India and Vietnam were quietly stepping up talks to form an alliance to counter Beijing’s growing influence.

        The editorial (link in Chinese) argued that the countries in the region need to cooperate with China to achieve their “most important tasks”. At the same time, the Trump administration would pay no mind to the message that Washington needs to step up its regional presence. Trump, after all, needs to fix problems at home, regardless of the “grumbling” of allies.

        “Talk of Asian countries ‘forming alliances’ to counter China is always attention grabbing, but this discussion actually becoming an effective geopolitical point of leverage is not realistic…

        Asia is not the Europe of those days, today is not the Cold War era of the past, making new alliances to counter China will severely harm the geopolitical climate…

        it would have no benefit for the countries involved, and for these reasons whatever countries actually raised the flag of such an alliance would be almost as awesome as Don Qixote.”

  3. arlene says:

    What he does is contradictory to what he says. Good morning Joeam 🙂

  4. Gemino H. Abad says:

    Terrific, critical and sober! — Demagoguery (populism): “divide and conquer.” This is how a tyranny may last (for a time). Where is the organized opposition? — the U.S. is a crucial factor as a “world power” that stands for human rights, democracy, freedom; a military alliance among nations is the only way to fight a bully!

    • Oldman says:

      Only the truth can set us free…………….

      I find the rationalizations, allegations, assertions amusing……
      For my critical thinking, although I’m have ambivalence of his performance, I accept his imperfection, because with the Philippines, President Duterte is mandated through national election to govern for the term of six years. He alone is responsible. In his watch are the Philippines sovereignty, the Philippines peace and order, plus many others….He deserves our highest respect.

      For the rule of laws, there is the bilateral Congress and the Judiciary to counter balance through legal means….

      I find private critical opposing rationalizations, allegations, assertions to the Philippine government so amusing………

      • NHerrera says:

        Oldman, I find your comment so amusing too. Perhaps the appropriate word is laughable?

      • chemrock says:

        “…….He deserves our highest respect”

        Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, and every is equally entitled the liberty of their foolishness.

        Oldman or Oldmanila, it’s pretty obvious you are a troll wrapped in a cloak of pretend civility. You hit the opinions of others that don’t conform with yours in a way Nieto can never do. I have been watching you. Are you a bot with some new AI? If you are, you need to upgrade because your creator hasn’t given you the capability to offer your opinions WITH your justifications. You ad hominem all the way.

        Here’s a chance to prove you are not a not. You say Duterte deserves the highest respect. Here’s the rapacha for you. Click yes to any of the following that you think deserves respect :
        – Give away Filipino islands to Chinese
        – Accept money from Imee that was stolen from Filipinos
        – Kill kill kill as THE solution to Philippines woes.
        – normalise vulgarity as a Filipino trait.
        – build build build by increasing tax burden and national debt
        – use questionable Chinese corporations for infra projects
        – make Marcos a hero out of a thief
        – protect Marcos and promote a murderous cop
        – do nothing in one year for traffic jams.
        Oops I ran out of mobile battery.

  5. NHerrera says:

    Nice joining together and very good example of the concept of < hypocrisy and < power vacuum and suggestions of what to do about it. On China and the Philippines, the essay on the concepts can hardly be improved on. The blog is current and goes well with the flow from the previous blog. Thanks, Joe.

  6. alicia m. kruger says:

    Three. In my dream I saw Beijing reduced to smithereens by my guided missile but woke up disappointed with the same numbers one and two possible solutions. I better go back to sleep now and dream the dream, ha ha!

  7. madlanglupa says:

    In contrast to PRRD who dressed more like a mountain militia man, Mister Smug wins the military uniform contest:

    Topic-wise, they may appear invincible, but in-fighting (i.e. domestic discontent, squabbles over the spoils, and/or widening gap between rich and poor) would weaken their position.

  8. Bill In Oz says:

    An interesting article Joe. There are Filipinos aplenty here to provide a Philippines perspective and they can with far deeper knowledge criticise Dutters. So I will not.

    It’s appropriate here to remember some SEA history. ASEAN was established in the late 1960’s & early 1970’s to preserve the status quo at a time when communist forces ( supported by the Soviet Union & China ) were active in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, the Philippines and up to 1966, in Indonesia. The goal of these communist parties was to massively change the post World War 2 Independent nations in SEA, status quo. The original 5 members were Singapore, Malaysia, The Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia.

    Well the status quo fell over. Vietnam, Laos & Cambodia were over run by Communist guerrilla armies.

    And the status quo changed again massively China went capitalist under Deng Hsiao Peng from 1979 and when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1990. Old enemies became friends. Vietnam, Laos & Cambodia joined ASEAN. Brunei joined ASEAN. Then Timur L’Este joined ASEAN after the Indonesians left. Finally Burma ( Myanmar ) joined ASEAN.

    There were always other powers on the sidelines at ASEAN conferences. In the early days the USA, the UK and Australia. Later on Japan & Taiwan ( in a completely unofficial & hidden capacity ).. And from the early 2000’s China as well..

    China now sees itself as THE major power in SEA, one which it thinks will replace the USA as US power declines. And it believes that historically this has been China’s ‘legitimate’ role over the centuries until the irruption of Western power in the 17th Century.

    It’s role now in ASEAN is to ensure the smooth transition to this outcome. Helping out Dutters is also part of that process. Occupying the South China Sea and creating new islands which are fortified with Chinese military forces, is also part of this chess game, this power play to ‘restore’ Chinese influence.

    But the question is has the game changed fundamentally since ancient times. I think it has. Economic power now comes from trade & interdependence. Chinese power, wealth and prosperity is a consequence of trade. So too is the current prosperity in Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea and even Australia and New Zealand. The newer prosperity emerging in Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines is also a consequence of international trade is goods and services.

    I suspect that attempts by any one major power like China to impose it’s dominance will jeopardise the growth & improving prosperity of all.

    Meanwhile Vietnam & Indonesia have already been in conflict with Chinese ships ( fishing boats and Chinese ‘coast guard’ ). Taiwan is also now governed by a party committed to an independent Taiwan and thus a target of Chinese hostility.

    Laos & Cambodia are China’s allies in SEA with Burma wondering what to do as it works t’s way out of long established military dictatorship.

    Singapore, Malaysia & Brunei lie on the sidelines hoping for the best

    What of the Philippines in this Big Picture ? I suspect that Dutter’s welcome to increasing Chinese presence in the Philippines will of itself in time, stir a nationalist Filipino response. It is inevitable.

    A little example : Folk from the PRC so often have a self unaware arrogance to other countries and peoples. Regularly I watch a program called ‘Border Control”. And most of the people caught flouting Australia’s custom control laws are Chinese loaded to the gills with goods that are forbidden entry for quarantine reasons like seed, fruit, fresh meat, fish, drugs, cigarettes, etc. All of then have signed a declaration saying that they do not have such goods in their baggage. Yet they do & try to hide them.

    The stuff is confiscated and destroyed and the people are fined. But the underlying attitude is ” Your nation’s laws do not apply to me, I am Chinese”.

