IN another instance of Philippine media’s boundless faith in the country’s former colonial master, nearly all newspapers the other day banner-headlined US Secretary of State Michael Richard Pompeo’s claim that America will defend the Philippines in case of an armed attack by any country in the South China Sea.
Don’t bet on it. US officials have said that so many times in the past.
But in cases when the Philippines seemed to be on the verge of an armed conflict with China in the South China Sea, and asked the US for assurances of such succor, they either remained silent or “clarified” that they’d have to study the case more closely.
Forget all the legalities of, and the blah-blahs over, the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT). The US won’t send its carrier battle groups to help our Navy if ever it challenges the Chinese to a fight for one simple reason: Americans know that that would lead to a nuclear war between two superpowers, that would not only kill millions of citizens of both countries, but will result in global economic collapse.
Such American squirming happened in 1995, when Philippine officials thought that an armed clash could occur because of the Chinese building their first installation on Mischief Reef, which the country also claimed. In a Senate hearing, the then foreign affairs secretary said, after his consultations with US officials: “It is a matter of public knowledge…. The Mutual Defense Treaty does not cover the Spratlys…”
But it could be argued that the statement was made in a hypothetical situation. But Philippine officials, including President Aquino 3rd himself, had actually sought US commitment for an actual situation – and were told to go home.