Sunday, July 6, 2008

The USS Ronald Reagan and the Myanmar Junta Syndrome

The 1987 Philippine Constitution contains the following provision under its Declaration of Principles and State Policies:
Section 8. The Philippines, consistent with the national interest, adopts and pursues a policy of freedom from nuclear weapons in its territory.
In an opinion piece published by ABSCBN News Online entitled, "Beyond the Tragedy, the USS Ronald Reagan" Professor Miriam Coronel Ferrer echoes a line of reasoning and propaganda that most Fipinos long ago rejected and disdained and have come to recognize from CPP-NPA-NDF websites and manifestoes as motivated primarily by that indispensable grievance of long-standing which blames the United States for our own failures and inability to clean up our own messes and make something out of this rich country and its talented people.

Prof. Ferrer refers to the generous offer of having the crew, facilities, aircraft and supplies of the USS Ronald Reagan as
"the token gesture of US President Bush to send over one of the Navy’s prime aircraft carrier, an offer made convenient by the fact that the Nimitz class, nuclear-powered USS Ronald Reagan was in nearby Hong Kong."
A commenter on my earlier post on this subject (Sparks) summarizes the rest of it:
prof. ferrer will faint if she reads this blog post!

i do not think the article is "decrying the generous help" of the US. having just read the article again, i think these are the main points:

1. defending the country's sovereignty (i.e. that we ultimately should have a say on what goes on in our country)

- "But the main problem is and always has been that we have had to rely on the US’s word – or silence -- on the matter."

2. And the second main point is her critique of the militarisation of 'humanitarian' aid:

- "we can’t be blind to the dangers in the militarization of humanitarian aid, a global trend where military buildup is increasingly twinned with humanitarian goals, with the end result of more resources going to defense."

- "Finally, there is a subliminal, discomfiting message being sent when warships are glorified beyond their real purpose. Military objects and symbols are deceptively juxtaposed with humanitarianism. The USS Ronald Reagan’s insignia comes with the words "Peace through strength" because Reagan believed that America won the Cold War by virtue of being strong."

manong naman eh. you shouldn't discredit people whose opinions run contrary to yours by simply calling them communists. are you getting lazy?
Another commenter (Anna de Brux) charmingly chimes in with:
Dean,

You are incorrigible -- what you are effectively saying now with your gobbledygookings is you are willing to shit on Philippine charter provisions so long as you defend US rights to shit on Phil waters. How can you frigging convince people that what you are saying is right?

OK, nuff!

Read my post you nig nog -- it was basically a reply to your question to Manuel Buecamino, you turd!

Re: "mb,
what nuclear weapons, mb?"

The rest of the comment had nothing to do with legally defending your hated left.
I don't believe that any of this navel gazing has anything to do with Constitutionalism or any genuine concern for the presence of nuclear weapons in the country.

The position taken here against the presence of the USS Ronald Reagan is really not very different from the Myanmar Military Junta's strange and weird rejection of international aid after a similar natural disaster devastated that country. Just like Burma (Myanmar) the Philippines will probably now take months to recover from Typhoon Frank, in large measure because some many of our pundits are more into radical international politics than concentrating on what is good for us.

I challenge Prof. Ferrer to try and explain her intellectual Constitutionalism to those suffering relatives of the Princess of the Stars tragedy and to the hundreds of thousands of unfortunate victims of Typhoon Frank, specifically the clause in the provision that reads, "consistent with the national interest" which Constitutional experts have declared gives the President a lot of wiggle room in what to do. Unfortunately, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo doesn't know what's good for her country either and buckled to pressure from the leftist media. As a consequence, the Princess of the Stars is still capsized and all over the archipelago people are desperate for help, which of course neither she, nor the smug intellectuals so suddenly dedicated to the Constitution (that many of them actually want to destroy), can give them.

Just like in Myanmar! SUSMARYOSEP!

And if people think only the Left is infected with the Myanmar Syndrome, check out the JPE-Miriam-Joker Comedy Hour.
Updates:
SCRIPTORIUM has a fascinating reflection on modern Art in Thoughts of a Christian Art Lover. I've left a comment:
I agree with you that for Art to re-marry Beauty, it must re-acquire a reverence for the deep mystery of existence itself. But I think that to relocate such reverence and sense of awe of the Universe in such a things as God and Religion is now an impossible thing and a fruitless nostalgia. The air has gone out of those balloons and the vast atmosphere into which it has escaped cannot be recompressed into such tiny vessels. What has replaced them are Science and Reason, which point to an even deeper end of the pool, to a greater limitlessness than Christianity or Islam or other organized religion. I am not at all pessimistic about Art as such. What is derided as modern art has been a century long exhalation of bad vapors, to be sure. But it leads to an opening of our eyes and ears and other senses to vistas beyond the Cathedral of superstition and human vanity. Modern man is tired of looking at himself in the mirror of religion and exclaiming “God!” — for it turns out we are the Great Artificer in disguise. Accepting that is a more genuine humility.
I think Hubble imagery is the new Baroque!

