PacNet #21 – India’s strategic autonomy: A lesson for Japan

Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio’s official visit to India in mid-March in the midst of the Ukraine crisis highlighted the two countries’ differing stances on international affairs. While the statement issued during his visit shows that these two countries have deepened defense and security cooperation since the early 2000s, they could not agree on a strong message against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This disagreement is unlikely to impact their relationship in the immediate future but could be a good lesson for Tokyo on Delhi’s strategic autonomy—and what that might mean for a future crisis for Japan.

Kishida’s visit to India

Kishida’s official visit on March 19-20 kicked off the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Japan and India. It also restarted annual mutual visits, halted in 2019 due to unrest in India, and not resumed due to the pandemic. Though several summit meetings between the two, both virtual and in-person, took place during the pandemic, resumption of mutual visits symbolically reconfirms ties.

After their summit meeting, Kishida and Modi issued a joint statement covering a variety of security issues, including the South China Sea, North Korea, Afghanistan, terrorism, Myanmar, and cybersecurity. They welcomed the first 2+2 meeting of their foreign and defense ministers since November 2019 and operationalization of the Agreement Concerning Reciprocal Provision of Supplies and Services between the two forces. They directed ministers to identify concrete areas for future cooperation in defense equipment and technology, beyond ongoing collaboration in unmanned ground vehicles (UGV) and robotics.

They also expressed serious concern about the ongoing conflict and humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, reiterating their call for an immediate cessation of violence.

The statement, however, avoided naming Russia.

India’s strategic autonomy

That New Delhi would continue its traditional stance toward international affairs was obvious as soon as Russia started its “special military operation” in Ukraine on Feb. 24. While Japan, the United States, Australia, and European nations condemned Moscow’s action and imposed economic sanctions, India refrained from criticizing its old friend Russia directly. US President Joe Biden and his senior staff have had several consultations with Indian counterparts and urged them to take a clear position since the incident occurred, but these consultations have not gone according to Washington’s plans. India was one of the minority of countries abstaining from the United Nations resolution condemning Russia for invading Ukraine. US President Joe Biden told a business forum on March 22 that India is being “somewhat shaky” compared to Japan and Australia.

India prefers realpolitik over morals, as Dev Goswami, a senior assistant editor at India Today, writes. He justifies this position as two-thirds of India’s military equipment has Russian origins, which India cannot afford to risk when it faces a potential “two-front” (China and Pakistan) war. Russian oil could attract India as well. Indian Oil Corp., India’s top refiner, recently ordered 3 million barrels of Russian oil, while Hindustan Petroleum Corp has booked 2 million barrels.

That said, India also abstained from the UN resolution submitted by Russia on the humanitarian situation in Ukraine. In addition, India has “unequivocally condemned” killings in Bucha in Ukraine by Russian soldiers at the UN on April 6. This also shows how India maintains its strategic autonomy or “proactive neutrality.” Since its independence from British colonialism, India has vowed to chart an independent course in its foreign relations. It led the Non-Aligned Movement during the Cold War to avoid involvement in the conflict between the Western and the Eastern blocs. Even though India signed the Indo-Soviet Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation in 1971 after the Indo-Pakistan War, many Indians have long hesitated to call their relationship an alliance.

Leading power

Why, then, does India participate in the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (“Quad”) with Japan, the United States, and Australia? Rivalry with China could be one of the factors, but a driver could also be India’s interest to become a “leading power” in the world. Indian leaders have been interested in reaching this status since independence, but that interest has grown considerably with its economic rise in the 2000s. India must engage with countries like the United States, Russia, China, Australia, and Japan to become a leading power. In the last 20 years, India’s steps have oscillated between maintaining strategic autonomy and pursuing world power status. It finally became a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) led by Russia and China in 2017, in addition to agreeing to an in-person summit meeting among the Quad leaders last September.

At the same time, New Delhi is also strengthening its leadership as a “big brother” among smaller neighbors as Modi launched “Neighbourhood First”—focused on the good relations and co-development of South Asian countries—or “Act East”—strengthening India’s relations with Southeast Asia—policies during his first term. This clearly appeared when India started “Vaccine Maitri (friendship)” and supplied vaccines to nearly 100 countries.

Japan and like-minded partners, then, should leverage this crisis to enable India to play an important role between Russia and the United States. Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar told Indian parliamentarians in late March that India’s position is based on six principles—1) to “stand for peace,” and the immediate cessation of violence and hostilities, 2) dialogue and diplomacy, 3) the global order anchored on international law, 4) humanitarian access, 5) to provide humanitarian assistance, and 6) for India to stay in touch with the leadership of both Russia and Ukraine. He further said that Modi has spoken with Russian President Vladimir Putin three times and to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy twice, and suggested a direct conversation between two parties.

Conclusions

New Delhi’s response to the Ukraine crisis might disappoint Tokyo but will not impact Japan-India relations immediately. Although Kishida reacted sharply against Russia, Tokyo usually shows an ambivalent attitude toward international affairs, not so dissimilar to India. Due to wartime experiences and their prioritizing of economic relations, Japan is not like those Western nations that have a proclivity to compel other countries to behave like them. Ukraine is too far away for both countries to damage the relationship that has developed over the last 20 years.

Still, a good lesson for Japanese is how their counterparts in India react to an international crisis. India does not align with a majority of the world when their policy might harm its national interest. It means that India also might not support Japan even when it faces a crisis. Tokyo should not expect too much from India, yet many in Japan still want to believe that expansion of security cooperation between two countries, as well as face-to-face summits among Quad members, are evidence that the ties could lead to a significant upgrade, perhaps to a quasi-alliance in the near future.

