Pondering on the critical threats and dangers facing the world today
The 77th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) speech of President Marcos Jr. underscored the “threatening” global environment, with geopolitical crises, climate change, and recession all over the world.
Mr. Marcos’ repivot into America’s embrace, a departure from his predecessor’s anti-US and anti-UN rhetoric, mirrors the general attitude of Asean as a region, as well as a realization of the “clear and present danger” facing the world today.
But more than that, the President has apparently felt the nation’s pulse when it comes to attitude toward the US and China. Only a small percentage of Filipinos look kindly at China, since very little of what it had promised the Philippines at the start of the Duterte administration have come true, while many irritants remain in the West Philippine Sea affecting our poor fisherfolk.
Although Mr. Marcos repeated Duterte’s policy that the country will be “a friend to all and an enemy to none,” his pronouncements in New York saying that he cannot “imagine the Philippines without the US” as an ally betrayed his biases.
That US pivot is not without its dangers, however. While the Philippines has coaxed its Asean neighbors to have a peaceful and solid stance on international issues (especially on China’s expansive maritime claims), it is clear that the country is moving toward the alliance of America, Japan, South Korea, and Australia.
It is doubtful at this point that China, a major economic and military rival of the US, would warm up again toward the Philippines. That opens an imminent danger for the country as China and Taiwan (which is about 370 kilometers from Batanes) are seriously engaged in actual military provocations. The recent visit of a top US official to Taiwan riled China so much that it carried out its largest military exercises around the island. The problem here is that, unlike in the Ukraine-Russia war, America will NOT limit its help to logistics and firepower, but has said that it was destined to get involved militarily—as in sending its soldiers to defend Taiwan—if China invades it.
Where would that leave the Philippines when a firefight ensues between China and neighboring Taiwan? Mr. Marcos also mentioned the “nuclear threat” in his UNGA speech. We are not too far away from North Korea, which has indiscriminately fired missiles and texted its nuclear capabilities, even as its people starve. North Korea is clearly a rabid enemy of the US. Where does that place the Philippines?
Speaking of nuclear fallout, as a US ally, we are not that safe from the debris of Russia’s nuclear weapons. Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has no love lost for America for its aid to Ukraine, has haughtily challenged the world last week, saying that Russia will win the war or there would be nuclear destruction.
Indeed, there’s a price to pay by aligning our country strongly with the US. But then again, there is no such thing as a free lunch.
Next to such geopolitical dangers, there are the effects of climate change that threaten the Philippines even more. Though we are negative in our carbon emissions, the country remains No. 4 in terms of vulnerability to the ravages of climate change like typhoons, droughts, floods, and earthquakes. This week alone, the world saw the destruction wrought by a howling hurricane over Florida, the floods in Pakistan and India, and Typhoon “Karding” in the Philippines.
Our being in the typhoon and earthquake belt has increased the chances of our crops being destroyed and our land washed away, further threatening the country’s food security that has been affected by the supply chain disruption caused by the pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war.
We cannot afford to have a forever strengthening dollar while all other currencies flounder, as this creates a further trade imbalance among nations. Just look at how dangerously close the peso is to the P60 to $1 exchange rate. Nations that have more imports than exports, buy its oil overseas, and have a huge foreign debt get doubly hit by the currency pinch and the rising interest rates of foreign obligations, as the Philippines has been.
Finally, there is the threat that comes even from benevolent sources like science. The digitalization of commerce has given rise to newfangled exotic crimes and the weaponization of AI (artificial intelligence). What shall poor nations do with the disappearance of jobs due to robots?
The world today is not what it was, even just five years ago. It is not better but immensely worse. Brace up!
Bingo Dejaresco,[email protected]
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