Members of the Liberal Party of The Philippines (aka Yellows) have reacted with uproarious rage as President Rodrigo Duterte ushers in an era of cooperation and partnership with China that will not only make The Philippines a more prosperous nation but also a much safer place. Fundamentally, The Philippine navy and air force are so weak at this moment in history that a would-be war with any major power, let alone the Chinese superpower would likely be over in a matter of days if not hours. The danger however is that the United States superpower has long sought to weaponize the South China Sea issue in order to so discord between Beijing and its maritime neighbours in ASEAN. As part of this strategy, The Philippines was the go-to option for US agitators who sought confrontation with China.
Fortunately, Duterte has abandoned the hostile policies of his predecessors which gave the United States the excuse it wanted to meddle in the affairs of sovereign Asian states. Instead, Duterte has prioritised commerce over hostility, the need for local energy over nationalistic bellicosity and overall has embraced peace rather than war.
And yet war remains the central pillar of the Yellow platform when it comes to relations with China. Of course they don’t literally shout “vote Liberal and we will bring war” but they are in fact indicating such things by implying that it is better to fight over uninhabited pieces of land rather than work with a neighbouring state to exploit the natural resources in and around those uninhabited pieces of land under the guise of a mutually beneficial agreement.
War is often a symptom of geopolitical childishness. Like a toddler seeking a toy, one screams, shouts, spits, defecates and destroys nearby objects as a means of trying to force a nearby adult to provide the desired toy. It is this attitude that has led the world to countless wars including the World Wars.
By the time one grows to achieve an age of reason, tantrums are viewed as an unreasonable, foolish and extreme way of attaining any desired goal. For example, a grown person does not appear before a judge and start screaming and throwing objects – a grown person appears before a judge and has a professional lawyer argue a case intended to achieve the outcome said person desires.
Beyond this, a mature person who has reached the age of reason also realises that strict legalism is only one element of a grown-up’s reality. The more overriding force which shapes reality is pragmatic thinking. This is why Duterte approaches problem solving from the basis of both his legal background and his background of pragmatic problem solving that was put into effect during his decades as Mayor of Davao city. Duterte realises that a politician’s first and foremost role is that of chief problem solver – not that of war maker and not that of egotist-in-chief.
This is why Duterte’s approach to the South China Sea issue is one guided by pragmatism. By reaching out to China in order to develop ever closer relations, Duterte has insured the greatest good for the greatest number of Filipinos. By contrast, Yellows crying foul over some empty maritime stones are neglecting the living, breathing Filipinos in places where people actually live. In many ways, this is the perfect metaphor for the Liberal Party: they are willing to sacrifice the entire country to defend uninhabited pieces of land in the Sea, but they are both unwilling and unable to do anything to improve the lives of those living in the inhabited parts of The Philippines.
Ultimately, a vote for the Yellows is a vote for the red blood of a war that no sane person would want and that no nation needs. The 21st century was supposed to be the dawning of an age of reason after the previous century saw World Wars, Cold Wars, nuclear wars, and far too many blood-soaked revolutions. While Duterte has embraced the age of reason at both a personal and political level, the Yellows continue to act with all the responsibility of a four year old with a machine gun.
It is impossible to argue with those whose very mentality is framed by the notion that violence, hostility and provocations are a correct method of problem solving. This is not politics – such views are insanity at a cognitive level.
Therefore, the key for the Filipino public is not to attempt and find elements of reason in the Yellow argument as what the Yellows offer is not an argument at all. It is a collective tantrum and one which if taken seriously could spill the blood of millions. Duterte is luckily insuring that such things will not happen.