No longer the ‘world’s policeman’

Published January 4, 2019, 12:16 AM

by Manila Bulletin

E CARTOON JAN 4, 2019In an ideal world, there would be no need for a “world policeman” to keep things in order. Nations would concentrate on developing themselves, stay within their borders, and respect the rights of other nations.

History, however, has seen some nations rise to positions of power and influence with the support of other nations, to help maintain order in world affairs. The United States  found itself in such a position after World War II, following its military victories in Europe and Asia.

A few weeks ago, the new US president, Donald Trump, visited US troops in Iraq and announced, “The United States cannot continue to be the policeman of the world.”  Part of the reason is  the expense involved in such a role. The US president also believes  the US government should  concentrate on its own needs and problems.

He  wants to keep out poor migrants from the south with a long wall along its border with Mexico. He wants to keep out migrants from mostly Islamic nations of the Middle East. He wants the US to withdraw  from its involvement in keeping order the Middle East, notably Syria and Iraq, and in Asia, notably in Afghanistan. President Trump has already ordered American troops stationed in Syria to return home.

The US began getting involved in world affairs so far from its shores after it defeated Spain in the Spanish-American war at the turn of the 20th century. It claimed the Philippines —  for three centuries a colony of Spain — as a war prize. When Japan bombed Pearl Harbor at the start of World War II, it also bombed Fort Stotsenberg of the Americans at Clark in Pampanga.

American troops are no longer permanently based in the Philippines after the Philippine Senate’s decision in 1991 against extending American military presence in the Philippines. However,  we remain allies under the US-PH Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951. Our officials  believe that in case of trouble,  the US will come to our defense.

Last month, following President Trump’s  announcement that the US is no longer interested in being the “world’s  policeman,” Secretary of Defense Delfin Lorenzana said the treaty is now being reviewed to see if it is relevant to the country.”That was done in 1951. That’s 67  years old. We are reviewing it because perhaps we no longer need it.” Asked if the Duterte administration’s improved ties with China prompted  the review, Secretary Lorenzana said it was due to “the dynamics that is going on all over the world.”

The dynamics of which Secretary Lorenzana spoke  surely included President Trump’s announcement that the US no longer wishes to be the “world’s policemen.” The Philippines is at the center of these  changing policies and developments as the world enters a new year. We must hope that  the  coming changes will  help, not harm, us as a nation in these increasingly critical times in this critical part of our far-from-ideal world.