27 April 2015

Power is Power

I have long learned not to take ASEAN seriously. The same with the much-publicized "ASEAN Economic Community", where not much can and should be expected.

The real deal now and in the (near) future in Asia and the world is the China-led AIIB, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. What's the edge: money! The AIIB has and will lend money that creates and produces things and infrastructure; while the ASEAN is all talks, has no money, and wastes lots of money in organizing all these talking summits.

Here's a lesson in "international relations" (i.e., the so-called "game that nations play") for the Philippines: "Multilateralism" is the game of the weak, while "bilateralism" is the game of the strong. 

China is now a strong country — in economic, political, and military terms. China only uses "multilateral" organizations like ASEAN — of which it has been a part of in the ASEAN+3 formation — to play the "bilateral" game. It is doing the same "bilateral" (country-to-country) strategy within the UN multilateral system, as well as in the WTO.

With China's AIIB to implement Xi Jinping's "One Belt, One Road" strategy and its successful penetration of ASEAN, US hegemony in Asia has declined even further and rapidly being taken over by China.

The Philippines under PNoy, with its all-out consistent pro-US stance, seems to be lacking in strategic and tactical comprehension of both historical and contemporary geopolitics and the evolving global capitalism. China sees the world "black and white," and simply perceives ASEAN historically, and rightly so, as a US creation.

Malaysia, the current chair of ASEAN, is China's number one trading partner in the region and it's a country that is playing it "smart" with China, US, Japan, and the EU. All the other ASEAN countries, including the Philippines and Vietnam, have increasing and significant investment and trade relations with China.

After President Noynoy Aquino's term, there's a high probability that the next Philippine administration will be less antagonistic towards China. So this would only leave Vietnam as the only country in the ASEAN to be tough on China — understandably because Vietnam and China had a history of war against each other during the Cold War. Therefore, enough of blind focus on the ASEAN.

The Philippines is desperately making "legalistic" resorts to multilateralism in the UN and the ASEAN; but China is resorting to economic (also read: political and military) power. This reminds me of the confrontation between Queen Cersei Lannister and Lord Petyr Baelish in the Game of Thrones. Thinking that he scored in the game, Petyr (Philippines) claimed in triumphant tone "Knowledge is power." But Cersei (China) had the last laugh and words with the assertion "Power is power".

Yes, Philippines, power is power!

"Power" — economically, politically, ideologically, and militarily — in the international arena has never been, is not, and will not be attained through the Philippines' long obsession with "legalism" (legalistic minds and rule of lawyers) or its current worship of "institutionalism" (as espoused and promoted by so-called socio-economic reformers). Power in international relations has always been rooted in "industrialism".

In a word, national power is neither founded on legalism nor institutionalism, it's all about industrialism.

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