    • chemrock says:

      “Singapore, Malaysia & Brunei lie on the sidelines hoping for the best”

      Bill, I think you are wrong in this. Singapore has continued with Lee Kuan Yew’s approach towards China – be friends, help them and teach them as they open up to the modern world because the Chinese will catch up sooner or later. Might as well collaborate with them from the beginning. BUT at the same time, maintain geopolitical balance in our part of the world. In other worlds, stick close to US as they have remained trusted friend for decades. In other words, when China step out of line, stand up and oppose them. The small fry must make the most noise, it’s a natural strategy. Note how Chihuahua barks at the bigger dogs.

      Singapore proactively reached out to offer our expertise to the Chinese. Deng Xiaoping chose to visit Spore on his first overseas trip as he was very curious with our success story. We taught them much, but the students have now overtaken the teacher. A recent official comment said they now find Spore island’s economic model not suitable for them.

      Spore has been the most vocal amongst Asean members as far as Chinese nine dash lines and their occupation of South China Seas are concerned. This has miffed PRC hot shots and they have taken aim at Spore. There have been a few incidents where the message to Spore was very clear. A shipment of our military hardware (our guys train in Taiwan) in Honkkong was detained for several weeks. Our PM was not invited to the last OBOR forum in Beijing. Public debasement of out economic model. Verbal attacks on Spore by low officials. Letting out the Chinese troll dogs in Spore social media. Our close relationship with the US is a big sore point for them.

      But worthy of note to Philippines. Just like Vietnam and Indonesia, our comeuppance to China has created no wars.

      Many Singaporeans now question the wisdom of our government’s policy of non-appeasement with China. They mock our PM as unwise and that he does not have the stature of his father to stand up to China the way only Lee Kuwan Yew could . Many take the line enunciated by our ex ambassador Kishore Mahbubani that perhaps we need to recalibrate our approach appropriate to a small nation. To me all these sound Dutertish. Appeasement and not standing your ground simply encourages the bigger fella to take another step forward.

      • Bill In Oz says:

        Chenrock, thanks for this comment. I was not really thinking hard when I made that remark about Singapore…

      • Bill In Oz says:

        Yes Joe, the long term view does provide some optimism…I remember being in Indonesia once for a month mostly on Java.. And seeing the very obvious truckloads of military troops driving around for no apparent reason except low level ‘reminding’ = intimidation ! I wondered then if Indonesia would ever have a democratic government.

        Yet it happened. Soharto was forced to resign. And his anointed hard liner general side-lined ! And then happened a process of restoring ‘democrasi’ in Indonesia. It has had the odd moment of stupidity, not turned back to dictatorship.

        Nor is the Philippines like Thailand where the military have a generations old in-grained belief in their right to overthrow popular elected governments.

      • chemp,

        Are there a bunch of Mandarin-type Chinese from PRC living in Singapore right now; the Chinese in Singapore (locals) where do they hail ? Cantonese like in HK? I believe (and NH correct me here) Filipino Chinese mostly come from one region in China no, Fukien?

        Will all these specific regions matter eventually? or are they all considered Han Chinese, thus irrelevant?

        • sonny says:

          LC, a tangential source on the nature of the Chinese world diaspora I found:

          In the case of the Philippines, I find migrations from Xiamen (Amoy, Fujian province) after 960 AD (to Butuan, Mindanao), after 1000 AD (to Ilocos, Pangasinan, Manila, Jolo).

          Tell me what you think.

          • sonny says:


            The Hokkien people (Min-nan, Taiwanese, Holo), made up mostly of Han Chinese, originally lived south of the Min River in southeastern China. Today, the almost 59,000,000 Hokkien people are scattered throughout the world. Over 33,000,000 live in China, with another 16 million in Taiwan, and remaining peoples are found in countries throughout East Asia, Southeast Asia, Europe, Africa as well as the Americas. Some are atheist, but the majority of the Hokkien people practice a mixture of Taoism, Buddhism and animism. Approximately 0.01% of the Hokkien people worldwide are Christian. Pray for spiritual breakthroughs among the Hokkien people that will bring hope and life.

        • chemrock says:

          Sonny provided useful info there of Fujian diaspora.
          Fujian=Fukien=Hokkien is a district. It was one of the poorest part of China that’s the push factor for emigrating. Hokkiens are everywhere. They are in large numbers in Taiwan. Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia and elsewhere. My parents came from the poorest part of poor Fujian — Amoy (Xiamen) and Annhui.

          As you know much of Chinese ancient history was fractured country with war after war. In part must be the diverse dialect differences. As a foreigner you may not perceive it, but Chinese dialect groups have their own distinct social biases. We have a Hokkien saying of who is a great liar, who is boastful, who is selfish. I won’t mention which dialect is which haha, but we often quote this in joke, although it is grounded in factual experiences of many. It was the Yellow Emperor the first emperor of Chin Dynasty , the guy who started the building of the Great Wall, who united the Chinese by burning old dialect books and made Mandarin the national language. Mandarin or Putong-hua is the great unifier.

          As to your question, whilst dialect provides some special affinities, most Chinese do not see it as a divisive line.

          Is there a parallel with Tagalog? I think there is, but the Tagalog has’nt got the thousand year history of Mandarin. I see some push backs against the use of Tagalog which is a retrogressive move. Federalism will definite see more pressure on Tagalog use. That’s not going to be good for unity eventually.

          • sonny says:

            My wife’s maternal side is probably 3rd generation Chinese, a fact that I appreciate very much. Her aunt has stories about a relative who lived with them who had a queue/pigtail. Hence I’m on the lookout for pieces or details about the Fujian Chinese who have lived in the Ilocos (specially, Ilocos Sur, for generations). Ilocano mestizos (fair-skinned) are also Chinese in physiognomy. President Elpidio Quirino was such a mestizo.

            Here’s a Hokkien blog I found with some more details on the Hokkien Diaspora.


            • sonny, chemp,

              I did notice that more of the rich Muslim (Moros) in Mindanao looked Chinese, many still even retained their Chinese names (i’m assuming these are the most recent migrants).

              As for “Hokkiens are everywhere”, I believe these guys are the ones who came here to California too for the Gold Rush of 1948 (part of the 49ers, since most actually arrived in 1849), also built the railroads.

              “The Hokkien people (Min-nan, Taiwanese, Holo), made up mostly of Han Chinese, originally lived south of the Min River in southeastern China. “ This is what’s most confusing to me, who’s Han and who’s not. I guess Han is like saying White, knowing full well that within that label, are Eastern and Western European, within Western European, are Scandinavians, Germans, Dutch, English, etc.

              “In the case of the Philippines, I find migrations from Xiamen (Amoy, Fujian province) after 960 AD (to Butuan, Mindanao), after 1000 AD (to Ilocos, Pangasinan, Manila, Jolo).”

              This would explain Chinese looking Moros with Moro names and Chinese looking Moros with Chinese names, sonny. Or was there a more recent wave, hence Chinese names weren’t married out yet.

              This is all very interesting, let me read all this and see if i can tease more questions out from this. Thanks!!!

              • Miela says:

                Some governors in Sulu are surnamed Tan – very Chinese surname. I think the former governor’s name is Abdulah*something* Tan.

              • I’ve come across Lims & Ongs, too.

              • sonny says:

                From what I can gather I consider the Han dynasty (400+ yrs) as the most synonymous to what is quintessential Chinese ethnology and culture (demography, technology, philosophy, government and many more). I hope chempo can parse this broad brush much better. Even partials will be much appreciated.

          • karlgarcia says:

            Another map of the ethno-linguistic groups in China.