28 comments:

Richard said...

Just like in the US, the 'elites' (the press, so-called intelligentsia, wealthy political dilitantes, etc) in the Philippines don't give a damn about the needs of the common people...they demand only that their little political hobby-horses be fed, no matter the consequences for anybody else...because they don't suffer the consequences anyway. Bettter to invent hyperbolic PC rationalizations for doing nothing than actually accept help and do something to improve the situation for real living, suffering, people.

As you said, Dean, who's heard anything about the 4 BEC employees...it's as if the press has decided they don't matter. Only when one of their own is in danger, do they spring to action.

I think these issues are related..they indicate a very narcissistic mindset among the 'elite'...but I guess that's what makes the elite, elite...the are better than everybody else.

Bren said...

Anna de Brux, in my opinion, has consistently provided nonsensical comments about Pinas and world affairs. I find her to be a lousy writer who is ineffective in communicating her ideas or opinions. Her repeated use of namecalling to get her thoughts across reveals lack of discipline.

Jego said...

What's with the recent channeling of Dick Dawkins all of a sudden, DJB? That's one of Dawkins's wilderst claims: that science can inspire art. Pardon me, but HAHAHAHA.

Even the atheist Camille Paglia, in her eulogy for art films, said that secular humanism has produced nothing by way of art: "...anything goes, and nothing lasts." She goes on to say, "My pagan brand of atheism is predicated on worship of both nature and art. I want the great world religions taught in every school. Secular humanism has reached a dead end -- and any liberals who don't recognize that are simply enabling the worldwide conservative reaction of fundamentalism in both Christianity and Islam. The human quest for meaning is innate and ineradicable. When the gods are toppled, new ones will soon be invented."

And new ones have indeed been invented: the gods of Science. Unfortunately, ones that can't inspire truly great art.

Sure, sure. De gustibus et cetera. But I'd take the Brueghels any day over the crap that the 'moderns' foist on us.

DJB Rizalist said...

jego,
so far as I know, i did not get this idea from Dawkins, though no doubt he has influenced my own thinking. If you recall a recent thread, I've made the assertion that modern Science and modern religion share a common ancestor in, for lack of a better term, ancient Religion. If you like Science evolved out of Religion much as Riemannian Geometry evolved from Euclidean Geometry by the removal of a single memetic axiom: the postulate of a God-Creator. Reason, as in Aristotleian Logic continues to be an integral part of both, but without the God Axiom, we discover a very different universe of both physical and mental reality. If as you say,and I agree that the human quest for meaning is innate and ineradicable, and has led in the past to greats such as Brueghel, then the development of great art will also find in modern science fertile ground for human expression, simply because science IS a better explanation of both than religion, and therefore leads to a more fruitful path into a vaster unknown. It is the unknown, or the unknowable, the unperceived that art is a vision of, imo.

Jego said...

Fair enough, DJB. Im willing to accept Science's promissory note that it will one day inspire great art. And you bet Im going to collect when the time comes. :-)

DJB Rizalist said...

Jego,
Do you enjoy classical music? Brahms? Beethoven? both were freethinkers and atheists you know!

Here is a whole list of ancient, medieval and modern freethinker artists, musicians, composers, painters, poets...

http://www.infidels.org/library/historical/joseph_mccabe/dictionary.html

Jego said...

I do enjoy classical music. And the best ones, including those by Beethoven and Brahms were inspired by... science. Nah. Just kidding.

Wait, are you arguing that their music was inspired by science?

Science, especially the science emerging now that disqualifies non-material causes (such as the mind) a priori, cannot, will not, inspire art. It can't even conceive that there is such a thing as Art. It's all genes and the firings of neurons that evolved the illusion called Art because somehow it helped our ape-like ancestors survive.

But, like I said, Im willing to accept their promissory note. Who knows? Maybe one day a grand symphony will be composed inspired by string theory. Concerto for Strings in D minor or something. They could play it before the Large Hadron Collider creates a black hole that kills us all. ;-)

Dave Llorito said...

