GUEST CONTRIBUTOR WILLIAM OVERHOLT, OF THE HARVARD ASIA CENTER, TELLS US – A deep look at the Philippines situation challenges fundamental elements of U.S. foreign policy.
The seeming immense success of the recent Aquino presidency – with very high growth rates and a decisive move closer to the U.S. because of Chinese challenges – seemed to prefigure strong democracy and a strong U.S. alliance. Instead it has been followed immediately by a thug presidency that repudiates human rights and traditional alliance ties to the U.S.
This kind of presidency emerged because the structure of Philippine democracy, the most perfect copy of U.S. institutions in the developing world, benefited a tiny elite at the expense of impoverished stagnation for most of the population. That outcome is likely in most poor countries, because their social divisions ensure government of the elite, by the elite, for the elite
The turn away from the U.S. derives above all from the evolution of U.S. foreign policy away from one that focused in a balanced way on development and security to one that gave overwhelming priority to military considerations.
Since democracy promotion and military priorities have been the defining elements of U.S. foreign policy in the new century, this outcome, which has many parallels elsewhere, is profoundly sobering.
Here is the link to my new study of the Philippines. In the footnotes I’ve revealed some things that have remained hidden for three decades because of promises made at that time for reasons that are now obsolete. http://www.overholtgroup.com/media/Articles-Philippines/Duterte-democracy-and-defense-Brookings-Institution.pdf
Editor’s Note: Dr. William Overholt, a senior fellow at Harvard University Asia Center, is an expert on Asia and US-Asia relations. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Pacific Century Institute, with which Asia Media International enjoys a special relationship.