Monday, May 14, 2012

China Watch 17: Using Drones Over Scarborough, SCS

Last Friday, I posted this in my facebook wall. See the exchanges after that, until today:

I support this suggestion from Stephen P. Cutlerr: "The Philippines may find a better "return on investment" for its military money by buying fleets of drones, instead of 48 F-16s at millions each, with millions for maintenance, and even more millions for pilots."
Lockheed Martin's new Shadow Hawk weapon is deceptively small considering the influence it will have on warfare
Ian  Thanks Noy... Im sharing this one!

Nonoy On Steve's wall where he posted the above link, I wrote,
" I support this Steve. We need more information as we go to internationalize the Scarborough/Spratlys issue. Only rent-seekers in the government and their armament suppliers want those expensive military hardware. The cheapest, and peaceful way to expose and shame China, is more information, more international discussion and negotiation, never, never, never, military confrontation."

To Mr. Nic O who wrote, "Make that armed drones with all sorts of missiles and guns, plus information warfare capability." I replied to him,
"Hi Nic, you want more money from us taxpayers, for more missiles, more guns, more warfare capability? Come on, what do you want to achieve aside from impoverishing us further, win a war with China?"

There is a possibility though, that the "more missiles, more jet fighters, more war" camp will win the debate, If that is the case, I propose that we get money from privatizing Camp Aguinaldo + the PMA campus in Baguio. DND and AFP HQ be moved to a cheaper place in Cavite perhaps. Get the money quick and modernize the AFP. They should never, never, get it from taxpayers' pockets.

1. Philippine government via the DFA should pursue international diplomacy and multilateral negotiations, endlessly.
2. Civil society and private citizens can launch various activities, no central plan, no central bureaucracy, to expose and shame not only the China government bullying but also the local military rent-seekers.
3. Do not entertain the military and war option. It is simply an idiotic path,..

Doods i'm in favor of building nuclear capability as a deterrent and to provide cheap nuclear energy to the country

Patrick Nonoy, the only downside here is if our military will buy drones then it is likely that daily surveillance sorties around Boracay: spying on all those nude sunbathers and beach sex :)

Nonoy Doods, me too, I'm pro nuke energy. Modern nuke tech even use nuke wastes as fuel itself, so it becomes perpetual power.
Patrick, highly possible :-)

Josef  Noy I think the debate on drones v. jet fighters has reached such a level in the US air force, but not to the degree of sacrificing one for the other. Its always a matter of functionality, and defense experts of course recognize that there are certain things drones cant do, like intercept and outmaneuver a modern Chinese J10 fighter jet piloted by one of China's best. I dont think defense experts have ever forwarded the idea that drones can soon take over the interceptor fighter role of direct-piloted jets. They have performed quite well in surveillance and air to ground attack roles, but only in environments where the other side lacks countervailing air assets. I have never heard of a drone intercepting and engaging a fighter jet in a dog fight.

Nonoy  But I don't support using drones for real war Jo. What do we want to achieve if we really want war with China, win it? That's day dreaming. China communist govt, being a communist and totalitarian govt, wants war, war, and more war. They bully and kill their own citizens, they bully Tibet, China. We deprive them of such option. So I support using drones to have possibly 24/7 monitoring of SCS/Scarborough, take photos, lots of evidence, for prolonged legal and international debates. Shame China via international debates, never in mil confrontation.

Eugene  Ahhh governments, they are real pain in the neck. Take them away and you'll see Filipino, Chinese, Taiwanese, Vietnamese, Malaysian fishermen going to the shoal with no conflict.

Nonoy Right Eugene. More war, or even just war talk, means more, bigger governments. That is why the main proponents and noise creators of war talks, are those in government themselves, plus their armament suppliers. Less government, less war, more trade, more tourism, more peace.

Doods  We don't actually need drones to use in the Scarborough Shoals situation, we can do a fly-by using a chopper and take imagery. With the limited range, I don't think they'd be useful to strike targets in China if it came to that. Drones would be useful to strike terrorist and insurgents hideouts especially in mountainous areas though.

Nonoy  That's another alternative Doods, but it will be very costly to fly a chopper every few hours or so. Whereas you can dispatch a drone every hour if we like, much cheaper, for 24/7 info gathering, for the large-scale international diplomatic offensive to shame the China communist govt.

Eugene  It reminds me of Adlai Stevenson II of the US during the Cuban Missile Crisis when he said to his Russian counterpart "I am prepared to wait for my answer until Hell freezes over."
That would be fun. :)

Josef  If people want drones and not fighter jets, they can always lobby for it. Or of course we can just leave the lobbying to the suppliers, and focus on the policy. Either way, you still have to engage the decision makers. And when it comes to policy, I am for a respectable external defense which, I think, is a respectable position, definitely not as absurd as a policy of going to war against China with the hope of defeating the PLA. That is patently absurd, and I apologize if I implied a modicum of interest in such an absurd policy.

Nonoy I think that having a "credible AFP" will ultimately win in the public debate. I will also support that, provided that money for such undertaking should be taken from privatization of Camp Aguinaldo and the PMA campus in Baguio, never from more taxation and more borrowings. Interest payment alone, excluding principal amortization, already consumes 1/5 of the annual budget. Or for every P5 total budget, P1 goes to interest payment alone, that's how big the current debt is. Adding more debts for such AFP modernization is not justified, because other sectors like healthcare, CCT, education, housing, population control/RH, agri, police, environment, etc. will also be demanding "more money for us".

