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Bases access accord will boost US arms sales

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The proposed PH-US bases access accord should be scrutinized for its hidden motives, to remove chaff from grain. The agreement will chain the Philippines as a permanent station for bolstering America’s military presence in Asia-Pacific and its arms trade. Building the Philippines’ “minimum deterrence capability” in territorial feuds with China and ensuring a US shield against external aggression are just sound bytes. The corporate agenda is concealed by security objectives.

Bases access was raised by Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin last year and again early this year in response to the territorial tensions with China in the West Philippine Sea and the North Korean missile crisis. This month, President Aquino confirmed bilateral talks with the United States on the bases access accord. He said bases access is also open to Japan, which has its own territorial row with China.

To be clear, bases access is not the Philippines’ plan. Air/sea access is required by the Pentagon’s “pivot to Asia” or rebalancing strategy, which repositions 60 percent of America’s global armed force to Asia by 2020, with Southeast Asia as a specific thrust. The strategy of keeping US supremacy in the region in the 21st century protects increased US investments and trade in Asia—the world’s leading economy—and minimizes China’s economic footprint while containing its maritime power to its national boundaries. Big budget allocations boost US air/sea power. Defense partnerships and air/sea access with the Philippines, Japan, South Korea, Australia, Thailand and other countries are refitted for Pentagon’s geostrategic goals.

But that is just one side of the truth. The other is that the Pentagon and its global military architecture are linked to America’s arms manufacturers led by Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and Raytheon. Big chunks of its yearly budget—$600 billion in 2013—go to defense contracts. US Navy and Air Force allocations are prioritized to support air/sea power rebalancing. Thus, the pivot strategy secures corporate war profits; it offsets the reduction of the arms manufacturers’ profits due to troop withdrawals in the Middle East and a slowdown in European arms-buying.

Arms production is inextricably linked to naval and air access agreements as well as war exercises. Adm. Samuel J. Locklear, commander of the US Pacific Command, said rebalancing needs arms to modernize US treaty alliances. Predictably, the Aerospace Industries Association, the trade group of leading arms manufacturers, says that the pivot “will result in growing opportunities for our industry to help equip our friends.”

Indeed, multibillion-dollar defense contracts sustain the Pacific Fleet’s 200-plus ships (including 11 carriers), 2,000 aircraft, and 250,000 sailors and marines. In 2011, US corporations cornered $66.3 billion (75 percent) of the $85-billion global arms trade, with the bulk going to Asia Pacific—rising by 5.4 percent in 2011-2012. This year, the US war industry plans to sell $1.2-billion spy drones to South Korea, Australia and Singapore, and to Japan, $421-million guided-missile destroyers, land-based X-Band radar systems, and $5-billion F-35 fighter jets.

Aside from the two old but multimillion-dollar Hamilton-class cutters bought from Washington, the Philippines will receive six river patrol boats from the US Navy. Four of 12 FA-50 fighter jets (worth P20 billion) will also be delivered to the Philippine military by Korean Aerospace Industries, which is connected to McDonell Douglas, Lockheed, and Boeing. The Philippine military’s shopping list includes radar systems, antisub helicopters, amphibious assault vehicles, and anti-aircraft guided missiles. Arms procurement forms the bulk of its P15-billion modernization this year.

A US arms contractor is also involved in the Philippine Navy’s P10-billion, 30-hectare expanded base access in Subic for fighter jets and warships. Amsec, a unit of Pentagon contractor Huntington Ingalls Industries, last year joined South Korea’s Hanjin Heavy Industries in a $2-billion maintenance and logistics hub project. According to Gazmin, the bases access accord will also tap the Lumbia international airfield in Cagayan de Oro, and other base facilities.

The bases access accord will have the effect of permanent US military facilities in the guise of “rotational deployments” and “interoperability.” Permanence evolves from the frequency, operability, and increase in the number of US forces parking at Subic and other bases. More war exercises mean more arms facilities entering. Besides serving as a shop window for US weapons, bases access will assign Philippine waters and inland territories to test America’s new arms technology.

Thus, America will have an unrestricted platform to flex its military muscle in the region and beyond. The increased operability of the Pacific Fleet will bring its warships and carriers eyeball to eyeball with China’s forces, especially in contested areas of the South China Sea. Tensions will heighten: China warns that while it respects freedom of navigation, it will not allow America to meddle in its “core interest” territorial claims. Giving the same bases access to Japan—which has its own territorial row with China—will escalate tensions and send a chilling message to other Southeast Asian countries that remain hostile to a militarily resurgent Tokyo.

It’s uncertain whether America will side with the Philippines when armed hostilities with China break out. Washington has repeatedly called for a peaceful resolution to the territorial disputes. But in fact, keeping tensions in the disputed seas alive without necessarily going to war is good business for its merchants of death.

Bobby M. Tuazon is the director for policy studies of the Center for People Empowerment in Governance and a former head of UP Manila’s political science program. He has coauthored and edited 10 books on policy issues.