            • thanks! i realize these maps (ethnic China maps) are all other the place , karl. so i think even the Chinese aren’t quite sure whose technically Chinese and who minority, sub-groups are, or maybe just the academics are having this trouble, and Chinese themselves can see these invisible lines.

    • Ah, your comments remind me that international affairs go through ebbs and flows, ups and downs, circling between autocracy and some form of ‘people first’. So it is best to see even horrid cycles as fleeting. Thanks for the (inadvertent) uplift. 🙂

      I also watch that Border Control show here from time to time. I get nervous along with the travelers who have erred through ignorance. The Chinese are a piece of work, often, and it will be interesting to see if Filipinos roll over for them when they arrive here in droves.

  9. “For ASEAN and non-ASEAN states facing the same problems in dealing with China, I suspect there are two ways.”


    Am I wrong in characterizing your 1 and 2 as more military than economic? Like NATO or another Shanghai cooperative, wherein more of an EU or NAFTA approach is needed, ie. divesting from China, solidifying, galvanizing ASEAN as a economic bloc. Maybe focus more on India and Australia for trade and find a way to create your own New Silk Road.

    China’s subjugation is more economic in scope, than military or colonization (maybe this will come later), so why not match that, trade deals for trade deals first. It’s a start, for example what can ASEAN nations do without from China, then what can individual nations afford to not sell to China.

    Maybe this question is more for chempo, but as China picks ASEAN off one at a time, one by one, it’ll be difficult ASEAN’s just not solid or galvanized enough IMHO, it can still be flaked off piece by piece—– maybe Trump’s about face will be the galvanizing force?

    • I love by the way how “Knit Sweaters” are in China’s top 10, are these all going to Australia , Bill? 😉

      • Bill In Oz says:

        Maybe Lance.. We once had a wool processing industry as well as merino sheep. But I think it has all been exported to China..Mind you woolen jumpers (= sweaters ) are not popular now here as they are too expensive compared to polyester fabric stuff..But wool lasts generations ( I have & wear this Winter, 2 jumpers knitted in the 1970’s ) while artificial fibre lasts maybe a year..

        • I did remember how Australians loved their sweaters, Bill… as do the Canadians.

          And imagined a bunch of poor Chinese kids with two chopsticks knitting away in dreary factories to satiate this demand in knitted sweaters. I had no idea there were industrial “knitting” machines.

    • NHerrera says:

      Thanks for the data/ graphics.

    • Indeed, I could have included an economic option. Thanks for suggesting it. I’d have to ponder what it would take to actually work, versus eliciting a response that might damage the US.

  10. NHerrera says:

    Not quite off topic.

    Currently there is a Senate Hearing on the shipment of shabu worth about P6.4B from China, declared as printing machines by a certain EMT Trading.

    A phone call allegedly from China alerted PH of the shipment of illegal drugs. (Phone call from Private person? Interpol? Chinese Authorities? My dirty mind tells me that if Chinese Authorities called, this would have been proclaimed by the BOC in the Hearing.)

    • In this case, it is Anderson who called Alvarez an imbecile who is being made to look as if she let the shipment pass.

      Things as usual are not what they seem in the Philippines. Will Anderson, a known DDS, join De Lima in Crame?

      Parojinogs are a sign that no one is safe, everyone can be sacrificed. This is going the way of the Sopranos, possibly the final season, who knows?

      • NHerrera says:


      • Bill In Oz says:

        I do not follow Irineo & N’Hererra. can one of you clarify this for me ?

        • NHerrera says:

          Bill, I hope this helps.

          Mandy Anderson, Chief of Staff of Bureau of Customs Commissioner Faeldon, wrote in her Facebook that Alvarez is an “imbecile” due to Alvarez’s threat to dissolve the Court of Appeals (my comment: this is the kind of thinking of House Speaker Alvarez which rightly deserves the word, I believe). House members rallying to support of Alvarez said that perhaps Anderson who works in BOC wished to deflect the smuggling of about P6.4B worth of shabu through Customs.

          • Bill In Oz says:

            Thanks N’Herrera…. I assume that the P 6.4 Billion of shabu from China ( 165 Million in A$. ) was all found and the persons receiving the cargo also mopped up by police ?

      • Miela says:

        The admin alliance is starting to fracture without opposition intervention. They are starting to turn against each other to cover up their corruption and incompetence.

  11. edgar lores says:

    1. I might make a distinction between power vacuum and power cession (or relinquishment).

    2. In the case of China, a power vacuum was created when the Philippine Senate voted to end the RP-US Bases Treaty in 1991. This vacuum allowed China to claim most of the South China Sea as its own. China would not have dared to advance the claim if Clark Air Base and Subic Naval Base were still in America’s hands.

    3. In the case of Duterte, there was no power vacuum. Power was there to limit his excesses but the power was not exercised; it was relinquished to him… and he grabbed it. Specifically, I will mention four relinquishments, but there are many more.

    3.1. In both houses of Congress, the power to oppose was weakened when non-PDP Laban members coalesced to form a supermajority.

    3.2. In the Judiciary, the power to limit was ceded in the major decisions on GMA’s release, Enrile’s bail, Marcos’ burial, and recently the Martial Law imposition.

    3.3. In both Congress and the Judiciary, the power to incriminate the president for past criminal tendencies was whitewashed in the investigation into the Davao Death Squad. On the other hand, his power to incriminate was allowed in the persecution of Senator De Lima.

    3.4. In the press and in public opinion, the power to push for accountability was surrendered when the president was not held to his word and promises and when the drug war death toll has not been updated since early this year.

    4. The potency of power is lost when it is abdicated – either involuntarily as in the case of China or voluntarily as in the case of Duterte.

    5. As to overcoming demagoguery, I listed four methods in a previous blog:

    4.2. There are several methods of controlling Physical Power. The system of checks and balances is one. The self-restraint of the Executive is another. And, finally, there is the force of public opinion. As we now observe, these three methods are presently absent or ineffectual.

    4.3. To my mind, the best method of controlling and containing Physical Power is an opposing Physical Power. We see this in war. We see this in Marawi. We saw this in the downfall of the Marcos dictatorship.

    5.1. I see alliances as a form of “opposing Physical Power.”

    • NHerrera says:

      Ah, edgar, you triggered my recollection of newtonian mechanics taught my first year in engineering — your Item 4.3!

      • popoy says:

        If I may be wrong, In grade five (1949) we first encountered in the classroom the US colonists on the path to a UNION, the aftermath of the Alamo, the BELLIGERENCE of the Founding Fathers, the siege of the Bastille by Peasants of the French Revolution, etc.; all pave the way for the essence and truth of reason and ACTION re: item 4.3. It is blood bath waiting to happen,

        • NHerrera says:

          Popoy, our two comments are probably reflective of our views, perhaps influenced by the way we approached our science — mine through physics/ engineering and yours through the biological science. With your comment being more in keeping with the blog, not the “billiard ball” mechanics of Newton. 🙂

          • sonny says:

            “… our two comments are probably reflective of our views, perhaps influenced by the way we approached our science …”

            Not bad at all, IMO. George Washington was a bonafide surveyor and patriot in word & deed. The combination of hard knowledge (chief surveyor, gentleman-farmer, soldier-leader), native charisma, practical politician, ear-to-the-ground giftedness, the first American president was a hands-down model for a country’s fatherhood.

