Get this. One day US State Department blocks the sale of 26,000 rifles to the Philippines. The next day the offended Philippines’ president calls them “fool” and “monkeys” prompting the US State Department spokesperson John Kirby to complain he just can’t understand where this is coming from since Washington is such a great friend to the Philippines government.
Perhaps Duterte by the same token can’t understand why his “close friends” causing him to lose face when he could have taken his dollars to any number of suppliers?
He has a point. US is happy to pursue a war against Philippines’ Muslim rebels in Mindanao, anchor its navy at Angeles City, and try to get the 7th fleet into a war on the behalf of Manila’s claim to South China Sea but won’t transfer some rifles? That’s surely making it harder for Duterte to maintain these other ties.
And that’s a good thing actually. Because at the end of the day they are both right. US is right to distance itself from Duterte’s lethal war on drugs, and he is right to want to distance Americans from Manila’s open issues with China and Muslim rebels.
That raises a question. Did Duterte order the rifles for his widely popular war on drugs in America actually hoping the transfer would be blocked?
You have to understand that Duterte is passionately anti-American, but his people are largely just the opposite.
At most the snub causes him to lose some face, but on the other he now has one more exhibit to add to his presentation of why Americans are no friends to the Philippines.
If he’s going to reorient the Philippines away from the US he’s going to need his people behind him. Hiccups like this serve him just fine.