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of INQUIRER.net. We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • ROM OSOR

    Proponents of this idea must-must-must be very-very-very careful with US. Do we know that US is in deep trouble with its debts and China ahead of Japan is the biggest foreign lender to US? Do we know that US big manufacturers and brands has strategic production facilities in China? Do we know that US exports to China in 2012 was more than $100 Billion vs less than $10 Billion to Philippines?

    And do we know from history that if only not the US, perhaps Japan did not invade Philippines and South East Asia.

    History said so that US government is the number one war monger in this globe, it interfered, it attacked, it invaded so many countries. US could only drag the Philippines into more troubles.

    • gemini1971

      Where did you get this false information? Japan invaded us because they need raw materials not because of US presence besides the Imperial Japan at that time was expanding here’s another one do you know the total number of worlds population that was liberated by US military? tell you what …..almost 50 million! now tell me if there’s any countries that did that..

    • KapitanBagwis

      Hehehe you are hallucinating!!! Or you are another paid hack by China????

    • Crazy_horse101010

      china 7 per cent of americas debt japan 8 percent. foreign share od americas debt 25 per cent. china was repaid i per cent of debt and chinas share can be repaid at any ime according to experts. and japan want all of asia im ww2 it was in their plans the phippines was screwed whether or not if america was here they needed asias resources. and the number one war monger is china. they attacked korea taiwan russia india and veitman they enslaved tibet and kept. it name me one country that the us had kept. they fought panama then left and gave the canal to panama the one america built i bsuggest you study your history some of the wars america was involved in was united nations or nato nice try american basher

    • tagahuron

      With all due respect, you are diverting the blame from reality. It is China who is threatening the peace in Asia with their blatant disregard to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of it’s neighbors. You can just imagine if the US is not in the picture you may be speaking Mandarin right now and bowing to your master the Chinese. And don’t even tell us to be very careful of the US. We know who our friends are and it is definitely NOT your masters the Chinese!

      And blaming the US because Japan attacked them during WWII???? What planet did you come from? Don’t distort history. You are insulting my forefathers who fought and sacrificed their lives during the war together with the Americans! You must be one misguided hack.

      • ROM OSOR

        China do doubt is a rogue and arrogant neighbor, now is occupying our territories and we should do our means to stop it. China is hurting even killing our manufacturing sector because of their cheap products coming in to a large degree illegally. Illegal drugs manufacturers caught in our country were mostly Chinese, and they are exposing our poor kababayan as courier.

        But to think that the American would like to come in to “help” us??? Please know their agenda!!!

        Sad to say that the “History” we know was written by powerful and war victors. Your humble friend is not distorting history, it is the history full of distortions which we have to correct.

        The truth was that the Japanese was forced for reason by the US to declared war. See some pieces of info/timeline below. (please note that the below texts are not mine)

        “President Roosevelt provoked the attack, knew about it in advance and covered up his failure to warn the Hawaiian commanders. FDR needed the attack to sucker Hitler to declare war, since the public and Congress were overwhelmingly against entering the war in Europe. It was his backdoor to war.”

        “President Roosevelt blinded the commanders at Pearl Harbor and set them up by – ”
        – denying intelligence to Hawaii
        – misleading the commanders into thinking negotiations with Japan
        were continuing to prevent them from realizing the war was on.
        – having false informationsent to Hawaii about the location of the Japanese carrier fleet.

        1940 – President Roosevelt ordered the fleet transferred from the
        West Coast to its exposed position in Hawaii and ordered the fleet remain stationed at Pearl Harbor over complaints by its commander Admiral Richardson that there was inadequate protection from air attack and no protection from torpedo attack. Richardson felt so strongly that he twice disobeyed orders to berth his fleet there and he raised the issue personally with FDR in October and he was soon after replaced. His successor, Admiral Kimmel, also brought up the same issues with FDR in June 1941.

        11 February 1941 – FDR proposed sacrificing 6 cruisers and 2 carriers at Manila to get into war. Navy Chief Stark objected: “I have previously opposed this and you have concurred as to its unwisdom. Particularly do I recall your remark in a previous conference when Mr. Hull suggested (more forces to Manila) and the question arose as to getting them out and your 100% reply, from my standpoint, was that you might not mind losing one or two cruisers, but that you did not want to take a chance on losing 5 or 6.” (Charles Beard PRESIDENT ROOSEVELT AND THE COMING OF WAR 1941, p 424)

        23 June 1941 – Advisor Harold Ickes wrote FDR a memo the day after Germany invaded the Soviet Union, “There might develop from the embargoing of oil to Japan such a situation as would make it not only possible but easy to get into this war in an effective way. And if we should thus indirectly be brought in, we would avoid the criticism that we had gone in as an ally of communistic Russia.” FDR was pleased with Admiral Richmond Turner’s report read July 22: “It is
        generally believed that shutting off the American supply of petroleum will lead promptly to the invasion of Netherland East Indies…it seems certain she would also include military action against the Philippine Islands, which would immediately involve us in a Pacific war.”

        On July 24 FDR told the Volunteer Participation Committee, “If we had cut off the oil off, they probably would have gone down to the Dutch East Indies a year ago, and you would have had war.” The next day FDR froze all Japanese assets in US cutting off their main supply of oil and forcing them into war with the US. Intelligence information was withheld from Hawaii from this point forward.

