One of the most fascinating and revealing aspects of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s announcement of a “separation” from the United States has been the common reaction of the mainstream press. Practically all of the editorials and op-eds are condemning Duterte’s “anti-American” action and saying that it runs contrary to the pro-American sentiments of the Filipino people.
Why is that phenomenon both fascinating and revealing?
Because it shows that in the minds of the mainstream press, America and the U.S. national-security state are one and the same thing. That is, their minds do not permit them to distinguish between the U.S. government and its vast overseas military-intelligence empire, on the one hand, and the enormous private sector of American people on the other. In their minds, it’s all one and the same thing.
They just can’t see that it’s entirely possible that a foreign regime might not want to align itself with the U.S. national-security’s state’s foreign military empire. It also might not want to align itself with any foreign regime. It might just want to have normal diplomatic relations with all nations, without playing favorites and without joining alliances, blocs, or coalitions.
At the same time, it might well favor its citizens’ being free to engage in trade, commerce, tourism, culture exchanges, and interactions with people in other lands.
There is nothing inconsistent about these positions. Just because a foreign regime doesn’t want to be part of a U.S. alliance or part of its overseas empire and just because it doesn’t want U.S. military bases within the country doesn’t mean that that regime or that the people in that country are “anti-American,” especially when they want to carry on normal diplomatic relations with the U.S. government and economic and commercial relations with the American people. It simply means that they have no interest in playing the imperialist game that the U.S. government has long played.
But you can tell from the editorials and op-eds that that notion — anti-empire and pro-commerce has never occurred to the mainstream writers. My hunch is that the reason for that is public schooling, where school children are indoctrinated from day 1 with the notion that America is the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA and that children should be sure to thank the troops and CIA and NSA officials for their service in keeping us safe. By the time they graduate from high school, the indoctrination is so complete that the mainstream writer’s mind is one that automatically conflates the U.S. government and the American people.
This is especially true for mainstream pundits who attended public school during the First Cold War. During Cold War I, any nation that didn’t align itself with the U.S. Empire and stayed neutral or, even worse, established friendly relations with the Soviet Union or China was considered by U.S. officials and the mainstream press to be “pro-communist” and was made a likely target for a regime-change operation, either through a military coup, assassination, or invasion. Now that Cold War II is in full swing, it’s not surprising that U.S. officials and the mainstream press are moving forward with the same mindset.
Another interesting aspect to this phenomenon is that the mainstream pundits clearly have no idea that America was founded on foreign-policy principles that are completely different today. The founding idea was to limit the federal government’s jurisdiction to the United States, much like Switzerland’s foreign policy today. That’s why there were no U.S. foreign military bases, not in the Philippines or anywhere else. Indeed, that’s why there was a relatively small army domestically, and even that was opposed by many of the Founders, who bore a deep antipathy toward standing armies. There was also no CIA or NSA.
At the same time, however, the Founders favored friendly relations with foreign regimes and a system of free commerce between the American private sector and the people of the world.
Today, of course, it’s the exact opposite. Unrestrained government abroad, including the omnipotent power to invade and occupy countries, kidnap, incarcerate, and torture people, and assassinate whoever they want, with impunity, foreign aid to dictatorships and other regimes, secret surveillance schemes, military tribunals, and a vast array of foreign military bases, not to mention the decades-long wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan, and the out-of-control spending and debt that is threatening America with national bankruptcy, like Greece and Puerto Rico.
At the same time, the American private sector is increasingly isolated from the world with fences, walls, immigration controls, sanctions, embargoes, trade restrictions, and trade wars.
Another interesting aspect of the Philippines controversy is that the mainstream press is unable to understand why Duterte got upset with the U.S. government in the first place. He didn’t like being lectured to with respect to the way he is waging the war on drugs, especially since it mirrors the way that the U.S. government is waging its war on terrorism.
The reason the mainstream press doesn’t get it is because members of the U.S. Empire almost always bend the knee and do whatever Washington officials order them to do. If they don’t, then they lose their foreign aid. That’s the purpose of foreign aid — to make foreign regimes dependent on millions of dollars so that they will follow orders out of fear of losing the money.
This is especially true when much of the foreign aid is given to foreign militaries, which is often the case. By putting a foreign military directly on the U.S. warfare dole, that drives a wedge between a foreign president who is willing to forgo the dole and his military establishment, which wants to continue lining the pockets of military officers with millions of dollars of U.S. warfare dole.
It’s simply a case of extortion, which has long been a principal element of U.S. foreign policy. “Do as we say or we’ll cut off your allowance, which will throw your country into chaos.”
Of course, the worst thing that Duterte is doing, from the standpoint of the national-security state and the mainstream press, is that he is removing a potential flash point for crises between China and the United States. That’s what the so-called pivot to Asia was all about — to gin up crises with China, just as NATO’s regime-change operation and intent to absorb Ukraine was intended to gin up crises with Russia.
Crises are the coin of the realm for empires. They always have been and they always will be. Crises justify the ever-growing budgets and ever-growing power of the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA.
When a foreign president removes his regime from that process, as Duterte is doing, in the minds of U.S. officials and their assets in the mainstream press, he becomes a threat to “national security.” And we all know what that can mean — regime change—i.e., an invasion, a military coup, or an assassination, with the aim of restoring balance to the U.S. government’s imperial universe.