Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Philippine Navy Beefs Up in the Battle of the South China Sea

Photo from PN
By Chester B Cabalza

Blogger's Notes:
Commentary of an Academic 
(Copyright @ 2019 by Chester B Cabalza. All Rights Reserved).


After a hundred of years, two decades, and another year of stretching a naval muscle, the Philippines, touted as an archipelagic nation but not yet as a maritime power in Southeast Asia, will launch a steel-cutting ceremony of two missile-capable frigates armed with sensors and weapons, adept of detecting and neutralizing surface, sub-surface and air threats on May 23 at the shipyard of South Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries.

Coinciding with a joint celebration of the Philippine Navy’s 121st founding anniversary on May 27 and the country’s Independence Day on June 12, the 107-meter combat ships baptized as BRP Jose Rizal and BRP Antonio Luna, a bonhomie of symbols for brain and brawn, apparently are designed to be operated with anti-submarine helicopters cap with heavy missile and torpedo weaponry due for 2020 and 2021.

As a naval warfare service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), currently possessing a strength of 24,000 active service personnel, including the 7,500-strong Marine Corps, it brings to Philippines’ high seas dignified surface-to-air missiles patrol ships far from the initial small fleet of eight Spanish steam launches captured by General Emilio Aguinaldo when he established a naval force emanating from the pages of the Biak-na-Bato Constitution. 

The turn-around AFP modernization story encapsulated from the foresight on increased territorial defense capability after a series of maritime insecurities starting from the 1995 Chinese structures on Mischief Reef in the Spartlys until the 2012 Scarborough Shoal standoff. The two major maritime and territorial insults to Philippines’ national sovereignty and territorial integrity succumbs for the passage of the Revised AFP Modernization Act of 2012, replacing the original version crafted 17 years in between.   

On the eve when the Philippines won a landmark maritime case against China penned by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, observers see it as the beginning of an end. The case arbitrarily has ended with no enforcement seal but it only has intensified power play between China and the US, two opposing titans, eventually dwarfing the Philippines. 

As Manila grapples for an independent foreign policy amidst closer ties with Beijing and Moscow against Washington’s allies from Tokyo, New Delhi and the European Union combined, in case a naval warfare erupts amongst major powers in the South China Sea, which powerful navy in the world becomes supreme in terms of assets and capabilities?

Of the powerful navies worldwide – the United States, Russia, China, India and Japan are perceived to be the mighty top five in the following order.

Still the reigning superpower, the U.S. boasts of possessing 72 all nuclear-powered submarines, 63 destroyers and 11 large aircraft carriers. Compared to China’s 69 submarines of which only 10 are nuclear-powered, 34 destroyers and two aircraft fleets. The U.S. has survived two world wars unlike China’s inexperience which has not yet led a world war victory. Two of 2019’s best fighter jets are manufactured in the U.S. fuelling the increased sales of F-35 Lightning II and Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor. Furthermore, the world’s biggest aircraft fleet comes from the United States’ Ford-class, a colossal nuclear-powered warship, outsizing China’s Liaoning.    

As the Philippines constantly thinks of deterrence, the state of mind brought about by the existence of a credible threat of unacceptable counteraction, it must exude a power projection or the ability to apply all or some of the country’s elements of national power to rapidly and effectively deploy and sustain forces in and from multiple dispersed locations to respond to crises and contribute to deterrence while enhancing regional stability.

The purpose of the armed forces of a small state is not to wage war but to avert it. There is a significant difference even if the task of war prevention implies a credible ability to fight.

The main reason for this is that small state cannot hope to achieve victory in war in the strictly military sense. Instead, the purpose of the war is to end it on acceptable terms. The armed forces of the small state contribute to averting war first by maintaining the sovereignty of the state and by enforcing national jurisdiction in peacetime, in an efficient and credible manner.

Secondly, the armed forces are an instrument of the state in crisis management, not least for their deterrent effect on the opposition. Deterrence works when the costs of armed aggression in the mind of potential aggressor seem larger than the benefits of going to war, so that in the end he decides to keep the peace.

In this perceived Battle of the South China Sea, war is not an immediate solution. And in war no one wins and everybody losses.

But if there are two scenarios in which cases China can displace the United States and its allied friends in the Philippines to become victor to the heart of Philippine government and lessen Filipinos’ anti-Chinese sentiments in one of Southeast Asia’s most acculturated countries. 