Japan should remember that India does not promise anything.

Tomoko Kiyota (tomokokiyota@gmail.com) is an Associate Professor at the Office for Global Relations, Nagasaki University and an Adjunct Fellow at Pacific Forum. While she specializes in Japan-India relations, Dr. Kiyota also has work experience at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan and the Embassy in India and Thailand as a diplomat and a researcher. 

PacNet commentaries and responses represent the views of the respective authors. Alternative viewpoints are always welcomed and encouraged. Click here to request a PacNet subscription.

Issues & Insights Vol. 22, SR1 – Resilient Alliance: Moving the U.S.-Philippines Security Relations Forward

About this Volume

Authors of this volume participated in the inaugural U.S.- Philippines Next-Generation Leaders Initiative, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, through the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines. With backgrounds from academia, public policy, civil society and industry, the cohort brings rich insights on the past, present, and future of the U.S.-Philippines bilateral security relations.

The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of their respective organizations and affiliations. Pacific Forum’s publications do not necessarily reflect the positions of its staff, donors and sponsors.

Click here to download the full volume.


Table of Contents

1. Buffering: Cybersecurity in the U.S.-Philippine Alliance | Gregory Winger
2. Explaining the Divide: Legislative Positions on the U.S.- Philippine Alliance | Angelica Mangahas
3. Friendship from a Distance: The U.S.-Philippine Alliance and Allied Access in WartimeGraham Jenkins
4. Coast Guard Engagement as an Interim Alternative to Bilateral Maritime Cooperation | Jay Tristan Tarriela
5. Understanding the Role of the United States in the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) System | Rachelle Anne Miranda
6. Advancing the Philippines-U.S. Alliance for Conflict Resolution in the South China Sea: Policy Options From an Issues Approach | Edcel John Ibarra
7. Onward and Upward: The Philippines-U.S. Security Alliance | Deryk Matthew Baladjay & Florence Principe Gamboa
8. The EDCA and the Philippines’ External Defense Capability Development | Santiago Castillo


Editor’s Note

Balikatan, or shoulder-to-shoulder, the name for the annual U.S.-Philippines military exercises, describes the enduring bond of Filipinos and Americans committed to the ideals of democracy and freedom. This bond has been over a century in the making. Since the United States first occupied the Philippines in 1898, hundreds of thousands of Filipinos have fought and died alongside the U.S. armed forces and helped defeat threats—from Imperial Japan and the Cold War to terrorist movements and violent extremism.

In 1951, then-U.S. President Harry S. Truman described the U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty as a “strong step toward security and peace in the Pacific… and a formal expression of something that already exists — the firm relationship of brotherhood that binds our countries together.” Then-Philippine President Elpidio Quirino, in response, described the security pact as “a formal undertaking to assist each other and to stand together in the face of aggression, in the hope that hereafter we may be able to follow undistracted the fruitful pursuits of peace.”

Seven decades since, the bilateral security relationship has evolved considerably. It has faced a number of political changes spanning 12 Philippine presidents and 14 U.S. presidents and has withstood the test of time. Today, the alliance remains indispensable, not just for the peoples of both countries, but also for the broader Indo-Pacific in addressing emerging threats and regional challenges – from irredentist claims and blatant sidestepping of the rule of law in many of the region’s maritime spaces to natural disasters, cyber insecurity, climate change and the lingering threat of pandemics. The alliance has been consequential and will continue to survive and can help address these challenges. But it cannot be taken for granted.

While many American strategic thinkers and policy communities remain largely positive about security engagements with the Philippines, the Filipino public remains mostly ‘detached’ from their country’s foreign affairs. For instance, in Philippine elections, foreign policy and relations with major powers have never figured prominently. This is despite the importance of issues like the South China Sea to the country’s economic well-being. Moreover, there is a need to foster next-generation expertise on the Philippines in the United States. As more next-generation Filipinos and Americans assume positions of leadership in governments, public institutions, civil society organizations, academia, and the private sector, their priorities will begin to dominate discourses on the alliance. It is vital that the next generation is involved in contemporary strategic discourses relevant to U.S.-Philippine security relations and is mutually invested in the growth of their countries’ partnership.

This edited volume is an effort to provide exchange opportunities and a platform for next-generation U.S. and Philippine leaders and experts, so their voices can be heard, and creative thinking is encouraged about this vital alliance.

Gregory Winger premises his chapter with an assertion that, while the applicability of the U.S.-Philippine alliance to an armed attack has been discussed for decades, how the alliance addresses new forms of “aggression like cyberattacks remains undefined.” To fill the gap, Winger’s paper critically examines the place of cybersecurity in the alliance and traces the history of bilateral cybersecurity cooperation from the 1990s. He finds that integration of cybersecurity into alliance cooperation has lagged since 2016 and explains that elite-political discord and strategic divergence in how both governments perceive threats within the digital domain are to blame. Winger argues the different institutional preferences at the national level (i.e., U.S. prioritization of geostrategic competition pursued through military-cyber means versus the Philippines’ preoccupation with cybercrime and securing its cyberinfrastructure) limited the alliance’s role in addressing cybersecurity.