            (a biography well-worth studying)

            • sonny,

              Do you watch the TV series TURN: Washington’s Spies?

              Also have you been to Mt. Vernon in Virginia, just a short drive south of D.C.?

              That “gentleman-farmer” you speak of, i think is core to who that guy was (Jefferson too, but i’ve never been to Monticello).

              They’re doing great stuff right now with their push to have more variety and diversity in the plants and animals farmers raise—- ie., monocropping, our dependence on just few cow, pig, chicken species, like monocropping but with animals, etc.

            • sonny says:

              To complement a model leader there is also a trajectory of development well-worth studying too: the Meiji imperial restoration and modernization of Japan whose sole objective was “a wealthy country and “strong arms”

              o dismantle a 200-yr-old shogunate system by daimyos (local warlords)
              o erase an isolationist foreign policy; open up to foreign advice in the areas of agriculture, finance, engineering and military technology
              o establish a national educational system that will achieve an almost 100% “literacy”
              o adopt/strengthen a Western-style constitution
              o build Government-sponsored industrial development by establishing factories, dockyards, an infrastructure and products that increase exports by 3000% in 17 years

              Motto: “from a mendicant State to a provident sovereignty”

  12. jamesb says:

    China is becoming increasingly belligerent, and obnoxious.
    It is neither making friends nor winning influence, except with its barking dog duterte.

    Choppy waters ahead.

    Sri lanka
    China buys strategic port from government following sri lanka’s inability to repay chinese loans as part of ‘one belt, one road’ project. China’s debt trap diplomacy in action – ‘one trap, one asia’
    Street protests in sri lanka at the sale.
    27 Jul 17

    “China’s military warned India it would defend its territory “at all costs” and planned to reinforce its position high in the Himalayas, where a stand-off between the Asian powers has stretched into its second month.”
    FT – 24 Jul 17

    “Last week, Beijing warned Hanoi that it would attack Vietnamese bases in the Spratly Islands if drilling for oil continued”
    BBC – 25 Jul 17

    “Until recently, China had been pushing hard for the 6,000 megawatt project to go ahead despite widespread opposition within Myanmar which forced the suspension of work in 2011.
    Now, it is discussing alternative options with Myanmar including developing a number of smaller hydropower projects and securing preferential access to a strategically important port to compensate it for shelving the project, the sources said”
    April 2017

    China warns japan to stay out of south china sea dispute.

    Risk analytics firm Verisk Maplecroft forecast a 24 percent chance of militarized disputes between Indonesia and China in the next 12 months.
    Jul 2017

    The chinese own davao and duterte is applying that model to the philippines.
    He has already lost land, and leverage, and is now china’s best trained puppet. Next year after his asean chairmanship is finished and the chinese written code of conduct is completed china will turn the screws.
    Apart from control of the seas, which china have now de facto established, their main interest is mindanao, (davao port, railway, minerals), and are backing/funding federalism/independence for that reason. They will also ensure that their efforts will not go to waste post duterte and most probably want to install cayetano as their next shitzu.

    The philippines will become more isolated, more uncivilized, and less relevant, and is showing its natural tendency for co-dependency, and a begging bowl policy. China has bought political and economic influence/control at a bargain price.

    But it will not be plain sailing for china as other countries in asean, and beyond, take umbrage at their strident authoritarianism, are not so readily bought, and will look for means to scupper/temper their imperialistic plans.

    Authoritarian capitalism is built on the shifting sands of equitable and sustainable economic success otherwise it soon goes the way of venezuela, which also tied its future to china.

    When the chips are down, china does not come to help, but to collect.
    Clever these chinese.
    In cricket there is a special type of fiendish ball, suitably called a ‘chinaman’.
    Duterte has been bowled out by a chinaman. Howzat!

    • Ahaha. “Howzat!!!”

      • Bill In Oz says:

        Whatzatt ?
        A left armed spin bowler using his wrist action to move the ball from left to right as it comes down the wicket… Unorthodox & rare but interesting…Needs a special kind of bowler though and don’t see any in the various teams in the Philippines, even the Chinese ones. .

        • I had to do a Google image/video search of what you guys are talking, and stumbled on this gem of a paragraph.

          I still find it funny that cricket has that pitch, as i’m sure if something was so named in baseball, there’d be protests and such, at which point this paragraph below would still be relevant,

          ps ~ i love it by the way when i get to deposit something new in my mental meme bank. thanks all!

          • sonny says:

            Somewhat off-track, LC.

            I don’t know how close you are to this Camaldolese (Benedictine hermitage, strict observance):


            I have not been to this part (Big Sur) of California. They practice among other ministries, the centuries-old tradition of Benedictine hospitality. Check them out, “Mr. Phelps.”

            • karlgarcia says:

              Mission Impossible? RIP, Martin Landau.

              • sonny says:

                Ah yes, Karl. The MI team:
                RIP – Peter Graves, Greg Morris, Martin Landau. Leonard Nimoy
                Living: Barbara Bain (86), Peter Lupus (85)

                1966 – MetroManila weekly home TV viewing with Star Trek, Bonanza, Time Tunnel, Twilight Zone; 🙂 Good stuff!

              • karlgarcia says:

                Peter Graves was in the 90s reboot.

            • sonny, i’ll definitely swing by this place when i can (had not known of this). i usually go up the PCH to go up north, it’s a lot slower than taking the I-5 or Hwy. 101 , but the view’s outstanding.

              this year though because of the rains, there’s been landslides, hence closures on the PCH.

              i’m familiar though with the Monastery by Carmel, here:

          • karlgarcia says:

            John Naissbit, the futurist predicted that the sports stadiums would soon be empty because of the renaissance of the arts. Boy, he is no Nostradamus.


            • sonny says:

              Parallel best-seller: FUTURE SHOCK by Alvin Toffler

              • karlgarcia says:

                Did he also say that no one will watch sports anymore?

              • sonny says:

                🙂 I don’t recall what Toffler had to say about sports, Karl. If my paperback copy has not yet crumbled (bought in 1972) I’ll have to on your archivist speed-reading to do the honors. What I do remember was his reliance on the major newspapers of the country to be his tea leaves in future-seeing. Also, he recommended that however the states of California and Florida go, the country will follow, i.e. the two states as the cultural bellwethers of America.

              • karlgarcia says:

                Thanks unc, I saw a paperback copy when I was a kid, maybe I can still find it.

              • You know , karl (that’s the first i’ve here of Naisbitt … and Toffler too, sonny), but I think he’s right re the arts as ascendant over here. I do know that the NFL, NBA, MLB, soccer, tennis, even golf, put in a lot of money just getting programs out there for kids, thru schools or park type activities. So there’s a lot of pull, to get kids interested in these sports, as well as get them to buy stuff related to these sports.

                I grew up playing these little league type sports, basketball, soccer, baseball, etc. I ended up sticking with cross country running throughout high school. Personally, I don’t watch sports on TV (ESPN) , just the idea of watching millionaires play these sports, loses its value for me. These days I do watch Spartan races (team obstacle course contest), American Ninja Warrior (more individual , but a lot skill-based). In short , i’ve become un-interested , more interested now with sports that require two balls.