"Dean,

You are incorrigible -- what you are effectively saying now with your gobbledygookings is you are willing to shit on Philippine charter provisions so long as you defend US rights to shit on Phil waters. How can you frigging convince people that what you are saying is right?

OK, nuff!"

I dont understand this. really. consider the recent tsunami that hit asia. countries more "nationalistic" than us never thought about their "sovereignty" and paper constitutions in deciding whether or not to accept help in doing recovery, rehab and reconstruction from the americans who came with the ships and helicopters. all they knew was that they needed help and welcomed all those offered assistance for the sake of the welfare of the people who are suffering on the ground. I guess we should have the same attitude.

Jego said...

The Yanks I think agreed to station the Ronald Reagan in international waters, para wala na tayong masabi. Its choppers and support ships are doing the actual work of helping.

By the way, here's another article from Camille Paglia on art and religion.

Great art can be made out of love for religion as well as rebellion against it. But a totally secularized society with contempt for religion sinks into materialism and self-absorption and gradually goes slack, without leaving an artistic legacy.

To be fair, I dont think DJB has contempt for religion. He just has contempt for a few guys in skirts.

sparks said...

I dont understand this. really. consider the recent tsunami that hit asia. countries more "nationalistic" than us never thought about their "sovereignty" and paper constitutions in deciding whether or not to accept help in doing recovery, rehab and reconstruction from the americans who came with the ships and helicopters.

I don't think it is fair to make this comparison. MCF makes the point that the US sent a Nimitz class aircraft carrier (which may or may not have nukes on it). It is the largest of its kind and is arguably a symbol of American superpower. Coming from a geo-strategic perspective, this can be a signal to 'rival powers' courting the Philippines, that the US still has long-enduring ties with the country.

The latest strategic 5 year plan of the US Department of State clearly states it needs to re-assert 'presence' in this region - clearly keeping an eye on China. Anyway, this was a perfect opportunity to advance US geostrategic 'feelers' in Southeast Asia.

Anyway, afaik, the US or other countries which extended a helping hand to those devastated by the Tsunami, did not send their premier war ships.

Also, the tsunami context is not one of the difficult and problematic postcolonial politics between coloniser and colonised.

DJB Rizalist said...

sparks,

warship, spaceship, even hospital ship, people like your old professor, gabriela, and the CPP NPA NDF bring up the same anti-colonial gobbledygook. remember this conversation began when you asked why I said prof. ferrer was acting as a surrogate for Joma. Well, the simple answer is that this is their indispensable grievance. what they fail to understand is that the Filipino people are a heck of a lot more mature than them and long ago rejected this heartless and utterly baseless intellectualism of theirs.

Take a look at the world right now. Do you think we need the kind of independence they are urging? Do you think we can possibly survive on this insane Mao maoism of theirs in the growingly scary environment of oil, food and economic crisis.

Fer crying out loud, the Princess of the stars is still capsized and guess what the Congress is doing. Trying to decide if the govt should take over Sulipicio...while those drowned are getting eaten up by the fishes.

You seem to be berating something called "gunboat diplomacy" which is really what ferrer et al are doing too.

It's pointless, radical int'l politics which is all our failed elites and would-be elites know how to do.

i for one would like to keep our friends by showing a lil hospitality and graciousness, not Myanmarism.

sparks said...

Manong DJB,

For the third time I read the article again. I think it is unfair that you are misrepresenting what was written. The article in no way rejects international aid. And in no way is it comparable to the Burmese junta! MCF is not the Philippine government. Neither is Sen. Biazon. This country is still a democracy - at least on paper. What is expressed by members of Senate and columnists does not constitute national poicy! Susmaryosep nga!

MCF: "Humanitarian assistance is welcome, that’s for sure, but it should not be at the expense of the nuclear weapons-free provision."

sparks said...

I know Prof. Ferrer. She is not a Maoist. She's not even Marxist. I'm probably more left-wing than her! Her policy advice is practical - with a particular concern in the long view.

Seriously Manong. Should Taiwan declare independence during the Olympics this year (highly unlikely given that the pro-China KMT won the elections - but who knows?). And, God forbid, the US and China finally duke it out. Do you really want the Philippines in the cross-fire?

