For most commentators, President Barack Obama’s biggest achievement in his four-nation tour of Asia was the enhanced defense treaty he signed with Philippine President Benigno Aquino. The pact permits US forces to operate on Philippine military bases and sets the conditions for joint training of US and Philippine forces, among other things.
There are two problems with the treaty, however.
And they reflect the basic problem with US foreign policy generally, five-and-a-half years into the Obama presidency.
MANILA — U.S. forces were supposed to be gone from the Philippines for good by 1991 when the U.S. pulled out of Clark Air Base after ashes from the eruption of Mount Pinatubo inundated the airstrip and the Philippine Senate refused to renew the lease on the bases.
Now they’re coming back, attuned to anti-base sensitivities and unpleasant memories of GI’s carousing around base towns that still prosper today on tourists in search of the same pleasures as the GI’s.