For China, the win-win solution will only happen if the Philippines sets side the sovereignty issue in the South China Sea and bandwagons with the new regional power through joint exploration, joint conservation of the environment, joint development and tourism, and sit down to incessantly engage dialogue with China by sharing with them their vision and will in the newly concocted geopolitical Indo-Pacific region.

Or for China to cleverly fight in the battle while courting for best allies like Russia with superior naval assets and capabilities with enduring experience in world wars. 

Friday, May 17, 2019

Versailles Palace, France


                                              "It was like the first time I visited Versailles!"





















Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Philippines, Still A Damaged Culture?

Photo from GMA-7
By Chester B Cabalza

Blogger's Notes:
Commentary of an Academic 
(Copyright @ 2019 by Chester B Cabalza. All Rights Reserved).

The six-week immersion of American journalist James Fallows in Manila painted a bleak imagery of the Philippines worldwide in November 1987 after he published a cultic article in The Atlantic magazine about Filipinos’ damaged culture.

The political environment sets a high note for saintly Cory Aquino, housewife mathematician of the lone winning opposition Benigno Aquino in the 1967 senatorial race, and gracefully slaying the supremacy of power duo tawdry pet dictators Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos in 1986. 

Three decades and two years after James Fallows’ essay, does the existential curse still hounds Filipinos?

Popular and widely approved Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippines 16th president, fortifies his power, despite his absence in the ballot, has considerably wiped out the opposition while his allies recently sweep dominance in the midterm elections apparently seen as a referendum for upending a supermajority clout at the chamber with three more years to [un]conventionally pursue his promises to the people under a six-year term.

In a twist of fate, Imee Marcos wins a senate seat for the first time after her former senator brother, Bongbong Marcos acts in limbo contesting a vice presidential recount. The Filipinos’ forgiving culture and short-term memory, recalled by the late venerated Asian patriarch Lee Kuan Yew, comes to realization in the Philippines' maturing democracy.   

Former president Benigno Aquino Jr.’s endorsement has failed to cast magic for his outnumbered Otso-Diretso (straight eight) senatorial slate creating anxiety and fear from loyal followers circulating options of #migration in social media despite decency and maturity from losing candidates to be on guard and continuously fight for the country’s future.

Nine of 12 open seats in the upper house, half of the country’s Senate, supports the president’s most controversial plans. But does this represent our damaged culture? Or what set of values have we imbibed from the exercise to choose leaders?

Anthropologist Frank Lynch who later on renounced his American citizenship to become a Filipino citizen concludes in his 1962 pioneering study that no values are uniquely Filipino. The Lynchian perspective carries the belief that one should not expect every value to be uniquely Filipino because notable differences in value systems are caused not so much by differences in the individual values as by the differences in ranking and emphasis.

Eminent anthropologist F. Landa Jocano wrote a powerful paper on the Notion of Values in Filipino Culture debunking Franck Lynch’s belief that there are no uniquely Filipino values. He is merited for his contributory knowledge on pamantayan or social standards from the holistic and higher echelon of kahalagaan or importance. The line serves as the basis for measuring the level of quality, excellence or sameness in grouping things together.

If the midterm elections show our social standards in choosing our leaders, then what does it tell about our culture and national values?  

The pre-war Commonwealth era under Manuel Quezon, the Philippines second president, gave us the first picture of a country without an opposition, when it failed to win a single seat in the 1938 senatorial midterm polls that allowed block voting; hence, he has had an upperhand at that time in framing the Philippine Constitution.

Is this a prelude to Mr. Duterte’s vision of a federal Philippines?      

‘We are our choices’ admonishes French political activist Jean-Paul Satre to everyone. The election results are our own making caused by archaic and absurd electoral system that patronizes entertainment over excellence and popularity over platforms.

Filipino voters are ably to be blamed for not choosing the best and the brightest despite a number of honest, educated, and candidates with integrity in the unprecedented high voters turnout in 2019; and in spite of a 78 percent average election turnout since 2010 to 2016. Social media along with the traditional media manage to carry politicians from the dominance of the woke generation. 

Honestly, the Philippines still suffers a damaged culture! And it's a shame to all of us!

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Battle of the 5G Network: Dude, where’s the Philippines?

Photo from FlipScience
By Chester B Cabalza

Blogger's Notes:
Commentary of an Academic 
(Copyright @ 2019 by Chester B Cabalza. All Rights Reserved).


The classic mockery on the state of the Philippines’ internet came when global e-commerce icon Jack Ma, founder of the successful multinational technology conglomerate Alibaba Group, tried and tested himself Asia Pacific’s slowest average internet speed (according to Akamai Technologies Inc.’s State of the Internet Connectivity Report) in October 2017 when he visited Manila.

