The US quietly pulled out of Afghanistan last week. It was actually more sneaking out as the last Americans pulled out under the cover of darkness as Alex Magno writes in his PhilSTAR piece “Defeat”. The Americans left behind the Afghans who supported their war against the Taliban, which was also their own creation at the time it was the former Soviet Union which invaded that country. The Afghans have again proven their mettle against a superpower. They have now defeated the US and Russia one after the other. So much for the fight against terrorism which was the US battlecry when they justified the war with Iraq and Afghanistan. Magno goes on to write…
Afghanistan has a long history of expelling invaders from the time of Alexander the Great. The rough terrain helped Afghan guerrillas wage long wars against invading armies. Add to this the incomparable brutality Taliban fighters were capable of inflicting on their own people to enforce their will. They routinely execute girls for the crime of attending schools.
There is little doubt the US-sponsored government in Kabul would crumble under intense Taliban pressure. The Islamist movement now controls the larger portion of the country. They have an undiminished will to fight. The same cannot be said of the US-sponsored government.
The US has not won a major war since Vietnam. Worse, it routinely abandoned allies when its convenience so dictated.
Iraq is also in shambles despite the continuing US presence. The US can’t afford a total pullout just yet because of the Iranian threat. The Afghanistan withdrawal serves as a warning to US allies throughout the world; the US always puts its interests first. Its guarantees cannot be taken to the bank. Up front, they’re at best, lip service.
The Opposition continues to criticize Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s foreign policy but as it appears now, the President is more pragmatic. This is why he continues to hold the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) over the US’s head like a Sword of Damocles. Duterte realizes we cannot be on the wrong side if and when a shooting war breaks out between China and the US. The flash point will most likely be Taiwan. China will not back down over Taiwan which it deems to be a renegade province. The US will not back down either because it considers the island as vital in keeping that sea lanes open from the East China Sea into the Pacific Ocean. China has been clamping down in Hong Kong because Xi can’t afford to have renegade provinces making a fool of the central government. The US would like nothing better than for China to become a “democracy.” This is not likely to happen even in the far future. The powers-that-be will fight tooth and nail to preserve the status quo. This is why China has been beefing up not only its defensive capabilities but its offensive as well. We can’t afford to get caught on the wrong side as when we did during World War II.
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On another battle front, the Delta variant has reached the country. It was not a question of if but when. We can’t afford another lockdown because of the economic burden but we are also incapable of handling a surge of this magnitude. Indonesia is now the epicenter of COVID-19. It has already exceeded both Brazil’s and India’s record-highs in daily cases reported. The quarantine classification for hot spots should revert to enhanced community quarantine (ECQ). The National Capital Region and its outskirts (NCR+) should revert to general community quarantine (GCQ) with restrictions. Children below 18 years old shouldn’t be allowed out of their residences because Delta is infectious for the younger in the demographic. The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) should finally come out with a unified contact-tracing system. We should be testing more. We cannot prevent OFWs from returning but quarantine protocols should be stricter not only for them but for all returning residents. The daily number of cases reported hasn’t gone down below the 3,000 level since March. The government should follow Singapore in assuming the pandemic is endemic if the economy is to maintain a semblance of normalcy.
Again, digitization should be prioritized. The red tape in the construction of mobile broadband towers should be eliminated. The government must compel telcos to construct these towers for improved connectivity which is what is required of digitization. Lawmakers should pass emergency powers for the President in the same manner a bill was passed during the Ramos administration for power plants. Covid is living up to its moniker as the forever virus. We should do what we can for the younger generations NOW.
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