The Dragon Comes With a Suitcase

If you listen to Rodrigo Duterte's now infamous rant against president Obama (start at minute 6) you might be forgiven for thinking it was Howard Zinn or Bill Ayers speaking, allowing for the accent. He spoke of the "lapdogs of America" who forget that "America has one too many [offenses] to answer for". He argued that the Philippines "inherited the [Muslim] problem from the United States" and since "everyone has a terrible record of extrajudicial killing ... why make an issue of it."  He describes the massacre of the Indians, the oppression of migrants etc. as reasons for ordering the deaths of thousands proving, if there was any remaining doubt, that he  learned the lesson of moral equivalence well.

From this, Duterte concluded that he wouldn't listen to lectures from the SOB leader of such a country. It's almost as if he's been listening to Obama and Obama was hoist on his own petard. The Western left has the habit of preaching from a moral height while simultaneously describing its history as one unending crime. You've heard the teaching moments. "I live in a house built by slaves." "You didn't build that!" This whole country is stolen!

Say it often enough and someone will believe you. Somebody did. The trouble is you can't rise from the toilet to suddenly preach from a great moral height. It's possible to do one but not both simultaneously. Of course the liberal left can context shift and switch between sackcloth and ashes and the throne of moral superiority with the alacrity of Dr. Who. But Durterte isn't that nimble.

The clash between the two is tragi-comedy. Obama's planned teaching moment has complicated the problem of holding the Philippines against an expansionary China. The stark reality is that Duterte's Philippines is almost totally helpless against the Chinese military power and extremely vulnerable to Islamic terrorism. Who does Duterte think is keeping the Chinese away? The Philippine Navy? Nor will his hometown of Davao last very long against Islamic rebels without intelligence support and Sigint from the United States.

Duterte needs America to ensure independence, to keep his palace standing, period. But Duterte doesn't understand this. His macho prism admits only more basic considerations. Duterte intuits that Obama is someone to despise and so despises him, because he neither respects nor fears the man from Chicago. Rodrigo Duterte would never call Xi a S.O.B. because he wouldn't dare. The world, as Winston Churchill knew, has people who are either at your throat or at your feet -- and that probably includes most leaders in the Third World.

Yet Duterte's delusions are probably matched by the administration's in Washington. The biggest threat to the Philippines is not amphibious invasion but subversion by China. The enormous size of the Philippine drug problem is the result of the growing Chinese meth trade. The local market could never support such a titanic scale of vice. The Philippines is at risk of becoming one gigantic meth lab to feed the enormous Chinese appetite for drugs, of being to Southern China what Mexico is to the US.

"Last year a United Nations report identified Hong Kong and the mainland as key players in the burgeoning meth trade, citing law enforcement authorities in the Philippines and Australia. It also cited corruption within China’s pharmaceutical industry as a key factor in Guangdong becoming the production center". Wikipedia notes that "about nine Chinese drug cartels are involved in most illegal drug trade in the Philippines. The U.S. Department of State found out that Chinese drug cartels are behind the trade of methamphetamine hydrochloride in the Philippines."