The wake-up call was shared by chastened Chief Executive Officers of the two leading telecommunications firms in the country (PLDT and Globe), at that time owning 5.5 mbps only, falling short of the global average internet connection speed of 7.2 mbps (Mbps is short for megabits per second – a measure of network transmission or data transfer speed. A megabit is equal to one million bits).

Internet access in the Philippines falls as a “value-added service” giving a leeway to internet providers on their own terms under the 24-year-old Philippine Public Telecommunications Policy Law. But lately consumers are demanding to reclassify it as a “basic telecommunications service” and put teeth to the law by compelling internet providers of quality connection speeds and affordable cost or else suffer stringent fines from government regulators.

The UK-based firm ‘We Are Social’ accounts that the Philippines has 76 million Filipino netizens from a whopping 3.5 billion social media users worldwide. Majority of Filipino social media users are from woke generation spending almost 10 hours average daily of their time using the internet via any device making it highest in the world.

As the world embraces the Industry 4.0 where computers are connected and suavely evolve that it can communicate and make decisions without human intervention, combining the internet of things and internet of systems or enhanced with smart and autonomous systems fueled by data and machine learning, it is fit and proper that as the cyberspace (known as the fifth domain) advances, a new cellular generation must occupy the void. 

The 5G (short for 5th Generation) is a commonly used term for certain advanced wireless systems. Defined in late 2018 as any system using "5G NR" (5G New Radio) software as "5G”. It follows 2G, 3G and 4G and their respective associated technologies. The 1st generation introduced mobility. The 2nd generation [or: 2G] brought us into the digital world. The 3rd generation, in turn, introduced mobile data. And the 4th generation created the mobile broadband world in which we live today. Hence, the dawn of the 5G battle for supremacy.

There are only five companies in the world offering 5G radio hardware and 5G systems for carriers: Huawei, ZTE, Nokia, Samsung, and Ericsson. Samsung claimed to have supplied the greatest number of 5G base stations to South Korean operators. According to IPlytics (patent analytics firm), companies in China have applied for roughly 34% of the world’s major 5G patents as of March 2019, compared with South Korea’s 25%, and 14% each for the United States and Finland. Sweden stood at nearly 8%, and Japan at almost 5%, while Taiwan, Canada, the U.K., and Italy rounded out the top 10 countries, each with under 1% shares.

Reports are told that today’s cellular and Wi-Fi networks rely on microwaves – a type of electromagnetic radiation utilizing frequencies up to 6 gigahertz (GHz) in order to wirelessly transmit voice and data.  This era of wireless frequency is almost over making room for new 5G applications will require using new spectrum bands in much higher frequency ranges above 6 GHz to 100 GHz and beyond, utilizing submillimeter and millimeter waves.

Digital strategists forecast that 5G wireless technology is a game-changer, transforming every business and every industry, just as the internet once did. Weaponizing the 5G network becomes also a national security issue. A case in point when British prime minister Theresa May abruptly sacked defense secretary Gavin Williamson for divulging state secrets on a plan to give China's Huawei limited access to Britain's next-generation communications network. Huawei, the world's biggest producer of telecoms equipment, is under intense scrutiny after the United States told allies not to use the provider for fear it could be a vehicle for Chinese spying.

Dude, where’s the Philippines? 

In December last year, PLDT and its wireless arm Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) are set to sign more 5G partnership agreements with technology, industry and enterprise partners, and pilot more 5G-powered digital services, and launch more Smart 5G cities across the country in 2019. Given the versatility of the 5G, the telecom giant thinks that its focus for future 5G services is initially for enterprise customers, for whom it will mean completely new use cases, like with drones, internet of things and other specialized services. On the other hand, Globe telecom deems that through the 5G network, it will help to deploy fixed wireless broadband at a fiber speed that boast of higher speeds, lower latency, and better capacity. Globe is currently piloting Narrow Band-Internet of Things (NB-IoT) technology while enhancing its mobile data services.

Is the Philippines really prepared for the 5G network? What do you think?

Friday, May 3, 2019

Assessment of Force Requirement of Philippines' Capability and National Interest in the South China Sea

By Chester B Cabalza

Blogger's Notes:
Commentary of an Academic 
(Copyright @ 2019 by Chester B Cabalza. All Rights Reserved).

