GI COME BACK: AMERICA'S RETURN TO THE PHILIPPINES
By Felix K. Chang, Senior Fellow Foreign Policy Research Institute
The Philippines have had second thoughts about having booted the American military bases out of their country. Mr. Chang describes them well.
Since our seizure of their islands in the Spanish war, the Filipinos have had ambiguous feelings towards the USA: comfort with much of the American connection and high sensitivity over what is seen as colonial dependence. Nationalist politicians naturally harp on the issue. In the 1990's this resulted in the expulsion of our Navy and Air Force from their fine bases respectively at Subic Bay and Clark Field, the latter, as Mr. Chang notes, taking place symbolically under wet ash as Pinatubo Volcano erupted simultaneously with a large typhoon.
More recently, however, China has truculently asserted its territorial claims in the South China Sea. Moreover, it has conspicuously modernized and strengthened its military, notably its blue water navy. The Philippines, among other Southeast Asian nations, also has claims to the atolls and waters there. In 1995 the Chinese built a structure on the appropriately named Mischief Reef, one of these Philippine-claimed atolls, and now continues to send its fishing boats and government vessels to the disputed Scarborough Shoal and others islands close to the Philippines.
The end of our Mutual Bases Treaty with the Philippines accelerated a decline in Philippine defense capabilities, now making Manila increasingly nervous about a "China threat" and much more amenable to military ties with...