Josef  Ika mo nga noy, OLRAYT! No debate on that.

Philip  Privatizing Camp Aguinaldo, Yes. Privatizing PMA, I have my reservations. Privatizing PMA is tantamount to privatizing our army.

Nonoy  Phil, Look at Israel, they have the most battle-tested army in the whole world. They have no special military academy. Every conscript is trained right there at the Israeli Defence Force (IDF). Many AFP officers came from CMT or ROTC, but they cannot really go up the ranks due to PMA monopoly. PMA is too pampered, P500,000 per student per year on average, or P2M per student for the 4 years program. Even UP College of Medicine students don't get even 1/4 of that subsidy and medical academic training is already expensive.

Ernesto  drones are great maybe. but not if drone's command program is hacked like when Iran downed a US spy drone by hacking into the system.
I can't suggest using drones specially against Chinese military. Magagaling na hacker ata mga yan. hehe

Philip  Israel, Noy, may not have a special military academy, but they have special training centers which their government pours with millions of dollars of subsidy. If UP medical students will conduct government service as what PMA graduates do, I agree that they too shall must have the same subsidy as the PMA students taking. Sorry for being bias here, I spent two years in the Academy and I know how it is being there, how rotting, as they say is a life of a cadet.

Nonoy Some of the AFP officers joined it with zero taxpayers subsidy miiitary training as they attended private universities. PMA is not equal to the army. Besides, the AFP wants more money -- the same way that DepEd, PNP, DENR, NHA, DOH, etc. also want more tax money. Since the AFP already has hundred plus billions each year, they should not expect hundred plus more on top from our pockets. Thus, if they want more money, they should learn to sacrifice, privatize Camp Aguinaldo and a big portion of the PMA campus, if not the entire PMA.

Philip Agree, they should live up to their budget.

Meanwhile, here are the recent papers by friends who are both free marketers and non-believers of the war option.

(1) From Anthony Lopez-Vito

War isn't the way out of the West Philippine Sea standoff with China
The Philippine-China standoff is heating up. It seems that this incident is stirring up Filipino patriotic fervor and many want to show that the Philippines will not be intimidated by China. Predictably, their solution is to take the military path and I'm hearing war drums beating from a number of my acquaintances. Armed conflict, however, is not the way out of this particular situation....

So, what's the way out? One answer is to explore harnessing the international community, an avenue that our politicians have not yet effectively leveraged. Nonoy Oplas already covered some options so I won't rehash them in this post. As he observed, the Chinese government simply doesn't know how to effectively deal with civil society organizations and public protest. This has been seen recently with the case of Liu Xiaobo, the jailed Chinese dissident and Nobel peace prizewinner. In trying to silence him, they ended up making him more widely known, with his writings now to be published in English for the first time. Conversely, China knows war and their military is far superior to ours. The Philippine government should not have tried to fight them in that arena. Our politicians are trying to wage war on the country that was the birthplace of Sun Tsu and The Art of War.

In The Art of War, Sun Tzu wrote, "The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting." Maybe if a few of our politicians bothered to read the book, we wouldn't be in this situation.

(2) From Harry Santos,

My Two Cents on Spratly Islands Conflict

... My two cents, let's let go of this petty dispute. Let China dig for treasure, for oil; let them be the first brother in the story who ended up with nothing. We don't need oil to be prosperous. In the documentary Free to Choose, Milton Friedman explains in the beginning that Hong Kong is basically just a piece of rock with no natural resources and yet it became very prosperous because of free trade and limited government. The same can be said about Singapore (a case I've already made in my article The Singapore Argument). Can we not be prosperous without oil?...

We have been trading with the Chinese since the dawn of civilization. We have thousands of Filipino loved ones working in China as OFWs. Many of the job creators and entrepreneurs here, from smalltime to conglomerates, are Chinese. This laptop I'm using right now was made in Shenzhen. Malaysia, Vietnam, and Brunei also asserts their claim in the islands. Now whether you agree or not with my proposed solutions, I hope we can agree that we must not engage in an armed conflict with China.

(3) From Colorful Rag,

Sunday, April 22, 2012


Can the Philippines win in the Spratly standoff with China? I believe so. Not through military might, of course. International pressure will help somewhat, but China doesn’t seem to care about past agreements.

We have to get in the mind of a corrupt institution, in this case, the People’s Republic of China. Like all states, it is its reason for being. As long as it can help it, it will grow in power....

See also:
China Watch 1: World's Largest Economies, Population, 2005, April 20, 2006
China Watch 2: China's Tourism, May 17, 2006
China Watch 3: World's Largest Traders, 2004, June 03, 2006
China Watch 4: Chinese Nationalism, Tibet, April 23, 2008
China Watch 5: China's New Patent Law, February 10, 2009 China Watch 6: China-India Blog, Eco-Protectionism, August 30, 2009
China Watch 7: Rising Yuan, Economic Bubbles, April 07, 2010
China Watch 14: More on the SCS/WPS Noise, July 11, 2011
China Watch 15: FTA, ASEAN and UNCLOS, August 01, 2011
China Watch 16: Scarborough Shoal, Spratlys and Citizens Action, May 01, 2012

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