DJB Rizalist said...

sparks,

with four million of our OFWs there, and nearly 60% of the repatriation coming from America, we already are in the crossfire, even if china and US never duke it out. I guess my feeling is that "globalization" is no longer a theory but a stark reality. It's like the idea of a nation is kaput. We are all states of the emerging single global polity. I don't much care what people's declared ideologies are, but the value and validity of their ideas are self-evident in their English composition.

No one falls under a simple set of labels. (Fleetwood Mac)

But I sure know what's in her jar. Heartless intellectualism!

It's like that baby foetus in the Bishop's jar of cream cheese, dear!

DJB Rizalist said...

MCF: "Humanitarian assistance is welcome, that’s for sure, but it should not be at the expense of the nuclear weapons-free provision."

How different is this, really from what the Burmese junta said and did? Remember that they were busily relabelling relief goods to make it appear it came from the junta. Why? because they didn't want their people thinking help was coming from those they were demonizing.

That's really the motivation here. MCF/CPP/NPA/NDF don't want Filipinos to think America is helping them. What they don't realize is that survey after survey shows it's too late for them to try and prevent something Filipinos were convinced about long long ago.

sparks said...

with four million of our OFWs there, and nearly 60% of the repatriation coming from America, we already are in the crossfire

There are 3.6 Chinese-Americans too. And probably more first-generation (still) Chinese migrants in the US. There's probably a growing number of Filipinos on the Chinese mainland as well.

Presence of migrant labour is NOT a valid excuse to open fire on another country. Presence of an enemy's military personnel and/or warship equipped with mid or long-range nuclear missiles that will reach the Chinese mainland - even in third country - is more than a valid excuse.

In foreign policy - as in our day-to-day dealings with other people - nothing is given for free. Naman Manong. You've been around far longer than me. Naivete does not become you.

DJB Rizalist said...

sparks,
you're veering way off course. it's rather a long leap from the issue at hand to a shooting war between the US and China, neither of whom would be naive enough to start a nuclear war with each other in which Philippines' nuclear free provision would have even an iota of consequence for them or us. Besides, remember that China is no longer Maoist, even if some in Diliman and Utrecht still are. They took the capitalist road sometime back and seem to like it much better than famine and distinctly unfashionable clothing.

Surely you are not suggesting that MCF's concern was keeping the peace between China and America instead of what I am suggesting, that she'd be perfectly happy to start at least a word war with the Americans for daring to trample on our blessed Constitution with insincere humanitarianism.

Like I said, some people complained even about the USS Mercy hospital ship, but I can't remember what deep Constitutional principle they used...oh that's right, the presence of foreign troops on Philippines soil, or something about military bases.

My hypothesis is still: heartless, hypocritical, politically motivated intellectualism. That's what MCF's opinion piece amounts to.

finally, I do agree that nothing is for free. but i doubt we could pay for even the daily expenses of the USS Ronnie Reagan. Maybe they just want our friendship, loyalty and hospitality...which are what we would want from them too.

These things are not forthcoming from MCF or the Burmese junta.

I call it gracelessness the opposite of which, thank heavens, even our poorest people have in abundance. In my experience that is why Americans love Filipinos...they are always happy to get a helping hand without biting it or putting silly, cerebral conditions on it. Simple as that, for generosity is a two way street of the heart, which has reasons, reason knows nothing of.

indignus said...

To DJB Rizalist, regarding the article on art, I'd like to note that I wrote the following reply on Scriptorium:

"...Thanks for the comment. I must clarify though that my stand on artistic reform is Thomist and therefore twofold: in favor of the sacred (i.e., for reverence, and against denigration, of the intrinsic and God-wrought value of people and things); and against what I called a Talibanic monism of thinking that ONLY explicit religiosity is sacred.

"Re: the principle of artistic reform, I believe that we must return to the ancient reverence for both Faith and Reason as a means of finding the 'true, good, and beautiful', and not for either Faith or Reason exclusively.

"I must therefore disagree with your rationalist stance as leading not to the enrichment but the impoverishment of human life. Husserl rightly noted the limits of science as THE basis of meaning; and even natural science is founded on principles like non-contradiction and empirical perception that, in the final analysis, cannot be proven and must be assumed. As Newman put it: 'to live you must assume, and that assumption is faith.'

"That said, I agree that science is A basis for meaning, only, it cannot be isolated from the immediate participation in being that in fact forms the basis of knowledge and life itself. That participation in what is never completely comprehended, what is ultimately noumenon, makes inevitable that awe that leads to faith, science, and art…

"God bless you."

Again, DJB Rizalist, thanks for the comment, and also for the link, and always, Deus tecum.

sparks said...

