Rasti Delizo: Shackling the Philippines to the US's new ‘interconceptual geostrategy’

Philippines military

First published at Amandla!.

The Philippines perpetually aggravates its volatile regional security environment. This breach of international norms betrays the country’s principled duty to uphold a truly independent, non-aligned, peacefully cooperative, and non-belligerent global outlook and stance. Without a doubt, the Philippine State’s reactionary foreign policy continually abets the core strategic interests of its historical imperialist potentate—the United States of America. Thus, Manila persistently maintains its “ironclad loyalty” to Washington’s ultra-bellicose posture in world affairs.

Following this line, amid the presently complex world situation flowing from the multi-crisis of global capitalism, the Philippines has once again bolstered its chains to American imperialism’s newly designed foreign policy—a renewed thrust which may be termed as an interconceptual geostrategy.

The United States’ interconceptual geostrategy aims at addressing its growing geopolitical fears. Washington’s freshly forged external policy agenda pursues an uber aggressive course of action that actively fuses two separate geostrategic concepts concentrated upon the Eastern Hemisphere. This includes key areas spanning the vast Eurasian landmass plus the Indian and Pacific oceans. The central goal of America’s latest foreign policy track is to counteract the rising potencies of Eurasia’s dual great powers—the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation—by denying them both any further space for sway and maneuver.

To attain these objectives, US imperialism will fully act to thwart and degrade the widening gains of the China-Russia strategic partnership throughout the Eastern Hemisphere. In fact, the rationale underlining America’s interconceptual geostrategy is to firmly safeguard American capital’s long-held supremacy over the prevailing imperialist world system—and to prevent it from falling under the ascendancy of rival hegemonic powers.

Momentously, 2022 witnessed a decisive shift in America’s novel grand strategy to harmonize parallel strategic concepts underpinning Washington’s geopolitical plans ahead.

By February 2022, this course struck into action as the US unveiled its Indo-Pacific Strategy. The IPS chiefly targets China’s mounting ‘comprehensive national power’, while negating Beijing’s ascending influence across the Eurasia-Indo-Pacific’s strategic environment. This focus also rationalizes the Australia-United Kingdom-United States (AUKUS) and Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) as the core elements for a more unified US-led regional security architecture. Via this stratagem, America aspires to powerfully dominate the area’s immense land-maritime zones to secure its long-range strategic interests.

Likewise, the IPS vigorously asserts an American foreign policy narrative calling for a “rules-based international order” to warrant a “free and open Indo-Pacific”. This logic seeks to ensnare regional states into joining the AUKUS-Quad axis of aggression. And by imposing the IPS’s interoperability schemes, the national defense forces of any prospective ally will essentially become integral military units primed to operate under American imperialism’s general command and control.

Four months later, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s Madrid Summit unanimously adopted its 2022 NATO Strategic Concept. This conceptual framework fundamentally redefines NATO’s geostrategy for a decade. The political-military alliance openly declares the need to adopt a more hostile demeanor with, “strengthened forward defenses, enhanced battlegroups in the eastern part of the Alliance, and an increase in the number of high-readiness forces to well over 300,000”. Furthermore, NATO stridently categorizes Russia as a “strategic competitor”, and China as a “systemic challenge”.

Then in October, the White House publicly released its 2022 National Security Strategy document. As America’s up-to-date strategic guidance doctrine, the NSS spells out its primary geostrategic intentions by delineating how, “to outmaneuver our geopolitical competitors”, so as, “to win the competition for the 21st century”.  Guided by this, the US will deepen its “core alliances in Europe and the Indo-Pacific”, while striving to, “connect our partners and strategies across regions” through security partnership-based initiatives. As such, America intends to advance an Eastern Hemisphere-wide schema to link up the NATO, EU, AUKUS, and Quad, plus the neoliberal Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) project—to realign this foremost section of the world.

Through this trajectory, US imperialism will become intensely belligerent. As the 2022 NATO Strategic Concept plans to swing some of its combined forces from the Euro-Atlantic eastward into the broader Eurasia-Indo-Pacific area, the 2022 IPS similarly seeks to spread its key geopolitical objectives further westward into the Eurasian heartland—while equally intervening across the adjoining maritime corridors of the Indian Ocean, the Southeast Asian Sea (also known as the South China Sea) and the Pacific Ocean. And in a unifying way, the 2022 NSS will entwine America’s mutually converging geopolitical strategies into the overarching interconceptual geostrategy.

