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Brexit and the Philippines’ President Duterte “Harry” Show the US Has Problems With Key Allies Doing the Unexpected.

Before the UK’s referendum on leaving the EU in June 2016 plenty of world politicians advised the British to remain most prominently was the current US President Barack Obama warning the UK would be, “at the back of the queue,” in any future trade negotiations with the US if it choose to leave.

The UK duly chose to leave and its multi-faceted mammoth negotiating efforts to leave the EU have begun with article 50 of the EU charter to be triggered in March 2017. The outcome remains very difficult to predict and efforts to retain access to the single market for the UK’s largest export earners such as financial services and car manufacturing industry marks a road which will be long and arduous. The pound has dropped significantly against the Euro and US Dollar and for British tourists in the Eurozone it’s less than parity at the ATMs (with personal experience in October 2016).

Meanwhile, the President Duterte of the Philippines, dubbed Duterte “Harry” by the western media, continues his policy of eradicating drug dealers in his country by the thousands. The Philippines has been a close military ally with the US and a key protester against China’s territorial claims in the South China with its critical sea trade routes, natural resources and disputed islands. During a state visit to China in October he publicly distanced himself from the US and said he sought a closer relationship with the Chinese.

Regardless whether Duterte was just playing to his hard man persona or in time Chinese pressure over territorial claims in the South China Sea will politically damage him. The distancing of a key ally in a key trading region in Asia from US foreign policy is a serious loss of influence for any new US administration to bear if the relationship does deteriorate as he suggests. Its outcome in the longer term could have serious impact on trade agreements, insurance contracts and security thus decreasing potential world economic growth and stability.

The UK on the other hand has gone from rock solid ally to more politically unpredictable in terms of trade and political unity since the Suez crisis in 1956. At a time when the Middle East remains in a perilous state with Syria, Libya and the Yemen locked in horrific wars. The US needs to emerge from the truly awful US presidential campaign in 2016 with a fully functioning foreign policy to engage in the World as the superpower it remains and play its part in conflict resolution before others take their cue to unprecedented levels.

China can and will seek to increase its influence and Putin’s Russia increasingly so too, especially if oil prices recover, with the EU fractured over immigration policy and the UK now stuck in needless navel-gazing Brexit negotiations. The West needs to reiterate what it believes and the US remains best placed to lead. A new US administration should put a stop the divisive debate over immigration, the US was built on immigrants, and build some badly needed infrastructure instead. It needs to engage and negotiate with China and Russia and act as mediator between Iran and Saudi Arabia. While promoting the ideals the West professedly believes, such as freedom of expression, human rights, trade and democracy, the US can co-operate with other powers to achieve a degree of peace and stability that allows 7 Billion people to co-exist.

In honesty, after viewing Russia’s only rusty old smoke belching aircraft carrier in the English Channel on route to Syria, with China’s debt issues unresolved and Iran’s (and Saudi’s) budget deficit and its struggling economy. These competing world or regional powers all have major issues to deal with and the $17 trillion US economy, with all its internal issues, remains great regardless of the claim by the republican nominee Donald Trump to remake it by building wall across its Mexican border.

Duterte’s time will finish, the UK will (in time) redefine itself politically and the US will have had it first female President.

Let’s hope it goes well as C.19th political turmoil led to nasty C.20th conflicts.

LDC

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