October 26, 2016

HOW’S THAT “PIVOT TO ASIA” GOING? Duterte Threatens to Scrap Defense Pact (Again).

A Philippine decision to ax the EDCA would deal another major blow to the Obama administration’s Asia rebalance. The bilateral defense agreement, signed in 2014, was strategically designed to make the Philippines a major staging area for projecting U.S. naval and air power in the Pacific. Last November, Obama travelled to the Philippines to make the case for the EDCA as the Philippine Supreme Court questioned its constitutionality. The agreement cleared that hurdle in January, but with Duterte’s latest diatribe its future is in doubt.

When Duterte threatened to tear up the pact earlier this month, the Pentagon downplayed his comments. But his latest threat, together with his cryptic words about staying in power long enough, have renewed uncertainty about U.S.-Philippine security cooperation. The timing of his comments is particularly awkward coming on the heels of a U.S. diplomatic visit meant to smooth the waters, and ahead of Duterte’s trip to Japan, a major U.S. ally.

Remember when our smart, universally-loved commander in chief was going to run America’s diplomacy so much more smoothly and intelligently than that dumb cowboy Bush?

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