An internationalist foreign policy for PH
The nature, dynamics, and direction of Philippine external relations are fundamentally defined and shaped by our country’s geography, history, culture, and inherent strengths (economic, social, political, military, technological, etc.). These basic elements should always be considered in consonance with a principled world vision guiding the overall pursuit of Philippine foreign relations. Thus, a progressively internationalist, socially cooperative, and fully democratic Philippine foreign policy framework can already be developed and advanced to serve the broader social interests of global humanity, and not only a narrow-minded and outdated set of backward national interests as is the case today. Unfortunately, Philippine foreign policy remains paralyzed by a combination of internal and external factors. Our country’s geographical location on the world map puts our people right in the center of global battlefronts, whether during last century’s US-Soviet Union Cold War era, or in the post-pandemic “Neo-Sino-American Cold War” period. This dilemma lingers because the Philippines persists as US imperialism’s westernmost archipelagic military base in the Pacific Ocean, and within striking distance to China’s eastern coastal frontier. In contrast, Chinese social imperialism perceives Manila as an open host to aggressive American militarism in Southeast Asia. Hence, our archipelago is near-permanently trapped in a continually rising flow of history’s geopolitically-driven inter-imperialist rivalries.
Given the stark and dangerous realities of our regional strategic environment, the Philippines must now break out from the shackles of its external relations constructs imposed by an unbroken chain of reactionary regimes over the past seven decades. From a global perspective, the best alternative for the Philippines is to march along an internationalist foreign policy path. Internationalism’s key principles embody the ideals of working to guarantee the worldwide peaceful coexistence of humankind, enhancing international cooperation and solidarity (with the exploited working masses and oppressed nations and peoples), building democratized societies through socially just economic structures and processes, and pursuing creative joint regional efforts.
The internationalist course can be attained via a regionalist approach to progressively shape world affairs. In this regard, global issues and concerns can also be resolved by working with regional organizations. Since many regional associations formally express internationalist principles, they sometimes nominally support Track-3 Diplomacy (people-to-people relations) as a progressive mode of advancing international relations, including pro-people/people-centered initiatives.
Therefore, if the Philippines is to reconfigure its foreign policy focus and agenda for the 21st century, it must immediately drop its destructive penchant of aggressively aligning with imperialist powers from both the East and West. Instead, Manila should attempt to build for itself a “transregional domain of principled influence” all throughout the Asia-Indo-Pacific land-maritime zone. In effect, this transregional domain of principled influence can become a ready strategic instrument to forge closer ties with foreign allies and friends aligned with the Philippine external relations paradigm of internationalism. With this, Manila can confidently launch its own alternative foreign policy narratives and designs in dealing with great powers over regional questions.In concrete terms, Manila should exert its fullest efforts to boost and cultivate special relations with the member-states of Asia’s leading regional organizations adjoining China. This includes the Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), the SAARC (South Asia Association of Regional Cooperation), the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization) for Central Asia, and the countries of Northeast Asia. Hence, the Philippines can greatly improve its bonds with key countries across Asia’s sub-regions. And by doing so, Manila would be able to sharply wield a highly coordinated transregional policy line to substantially advance our country’s principled diplomatic track of attaining peaceful cooperation for the broader region itself.
Rasti Delizo is a longtime international affairs analyst and an activist in the socialist movement.
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