I'm simply saying that MCF is writing from the perspective of her discipline. Just as you would tend to view things through the lenses of your own vocation. She is trained to see this event from the perspective of the US foreign policy-making bodies. If I'm not mistaken she did her PhD in the US. There she learned the principles of (still) the most dominant theory in International Relations - American Realism.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_realism

Heartless you say? Yes. Heartless indeed.

Richard said...

"If I'm not mistaken she did her PhD in the US. There she learned the principles of (still) the most dominant theory in International Relations - American Realism."

Getting one's Liberal-Arts (Journalism, Poly-Sci, Sociology, International Studies, Ethnic Studies, etc) PhD in the US means one is almost certainly a marxist at best...where do you think the US get's all of it's Anti-American marxists? The 'American Realism' she is steeped in is almost certainly of the 'Daily Kos' variety. They call themselves the 'Reality-Based Community'...so much for 'realism'.

sparks said...

PhD in the US means one is almost certainly a marxist at best

Oh. For chrissakes. Condoleeza Rice has a PhD. So are plenty of members on the Council of Foreign Relations. I seriously doubt that the US produces much left of centre PhDs - if the books they write are any indication.

The 'American Realism' she is steeped in is almost certainly of the 'Daily Kos' variety.

Realism - i.e. pro-war, the world is anarchic, security over cooperation, protection of sovereignty, survival of the fittest - would appeal more to Republicans than the readers of Daily Kos.

Richard said...

"Oh. For chrissakes. Condoleeza Rice has a PhD. So are plenty of members on the Council of Foreign Relations. I seriously doubt that the US produces much left of centre PhDs - if the books they write are any indication."

Wow! You list one specific and then a whole bunch of non-specifics...For Chrissakes! You may need to cite some books because the vast majority are anti-american marxists screeds from these graduates. I'll bet you think the US press is overwhelmingly in partnership with the great NeoCon BusHitler Conspiracy too (you know, that Keith Olbermann is a lone voice in the jungle, speaking truth to power), don't you?

BTW, Condi hasn't been so hot since she moved in as Sec-State either. Seems to think that NK and Iran are people we can negotiate with in good faith...not marxist, but really bad policy.

sparks said...

Richard,

You said PhDs in the US are almost certainly Marxists at best. Which is a bit of an exaggeration.

I would agree with you if you said British. Or Europeans in general. Or Latin Americans. But Americans? If you want to be treated as a 'serious' academic in the US, ergo gaining those plum jobs as advisers to government, you better make damn sure you're dead centre.

If you are in the US as I suspect you are, go to any standard library and read a standard Introduction to IR. If you find anything written by non-American authors on the bookshelf, I would be very surprised.

DJB Rizalist said...

folks, let's stay on topic here, because I think we can come to avery important consensus about this business of the constitution's nuclear free provision (and State policies in general) and what the moral imperatives are that supercede any legalistic or perhaps ideological interpretation of it. In both the US and RP, the Constitution is always a battleground and small phrases like "consistent with national interest" occur in one form or another to provide "wiggle room"

In this particular case, I've entered the fray at Filipino Voices on the matter of the blogswarm on Sulpicio with the point that it is very important to determine the TRUE CAUSE of the tragedy before placing blame and deciding on the proper course of future action to prevent a repeat.

In this connection, I think we certainly could use the help of the National Transportation and Safety Board, or perhaps that of other countries, without these pesky objections (sorry Sparks, not yours but MCF's!)

Jego said...

I suppose the reason for the opposition to the RR can partly be blamed on the lack of coverage in the media of the extent of damage Frank has wrought. Because media concentrated on the Princess of the Stars, people have the impression that the typhoon damage aint so bad and therefore we dont need any help, certainly not from a Nimitz class aircraft carrier, but thanks anyway.

How bad were we hit really?

DJB Rizalist said...

JEGO,

The consensus appears to be that Frank is among the top five worst in terms of damage and destruction.

heck, Boracay seems to have been devastated and I've never even been there yet. hehe.

it's the first in memory where significant damage was done to Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

I think when the extent of crop destruction is toted up, there will be quite a shock in the next few months.

The impt point however is that we really don't know what's good for us and it is obvious that we have no right to be too disdainful of the Burmese military junta.

Dave Llorito said...

"... it is obvious that we have no right to be too disdainful of the Burmese military junta."

hmmm, sounds like your friendly neighborhood Burmese junta admirer. right, these generals are actually as tender as mother teresa. lol! cheers.

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