Angelica Mangahas’ chapter discusses the historically divergent attitudes on alliance issues between Malacañang Palace, where U.S. preferences are often embraced, and the Philippine Senate, where security cooperation with Washington is often re-dissected, and how President Rodrigo Duterte overturned this 65-year dynamic. On the former, Mangahas revisited the three common arguments used to explain the divergent attitudes: 1) Philippine senators’ views as a reflection of the national threat perceptions of the period that may not mirror U.S. priorities adopted by the sitting president; 2) the demand for the Philippine president to be pragmatic about security issues and the senators’ tendency to push for idealistic positions on independence; and 3) the impact of U.S. assistance flowing directly to the executive branch of government to the detriment of Congress, which otherwise holds the power the purse. On the latter, Mangahas offers a fourth explanation: electioneering. She argues that senators keen to pursue higher office often “adopt ‘maverick’-type personas on hot-button issues that galvanize public attention.” Hence, these senators tend to adopt positions that are seen as opposing the Palace.

Graham Jenkins’ chapter takes a closer look at the posture of U.S. forces in the Philippines under the existing Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) and Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and argues that any direct assistance from U.S. military “with sufficient combat power in a short enough timeframe” in the event of a contingency in the South China Sea will be a challenge. Jenkins analyzes three different access regimes (low/medium/high, in terms of relative permissiveness) to determine their operational feasibility and effectiveness should there be a need for U.S. military action to defend the Philippines in the South China Sea. The paper offers insights into “the ideal U.S. force posture that effectively defends the Philippines” against a maritime invasion and “the investments that Manila should prioritize to better defend itself.”

Jay Tristan Tarriela’s chapter argues that coast guard cooperation between the Philippines and the United States can serve as an interim approach to sustain bilateral maritime security cooperation in times when domestic political attitudes are not favorable to close alliance engagements. Tarriela’s arguments stem from his analysis of coast guard functions and how the Philippines and other regional states regard white hulls vis-à-vis their national security priorities. The chapter also posits that if domestic political conditions become favorable again to military-to-military engagement, coast guard engagement can complement and amplify naval initiatives. “In essence, coast guard cooperation between the Philippines and the United States can complement (vice substitute) future military engagements between the two allies.”

Rachel Anne Miranda’s chapter focuses on the significant role the U.S.-Philippine alliance has played in disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) in the Philippines. Miranda surveys the U.S. military’s contributions to the Philippines’ acquisition of logistics capacity for both security and disaster response operations, which, in turn, addresses the challenges posed by the intense impacts of disasters on vulnerable communities. Miranda underscores that U.S. assistance encompasses DRRM beyond mere disaster response operations, providing important insights into the disaster, human security, and conflict nexus.

Edcel John Ibarra’s chapter challenges the notion that the Philippines-U.S. alliance is detrimental to resolving the South China Sea disputes because the United States is external to the conflict. Using the ‘issues approach to international relations, ’ Ibarra examines the specific component issues of the South China Sea disputes and identifies the direct parties involved and types of conflict resolution implied in each issue. He argues that the United States is a “direct party on the issues of settling the extent to which coastal states may regulate the activities of user states and managing the risk of miscalculation associated with military operations in the South China Sea.” For Ibarra, this opens opportunities for cooperation between Manila and Washington on actual conflict resolution, conflict prevention, and conflict management.

The chapter co-authored by Deryk Matthew Baladjay and Florence Principe Gamboa explores the U.S.- Philippines alliance in three critical respects. First, it explains why the alliance is important and why it will continue to benefit the two countries. Second, it presents an analytical framework originally conceptualized by Victor Cha to show the Philippines’ disposition toward its alliance with Washington, which explains why countries like the Philippines link and delink or hedge against major powers. Finally, it explores what the Philippines and the U.S. can do moving forward. Baladjay and Gamboa argue that, while hedging has been beneficial for the Philippines in dealing with geopolitical uncertainties, the time has come for Manila to decide “whether or not it wants to be a shaper in international relations.”

The final chapter by Santiago Castillo examines how the EDCA can further improve the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) external defense capabilities and improve the defense ties of the two allies. Santiago argues that a particular area where the EDCA can advance U.S.-Philippine military partnership is improving the AFP’s ability to protect the country from external military threats and adapt or effectively respond to a dynamic geopolitical environment.

Authors of this volume participated in the inaugural U.S.-Philippine Alliance Next-Generation Leaders Initiative, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, through the U.S. Embassy Manila. With backgrounds from academia, public policy, civil society, and industry, the cohort brings rich insights on the past, present, and future of the U.S.-Philippines bilateral security relationship.


About the Authors

Gregory Winger is an Assistant Professor of Political Science and Fellow with the Center for Cyber Strategy and Policy at the University of Cincinnati. He is also a former Fulbright Scholar to the Philippines and Fellow with the National Asia Research Program.

Gica Mangahas is a PhD candidate at the Johns Hopkins University School for Advanced International Studies. She received her MA in Security Studies from Georgetown University. She previously worked as an analyst and researcher for the Stratbase – Albert Del Rosario Institute in Manila.

Graham W. Jenkins is a senior principal analyst with the Strategic Assessment unit in Northrop Grumman’s Aeronautics Sector. He is responsible for strategic analysis, operations research, and long-range planning affecting the development of advanced technologies and aircraft design across a wide range of scenarios and capabilities. His background lies in international security and defense, nuclear weapons, and wargaming and red-teaming. Graham previously worked as an intelligence analyst focused on East Asia and influence operations as a contractor for the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence. He has also worked as a consultant at EY, strategic analyst at the Scitor Corporation, and a research assistant at the Institute for Defense Analyses, focusing on risk management, nuclear policy, and wargame design. Graham is a Pacific Forum Young Leader and adjunct fellow with the American Security Project; he was previously an Energy Security Fellow with Securing America’s Future Energy, a Penn Kemble Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy, and a Nuclear Scholar with the CSIS Project on Nuclear Issues. Graham holds an MSc in Theory and History of International Relations from the London School of Economics and a BA in history and international affairs from Sarah Lawrence College.

