Under: Power and Democracy, Publications

‘At the Door of all the East’: The Philippines in United States Military Strategy

This report seeks to document and explain why and how the United States has been attempting to re-establish its military presence in the Philippines in the period beginning in 2001. Diverging from the common explanation attributing increased US military presence in the country to the so-called “global war on terror,” this report instead locates US actions in the Philippines and in the Asia-Pacific region in the larger context of the US’ objectives and strategy.

The self-avowed aim of the US is to perpetuate its position of being the world’s sole superpower in order to re-order the world. Its strategy to perpetuate its status is to prevent the rise of any rivals.  To do this, it is seeking the capacity to deter and defeat potential enemies anywhere in the world by retaining and realigning  its “global posture” or its ability to operate across the globe through its worldwide network of forward-deployed troops, bases, andaccess agreements. Today, the US believes that, of all its potential rivals, China poses the greatest threat and must therefore be contained before it becomes even more powerful.

To persuade China that it is better to submit to a US-dominated world order, the US is attempting to convince it that the alternative will be worse; that defeat will be inevitable. To make this threat credible, the US is attempting to enlist countries around China to take its side and to encircle China with bases and troops. Because of its strategic location, the Philippines is among the countries in which the US wants to establish bases, secure access agreements, and station troops. But apart from the Philippines, the US also wants the same in other countries in the region. The problem is, these other countries on whom it is relying for support do not want to go against China and are not necessarily willing to give the US what it needs, thereby posing problems for US strategy. Thus, because of its favorable disposition towards the US compared to other countries, the Philippines becomes even more critical to US military strategy in the region and in the world.