Julius Cesar I Trajano
Asia Times, August 31, 2012
SINGAPORE - The US's "pivot" strategy towards the Asia-Pacific aims to reinvigorate security alliances with its established partners in the region. In Southeast Asia, the Philippines and Thailand have long been US treaty allies, affording them privileged access to US armaments and in the case of the Philippines a mutual defense guarantee if attacked by a third party.
The Philippines and Thailand, however, have had decidedly different responses to the US's renewed security engagement with the region. While Manila has warmly welcomed the US's military presence, Bangkok has adopted a hedging strategy to preserve its vibrant ties with China. Washington's ties with Bangkok and Manila are now influenced by two crucial factors: (1) the perception of an existential threat and (2) domestic political and economic interests.
A key strategic hub for American forces, the Philippines has offered the US greater access to its military facilities in exchange for assistance in the modernization of its military. The Philippine government announced on August 24 that it welcomed America's plan to deploy "X-band", a powerful new early warning radar, in Japan and the Philippines. The plan is seen by some as the centerpiece of the US's defense build-up in Asia to counter threats from nuclear North Korea and to contain China's rising military power.
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