                The arts, w/out any coaxing (unless you count TV shows like “Glee” or movies like “La La Land”) have become more popular without all the marketing that you see in professional sports. I’m talking about more small theatres popping up, more art galleries, even graffiti is now marketable (ie. “Banksy”), there’s more poetry slams, and you see it to in literature, there’s so many great stories being written (and then converted to TV or movies). There’s like 3 dance shows right now; and more American Idol type shows.

                There’s definitely a connect between creativity and entrepreneurship, people are more focused on design, ie. Steve Jobs, Musk, etc.

                So Naisbitt is somewhat correct, but sports is just more marketed so it’ll be hanging around for awhile (it’ll always be around i’m sure), but the arts is ascendant, and i’m glad. Have you kept up with Brazil’s soccer stadiums and other Olympic sites? Most Olympic sites in the 3rd world. You just cannot expect people to enjoy and play soccer or swim for competition or leisure when many more folks are starving.


              • karlgarcia says:

                Thanks for the additional input, Lance.

              • sonny says:

                Oh my, neph! Thanks for your quantum speed-rolodex. Will revisit Toffler. Also suggest/request search on oldies but goodies: LIMITS TO GROWTH by Club of Rome and SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL by ?Schumacher. Maybe? Thanks in advance.

              • sonny says:

                Molto molto grazie, Karl. These will keep me happy. 🙂 IOU again.

              • Thanks too, karl. Will check out these links.

              • NHerrera says:

                Sonny, karl:

                karl, that is a good free 211 page pdf file on that Limit to Growth book. My thanks, as always.

                Thoughts on these three items — North Korea and nuclear incident if not war, effects of Climate Change, and Limit to Growth — are sobering, at the very least academically, because of its grave consequences if homo sapiens do not act in a way it is capable of before it is too late.

                The impact of that Limit to Growth report of Meadows et al shows it has hit a chord worldwide because of the continuing update and re-examination of the subject since its publication in 1972. There were/ are of course a lot of critics and admirers of the report.

                It appeals to me, for one, because the methodology seems sound, although certain assumptions may need to be adjusted or revised in view of new data. In fact, Meadows et al themselves used and acknowledge the method of MIT Professor Jay W. Forrester who developed what is known as System Dynamics and the math formulations associated with it.

                A more recent re-examination — comparing Limits to Growth with Historical data in 2014 — reported in the following link —

                Click to access MSSI-ResearchPaper-4_Turner_2014.pdf

                — shows that historical data have tracked the Limit to Growth results pretty well, considering the caveats made by Meadows et al in their classic 1972 report on the Limit to Growth. I abstracted the following graph from that link


                There is no doubt in my mind that Chinese scholars have studied Meadows report and aware of the consequences. In fact, with their bright boys, of which there are plenty in China, with many trained in the best schools worldwide, the Chinese may have made their own Limit-to-Growth update using more recent data. It is not improbable that China is trying to be ahead of this Limit-to-Growth game in their relentless obsession for resources in their plans and actions.

              • sonny says:

                You’re welcome, NH. Never was I a speed reader, slower now am I with age but the subject of LIMITS book has not dimmed, much more now. Your input is so bonus to the subject and computers are much different now, too. Thank you.

              • sonny says:

                PS. I hope the book draws in the others in TSOH, too. All actually.

              • NHerrera says:


                You are welcome too. I read the review of LTG when I was in my late 3Os, a few years after its publication, not the book itself — cheap of me, no free pdf file and the technology to go with it then — but I was impressed. If I recall correctly, the review itself was written by Jay Forrester, the developer of System Dynamics, whose methodology Meadows et al used in LTG.

                Now the Dr Graham M. Turner’s MSSI Research Paper in the link above impresses me because of the recent date 2014 (compared to 1972 LTG) and the fact that even considering the data used by Meadows et al circa 1972, Turner shows that LTG’s results are tracked reasonably well by the more recent results.

                (Note to Bill: Turner is with the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute of the University of Melbourne. A lot of good scientific work is being done in Australia.)

              • sonny says:

                Likewise here, NH. I was a fledgling Cobol/PL-1 programmer when the book came out. The software used was new tech then – simulator languages. I was hoping then some computer whiz would breakdown the workings of the US tax system to use every year to reflect up-to-date changes to the tax code. I guess Quicken software is now the answer, used by tax preparers. 🙂

              • karlgarcia says:

                Sorry for late reply, you are welcome guys, and thanks for the new(yet old) stuff we will learn together

    • Oldman says:

      Jamesb, Excerpt from your above post,

      The chinese own davao and duterte is applying that model to the philippines.
He has already lost land, and leverage, and is now china’s best trained puppet. Next year after his asean chairmanship is finished and the chinese written code of conduct is completed china will turn the screws.
Apart from control of the seas, which china have now de facto established, their main interest is mindanao, (davao port, railway, minerals), and are backing/funding federalism/independence for that reason. They will also ensure that their efforts will not go to waste post duterte and most probably want to install cayetano as their next shitzu.
      The philippines will become more isolated, more uncivilized, and less relevant, and is showing its natural tendency for co-dependency, and a begging bowl policy. China has bought political and economic influence/control at a bargain price.
      But it will not be plain sailing for china as other countries in asean, and beyond, take umbrage at their strident authoritarianism, are not so readily bought, and will look for means to scupper/temper their imperialistic plans.
      Authoritarian capitalism is built on the shifting sands of equitable and sustainable economic success otherwise it soon goes the way of venezuela, which also tied its future to china.
      When the chips are down, china does not come to help, but to collect.
Clever these chinese.
In cricket there is a special type of fiendish ball, suitably called a ‘chinaman’.
Duterte has been bowled out by a chinaman. Howzat!

      Here is my Filipino famous proverbs,
      “Ang naniniwala sa sabisabi, walang baet sa sarili “.

      Here is the crab mentality, during the Japanese occupation,
      ” Filipino tago, Filipino turo “.

      Very amusing, very laughable!

      • Istambay sa Kanto says:

        May be off topic, may be amusing and laughable too!

        COLOMBO, Sri Lanka >> Sri Lanka’s government on Saturday signed a long-delayed agreement to sell a 70 percent stake in a $1.5 billion port to China in a bid to recover from the heavy burden of repaying a Chinese loan obtained to build the facility.

        The agreement comes after a nearly six-month delay since the signing of the framework deal, which immediately drew public criticism and protests.

        The document was signed between the government-run Sri Lanka Ports Authority and the state-run China Merchants Port Holding Co. in the capital, Colombo, in the presence of senior government officials from Sri Lanka and China. According to the agreement, the Chinese company will invest $1.12 billion in the port, which sits close to busy east-west shipping lanes. Under the original framework agreement, an 80 percent stake would have been sold to China.

        Two local companies whose shares will be split between the Chinese enterprise and the Sri Lanka Ports Authority will be set up to handle the port’s operations, security and services. The Chinese company will be responsible for commercial operations while the Sri Lanka Ports Authority will handle security. The lease period is 99 years.

        The port, built with a Chinese loan during the administration of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, is seen as a white elephant because it has failed to become financially viable since it began operations in 2011.


  13. karlgarcia says:

    As the Oldman said:

    Ang maniwala sa sabu sabi ay walang bait sa sarili.
    Very amusing.
    Very laughable.

    • karlgarcia says:

      Everybody will be caught in a debt trap except us, isn’t that amazing?

