Pat Buchanan is the former co-host of Buchanan & Press on MSNBC. He is also an author, commentator and a regular member of The McLaughlin Group for much of the program’s history. Mr. Buchanan was a candidate for President of the United States three times. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and holds a master’s degree from the Columbia University School of Journalism. He began his career writing editorials for the St. Louis Globe-Dispatch. He was an adviser to Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, and was director of White House Communications for two years for President Ronald Reagan.
His homepage is found at buchanan.org.
February 17, 2020
Time for Manila to take charge of its own defense. Indeed, what is the argument for a treaty that virtually dictates U.S. involvement in any future war in 7,600 islands 8,000 miles from the United States?
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has just given us notice he will be terminating the Visiting Forces Agreement that governs U.S. military personnel in the islands.
His notification starts the clock running on a six-month deadline. If no new agreement is negotiated, the VFA is dissolved.
What triggered the decision?
Duterte was offended that one of his political allies who led his anti-drug campaign in the islands, which involves extrajudicial killings of drug dealers, had been denied a U.S. visa.
Yet, Duterte has never been an enthusiast of the U.S. presence. In 2016, he told his Chinese hosts in Beijing: “I want, maybe in the next two years, my country free of the presence of foreign military troops. I want them out.”
The Pentagon is shaken. If there is no VFA, how do we continue to move forces in and out to guarantee our ability to honor the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty? Defense Secretary Mark Esper called Duterte’s action “a step in the wrong direction.”
President Donald Trump openly disagreed: “If they would like to do that, that’s fine. We’ll save a lot of money.”
The Philippine Islands are among the largest recipients of foreign aid in East Asia, and we’ve provided $1.3 billion in military assistance over the last two decades. But money shouldn’t be the largest consideration here.
Trump has been given a historic opportunity to reshape U.S. and Asia policy along the lines he ran on in 2016.
He should tell Duterte that we accept his decision and that we, too, are giving notice of our decision to let the 1951 treaty lapse. And following expiration of that treaty, the U.S. will be absolved of any legal obligation to come to the defense of the Philippines.