        14 August 1941 – At the Atlantic Conference, Churchill noted the “astonishing depth of Roosevelt’s intense desire for war.” Churchill cabled his cabinet “(FDR) obviously was very determined that they should come in.”

        18 October 1941- diary entry by Secretary of Interior Harold Ickes: “For a long time I have believed that our best entrance into the war would be by way of Japan.”

        *****
        From traffic analysis (intelligence), Hawaii reported that the carrier force(Japanese ) was at sea and in the North. THE MOST AMAZING FACT is that in reply to that report, MacArthur’s command sent a series of three messages, Nov 26, 29, Dec 2, to Hawaii lying about the location of the carrier fleet – saying it was in the South China Sea. This false information, which the NSA calls inexplicable, was
        the true reason that Hawaii was caught unawares. Duane Whitlock, who sadly passed away in 2005, sent those messages. (SEE THE ROLE OF MACARTHUR)

      • gemini1971

        These are all conspiracies all of these information that you just presented had been debunked. You need to conduct an actual research not searching in google because if you do this is what you will get! ( try not to cut and paste too! its embarassing!)

  • buninay1

    Sounds to me that the alarmists hate it when the govt does something in line with defense enhancement. China has been testing the water so to speak and the Philippines should respond in kind to at least appear that it is prepared for any eventuality. The corresponding arms sales increase in the region should not in anyway be viewed with suspicion that the US is here just for the money. The US happens to have in its disposal a formidable war machinery and arms merchants and makers to boot. If everything falls in the right and proper places for the US, we should not begrudge US for that but instead we should be pleased that we have an ally so formidably endowed.

    The geopolitical tectonic movements subtly proceed everyday and before we know it missiles from nowhere are hitting our densely populated urban centers. At least, at this stage of the game, we know where we stand and with whom we are sided. If we will do it after the first volley of fire are unleashed against our cities, it may be too late. We can not probably scrounge a retaliatory strike against the aggressor simultaneously with our attempt to find an ally to at least cover our weak positions. Alliances should be forged as early as now. The magnetic character of the alliances is outweighed by the benefits, moral and military, that these security partnerships can provide.

  • Crazy_horse101010

    11 carriers in the pacific fleet. i think america only has 10 carriers in all its fleets

    • tagahuron

      and your point?

      • Crazy_horse101010

        the top of your head look up. if you cant understand its no use explaining it to you

      • Crazy_horse101010

        ps im a american and have read the size of the navy and i had a niece serving on one of them. if you watched the discovery channel when they did a show on carriers she was interviewed. america just retired one carrier

  • tagahuron

    The writer of this article is basing his story on tsismis and conspiracy theory. Nice try! Get your facts straight. China, for the record, has territorial disputes with almost ALL of its neighbors. From Japan, SoKor, Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Mongolia, Russia, India, Vietnam…. If you don’t have common sense to figure this out I think you need to see a psychiatrist. Stop your US blame game.

  • Ramil Abalon

    ex. if we don’t chide with US what will happen. If we chide with china, what will happen, if we don’t mind what will happen. China is a country of deceit, fake and ignorant of human dignity. US is a country of open arms…

    For me, put access of US military will definitely put hold the plan of China for gradual occupation of phl territory.

    For the moment, we are just starting procuring our capability…better if previous govt started this but nothing of corruption…I PNOY and govt for treating China’s action as invasion of PHL area…I disagree with the author

    • Vincent Maldia

      so the logic is this. us military bad. kicking out us bases from philippines good. If so then kicking out us bases from asia entirely is very good. Now if that happens are you sure china would play nice?

      • Ramil Abalon

        you are asking that to me? or you are just arguing? for me i’m in favor with the us bases.

  • boyboy9797

    Allow an american aircrafts carrier to be stationed near Philippines shore aside from access bases our gov’t. plans to do and off course that is all for our protection.

  • tadasolo

    Your argument is lacking in merit and is faulty at best long on windage and narrating normal activities of USA military assets and associating them with suspicious “intent” of self serving interest. Instead of focusing on the importance of a strategic alliance in the context of shared security interest and the geopolitical threats of a rising china you resort to the traditional “colonial” mentally. Your article is based on invented misinformation. By the way McDonnell Douglas is not in existence anymore for more than 10 years. You could do the Filipinos a good service by stating facts

  • Estelito Braganza

    Your info on river patrol boat of the US navy to be given to the Phil Navy is Not true. The river patrol boat is not on US Navy inventory. Please get your facts correct, garbage in equals garbage out. This is definitely one!

  • Vincent Maldia

    what are our choices then? if we deny the arms manufacturers profits china will continue to walk all over us. if we give the manufacturers profits, china wont be able to walk al over us. i think thats a decent bargain

    wait, i got a great idea. lets bring back the US bases. that way we can scrap all plans of buying arms and the usa can just move pre existing forces here. that way we get protection and the arms manufacturers lose a customer. its like instead of buying a gun you let a policeman rent a room in your building

  • Manga Gamud

    Communist.

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