Jay Tristan Tarriela is a commissioned officer of the Philippine Coast Guard with the rank of Commander. He is the Director of PCG’s Leadership and Doctrine Development Center. He obtained his Ph.D. in Policy Analysis from the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS) in Tokyo under the GRIPS Global Governance (G-cube) Program. At GRIPS, he was a Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) ASEAN Public Policy Leadership Scholar. Previously, he was assigned at the PCG national headquarters in Manila and performed numerous functions in different capacities, including maritime security capability development and organizational restructuring reforms. He also acted as the personal adviser to the PCG Commandant on human resource management, particularly on recruitment plans, career management, and personnel specialization. He attended numerous military and coast guard training, locally and abroad. He holds a graduate degree from the Philippine Merchant Marine Academy Graduate School and a Master of Policy Studies from GRIPS and the Japan Coast Guard Academy, where he was part of the inaugural class of the Maritime Safety and Security Program launched jointly by both institutions in 2016. He is also a Young Leader with Pacific Forum, Honolulu. Further, he has written opinion-editorial articles published by The Diplomat, The National Interest, Analyzing War, and other leading publications.

Rachelle Anne Miranda is a disaster risk reduction (DRR) practitioner and has devoted her professional life as a public servant in the Office of Civil Defense. She is currently assigned as a Training Specialist- building capacities in civil defense and DRR in the Philippines, and concurrently, the Deputy Spokesperson of OCD and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. Rachelle holds a master’s degree in Disaster Risk and Resilience from Ateneo De Manila University and currently, a master’s candidate in Master in Public Administration Major in Health Emergency and Disaster Management at Bicol University. Her research specialization and interests are in Incident Command System, risk communication, DRR localization, disaster statistics, and international and local humanitarian work.

Edcel John A. Ibarra is Foreign Affairs Research Specialist at the Philippine Foreign Service Institute working on territorial and maritime security concerns. He is pursuing a master’s degree in international studies at the Department of Political Science, University of the Philippines Diliman. He received a bachelor’s degree in political science, magna cum laude, from the same university in 2015.

Deryk Matthew N. Baladjay is a member of the Pacific Forum’s Young Leaders Program. He is also Research Manager at Amador Research Services and an Assistant Editor at the Philippine Strategic Forum, based in Manila.

Florence Principe Gamboa is a non-resident Vasey Fellow at the Pacific Forum. She is also Senior Research Associate at Amador Research Services and Managing Editor at the Philippine Strategic Forum, based in Manila.

Santiago Juditho Emmanuel L. Castillo has an MA degree in International Studies major in Asian Studies from De La Salle University and a BA degree in Philosophy from San Beda University. The focus of his graduate studies is on Japan’s defense/security policies and strategies in light of the changing security situation in the Asia-Pacific. He is also interested in military capability developments and defense diplomacy. He currently works as a Research-Analyst and Executive Assistant for the Philippine government for the past three years. His research specialization and interests are warfare and strategic studies, traditional geopolitical security issues, military technologies, as well as foreign and defense policies of Japan and Russia.


About the Editors

Jeffrey Ordaniel is non-resident Adjunct Fellow and Director for Maritime Security at the Pacific Forum. Concurrently, he is also Associate Professor of International Security Studies at Tokyo International University (TIU) in Japan. He holds a Ph.D. in International Relations and specializes in the study of offshore territorial and maritime entitlement disputes in Asia. His teaching and research revolve around maritime security and ocean governance, ASEAN regionalism, and broadly, U.S. alliances and engagements in the Indo-Pacific. From 2016 to 2019, he was based in Honolulu and was the holder of the endowed Admiral Joe Vasey Fellowship at the Pacific Forum. Since 2019, Dr. Ordaniel has been convening the Indo-Pacific Maritime Security Expert Working Group, an informal network of select experts and scholars from Japan, Southeast Asia, Australia and North America, with the aim of generating sound, pragmatic and actionable policy prescriptions for the region. His current research on maritime security in Asia is funded by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS), 2020-2022.

Carl Baker is senior adviser at Pacific Forum in Honolulu, Hawaii. Previousy, Mr. Baker served as the Forum’s Executive Director and as coeditor of Comparative Connections. He is a member of the Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific (CSCAP) and engaged in promoting security cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region as a participant in several CSCAP Study Groups. Current focus areas include preventive diplomacy, multilateral security architecture, nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and nuclear security. Previously, he was on the faculty at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies and an adjunct professor at Hawaii Pacific University. Publications include articles and book chapters on U.S. alliances and political developments in South Korea and the Philippines. A retired U.S. Air Force officer, he has extensive experience in Korea, having served as an international political-military affairs officer for the UN Military Armistice Commission and as a political and economic intelligence analyst for U.S. Forces Korea. He has also lived for extended periods and served in a variety of military staff assignments in Japan, the Philippines, and Guam.


Photo: A ceremony at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in honor of service members who perished in the line of duty, November 11, 2018. Source: U.S. Embassy Manila Facebook Page

Buffering: Cybersecurity in the U.S.-Philippine Alliance

Issues & Insights Vol. 22, SR1, pp. 1-8

Abstract

This study examines the integration of cybersecurity within the U.S.-Philippine alliance. Technological change poses distinct challenges to international alliances by presenting new security threats and vulnerabilities that alliances must adapt to address. Using a process-tracing approach, this article investigates the evolution of cybersecurity within the U.S.- Philippine alliance and whether existing defense arrangements have been effectively leveraged to meet the challenges of a cyber insecure world. It finds that despite initial momentum toward integrating cybersecurity within the alliance, cyber cooperation has largely stalled since 2016. Although the elections of Rodrigo Duterte and Donald Trump contributed to this malaise, the stagnation also reflects a larger strategic divergence in how Washington and Manila approach the digital domain. This contrasts sharply with other alliances like NATO and must be addressed to sustain alliance activities in cyberspace.

