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Commentary

Our foreign policy needs bodyguards

During World War II, Winston Churchill said: “In wartime, truth is so precious that she should be attended by a bodyguard of lies.” He made this statement prior to the allied assault in Normandy. The Allies had deceived the Germans into believing that Normandy D Day (Operation Overlord) was only a feint and that the main assault would be in Pas de Calais (Operation Fortitude).

Churchill also meant that in peacetime, truth does not need a bodyguard of lies. However, unlike the truth, even in peacetime lies must be surrounded by bigger lies, in order to survive. Sadly, that is our current foreign policy now.

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The recent statement by President Duterte that a Chinese-made rifle killed rebel leader Isnilon Hapilon is the latest lie we made to justify our foreign policy. This claim was promptly debunked by
the Department of National Defense.

Chinese-made weapons are the weapons of choice by rebels all over the world, the main reason being they are very cheap. This is evident in our country: Chinese-made arms are priced at 40 percent of the cost of arms made by Armscor, our local arms manufacturer.

If the search is for the truth, Mr. Duterte should ask the DND to submit an inventory of the arms that the military had seized in Marawi City. The probability is that most of these arms were made in China.

At the United Nations First Committee (Disarmament), there were repeated complaints in the past by Third World countries that Chinese-made weapons were being used by their insurgents. This author’s last posting was in South America, and Latino officials had shown us samples of the arms they had seized from the Sendero Luminoso guerrillas in Peru, the FARC in Colombia, and the narco-traffickers, a big number of which were made in China.

Following Churchill’s dictum, the Chinese may have set us up with a deception similar to what the Allies foisted on the Germans in Operation Fortitude. The Chinese knew that the weapons used in Marawi were made in China, so to divert our attention, they have given us free arms to fight the rebels who, ironically, were most likely armed with Chinese-made weapons.

Other statements made by our leaders support the thesis that our current foreign policy is based on lies:

1. That, according to Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano’s remark in the Al Jazeera interview, all 3,800 killed in the war on drugs were drug dealers (this will include the 14-year-old boy and the three 18-year-olds killed recently).

2. That China has stopped reclamation activities in the West Philippine Sea.

3. That there is no longer any distinction between the right of innocent
passage and hostile encroachment into our territorial waters (Chinese operations in Pagasa Reef were termed justified under the right of innocent passage).

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4. That the main source of illegal drugs is Taiwan, contrary to what the whole world knows is China. If we tell the truth, that will be “harsh on China,” something which we must avoid under the Cayetano doctrine.

The grandmother of all lies is, of course, the Philippines’ repeated complaints of “foreign interference” on the issue of extrajudicial killings in the war on drugs. We signed multilateral agreements on this
issue. Our cosigners have the legitimate right to question our nonobservance of the terms of these agreements. An analogy in domestic law is: If A and B sign a contract to do certain things, and A does not observe the provisions of the contract, then his partner B can hold him accountable for nonperformance. Thus, if we do not want “foreign interference” in our domestic affairs, we should renounce all the treaties we have signed dealing with human rights.

We are now in the same boat as a salesman selling flawed merchandise: He must continue lying; otherwise, he will go bankrupt. Our current foreign policy is so deeply flawed that to survive, it must be attended with a bodyguard of lies. Unless we reverse course, we will see more such lies in the future.

Hermenegildo C. Cruz was ambassador to the United Nations in 1984-1986 and ambassador to Chile and Bolivia in 1989-1993.

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TAGS: foreign policy, President Duterte, Winston Churchill
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