Sensible Conclusion

As the Wall Street Journal Reported:

“Philippines Suspends Patrols With U.S. in South China Sea”

Indeed, the US-Filipino military alliance is over, and that is surely a good thing.

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Above, my father Ambassador Stephen Bosworth in Manila (during Marcos-Aquino transition)

I think my father would have recognized that the Filipino government is finally taking control of its own destiny. He was Ambassador in Manila during the Cold War, when the alliance was unquestioned, but his orientation tended towards a Kennedyesque sense of cooperation and national self-determination.

He was also Ambassador there during the fall of the Marcos regime. He later told me about how the Reagan White House kept telling him to help Marcos, and how the State Department kept telling him to help Aquino. He was getting conflicting orders, obviously. It was stressful.

He avoided blatant interference (although some close to Marcos might have disagreed). Events on the ground moved in the direction of Aquino. And that was that.

We talked about this years later. I was actually in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, during this time, teaching high school – during the transition between Baby Doc Duvalier and the regime that replaced it. Oddly, both countries experienced political revolutions in the same weeks of February, 1986.

Anyway, my impression of my father’s view is clear. His experience reinforced his belief that the US could not, and should not, remain in such a colonial position, and that it was not good for either party. He cared about the people-to-people relationship, and his closest friends and confidants, whom I met, were his Filipino tennis partners.

Also after the Cold War he came to view much of US foreign policy, in which he participated in Central America, as a complete over-reaction – as largely mistaken, in hindsight.

On this next point, I speculate, but I also imagine he would not have approved of the US using the Philippines as a thorn in the side of China, as it has been doing this past decade (until today!) He was quite pro-China and participated in some of the first US delegations to the PRC in the mid 1970s.

I think he would have supported Pres. Duterte’s decision to end the military relationship.

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In any case, I think of my father daily of course since his passing last January.

He was an amazing father first and foremost. But I’m also proud of his career, and proud that, in his work, he was even more cool than James Bond.

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