Click here to download the full volume.


About this Volume

Authors of this volume participated in the inaugural U.S.- Philippines Next-Generation Leaders Initiative, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, through the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines. With backgrounds from academia, public policy, civil society and industry, the cohort brings rich insights on the past, present, and future of the U.S.-Philippines bilateral security relations.

The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of their respective organizations and affiliations. Pacific Forum’s publications do not necessarily reflect the positions of its staff, donors and sponsors.


Gregory Winger is an Assistant Professor of Political Science and Fellow with the Center for Cyber Strategy and Policy at the University of Cincinnati. He is also a former Fulbright Scholar to the Philippines and Fellow with the National Asia Research Program.


Photo: Philippine Army-United States Army Pacific during the Cyber Security Subject Matter Expert Exchange (SMEE) in Manila, May 14 to 18, 2018. Source: Philippine Army/Public domain

Explaining the Divide: Legislative Positions on the U.S.-Philippine Alliance

Issues & Insights Vol. 22, SR1, pp. 9-14

Abstract

When the Philippine president goes one direction, the Senate goes another. What explains the inconsistent cross-branch support for the U.S.-Philippine alliance? This paper outlines four possible arguments. First, senators’ positions better reflect domestic perceptions of external threat. Second, senators are less constrained by performance legitimacy and have greater latitude to take idealistic positions. In the Philippines, this idealism entails nationalist rhetoric for self-reliance. Third, senators are protective of their constitutional mandate to approve international agreements, and distrust political strategies to circumvent receiving their approval. Fourth, senators are engaged in electioneering. The Philippine Senate is a popular starting line for higher office. To elevate their national profiles, senators may adopt maverick-type personas on hot-button issues that galvanize public attention. In the process, they tend to adopt positions that are seen as opposing the Palace. Advocates of a stronger and better institutionalized U.S.-Philippine alliance must address the gap between executive and legislative preferences. While it has not yet been possible to evaluate the relative importance of each of these hypotheses, policy approaches that reflect these realities are not costly. Part of the gap in threat perceptions may be filled with better briefing and information-sharing with legislators. Senators should have some stake in the success of the alliance, and alliance successes should emphasize mutual gain and not discount the potency of symbols. Filipino and American executive officials should resist the temptation to avoid seeking Senate approval as a matter of expediency. Finally, the oppositional impetus is greatest immediately before presidential elections—so timing will matter for new initiatives.

Click here to download the full volume.


About this Volume

Authors of this volume participated in the inaugural U.S.- Philippines Next-Generation Leaders Initiative, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, through the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines. With backgrounds from academia, public policy, civil society and industry, the cohort brings rich insights on the past, present, and future of the U.S.-Philippines bilateral security relations.

The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of their respective organizations and affiliations. Pacific Forum’s publications do not necessarily reflect the positions of its staff, donors and sponsors.


Angelica Mangahas is a PhD candidate at the Johns Hopkins University School for Advanced International Studies. She received her MA in Security Studies from Georgetown University. She previously worked as an analyst and researcher for the Stratbase – Albert Del Rosario Institute in Manila.


Photo: Joint session of the Congress of the Philippines for the 2016 State of the Nation Address (SONA) Source: Public Domain

Friendship from a Distance: The U.S.-Philippine Alliance and Allied Access in Wartime

Issues & Insights Vol. 22, SR1, pp. 15-23

Abstract

The United States and the Philippines share a long history and alliance relationship. Yet, since the closure of U.S. military bases in Subic Bay and Clark, the Philippines has been the only U.S. treaty ally in Asia not hosting permanent U.S. forces. The threat posed by China to Philippine interests in the South China Sea has grown in recent years, but should China and the Philippines become involved in a military conflict, it is unclear how effective the U.S. contribution to the alliance would be given its current posture in the region. To maximize the alliance’s deterrent capacity and operational effect, Manila and Washington should revisit this potential shortcoming and extend the work begun under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Act (EDCA) to provide a more robust U.S. presence and greater Philippine self-defense capabilities.

To strengthen the alliance, the United States and Philippines should shape U.S. force posture by:

– Developing a permanent U.S. Marine Corps presence on Palawan by rotating units through the island equipped with anti-ship weaponry and the ability to operate dispersed in austere terrain;
– Rotating advanced intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) and battle management aircraft through the Philippines on a regular basis;
– Homeporting a small surface action group with advanced anti-ship and anti-air capabilities at Subic Bay;
– Ensuring U.S. and Philippine military units use a common datalink for sharing sensor data, information, and operational communications; and
– Improving access to Thitu Island by dredging the harbor and extending the runway, and upgrading its organic self-defense capabilities by installing new air defense and ISR systems.

Click here to download the full volume.


About this Volume

Authors of this volume participated in the inaugural U.S.- Philippines Next-Generation Leaders Initiative, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, through the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines. With backgrounds from academia, public policy, civil society and industry, the cohort brings rich insights on the past, present, and future of the U.S.-Philippines bilateral security relations.

The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of their respective organizations and affiliations. Pacific Forum’s publications do not necessarily reflect the positions of its staff, donors and sponsors.


