Who would have ever thought that the drug war would end up producing a good result? Yet, that is precisely what is happening before our eyes in Asia, where Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has declared a separation of the Philippines from the United States, which might mean a re-closing of U.S. imperial bases within the country. (The U.S. military was thrown out of the country in 1991 but later succeeded in restoring its military presence there.)
The reason for the separation? The U.S. government is upset because of the way that Duterte is trying to “win” the war on drugs, one of the federal government’s favorite programs, second only to Social Security and Medicare. Duterte’s drug warriors, both public and private, have been killing drug users and drug dealers on sight.
Why has that upset U.S. officials? It’s hard to know why, since Duterte’s methods in the war on drugs mirror those of the U.S. government in its war on terrorism. No trial by jury. No due process of law. Just quick, deadly “justice” in the form of executions and assassinations.
In any event, Duterte didn’t like being lectured to by U.S. officials, at one point becoming so angry and so indignant with his imperial overlords that he referred to President Obama in extremely derogative terms.
It gets worse, at least from the perspective of a national-security statist. Duterte has now reached out to China and offered to make friends with that communist regime. He has even expressed a willingness to disregard an international court’s judgment in favor of the Philippines on a longstanding dispute with China over some islands and negotiate a mutually agreeable solution to the problem.
Needless to say, that has attracted the ire of U.S. national-security statists, since it entails the removal of one of the principal means by which the U.S. national-security state can gin up crises with China in that part of the world. Don’t forget, after all, President Obama’s “pivot” to China, which would inevitably involve “crises” against China, which, in turn, will mean more fear, which in turn will mean sustained and expanding budgets and power for the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA, along with their armies of contractors who love feeding at the public warfare trough.
It gets even worse. Duterte has expressed an interest in establishing friendly relations with Russia. That’s Russia, as in Vladimir Putin Russia! Everyone knows what that means. In the eyes of the national security establishment and its assets in the mainstream press, that’s akin to joining up with Darth Vader.
Keep in mind imperialist lingo. Under empire speak; there are rivals, enemies, alliances, allies, friends, and coalitions, which are constantly shifting, as depicted in George Orwell’s 1984. Everyone is expected to shift when the Empire shifts. Under empire speak, the Philippines have been considered an “ally” or a “friend” while China is considered a “rival” and Russia is considered an “enemy.” Americans need to be preparing themselves to another big shift, one that puts the Philippines in the category of “enemy.”
We know what happened to rulers during Cold War I who expressed an interest in establishing friendly relations with the Soviet Union, which was the U.S. government’s official enemy during Cold War I, after being an official friend and ally in World War II. They ended up ousted from power or even dead for being threats to “national security.”
One example was Salvador Allende, the democratically elected president of Chile who reached out to the Soviet Union during Cold War I. He ended up dead during the U.S. national-security state’s coup in Chile in 1973. Guatemalan president Jacobo Arbenz survived the CIA’s kill list in Guatemala but was nonetheless violently removed from power and thrown into permanent exile. If the CIA-Mafia partnership had gotten its way, Cuba’s Fidel Castro would have ended up assassinated as well, as Congo’s democratically elected Prime Minister Patrice Lamumba did.
Thus, during Cold War II Duterte might well find himself in the hereafter for his “treason” and “betrayal” of the U.S. Empire and his befriending of communism and authoritarianism by reaching out to the U.S. government’s two principal Cold War II rivals and enemies, China and Russia.
At the same time, more people might finally be getting a sense of the magnitude of the war between President Kennedy and the U.S. national-security establishment from the time of the CIA’s Bay of Pigs disaster, when JFK fired CIA Director Allen Dulles, to the time that Kennedy was assassinated. At the moment he was murdered, Kennedy was doing what Duterte is doing and, for that matter, what Allende, Arbenz, Castro, and Lamumba were doing: He was reaching out to the Soviet Union and Cuba in a spirit of friendship and peaceful coexistence. (See FFF ebook, JFK’s War with the National Security Establishment: Why Kennedy Was Assassinated” by Douglas Horne, who served on the staff of the Assassination Record’s Review Board.)
To the ire of the national-security state and its assets within the conservative movement, Kennedy delivered his famous Peace Speech at American University, where he announced an end to Cold War I and his intent to establish peaceful coexistence with the communist world. He entered into a nuclear test ban treaty with the Soviets. Worst of all, insofar as U.S. national-security statists were concerned, he entered into secret personal negotiations with the Soviets and the Cubans to end Cold War I.
Given the extreme concern and animosity against Rodrigo Duterte for simply disassociating himself from the Empire and reaching out to China and Russia, it becomes easier for Americans to more fully understand and appreciate the depth of the rage that Kennedy’s actions engendered within the U.S. national-security establishment and Cold War I warriors within the conservative movement. To get a sense of the depth of that, see this right-wing flier that was published on the eve of Kennedy’s assassination: “Wanted for Treason.”
The solution to Duterte’s drug-war methods is not lectures by U.S. officials, who are hypocritically waging their war on terrorism in the same way that Duterte is waging the war on drugs. The solution is for the United States to lead the world by example by ending the drug war and legalizing drugs (and also ending its war on terrorism, together with the Duterte-like way that U.S. officials have been waging it).
In the meantime, let’s hope that more foreign regimes will follow Duterte’s lead by declaring to the U.S. government: “Yankee, go home!” while establishing or maintaining friendly relations with the American people. Helping to dismantle the U.S. national-security state’s foreign empire of military bases, alliances, rivals, enemies, and coalitions of the willing would be the greatest gift that the world could ever give to America.
Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.
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