      • I read Pernia’s assessment yesterday. Something like: “We will ask China to give us three good contractors and we will pick the best. That’s all we can do.” He sounds resigned to following orders with not a lot of enthusiasm.

        • karlgarcia says:

          The three contractor requirement is to show compliance to our procurement laws, to show or feign or fake competition one contractor would act as the lowest bidder after promising deals with the other bidders. It means nothing has changed, same old same old. If they renege on a promise then expect a law suit. Maybe the lawsuits are now contained? Nah.

  14. Oldman says:

    I quote the,

    This blog is a collaboration by people interested in the well-being of the Philippines. It is a place to think and discuss, to teach and learn.

    • Are you the same as oldmaninla? If so, Louisiana or Los Angeles? Why I am asking? I am perplexed by your attitude. You seem to be out of touch with reality in PH.

      “For the rule of laws, there is the bilateral Congress and the Judiciary to counter balance through legal means….”

      Are you serious? PRD said it over and over again that he does not care about rule of laws and human rights. Do you know what is happening with the Legislative and Judicial systems of PH under the administration? I am disappointed in all your ridiculous narratives.

      Are you interested in the well-being and dignity of Filipinos? Are you here to discuss, teach, learn or just to ridicule contributors’ opinions because they are not what you want to read/hear?

      You have the right to express your opinion but please refrain from acting trollish.

  15. Bill In Oz says:

    Off topic but worth the read about Marawi.( also video of it as well ) Good journalism.

  16. jamesb says:

    The spheres of geo-political influence being reset.

    Strong alignments and mutual arrangements are driven by one or more dimensions – economic, political, cultural, (and personal) creating a complex and changing rubiks cube constantly adjusting to challenges and opportunities.
    China has been playing a long game, and having plundered knowledge from the west are now flexing their muscle and plying their trade by buying up weak and insignificant countries/politicians which would sell their grandmothers for an offshore bank account, but numbers matter in international forums such as the UN.

    “When our thousands of Chinese students abroad return home, you will see how China will transform itself”
    Deng Xiaoping – 1985

    Clever these chinese – thanks to western education and innovation.

    Duterte is aligning on all fronts with china – whilst alienating all others, – but is that really what filipinos want – china and/or bust.
    Have they even thought about it, and the possible impacts in 30 years time.
    I doubt it. – you can lead a filipino to knowledge, but not make him think.

    The subtleties of international policy goes over a mayor’s head, rather like some-one playing 3d chess but being clueless on how ‘the horsey thing’ moves.
    For fun, duterte likes to shoot up men.

    “A man without ethics is a wild beast loosed upon this world”
    Albert Camus

    • The Philippines is clearly being sold and ethics evidently does not translate into Tagalog. I have mixed feelings about Camus, as I think his essential philosophical question, should we commit suicide or not, is a little grim. I will admit, though, his cockroach bit was inventive, and I enjoyed seeing it played out on stage at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles. The cockroach actor clinging to the ceiling was quite athletic.

      But I digress . . . Thanks for the associative memories . . .

      • jamesb says:

        At school i once participated in a balloon debate comprising of philosophers. (If i remember correctly bertrand russell was saved, and quite rightly so)
        The debates on ANC should have a balloon debate of autocrats.

        The cases in the basket (e.g.):
        Kim jong-un
        Dogbert (dilbert)
        Napoleon (animal farm)

      • jamesb says:

        Maybe for the filipino culture it could be adapted to ‘police rub-out’ debates and become part of the school curriculum!

  17. karlgarcia says:

    It started as the merger of Ninoy Aquino’s and Tañada’s Laban with Nene Pimentel’s PDP, now they want to adapt the ideology of the Communist party of China.

  18. josephivo says:

    1. “My country first” is a natural driver for most societies. When the national feelings are strong, this feeling will mobilize more energy than when the national feeling is weak – for the citizens and/or for the leaders. From this viewpoint the world looks quite different for most of us.

    2. There are variables one can easily be changed and variables that are fixed. Geography is completely fixed. China isolated to the south by mountains and the sea, access to the blue sea blocked by a chain of islands and narrow straights. America with good access to the blue seas and an hidden America with bases all over the world. European nations and Russia linked by plains in the north and east, easy for military to maneuver.

    3. Progress depends on interdependencies as an interdependent knowledge base is more powerful than individual ones, specialization and size of the market drives efficiencies. Open trade and a (correct) globalization strengthening interdependencies.

    With these principles in mind, let’s look at the world today.

    – America is reclining and digging up old Monroe doctrines, possible through the large availability of raw materials, good overland connections and safe coastal waters. Its statue today is badly affected by Trumps follies. Its relative share of the world economy declining fast.

    – China is on the rise but feels insecure, locked up and its vital sea links to the world easy to be interrupted, it needs safe passage through the string of islands to supply absent raw materials and export finished products. It is developing a navy at high speed, building large access roads to Pakistan and deep sea harbors in many locations. Fighting will need to be on the wide blue sea, sending armies overland unfeasible.

    – India is rising fast too and the most likely future competitor for China. Invading overland impossible due to the Himalayas (Tibet essential for China to keep the high ground}. India needs to strengthen the containment of competitor China by keeping its containment intact. A main war with China will be on the blue sea.

    – The Philippines with its strategic position to help contain China will have to make up its mind. Bet on different horses, US fading, India rising and China. Its position will be stronger if Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Malesia and Indonesia stay united in potentially blocking China. If one of the others takes China’s position, the Philippines will have lost its bargaining power. And in poker one has to keep its cards close to his chest. What is Go thinking?

    • Nice assessment. Tom Clancy would smile. What is crazy to me is that China could move swiftly and peacefully into the global driver’s seat if her approach were not confrontational. No one is going to take her sea lanes away. I think there is something other than commerce driving China’s ambitions, and it has a lot to do with feeling inferior and superior at the same time, and needing to prove one over the other.

      • josephivo says:

        And the US? Why do they have bases the world over? Inferiority?

        You do a risk analysis as a Chinese planner. “What could harm us?” The closing sea lanes for Chinese supplies might come up as number one. So what are your mitigation plans? … and what did other nations such as the US do, e.g. in Panama?

        And advisor Go, “What are opportunities?” Sell the Chinese bases in the Philippine waters for a high price now that it is still possible…?

        • sonny says:

          “And the US? Why do they have bases the world over? Inferiority? …”

          I thought then & now, the US “exit” from Clark & Subic was a blunder and ill-advised.

        • Good question. I don’t think inferiority as much as protecting interests as a leftover from WW II and the Cold War that followed. The Chinese racial orientation is very different from American hegemony, as a driver, I think.

          So you really think that, in a peaceful, commerce-oriented environment, the US or some other power would seek to close the international waters to China? I’m afraid you are establishing policy on a the basis of a highly “unlikely” scenario, and the policy chosen is highly explosive.

          • josephivo says:

            Situations can escalate. One should be prepared. Chinese are thinking long term. (how long have the Americans been in Subic and Clark?) The world resources too limited to provide for everyone an American lifestyle… Climate change and e.g. 200 million submersed Bangladeshi fleeing causing Indian aggression… One (China) against an alliance of the rest of the world wanting their share of the cake too… A new fascist, religious, expansionistic ideology with a charismatic leader not liking the Chinese… Prepare for the worst case, keep all options open…

            • NHerrera says:

              This is a serious matter one should not make light. But your series of comments above reminds me of all those strategy games advertised online — games which include the elements: the objectives of the different players, the size of their forces, material resources and lack of resources of some Players, alliances between the Players, etc.