Graham W. Jenkins is a senior principal analyst with the Strategic Assessment unit in Northrop Grumman’s Aeronautics Sector. He is responsible for strategic analysis, operations research, and long-range planning affecting the development of advanced technologies and aircraft design across a wide range of scenarios and capabilities. His background lies in international security and defense, nuclear weapons, and wargaming and red-teaming. Graham previously worked as an intelligence analyst focused on East Asia and influence operations as a contractor for the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence. He has also worked as a consultant at EY, strategic analyst at the Scitor Corporation, and a research assistant at the Institute for Defense Analyses, focusing on risk management, nuclear policy, and wargame design. Graham is a Pacific Forum Young Leader and adjunct fellow with the American Security Project; he was previously an Energy Security Fellow with Securing America’s Future Energy, a Penn Kemble Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy, and a Nuclear Scholar with the CSIS Project on Nuclear Issues. Graham holds an MSc in Theory and History of International Relations from the London School of Economics and a BA in history and international affairs from Sarah Lawrence College.


Photo: The amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1) sits along a pier in Subic Bay during a port visit as part of Exercise Balikatan, April 1, 2019. Source: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Daniel Barker/Public Domain

Coast Guard Engagement as an Interim Alternative to Bilateral Maritime Cooperation

Issues & Insights Vol. 22, SR1, pp. 24-29

Abstract

The U.S.-Philippine alliance has been under strain in the past several years due to domestic political challenges, notwithstanding Manila’s worsening external security environment. To cope, Washington needs an interim approach to continue its maritime security cooperation with Manila, one that would not be perceived as simply a repackaged strategy to curtail Beijing’s aggressive behavior. This paper looks into the United States Coast Guard’s (USCG) recent involvement in promoting maritime security in the Philippines and the broader Southeast Asia. It poses the question: Why is coast guard cooperation between the United States and the Philippines serving as an interim approach to sustain maritime security cooperation? This paper contends three reasons why the USCG-Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) engagement is a step in the right direction that could, in the long term, advance a more rules-based and stable regional maritime environment. First, security cooperation through coast guard engagements avoids political intrigues and is welcomed by regional countries. As a regional norm, coast guard cooperation supports the non-militarization of maritime disputes and is not viewed as an escalation of tensions. Second, coast guard organizations have multifaceted functions that play numerous roles and are not solely focused on patrolling contested waters. For instance, coast guards have responsibilities that help maintain maritime order and protect global trade. Lastly, the use of the coast guard is a non-partisan issue regardless of the inclination of the government in power. The paper concludes with policy recommendations that underscore how coast guard cooperation between the Philippines and the United States is a complement (vice substitute) to current and future military engagements advancing the alliance.

Click here to download the full volume.


About this Volume

Authors of this volume participated in the inaugural U.S.- Philippines Next-Generation Leaders Initiative, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, through the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines. With backgrounds from academia, public policy, civil society and industry, the cohort brings rich insights on the past, present, and future of the U.S.-Philippines bilateral security relations.

The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of their respective organizations and affiliations. Pacific Forum’s publications do not necessarily reflect the positions of its staff, donors and sponsors.


Jay Tristan Tarriela is a commissioned officer of the Philippine Coast Guard with the rank of Commander. He is the Director of PCG’s Leadership and Doctrine Development Center. He obtained his Ph.D. in Policy Analysis from the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS) in Tokyo under the GRIPS Global Governance (G-cube) Program. At GRIPS, he was a Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) ASEAN Public Policy Leadership Scholar. Previously, he was assigned at the PCG national headquarters in Manila and performed numerous functions in different capacities, including maritime security capability development and organizational restructuring reforms. He also acted as the personal adviser to the PCG Commandant on human resource management, particularly on recruitment plans, career management, and personnel specialization. He attended numerous military and coast guard training, locally and abroad. He holds a graduate degree from the Philippine Merchant Marine Academy Graduate School and a Master of Policy Studies from GRIPS and the Japan Coast Guard Academy, where he was part of the inaugural class of the Maritime Safety and Security Program launched jointly by both institutions in 2016. He is also a Young Leader with Pacific Forum, Honolulu. Further, he has written opinion-editorial articles published by The Diplomat, The National Interest, Analyzing War, and other leading publications.


Photo: U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Munro (left) and Philippine Coast Guard Offshore Patrol Vessel Gabriela Silang (right) render honors to each other following bilateral operations and exercises on Aug. 31, 2021, in the West Philippine Sea. Source: U.S. Coast Guard photo by Marine Corps Sgt. Kevin G. Rivas

Understanding the Role of the United States in the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) System

Issues & Insights Vol. 22, SR1, pp. 30-37

Abstract

The United States and the Philippines have been security treaty-allies since 1951. Given the risk profile of the Philippines, the partnership included significant support for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR), which has evolved to more proactive and comprehensive support in disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM). This includes disaster preparedness, risk mitigation, early warning, community, and family-based DRRM planning, and rehabilitation and recovery. This study analyzes the role of the United States in strengthening the Philippine DRRM system and highlights the significance of U.S. military support for HADR operations and disaster readiness. This study also fills a key knowledge gap in bridging the disaster, human security, and conflict nexus. The contributions of the United States in three aspects are analyzed: pre-disaster, disaster, and post-disaster. Although data show that the United States has been active in disaster response operations in the Philippines, most of its programs focused on disaster risk reduction or the pre-disaster component. The policy direction in DRRM has raised several important aspects that are discussed in the study.

Click here to download the full volume.


About this Volume

Authors of this volume participated in the inaugural U.S.- Philippines Next-Generation Leaders Initiative, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, through the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines. With backgrounds from academia, public policy, civil society and industry, the cohort brings rich insights on the past, present, and future of the U.S.-Philippines bilateral security relations.