The Philippines is an archipelagic nation of 7,107 islands covering 800,000 square miles or about 30 million hectares. The country does not share any land borders with neighboring countries; instead it is bordered by the Pacific Ocean in the east, the South China Sea in the west, the Celebes Sea in the south, and the Bashi Channel up north. In 2012, the Philippines’ island territory increased by 13 million hectares when the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea approved the Philippines’ claim to Benham Rise; a seismically active region and volcanic ridge located 250 kilometers off the northern coastline of Dinapigue, Isabela.

Interestingly, these vast surroundings are complemented by a naval and air military that has no force to project. The Philippines possesses an ill-equipped, deteriorated, and obsolete Navy and Air Force in Asia. Military spending of the Philippines, especially the scale for its navy upgrade and modernization, is significantly less than Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore. That being said, there now exists a huge capability asymmetry between the Philippines and its neighbors in Southeast Asia, thus, it can only do so much to achieve parity with the surface and air force capabilities. It can possibly consider shore-based missiles, mine warfare, and submarine warfare to level the Asian playing field. 

The limited resources of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and other affiliate law enforcement agencies also pose daunting challenges in securing the vast Philippine archipelago. For one, the Philippine Navy is responsible for the naval defense of the seabed and other submarine areas. In reality, the country’s current naval assets and capabilities are disproportionate to the requirements of securing an island nation especially in the face of perceived threats emanating from our continuing maritime and territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea.

Despite the Revised AFP Modernization that has three horizons to meet an effective minimum credible defense posture, including its shift from territorial to internal defense, it seeks the acquisition of further capabilities and other force requirements as means to design new competencies and force to structure certain elements.

Securing Philippines’ Vital Interests

The South China Sea has proven oil reserves of seven (7) billion barrels and an estimated 900 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, a potentially huge bounty. The risk of conflict in the South China Sea is significant and may actually occur. Freedom of navigation operations in the region is also a contentious issue. These tensions are shaping and being shaped by rising apprehensions about the growth of China’s military power and its regional intentions. Apparently China has embarked on a substantial modernization of its maritime paramilitary forces as well as naval capabilities to enforce its sovereignty and jurisdiction claims by force if necessary.

The Kalayaan Island Group is a group of over fifty features and their surrounding waters that belong to the Philippines, located in what is internationally known as the Spartly Islands. Officially, the KIG is not the same as the Spartlys, as there are features in the Spartlys that are not part of the KIG. Parts of the Spratlys Islands lie just over 100 miles from the Philippines and more than 1,000 miles from China. The Philippines currently controls five islands, two reefs and two sandbars. Pag-asa is the largest island occupied by the country.

For the Philippines, vital interests lie in territorial integrity and sovereignty, and the rights to exploit both marine and energy sources. An example challenges rising from the South China Sea disputes is the oil exploration efforts that started in 2010 and have been put on hold since 2015 for Service Contract Areas 58, 72 (Recto Bank) and 75 due to the lingering disputes and the continuous presence of the Chinese government vessels at Scarborough Shoal.

Forcible takeover of any of our occupied islands without a strong deterrent capability to defend these critical features will give momentum to potential aggressors which are also claimant countries in the South China Sea and will no doubt continue to exploit the resources in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and may eventually deny the Philippines its use of the sea or by using it there is a plausible scenario of war or military operations against the country.

Possible takeover can also be in the offing if mismanaged solutions are not met. The Philippines should constantly think of deterrence or a state of mind brought about by the existence of a credible threat of unacceptable counteraction. There should be a power projection or the ability to apply all or some of the country’s elements of national power to rapidly and effectively deploy and sustain forces in and from multiple dispersed locations to respond to crises and contribute to deterrence while enhancing regional stability.

The purpose of the armed forces of a small state is not to wage war but to avert it. There is a significant difference even if the task of war prevention implies a credible ability to fight. The main reason for this is that small state cannot hope to achieve victory in war in the strictly military sense. Instead, the purpose of the war is to end it on acceptable terms. The armed forces of the small state contribute to averting war first by maintaining the sovereignty of the state and by enforcing national jurisdiction in peacetime, in an efficient and credible manner. Second, the armed forces are an instrument of the state in crisis management, not least for their deterrent effect on the opposition. Deterrence works when the costs of armed aggression in the mind of potential aggressor seem larger than the benefits of going to war, so that in the end he decides to keep the peace.

