There was a major development in the Pacific this week that hit home to me. It barely made the news in the U.S. which has been focused on how many insults the Donald is throwing by the hour. People in the U.S. - understandably so - are holding their noses and trying to keep their nerves intact until Election Day has come and gone. Its a foregone conclusion Hillary is going to win at this point but we're going to be tortured with this onslaught until the voting is completed.
Meanwhile, real events are happening elsewhere that reflect changing alliances. The Russians are, as I write, sending a fleet to through the English Channel on the way to Syria. They are also building an air base in Egypt which has suddenly fractured relations with the Saudis and is experiencing the first signs of mass unrest. ISIS attacked Kirkuk and the Iraqi Army seems pretty much as inept as always.
However, the alliance that is on my mind is the Philippines new alignment with China.. This is a blow to American strategy. The new Philippine President is acting more like a dictator and took exception to the fact that the Americans objected to assassins being turned loose on the street to kill opponents and drug addicts. A couple months ago the Filipino leader used the same language against Obama that Trump uses with women. Things have been downhill sense.
To counter all this, the Filipino leader just announced his countries 'separation' from its historic alliance with the U.S. and formed a new one with China. The U.S. has been trying to make a pan-Pacific alliance to contain China's military expansion in the region. This move by the Philippines puts a big hole in that effort.
I've spent a couple short stints in the Philippines. They are great people and think highly of Americans who, even though they ruled the islands for half-a-century and fought them, are regarded as natural allies. Culturally, there is a lot in common and one will find Filipinos everywhere since literally 10-15% of the population works outside the country. I ran into some Filipino musicians a couple weeks ago. Healthcare workers in Israel are typically Filipinos.
My first writing award is rooted in the Philippines and my mother has a small memorial compound named after her there. I now wonder if I ever will be able to visit again in safety. I suspect it will become harder over time for U.S.-China relations are sure to be tense and the Philippines has probably started down a road of unrest.
The Philippines is a great country. I hope I can go back at least once but if I can't I still have fond memories that will stay with me the rest of my life. But it still pains me to see a place I like caught in the vice of shifting alliances in the geo-political chess game.