The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of their respective organizations and affiliations. Pacific Forum’s publications do not necessarily reflect the positions of its staff, donors and sponsors.


Rachelle Anne Miranda is a disaster risk reduction (DRR) practitioner and has devoted her professional life as a public servant in the Office of Civil Defense. She is currently assigned as a Training Specialist- building capacities in civil defense and DRR in the Philippines, and concurrently, the Deputy Spokesperson of OCD and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. Rachelle holds a master’s degree in Disaster Risk and Resilience from Ateneo De Manila University and currently, a master’s candidate in Master in Public Administration Major in Health Emergency and Disaster Management at Bicol University. Her research specialization and interests are in Incident Command System, risk communication, DRR localization, disaster statistics, and international and local humanitarian work.


Photo: Hospital ship USNS Mercy sits anchored off the coast of Legazpi City, Philippines, with Mount Mayon in the distance during the Pacific Partnership 2016 to conduct cooperative health engagements, community relation events and subject matter expert exchanges focusing on responding to natural disasters. Source: U.S. Navy photo by MC1 Elizabeth Merriam/Public Domain

Onward and Upward: The Philippines-U.S. Security Alliance

Issues & Insights Vol. 22, SR1, pp. 45-50

Abstract

As Asia’s oldest security allies, the Philippines and the United States have cooperated on many wars, defense, and security activities and initiatives that served their common interests. However, the constant changes in their domestic and international environments and the rise of new threats bring uncertainties that fuel aspersions on the security relationship. This paper explains why the Philippines-U.S. alliance has been and will continue to be important for the two states. It also compares the alliance with others in the region. An analytical framework is presented to show Manila’s disposition toward its alliance with Washington. The framework combines a binary choice model and the unique country categorization vis- à-vis engagement with the United States as an ally or partner. This provides context and nuance for why the Philippines acts the way it does and still prefers operating closely within the U.S. ambit. The paper concludes with recommendations for moving the U.S-Philippine security relations forward.

Click here to download the full volume.


About this Volume

Authors of this volume participated in the inaugural U.S.- Philippines Next-Generation Leaders Initiative, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, through the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines. With backgrounds from academia, public policy, civil society and industry, the cohort brings rich insights on the past, present, and future of the U.S.-Philippines bilateral security relations.

The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of their respective organizations and affiliations. Pacific Forum’s publications do not necessarily reflect the positions of its staff, donors and sponsors.


Deryk Matthew N. Baladjay is a member of the Pacific Forum’s Young Leaders Program. He is also Research Manager at Amador Research Services and an Assistant Editor at the Philippine Strategic Forum, based in Manila.

Florence Principe Gamboa is a non-resident Vasey Fellow at the Pacific Forum. She is also Senior Research Associate at Amador Research Services and Managing Editor at the Philippine Strategic Forum, based in Manila.


Photo: Filipino and American service-members posing for a photo after a Combined Arms Live-Fire Exercise during Balikatan 2019 at Colonel Ernesto Ravina Air Base, Philippines, April 10, 2019. Source: U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. 1st Class John Etheridge/Public Domain

The EDCA and the Philippines’ External Defense Capability Development

Issues & Insights Vol. 22, SR1, pp. 51-56

Abstract

This research examines how the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) can further improve the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) external defense capabilities and improve the defense ties of the United States and the Philippines. A particular area where the EDCA can advance U.S.-Philippine military partnership is improving the AFP’s ability to protect the country from external military threats and adapt or effectively respond to a dynamic geopolitical environment. To be sufficiently up to such tasks, the AFP needs to drastically improve its military assets and materiel that focus on aerospace and maritime capabilities. Article I, section 1, subsection (a) of the EDCA on “Purpose and Scope,” mandates “Supporting the Parties’ shared goal of improving interoperability of the Parties’ forces, and for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), addressing short-term capabilities gaps, promoting long-term modernization, and helping maintain and develop additional maritime security and maritime domain awareness and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief capabilities.” While the agreement’s goals are set, there are still challenges that need to be addressed between the United States and the Philippines, such as different levels of commitment to the alliance as perceived by the leadership on both sides. This research highlights the importance of the EDCA in improving the Philippines’ external defense capabilities and strengthening U.S.-Philippines defense ties. Two issues will be examined: the challenge of developing AFP’s external defense capabilities and the under-utilization of the EDCA for such purpose.

Click here to download the full volume.


About this Volume

Authors of this volume participated in the inaugural U.S.- Philippines Next-Generation Leaders Initiative, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, through the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines. With backgrounds from academia, public policy, civil society and industry, the cohort brings rich insights on the past, present, and future of the U.S.-Philippines bilateral security relations.

The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of their respective organizations and affiliations. Pacific Forum’s publications do not necessarily reflect the positions of its staff, donors and sponsors.


Santiago Juditho Emmanuel L. Castillo has an MA degree in International Studies major in Asian Studies from De La Salle University and a BA degree in Philosophy from San Beda University. The focus of his graduate studies is on Japan’s defense/security policies and strategies in light of the changing security situation in the Asia-Pacific. He is also interested in military capability developments and defense diplomacy. He currently works as a Research-Analyst and Executive Assistant for the Philippine government for the past three years. His research specialization and interests are warfare and strategic studies, traditional geopolitical security issues, military technologies, as well as foreign and defense policies of Japan and Russia.