Sensors, Transport, Shooters

In enhancing transparency and accountability while pursuing opportunities for stable security structures, the AFP should improve its human, organization and information capital. It shall build a culture of jointness, establish an integrated secure communications and information system to institutionalize integrated joint logistics support systems, and develop a professional and highly motivated regular and reserve force. Highly competent and motivated professionals should spearhead the crafting of sound and appropriate maritime doctrines leading to the responsive naval reserve forces; and the same professionals who should be building the corps of the same force. 

There is a need to operationalize naval support systems, facilities and capabilities that contribute to the attainment of optimal level of operational readiness. The Navy and Air Force should provide a secure maritime environment and satisfy its stakeholders.

A naval strategy to fight an asymmetric conflict is the object of naval warfare where there is a competition to control Sea Lines of Communications (SLOC) including the commercial and economic interests of an adversary. It strategically includes the control of maritime communications, whether for commercial or military purposes. The primordial object of the fleet is to secure these SLOCS and put the enemy fleet out of action. Thus, the size of one’s fleet is not much of a factor.

A small naval force is unlikely to win a major fleet engagement but it still could achieve significant results through minor naval actions, such as attacks on sea lanes and coastal raids. Victory at sea is dependent on the relative strength of one’s own fleet and the exploitation of one’s positions such as naval bases, commercial and areas where maritime trade routes converge.

In this view, operational fleet positioning allows a small naval force to restrict he size and scale of enemy opposition, creating favourable conditions for battle. Thus, luring an enemy fleet out into battle in an operating area where one has all the advantages is more economical than mounting search-and-destroy missions for huge fleet battles. For instance, cruiser-type vessels, which have sufficient endurance for long independent voyages, enough firepower to defeat enemy commerce raiders and protect SLOCs.  

From a macro perspective, the Philippine capability lacks notably air capability, sea and air transport and Command and Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance. These investments are required for the AFP to achieve certain credible fighting force. This comes despite Philippine investments in modernization such as those of BrahMos – India’s supersonic missile that is a short-range ramjet supersonic cruise missile that can be launched from submarine, ships, aircraft, or land.

In the course of submarine acquisition, the Philippine Navy should first acquire the basing and support facilities before buying actual submarines. There should also the creation of unit/s dedicated to submarine operations. Aside from support facilities, basing, and a dedicated unit, the Philippine Navy should craft corresponding doctrines, systems, and procedures for submarine operations. Select PN personnel would have to be trained for submarine operations and the necessary effectors such as missiles, mines, and torpedoes.

For territorial defense, submarines have deterrent presence and varied weapons load ensure lethality against various targets. For surveillance and defense of offshore platforms, submarines can be used for covertly monitor and defend these installations. It can be used for monitoring the presence of other submarines. Even for internal security operations, submarines can provide Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) against terrorist routes, and perform stealth insertion of special forces. Submarines can also be used to augment existing naval capabilities. As an essential fleet component, it can perform effectively in coastal defense, sea denial, and power projection. Critical components include weapon systems, sensors, fire control systems, navigation and control systems, pressure hull, environmental control, and propulsion.

But generally, the increasing preponderance of submarines is a proven technology with deterrent and strategic impact. The utility of submarines is a strategic tool employed in an asymmetric fashion. But Philippine Navy’s readiness to develop submarine capabilities in terms of personnel competencies needed to operate submarines completely different from surface warships. Prospective submarine crew should be physically, emotionally, mentally and psychologically prepared for the job. 

In essence, the lack of resources for the AFP has produced excellent small unit formations, as a result of ingenuity; however, overall combat capability is extremely limited. The AFP lacks basic secure tactical communications coverage across the operational zones and relies heavily on commercial telecommunications networks. Joint force interoperability is hampered by the lack of a secure networking capability. 

Command and Control

The command and control in a military organization is the exercise of authority and direction by a properly designated commanding officer over assigned and attached forces in the accomplishment of the mission. It is the system that empowers designated personnel to exercise lawful authority and direction over assigned forces for the accomplishment of mission and tasks.

In capacitating the Philippines to pursue strategic interests and sophisticated tactical operations in the exercise of securing and protecting the country’s external defense, there is a need for certain prescription through promotion of harmonious relationships with neighbors and the rest of the world. The development of a defense capability to protect sovereignty and strategic maritime interests are observed but the means to achieve this are through the promotion of maritime security, protection and defense of the integrity of marine resources, and strengthening of the maritime security posture as part of the external defense plan. Deterrence is absolutely needed but if deterrence fails, the country must be prepared for a credible ability to fight and win.