              We can be sure that the big players are doing these analyses and strategy games. I wonder how much of such is done in PH. I cannot imagine the PH not doing this — how deep and how serious they are is of course another matter.

            • So what is the point, that Asian states should be sympathetic to China’s expansion because, after all, America did it?

              • I think the point is to know what China’s thinking, and adjust accordingly. If Chinese and/or Russian ships were in a habit of going on port say in Vancouver Canada or Baja California , i’d be somewhat uneasy too, Joe (though i understand much of our prepositioning is from WWII and Cold War, w/ the intention of keeping a close eye on the world, lest we end up dying en masse again for the world).

              • josephivo says:

                No, that’s not what I’m saying. It is lonely at the top, so the US has a different way of thinking. Other climbers can try to copy the routes predecessors took, e.g. analyzing America’s way to success. To understand the Chinese you have to look at the world from this viewpoint. (… and Mao ones said “all power comes from the barrel of a gun”)

                And military war games are only one corner of the game board, there are possible economic wars foo and virtual wars, information and knowledge competitions, but don’t forget the monetary ones. China and Russia trying to replace the dollar as international reference (with European support?) and so limiting the US’ unlimited borrowing power.

              • (… and Mao ones said “all power comes from the barrel of a gun”)

                Yup, and North Korea proved that’s true today with Sec. Tillerson’s statement of détente , proving having Nukes makes America play nice (respect you), Libya, Egypt, Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, don’t have Nukes, they get bulldozed.

        • Bill In Oz says:

          Something is being missed by folks here and by China.
          Interdependence means Interdependence.
          If global trade through the South China Sea is disrupted all are hurt and no one benefits.
          Not the USA, Not China, Not Japan, Not South Korea, Not Taiwan, Not the Philippines, Not Australia, Not India or Malaysia or Thailand, or the EU.

          Think about this : all get hurt and body gains…

          That’s why it is in every country’s interests to have regularied, stable management of problems under internationally & mutually accepted rules.

          • NHerrera says:

            Agreed. But the big guys have in their arsenal not only diplomacy but tools like “Might makes right”?

            • I think a lot of that “Might makes Right” sentiment also rests on having “Moral High Ground”, and IMHO since Vietnam and especially right now with GWOT, we’ve since lost that. Best to re-group i think and go insular, leave it to others to be World Police or new colonizers, god knows it’s more expensive than its really worth, NH. And that was Trump’s secret sauce, he tapped into that sentiment, ie. You guys lead yourselves now, we ‘re gonna take a break.

            • Bill In Oz says:

              No N’Herrera, “Might does not make right”. Rather it “Makes a major stuff up”.. for the mighty nation and for the lesser ones.

              Examples abound : Britain in India 1947; Japan in SEA & the Philippines 1941-45; The USA in Vietnam 1954-73; France in Vietnam 1945-54; The Netherlands in Indonesia 1945-49; Russia in Hungary 1956. etc etc..

              And people remember who did the Stuff Ups for a long time.

              Does China realsie it is walking down that same path I wonder ?

              • sonny says:

                “Makes a major stuff up”…

                Bill, can you explain the meaning of the whole phrase? Thanks.

              • karlgarcia says:

                stuff up = foul up

              • Bill In Oz says:

                Thanks Karl. You got it in one.

              • NHerrera says:

                Thanks Bill, for citing those historical stuff ups (= foul ups, thanks karl) using those countries’ might makes right initiatives and courses of action.

                But there are counter examples with some relative successes: the American Pilgrims and other foreigners that came to North America — “Me Injun; you Paleface speak with forked tongue;” the Spanish colonization of Mexico through the exploits, among others, of Hernan Cortez of “burn the ships” fame; Australia and the aborigines?

                Also, the corrective measures by the “conquistadors” to soften the blow or measures by the “natives” themselves, if they come, may be late in coming.

                Don’t get me wrong. I hope China is stopped on its tracks to “colonize” the many parts of the world ripe for its picking, and extending its influences to other countries — even developed ones — not yet convinced or persuaded of its surging influence and the advantage of going the OBOR way of China. I must admit my crystal ball on China and its “surge” is unclear. The only relatively clear item is that its surge in the PH seems a success, especially given at least another 5 years of Duterte at the helm — and considering the fast pace of things, thanks or no thanks to technology.

              • Bill In Oz says:

                N’Herrera, I think we are in agreement here.

                But I would disagree with you about the Conquiseradores in Mexico. The total population of Mexico dropped by an estimated 95% ( estimated 8-9 million ) following Cortes invasion and conquest of Mexico city.
                And most of those deaths were not due to war. It was the new diseases from Europe which did it : Chicken pox, small pox, rubella..The infectious diseases not present in the American continent until European settlement.
                Truly a monumental stuff up.

              • sonny says:

                Thanks, Karl & Bill.

              • But there are examples of “Might Makes Right” , our War of Independence (against tyrannical Crown); our War of 1812 (still against Crown, cont’d); Civil War (Against slavery, though arguably economic too, but circles back to slavery); WWI (we stopped a stalemate that could’ve killed more); WWII (we stopped further German, then Japanese expansion). The Bible is replete with these.

                I’m sure there’s a lot more examples of “Might Makes Right” throughout history, wherein you have to fight otherwise things will be worst; granted there are also examples like our Indian Wars, etc. where we were the bad guys essentially. And then there’s “wars” like the Cold War (with all of its proxies) where we will never know if we were the good guys or bad guys—- but we know that had we lost things would’ve been a lot worst.

                Some wars are cut and dry, some require they be written by victors to be palatable.

          • Bill In Oz says:

            Lance your comments about the Independence war & the War of 1812-15 reflect an excessively USA perspective. There are alternative views.
            The Independence war was waged by what were seen as ‘extremists’ as among the American colonists. And would never have succeeded without the military aid of France. It was decisive.

            Also the war of 1812-15 was a sideshow to the Napoleonic war in Europe. That war was fought to stop Napoleonic France becoming the dominant imperial power in Europe. Maddison’s USA declaration of war in 1812 against Britain was a response to the British navy blockade of Europe’s ports where they were controlled by France. And the USA wanted to trade with France and Europe even if it aided Napoleon’s war effort.

            Wikipedia has a long detailed article on that war.

            • Bill, I agree it is an American perspective, as I wouldn’t know the British, or French, perspectives of these wars—- what’s the Australian perspective?

              But I still stand by my “Might Makes Right” categorization here, unless you’re prepared to defend that the British throne was actually the protagonist. As for the War of 1812, we’ve always seen it as simply continuation of British aggression since the War of Independence, ie. picking on a young nation, even burning down the new White House !!!

              That the French and English have been at this for a while and that this all didn’t start with the War of Independence, this i know. The French and English crown had been going at it, for quite awhile (after the Crusades? or during? Normandy?), even extend that to Roman times, Bill.

              But here i’m bracketing the American Revolution and the French Revolution between the French and Indian War 1754 and the War of 1812. I’d go further to the Battle of Nations at Leipzig 1813, even Waterloo 1815 (Napolean was exiled to Elba in between these two battles), where the divide finally shifted , where France and England having consolidated, after centuries of fighting, finally had each others’ backs til WWI, or at least some sort of detente.

