For more than a century America maintained two powerful military bases in the Philippines, Subic Bay Naval Base and Clark Air force base. They both endured times of smoke and chaos; during WW2, both were lost to Japanese forces; then both were retaken at enormous cost, the US Army and Navy fought and won; soldiers and sailors paid with life or injury. Through out this period and the following war in Korea historians agree that in many ways the edge to the American forces was the immense courage, skill and the determination of American pilots.
Time moves on and on and the Asian politicians walk over the war dead to promote each man’s political ambition. Nowhere more so than the treacherous, vain, self seeking, corrupt and avaricious lot in the weak Central Government of the Philippines.
Matters came to a head in Manila in the late eighties. Political advantage was seen from terminating the base agreements, national pride was the jingle. China watched on amazed. It wasn’t time for China to start its expansion; they were patiently building a more hi-tech military. In Manila the philosophy was “We no longer have threats from across the China Sea and we have our own, all powerful military.” Crap!
Almost fittingly American Forces left in the early nineties in smoke and chaos, as Mt Pinatubo volcanic fare welled them in clouds of stinking ash.
Now the Manila jingle became “Jeezus Christ and Mother Mary, curse Satan’s spawn, the Chinese have turned up.”
Of course they have, claiming the South China Sea, a whole ocean’s worth. From the Philippine perspective, a new territory stretching along the entire west coasts of the Archipelago and ending almost on to the beaches of Palawan. The Chinese planned this from the day when Clark and Subic closed.
Today’s inspired thinking from Manila is “Get the America back.” But stick them inside the compounds of the Filipino Military! Then we control them, we manage their future battles! Their troops will be in the firing line! Toss up Dead Americans!
The Filipino military, apart from being ineffective, even against small bands of local Muslim Militia, suffers from utterly corrupt leadership and therefore poor morale.
What American President and what General would agree to such strategic weakness?
It is unthinkable, but hiding US troops in Filipino bases is being negotiated.
No, No, No. If the Philippines wants to hang on to their legitimate marine territory, independent bases must be returned; and in the same condition that took a century of construction to build and many, many thousands of American lives.
I was briefly in Tacloban after the mayhem of Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda), we live just down the coast and we ran some rice up. The sky was full of choppers ferrying relief goods from the USS George Washington. The big hearted American Military were yet again the main force. Naturally pro American sentiment was high ashore. It really was a job for the military, we were damn near squashed by a mob before we were even reached the beach.
The joke going around Tacloban was “The Americans are here with millions. The Chinese donated a thousand bucks in Manila and it’s already in a back pocket.”