Deterrence operations are geared toward convincing adversaries not to take actions that threaten vital interests by means of decisive influence over their decision-making. Decisive influence is achieved by credibly threatening to deny benefits and/or impose costs, while encouraging restraint by convincing the actor that restraint will result in an acceptable outcome.

While deterrence is an inherently defensive strategy, it may not involve defense; that is, the deterring party may not actively protect its assets or try to prevent its opponent from taking the action, but rather threatens the use of violence to convince the opponent not to act in the first place. It may also employ the calculated use of force which strongly communicates a states’ willingness to sink ships and fire upon aggressor vessels when deemed necessary.

A good example of this is the Falklands invasion. Everyone knew the 1982 invasion but the public did not know about the 1979 invasion. It was here when the British intelligence revealed that Argentina had prepared to invade the Falklands and had begun to deploy a fleet. The plan was thwarted. The question of how was answered when Prime Minister Callaghan called General Galtierri of Argentina that he sent a submarine in case Falklands will be invaded and they were willing to fight. Whether or not the Prime Minister was bluffing or not, no one knows and the public won’t ever know. But one thing is sure is that that General Galtierri did not attack the Falklands in 1979.

Three primary elements should also be considered including the benefits of a course of action, the costs of action and the consequences of restraint. By effecting deterrence, it should credibly threaten to dent the adversary the benefits or gains being sought. It also involves denying benefits through both offensive and defensive activities and capabilities. When threating to impose costs that are viewed as unacceptable, it involves convincing the adversary that the costs incurred in will be severe and highly probable. Lastly, to encourage the adversary restraint by convincing it that by not undertaking the action being deterred will result in an acceptable outcome of the adversary.

Capability refers to whether the actor issuing the deterrent threat is capable of carrying out the threat. The ability to successfully deter depends to some degree on the power of the deterring actor. Consequently, in order doe deterrence to work, a state must communicate its threats. If the state does not know that an action is prohibited, it cannot be deterred from taking that action. States have to work very hard at establishing their credibility, especially in situations of extended deterrence.

Hence as explicitly provided by law that the country needs to develop a defensive capability against perceived or real external security threats; the approach toward reinforcing border security focuses on a comprehensive border protection program anchored on the establishment and enhancement of surveillance, deterrence and border patrol capabilities of the Philippine Air Force, Philippine Navy and Philippine Coast Guard.  

Air and Naval Forces

There is a need to establish a strong link between planning an execution. The development of a comprehensive institutional framework containing detailed implementing guidelines to align, harmonize, and synchronize the intent of all relevant policies. Regional defense spending provides a general indicator of investments made by various countries into defense. The capability weakness also translates into limited approach. Since the Philippines has limited capabilities for the use of force.

The National Military Strategy best captures the AFP’s objective to secure the sovereignty and integrity of the national territory and protect maritime interests. From thereon, concepts such as credible deterrence, intelligence surveillance, and reconnaissance, sea and air patrols, maritime strike, and air defense should be discussed comprehensively.

This should be anchored on the increased Command and Control and Communication capabilities, increased air defense capabilities, increased maritime strike capabilities, and surface warfare capabilities inclusive of new vessels and system upgrades for selected ships in the current fleet, subsurface warfare capabilities, amphibious assault, ISR capabilities covering those provided by air, sea, and land based systems, theatre mobility inclusive of strategic sealift and airlift, missile defences against air surface and land targets.

The requirements for development of sea and air powers are not limited to the actual equipment alone. As stong policy is required to enable synergized and coordinated action. The Philippines must draw the line and determine how far it can go. The roles of the national defense leadership to capacitate the country’s Sea and Air forces must be stressed.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

When Xi Jinping Rules the World

Photo from South China Morning Post
By Chester B Cabalza

Blogger's Notes:
Commentary of an Academic 
(Copyright @ 2019 by Chester B Cabalza. All Rights Reserved).

Tales of the expedition of Venetian merchant spy Marco Polo to the Far East, as he marveled at Kublai Khan’s summer palace in Shangdu, illustriously enthralled curiosity of Caucasians about the wonders of Chinese 4500 kilometer silk route, the oldest trading network of caravan tracks, connecting present day city of Xi’an in China and ancient Rome of the western world.   

