By Herman Tiu Laurel

The Malaysian newspaper Malaysiakini headline this last August 31, 2022: “Citing US ‘provocation’ Dr M calls on Asean to pivot towards China.” It is a powerful call that should reverberate not only across Asean but also throughout the world. It is a courageous statement from the usually reticent Asean and Asian countries too polite to tell the Americans and Western Powers that Asean wants peace and not provocations.

I hope that this call of Mahathir may shake up some US policy makers, legislators and military high brass that their strategy of tension around on Taiwan and militarization of the South China Sea is backfiring on them and alienating Asean nations, although I won’t bet that the West can ever change its battle fatigue colors and camouflage approach to all issues of international import. The West’s colonialist and imperialist hegemony mindset can’t shed its arrogance.

By saying what he said through the Financial Times, a Western global publication, Mahathir really intended to shake up the West as well as Asean and Asian capitals and populations to the threat of war the Americans are now seriously posing to the region. His additional message is to stop the American provocations by now clearly siding with China on the One China policy and openly tell the Americans that: “We will not be with you in the provocations for war!”

We should shout it out even more emphatically in the language of street protests, “Yankee Go Home!” In Filipino we could add ”Tama na, Sobra Na, Alis Na” (Enough, Too much, Get Out”, and its really about time that all the peoples of Asean be drilled in this slogan because the US of A is really not only threatening but actually already building up to the next war in Asian to destroy Asian’s Rise and restore Western hegemony over the region.

In a war planning exercise by the US think tank Center of National Security (CNS) reported first in Philippine media by Dr. Dan Steinbock of the Difference Group, the US under the Biden-Blinken foreign policy guidance is shifting away from priority on the Ukraine War towards Asia. We have been following the debate in US Deep State circles who have now apparently achieved consensus to refocus its war-making from Ukraine to the Taiwan Straits to destabilize the region.

The US goal in Ukraine was to not only maim Russian society and economy but also do the same to its EU allies, particularly Germany and France which could bolt from the US alliance NATO if they strengthened beyond a point. But weak leaders also ensconced by the Americans in Germany (particularly the Greens) and France could not resist the US-NATO impositions and really implement the Minsk Agreement with Russia and stop the NATO expansion. The EU is in a declining trend with UK now slipping to sixth place behind India in the world economic rankings, and German industry desperately trying to stay ahead of the US economic obstructionism by investing heavily in China to ensure its continuing viability while its home in Europe is being destroyed by US machinations that invited Russian retaliation in weaponizing now its gas and energy fuel exports to the EU.

In the CNS war planning for war in the Taiwan Straits the expected response of China to a Taiwan war would be nuclear retaliation consisting of major missile targeting including nukes of six sites in Japan, a major hit on Hawaii, several targets in Guam, and a major hit in Northern Luzon, while the US forces with strike three major targets in China across Taiwan. China is not shown to strike at Taiwan, leaving it safe, implying that China would not hurt its brother on that island.

BBM in Indonesia, Singapore: Heeding Mahathir?

PBBM is on state visits to Indonesia and Singapore from Sept. 4 to 7, will the Mahathir call to Asean be discussed? I see no reason why that can’t be raised as the Taiwan Straits tensions and its impact of Asean will certainly be a serious common concern of the three state leaders in their two separate meetings. We should note that the main common ground for Asean talks on the Taiwan provocations of the US is the Philippines, can they support the Philippines in taking a Mahathir stance?

No other Asean state will be directly affected by a conflict in the Taiwan Straits, it’s the Philippines, and only the Philippines that will be hit by the retaliatory response of China to aggression around Taiwan. Governor Manuel Mamba of the Philippines’ Cagayan northern province already raised his fears about the US-AFP Balikatan exercises held early 2022 with live-fire drills around his province and its waters -- and its impact on the economy of the region. We all should heed his concern.

Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in the foregoing article are solely the author’s and do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of the Philippine News Agency (PNA) or any other office under the Office of the Press Secretary.

About the Columnist

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Herman Tiu Laurel is a veteran journalist and founder of think tank PHILIPPINE-BRICS Strategic Studies.