Photo: The Philippine Coast Guard vessel Edsa (SARV 002), left, and the Philippine Navy frigate Gregorio Del Pilar (PF 15) steam in formation during Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Philippines 2013. BRP Gregorio del Pilar was a Hamilton-class high endurance cutter of the United States Coast Guard, before it was acquired by the Philippine Navy under the U.S. Excess Defense Articles Program and the Foreign Assistance Act. Source: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jay C. Pugh / Public Domain. 

PacNet #3 Abe was key to the Indo-Pacific’s evolution

This is a transitional moment for the Indo-Pacific. Regional governments are forging new security relationships—the Japan-Australia partnership is the leading edge, as various European governments jostle for inclusion—and new institutions are emerging—from AUKUS to the Quad in the security sphere and at the same time, economic configurations include CPTPP and RCEP.

How did we get here? There are several explanations. Realists insist that rising powers create instability, triggered either by their ambition or the hegemon’s insecurity. For others, the unraveling of the architecture of coexistence, in which China provided markets and the US provided security, was the problem. To my mind, there are still more basic explanations.

First, you need a threat, a source of instability big enough to motivate states to act. With all due respect to John Mearsheimer, China doesn’t fit the bill—at least, not until recently. China has been rising for decades and while that created concern, there wasn’t concerted action to balance against it until Xi Jinping took power. He inherited a powerhouse economy and a modernizing military and married them to ambition and vision—a Belt and Road Initiative that girdled the globe—to pursue the China dream. His ascension and his muscular foreign policy unnerved governments worldwide. If the dream belonged to the nation, it is Xi who acted to make it real: The elimination of rivals, the consolidation of power, and efforts to entrench himself in office make plain that he is a singular world-historical individual who drives decision making in Beijing.

That security threat has been magnified by perceived unreliability on the United States. It’s tempting to blame Donald Trump for this. He created considerable unease with his disdain for alliances, contempt for multilateralism, and narrowly defined view of US national interests, but concern predates his administration. The US refusal to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a strategic agreement masquerading as a trade deal that Washington was instrumental in negotiating, is the most glaring example, and that was President Obama’s fault. The failure to ensure that China honored the purported agreement to withdraw its forces from Scarborough Shoal was another blow to US credibility.

Trump’s mercurial and transactional approach to policy crystalized fears and left allies and partners wondering what might be next. While the worst predictions did not come true, the damage was done. Governments around the region know that even if Trump departed, Trumpism remains, and his foreign policy mindset could reassert itself in Washington even if he did not return to power.

More alarming, though, is a realization that a “mainstream,” traditionally minded president like Joe Biden can still unsettle the status quo. The withdrawal from Afghanistan rattled even those allies who approved of the decision but were alarmed by the incompetence of its execution and the lack of consultation. The persistence of Trump’s thinking about economic security, manifest most plainly in tariffs that remain in place against allies, is another source of concern. Other moves, such as the abrupt cancellation of the France-Australian submarine agreement and the substitution of a UK-US deal, reinforce a belief that Washington’s field of vision is narrowing and that allies and partners play increasingly bit roles.

A third factor that shaped the region’s evolution was the tenure of Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo. His was one of the most remarkable second acts in world politics. After a brutal failure during his first term as prime minister, he returned to the Kantei for a period of stability, energy, and creativity unrivaled in Japan’s modern history.

The fact that Abe stayed in office as long as he did—he claimed the record for the longest-serving PM in the country’s history—transformed perceptions of Japan. His determination to modernize the country’s national security bureaucracy and subsequent commitment to using that power and purpose to support a wobbling regional order yielded institutions—the CPTPP and the Quad, to name but two—pillars of the emerging architecture.

A fourth and final key factor is a conceptual framework, the Indo-Pacific. Abe championed this concept, but it deserves recognition on its own. While the idea of an Indo-Pacific strategic space had been employed by US Pacific Command combatant commanders from the late 1980s, Abe elevated that idea to a guiding principle in his 2007 speech to the Indian Parliament in which he spoke of “the confluence of two seas.” Obama’s “rebalance” incorporated the concept, but it didn’t assume prominence until the Trump administration adopted the framework in 2017.

The Indo-Pacific is a curious geographical space. China is physically in the middle, but it’s bracketed between two democratic powers. The inclusion of India as a geopolitical counterweight to China is one of the most obvious intentions of its proponents. More important, that Indo-Pacific frame is a predominately maritime domain and links the strategic space to the trade routes that run through its heart. In addition, the inclusion of the Indian Ocean invites European countries with an African presence to be engaged. These considerations expand the number of countries that can claim an interest in events within that region. It is thus an inherently inclusive framework, which allows more countries to participate in regional security affairs.

The key variable appears to have been Abe—which means that our current moment may well result from considerable luck. Abe was a break with history, and Japan appears to be resorting to kind. His successor was in office for just a year. His successor, Kishida Fumio, is popular, but he is a traditional Japanese politician who mediates among factions and plays down his own opinions. There is mounting evidence that the Japanese public is increasingly inward-focused, cautious, and risk-averse. It can be led, but Kishida will have to have vision, charisma, competence, and luck, especially given the challenging circumstances—COVID, China, and a distracted ally.

Still, trajectories have been set, and that will allow bureaucracies to follow through. Headwinds will grow, but there is enough momentum and energy to believe that a genuine regional security architecture will emerge.

Brad Glosserman (brad@pacforum.org) is deputy director of and visiting professor at the Center for Rule-Making Strategies at Tama University as well as senior adviser (nonresident) at Pacific Forum. He is the author of “Peak Japan: The End of Great Ambitions” (Georgetown University Press, 2019).

PacNet commentaries and responses represent the views of the respective authors. Alternative viewpoints are always welcomed and encouraged. Click here to request a PacNet subscription.