Consequently, being the top superpower of the imperialist world system, the US will push extremely hard to absolutely preserve and sustain the predominant advantages of American monopoly-finance capital—both domestically and abroad—through its core position within the global capitalist economy.

To carry this out, US imperialism shall aggressively expand and enhance its interlocked spheres of influence and control. America will do so by creating additional—and ever-wider—networks of regional economic and security alliances (together with international coalitions) under its total leadership. Accordingly, this will necessitate another global redivision of labor involving subordinate countries within the semi-peripheral zone, especially through the numerous underdeveloped and dependent peripheral economies (e.g., the Philippines). In this manner, American capital will robustly protect its permanent accumulation of super-profits through its resolute dominance over the semi-colonial states on the global periphery.

To advance such goals, America is greatly prepared to engage in a direct inter-imperialist confrontation with its strategic competitors. Given this perspective, US imperialism is readily poised to wage an ever more powerful onslaught versus the Chinese-Russian alliance.

Thus, in reaction to the changing international situation, Manila has reverted to its customary default position. Expectedly, the Philippines is fortifying its role as America’s archipelagic fortress in Southeast Asia. Instead of adopting a foreign policy pathway to deescalate the simmering dynamics destabilizing its regional security surroundings, the Philippines has paradoxically moved to embrace America’s interconceptual geostrategy.

True to form—and just less than a year in power—the reactionary regime of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has already officially integrated his country’s national defense apparatus into the operating structure of Washington’s IPS. This clearly renders the Philippine military into cannon fodder for US imperialism’s global war machine—and under the overall political-military leadership of American capitalism’s ravenous oligarchy and their pugnacious strategic planners.

More specifically, Manila has by now committed an initial set of nine Philippine bases for the unhampered use of American troops, materiel and weaponry to intensify US imperialism’s ‘Eternal Global War OF Terror’ radiating from this corner of the globe.

This posture certifies the Philippines as an American ‘forward tripwire-state’. In a potential US-China war over Taiwan, the Philippines will instantly turn and burn into ‘Taiwan’s Southern Battlefront’. This is all part of America’s worldwide blueprint to strongly augment its strategic depth centered amidst the First Island Chain and China’s coastline in the Western Pacific area.

Within the Eurasia-Indo-Pacific’s mammoth realm, the Southeast Asian Sea plays a crucially strategic role in global affairs. As the maritime center of Southeast Asia, this immense body of water is the pivotal aquatic corridor and throughflow between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. The Southeast Asian Sea is where two of the world’s primary sea lines of communication and strategic chokepoints are located—the Strait of Malacca and the Lombok Strait.

Due to its critical maritime functions, the Southeast Asian Sea vitally serves the global capitalist economy—up to 21% of total world trade passed through it in 2016. At the same time, various sources estimate enormous amounts of hydrocarbon-based energy resources are located here with, “at least 7.7 billion proven barrels” of oil reserves, plus “266 trillion cubic feet” of natural gas reserves. This ultimately makes Southeast Asia an imperative geopolitical magnet for great-power competition.

Provided this area’s important setting, imperialist powers are directly competing to project and impose their own supremacies over Southeast Asia. As their great-power contention with each other escalates, both the US and China will strive to lure as many of the region’s states into their respective camps. And should they succeed in doing so, these rival hegemons can effectually enlarge and enhance their spheres of influence around and beyond Southeast Asia—at the expense of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) consensual unity as a regional bloc.

And undeniably so, the Philippines is only dangerously exacerbating the region’s balance of power equation by shackling itself to America’s interconceptual geostrategy. This condition is already inducing a threatening regional arms race while roiling wider disequilibrium across the area. Hence, Manila is ominously generating greater instabilities for both Southeast Asia and East Asia’s common future.

Rasti Delizo is a global affairs analyst; he is a member of the revolutionary socialist political center of the Filipino working-class movement, Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP/Solidarity of Filipino Workers).