It is not surprising though, when Italy, the first of the elite G7 developed countries signed 2.5 billion euros investment deals with a potential value of 20 billion with China on March 23, 2019. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte flamboyantly pulled out the red carpet for Chinese President Xi Jinping and fanfare serenade by Andrea Bocelli, describing Xi by paparazzi as “the Godfather of Rome” complete with greetings from guards on horseback fit for a postmodern Chinese emperor, the same privilege usually given to monarchs and popes.  
President Xi Jinping’s signature foreign policy embedded through his fresh state visits to European big cities in Rome and Paris simultaneously led to Italy’s participation (aside from Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Portugal’s Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa) to the second three-day multilateral meetings during the Belt Road Forum for International Cooperation last April 27, 2019 which began two years ago to rebuild ancient routes across Eurasia aimed at paving a way for a Silk Road-styled global trade network.

Starting from 29 heads of state in May 2017 that increased to a gathering of 37 world leaders across the globe this year, a joint communiqué inscribes its importance to, “[The ancient Silk Road contributed to the] strengthening of the connectivity and the expansion of the world economy in the spirit of promoting peace and cooperation, openness, inclusiveness, equality, mutual learning and mutual benefit.”

The complete attendance of Southeast Asian leaders except for reelected Indonesian president Joko Widodo; the big support of Central Asia minus Turkmenistan; five African leaders from Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Mozambique were present in Beijing, in spite of Zimbabwe’s plan to adopt the Chinese yuan as legal tender in return for debt cancellation worth about $40 million. While Chile represented alone South America as these small-state attendees came out as Chinese vassal states to hail new global power with a powerful emperor clothed with military achievements, financial contributions and historical feats to the world.

Since the invention of the world’s first magnetic compass as early as the Han dynasty (placing China ahead as a superior culture) but was succinctly used during the Song dynasty by Chinese navy for navigational orienteering, it was emperor Ming Chengzu of the Ming dynasty who ordered his favorite eunuch Admiral Zheng He (Asia’s greatest explorer) to launch major voyages or exploration with a fleet consisting of 317 ships with almost 28,000 mariners, bigger than the Spanish armada and galleons, from South Pacific to the Indian Oceans as far as Arabia and the coast of Africa.

The Han and Tang dynasties impacted the territorial vision of Xi Jingping while the Song and Ming dynasties would have compressed the maritime prophecy of China’s strongest and current president since Mao Zedong to achieve a formidable continental nation, crossing the path to a superpower status. Mirroring Han emperors Qin Shi Huang, known for ending the long-running wars as he unified China under a centralized authority for the first time launching the start of more than two-millennium of imperial rule.

While Tang Taizong of Tang dynasty made China the largest and the strongest nation in the world. Song emperors like Sui Wendi began the construction of the first Grand Canal and Song Taizu reunified again warring China by strengthening the central administration and simultaneously weakening local warlords’ powers. It was during that period when China became global economic and technological power while Ming Taizu of the Ming dynasty stepped up the effort to fight against corruption by strengthening the rule of law.

The Chinese dream, a Sino-centric world order, was first mentioned by Xi during his tour of an exhibit at the National Museum of China in November 2012, shortly after he became the president of the Communist Party of China. That exhibit is called the ‘Road to National Rejuvenation’, and Xi Jinping reiterated the Chinese dream is the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. The Chinese dream includes having a powerful country, a good education, a happy family, or a bountiful harvest. The China dream also aims at modernizing the People’s Liberation Army Navy since it has yet to achieve national reunification (including all of the islands in the Southeast China Sea and renegade province Taiwan). These are all factors which have placed Chinese armed forces under heavy pressure in securing the country and its border areas.

Xi Jinping’s success (with undefined term limit as president) is closely viewed from the frames of western historical successes and lessons learned from Chinese fallen and risen empires. He once asked, “Why did the Soviet Union disintegrate? Why did the Soviet Communist Party collapse? And replied to own self-examinations by saying, “it happened because their ideals and beliefs had been shaken.” Mad leader he can become when provoked, “prepare for war,” he commanded his troops in October 2018 when he made a visit to the Southern Theatre Command, and calmly uttered with confidence, “China must take all complex situations into consideration and make emergency plans accordingly.” Known for his calculated and erudite execution of strategic thinking, timing plays a big chunk to Xi Jinping’s eloquent words and firm actions.

Crazy Rich, Educated Terrorists

Photo from Very Funny Pics
By Chester B Cabalza

Blogger's Notes:
Commentary of an Academic 
(Copyright @ 2019 by Chester B Cabalza. All Rights Reserved).

The Easter bombing in Colombo at churches and hotels in Sri Lanka, presumed to be an Islamic retaliation to Christians, after the bloody Christchurch mosque shootings in New Zealand by a white supremacist, confusedly created a breed of terrorists.

