The mutual defense treaty is not new, but loudly declaring it, Buchanan writes, “amounts to a U.S. war guarantee.” He goes on to question “Why would we make such a commitment? Why take such a risk?” Buchanan continues (abridged):
Is Trump aware of what Pompeo’s promise could entail?
For years, Beijing has claimed as national territory virtually the entire South China Sea. Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and the Philippines all reject China’s claims to the Paracel and Spratly Islands within that sea. But Beijing has occupied and expanded half a dozen islets; landed planes and troops; and fortified them as military and naval bases.
Beijing is not going to give them up, and Manila is too weak to take them back. A report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies says a Philippine attempt to build on a disputed islet in the Spratly chain brought a flotilla of nearly 100 Chinese ships to halt Philippine construction.
Why did Pompeo issue this war guarantee?
Because Duterte and members of his Cabinet are unsure the U.S. would come to the defense of the Philippines in such a clash, and they believe their best course may be to appease Beijing, the rising power in Asia and the western Pacific.
Since the end of the Cold War, when Manila ordered us to vacate the Subic Bay Naval Base—only to invite us back when Manila grew nervous about her neighbors—and we were forced to abandon the Clark Air Base, the U.S. has not faced the fundamental question here.
Do we have a vital interest, justifying a war with China, in defending Manila’s claim to the Spratly Islands that China also claims, holds and defends as sovereign territory?
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