              My point though is that England, at least for us in America (what was happening in Europe and all over was something bigger, I know), England was belligerent and was the antagonist for us. That most colonists didn’t partake is common knowledge (most wars, not many people partake), Google the 3%ers , but i’d say more likely it was 10% participation (counting militia and civilians acting as “reservists”, ie. going home between battles, accidental guerrillas, and spies not really soldiers) partook in ousting the British from the colonies—-

              which was no big feat , yes we were the underdogs and yes the French helped tremendously. And Napolean sold Jefferson the French Louisiana territory in 1803, i’m sure the negotiations started earlier. But “Might Makes Right” because we stood up to a bigger power, and with a lot of help , defeated her; the added bonus was we also helped usher the French Revolution, with a slight side-effect Napolean, but monarchies starting crumbling after that, hence “Might Makes Right”, Bill.

              • Bill In Oz says:

                There’s way tooooooo much there Lance !
                1 : In 1812 there was no Australian perspective : the British colonies were barely established here in Oz. And now ? Well to be honest hardly anybody even knows about the 1812-15 war between the USA & Britain.
                2 : France aided the US colonies as a way of undermining British power. A continuation of the long centuries of wars that started in 1066 when William the Conqueror from Normandy conquered England.. But also wanted to keep his ‘estates’ in France and not say the French king was his overlord…All English kings & Queens up James the first from Scotland, ( 1603 ) thought they had a right to ‘possessions’ in France & some even claimed the kingship of France…Curious..
                3 The USA and Britain 1781-1812 was an interesting time: the US was a major trading partner with Britain and vice versa. Britain did not want the war of 1812 and tried to avoid it. Also Britain was the major source of US immigrants during this whole period……And maybe many migrated there to avoid be impressed or conscripted into the British Navy or army to fight Napoleonic France. US merchant ships when stopped at sea by the British navy removed British seaman ( migrated ) on board US ships to impress them for service in the British navy…
                4 : Did the USA win anything from the war ? Nope, zip, nada nothing ! No territory changed hands even though President Maddison wanted to conquer Canada…It was ended by a treaty between the USA & Britain just after Napoleon abdicated as emperor of France in 1814.. And trade and migration resumed as if nothing had happened..

                ” No might made any right here… Just move along “

              • Bill,

                Like I said the War of 1812 is seen as continuation of the War of Independence, but more from the side of French Revolution now (though Napolean calling shots now). So in essence territory was gained during the War of Independence, and the repelling (or as you’re describing here keeping the British busy for the French) of British incursion (remember no American troops traveled to/infiltrated England).

                The test here is the War of Independence, if that was “Might Makes Right” (what say you here?) , so too the War of 1812 (again there’s a continuum). You are right after Waterloo (but I put that realization at the Battle of Nations at Leipzieg) the French and English in a matter of speaking made amends (ie. Eastern Europe, and the Ottoman empire, were more the antagonists for the two since,and I think when the whole concept of Anglosphere took shape to WWI, the teaming up after Waterloo would be the same in WWI).

                My point , War of Independence , if you concede that’s an example of “Might Makes Right”, then just add War of 1812 ; if War of Independence is not “Might Makes Right” and American colonists are the bad guys here, and then War of 1812, they were again the bad guys— then we can come to an impasse (this impasse i can better accept, and understand, Bill, essentially you’re arguing from a British perspective, Americans bad; England good… but the first scenario i cannot understand, since you’d be separating the 2 wars, as if the 1st never happened—–

                like separating WWI from WWII.)

    • NHerrera says:

      I play GO with the computer and there are a lot of thinking in GO which serves as good metaphor to geopolitical and other thinking. And one can easily relate what China is doing with its favorite Board Game.

  19. jamesb says:

    ‘China this week has formally opened its first overseas military base and port in the Horn of Africa nation of Djibouti’

    The port and railway strategy is being duplicated in many places/countries.
    The clever part. China is also suppling the loans, steel, suppliers, and most importantly the design – suitably, and quietly, over-engineered to cater for their future needs. In most instances pre-designed to develop/adapt as future submarine bases, and unknowingly paid for by the host country, with interest!

    And also chinese ownership of nearby land initially as an economic zone, but also land able to become a military base if needed in the future. ( usually when loan repayments become unwieldy and can then be leveraged by china)

    The chinese like to replicate a standard approach/plans, so are often easy to predict.

    Curiously the near $1 billion davao port project signed with mayor duterte and a filipino company a year ago was cancelled this week.
    ? Clearing the decks for a new china led project.

    An irony is that putin, jinping, duterte all seek international respect, but their antics result in exactly the opposite.

    On a more general topic the philippines is predictably rapidly falling behind in outsourcing, and the annual survey by industry specialists, tholons, was done before all the current unrest. The fundamental reason is lack of innovation, planning ahead, core skills etc.
    The redirection of traffic by the US and EU companies, which account for 85% of the industry in the philippines, to india and vietnam hasn’t started yet, but is about to.
    And china will not help the philippines. It is developing its own $100 billion outsourcing industry. In Industrialisation 4.0, language skills are largely irrelevant. It is all about AI, data analytics, business processes etc. and having good relationships with international companies/countries!
    duterte’s insults will cost the philippines dear, and the whole economy of the philippines is smaller than the top fortune 500 companies. big wallets can soon shut up big mouths.

    “Aside from Bacolod, other Philippine cities, including Manila, Cebu, Davao and Sta. Rosa, also have lower rankings this year.
    Manila, which ranked second in 2016, dropped to the fourth spot.
    The top three “super cities” for outsourcing this year are Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi, all in India.
    From eighth spot, Cebu moved down to rank 12. Davao and Sta. Rosa are at 85th and 100th from being in 69th and 82nd spots, respectively.
    Meanwhile, the cities of Iloilo, Dumaguete and Metro Clark, previously among the top 100 destinations, are not included in this year’s list.”
    sunstar july 27

    Duterte is lemming in chief and the cliff is ahead.

    • ‘China this week has formally opened its first overseas military base and port in the Horn of Africa nation of Djibouti’

      Just to add some context to that, james. Chinese are in Sudan as UN peace keepers, so I’m sure their base in Djibouti is connected.

      This is one of those military expansions whether UN only or something else, where i’m sure Americans (a bunch of American bases in Djibouti) are all like, Please go ahead, have at it— help us out here. China already gets its oil from Sudan, so it makes sense that they are there.

    • karlgarcia says:

      I notice that Brazil and Argentina replaced is into BPO as well. Wait for Mexico with all those US deporteess who lived in the US for twenty to thirty years.

      Our chance is we adapt to augmented intelligence, AI with additional human touch, there is no escaping AI, we must adjust.

  20. karlgarcia says:

    We forgot all about Iran and China is the newest benefactor.

  21. madlanglupa says:

    Offtopic: Just as I predicted a year ago, this is “bread and circuses” along with the 5- and 10-year extensions to driver’s license and passport..

  22. NHerrera says:

    Meantime here is the evolved situation between the two big Geopolitical Players — Washington and Kremlin — from a commentary of a CNN correspondent:


    From a Game or academic perspective, there is an advantage to the Player with relatively unconstrained authority of the Kremlin’s Boss, versus Washington’s Boss, especially if the latter has feet that do not fit the shoes and one who sets his own house on fire.

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