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Interview with Edward Luttwak: “Philippine security cooperation with U.S. remains unchanged”

  • October 20, 2016
  • , Mainichi , p. 5
  • JMH Translation

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping for the first time on Oct. 20 and then will make his first official visit to Japan on Oct. 25. The Mainichi Shimbun met with Edward Luttwak, military strategist and former member of the U.S. National Security Council (NSC), on Oct. 19 to speak about the Philippine policy of Japan, U.S., and China.

 

Mainichi: The Permanent Court of Arbitration (The Hague, Netherlands) rejected China’s claims in the South China Sea arbitration instituted by the previous Philippine administration. President Duterte, however, has been taking a conciliatory stance toward China.

 

Luttwak: Duterte intends “to sell” the islands (at issue in the South China Sea) in exchange for vast amounts of financial assistance from China. When I visited the Philippines in September, former president Fidel Ramos, a mentor to Duterte, said to me “Duterte plans ‘to sell’ the islands.” If China rejects his demands, though, Duterte will likely flip his position and become anti-China.

 

Mainichi: Does China aim to win over the Philippines?

 

Luttwak: The U.S.’s withdrawal of its military bases from the Philippines after the Cold War presented a golden opportunity for China to increase its influence there. China pursued expansionism, though, so many Filipinos want U.S. military bases back in their country. This sentiment arose because China’s policy failed.

 

Mainichi: How should the U.S. respond to Duterte?

 

Luttwak: Duterte became anti-American after being criticized by the U.S. for human rights violations (in relation to his tough measures to fight drug crimes) right after he assumed the presidency. This will not be a critical issue, though. The U.S. and Philippine militaries continue to cooperate, and it is unlikely that there will be any change there.

 

Mainichi: Should Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also mention human rights?

 

Luttwak: He definitely should not. The reason that the people of the Philippines elected Duterte is because of his determination to eradicate drug crimes even if it meant human rights violations. The Philippines values Japan. Japan-Philippine cooperation is critical in restraining China.

 

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