That terrorism is often a bourgeois endeavor now. 

Gone were the days when a pack of suicide bombers and violent extremists, believed to be poor and ignorant, or thousands of insurgent foot soldiers lured by drug cartels were paid for monthly wages to spread havoc among civilians to unseat governments.

Global intelligence report shows that two of the suicide bombers in Sri Lanka were heirs of millionaires from the spice trade. The poignant death of infamous millionaire terrorist Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan, mastermind of the 9/11 terror attacks in the U.S., revealed by CIA that Osama has obligated his whimsical yearning to donate his wealth worth $29 million for jihad. The same socioeconomic construct was used in carving the images of Abdullah and Omar Maute, famed wealthy brothers who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State and defied Philippine armed forces with their flawed gutsy urban warfare in the Marawi siege.

So, why terrorists have become so rich and educated?

Econometrician Alberto Abidie’s 2004 paper on ‘In Poverty, Political Freedom and Roots of Terrorism,’ uses country-level ratings on terrorist risk from the Global Terrorism Index of the World Market Research Center, an international risk-rating agency to assess terrorism risk in 186 countries and territories. He measures poverty by capitalizing on World Bank data on per capita gross domestic product as well as the United Nations Human Development Index and or the Gini coefficient (a measure of country-level income inequality).

By using Freedom House's political rights index as a measure of country-level political freedom, Abidie employs measures of linguistic, ethnic, and religious fractionalization. Finally, he includes data on climate and geography, since it is well known that certain geographic characteristics -- such as being land-locked or in an area that is difficult to access -- may offer safe haven to terrorist groups and facilitate training. He concludes that after controlling for the level of political rights, fractionalization, and geography, the per capita national income is not significantly associated with terrorism. He finds, though, that lower levels of political rights are linked to higher levels of terrorism countries with the highest levels of political rights are also the countries that suffer the lowest levels of terrorism.

Former CIA case officer Marc Sageman’s 2004 study on ‘Understanding Terror Network’ counters U.S. government strategies to combat the jihad that are based on the traditional reasons that rakes major issues on poverty, trauma, madness, and ignorance. He refutes, combining his skills as a political scientist and a psychiatrist that all these notions, showing that, for the vast majority of the mujahedin, social bonds predated ideological commitment, and it was these social networks that inspired alienated young Muslims to join the jihad. These men, isolated from the rest of society, were transformed into fanatics longing for martyrdom and eager to kill.

On same league, former foreign service officer and forensic psychiatrist Alexander Lee’s 2011 book on ‘Who becomes a terrorist?’ probes that while social backgrounds of terrorists have found that they are wealthier and better educated than the population from which they are drawn, political behavior have shown that all forms of political involvement are correlated with socioeconomic status.

Opinion writer Itai Zehorai deems in his 2018 article that it is no coincidence that the deadliest terror organizations in the world are also the wealthiest. Financial means are an essential necessity for terrorist organizations. But means of fundraising are inherently limited and are conducted primarily through underground channels, outside of and above the law in the global shadow economy.

Education plays a double-edge sword. It can halt terrorism from escalating conflicts but it can also propagate terrorism from playing. For instance, extremists from Boko Haram stormed into a school in Dapchi, Nigeria, and captured approximately a hundred young girls. The same group captured hundreds of other girls in a raid on the village of Chibok in 2014. Or, could it be religion? Wahhabism, a hard-line strain of Islam blamed for breeding militancy, proposed a direct path to God, albeit one that aimed to return the religion to the time of the Prophet Muhammad. Simply, there are no correlations and formulas. Terrorism exists because humans create it themselves.

Hence, the search for purpose and snap for martyrdom elevate terrorism in a visceral level of existential plinth, and irrespective of the socioeconomic status, it brings together wealthy and educated terrorists as one. Vladimir Putin deems that “terrorism has no nationality and religion”. But Adolf Hitler, in his fluke proverbial words had to utter, “demoralize the enemy from within by surprise, terror, sabotage, assassination. This is the war of the future.”  

At the end, terrorism can still be linked to political and social exclusion dynamics, poor governance structures as well as religious and ethnic discrimination. But the more wealthy, privileged, educated and influential they may be, we have to understand these new breed of terrorists have so much to lose (wealth, class privilege and opportunities), as constantly they inspire others to the cause disrobing them of worldly possessions which conceals a heavy sacrifice on their part to achieve a mission to become more worthy of a higher calling to strengthen their legitimacy.