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In a Reuters interview, the President publicly called for American spy plane over-flights over the disputed Philippine economic zone in the South China Sea. China reacted angrily. While the President denied ever publicly calling for them, only the Reuters interview can settle that and the Philippine Daily Inquirer kept up the story for a week, quoting extrapolation after extrapolation as though the Palace was on to a good rather than a stupid thing.
To the Chinese reaction, "Watch your language," palace spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said - in Chinese, giving a preview of what official communications will sound like after China takes over. But why all the fuss, another palace spokesperson said, when "you can Google Earth."
Indeed, why not Googohl ert? If you are Ilonggo. Why ask for premature American military intervention the US must refuse again. America will come, in time when we can show the wreckage and the carnage wrought by China to invoke our mutual defense treaty.
Honasan aptly described US spy plane over-flights as, quote, "essentially a police function in a trilateral situation where there is no parity of forces," unquote.
But to assign the police function is to concede what neither party is prepared to give: sovereignty to the US. The strongest aspect of sovereignty is the police function.
Indeed, in a trilateral situation where there is no parity of forces, a third party stands in for one of the two and makes it a bilateral confrontation between China and the US which the US is loathe to do. Don't these people know anything about strategy? Only in a bilateral situation of equal parity can you invite a third party to arbitrate impartially.
Honasan said US spy plane over-flights would achieve nothing anyway unless the US sent the 7th Fleet - the Pacific Squadron, so to speak - to enforce the only applicable law to the area; a law to which the US will not subscribe, by the way.
The Mutual Defense Treaty has strict conditions for application because it commits American power to destroy all life on the Asian mainland. One of them is an actual invasion. The other one is the absence of provocation on our part and that is what President NoyNoy’s statement amounts to. It is a threat, not even of Philippine but of American military action - which is what spy plane over-flights are - which he is not competent to make.
Honasan said the US should declare its intention NOW in the event Chinese vessels are shown by US spy planes to be still in the disputed area. First, that will enable the Chinese to aim their batteries at the incoming planes; second, that is not covered by the MDT; and last, that is not what a great power ever does: declare its intention. The strongest deterrent value of the MDT lies in the ambiguity of a US response. So long as China does not know what the US will really do it will not prepare massively and expensively for a military confrontation. The thing with the MDT is that China will never know until it is too late.
On top of which, there is no need for provocative spy plane over-flights because the Chinese never left the disputed area. They are all over the place. China wants the world to know it is there.
Possession is 9/10ths of the law. Unchallenged presence is 9/10ths of possession.
The President must be more careful with his statements than China need be with its own. He trivializes the MDT that way. And we do not want a premature ejaculation that will prevent a satisfying consummation.
Finally, a spy plane over-flight is supposed to be a secret and a secret should not be told to Reuters.
The President has not learned his lesson after all. Yesterday, the Inquirer said he had again announced - after denying he had ever announced - that from now on, anything to do with the South China Sea dispute will be kept under wraps until everything is good and ready, and a surprise package is about to be delivered to China.
First, never announce you have a secret, it arouses curiosity, counter-espionage and panic. Second, never surprise a giant within reach of his long arms. And third, announcing a surprise may invite a preemptive attack from China; unless the secret is that you will surrender the country and the surprise is on us.