MANILA — The country’s policymakers must learn from history and current global geopolitics if the country wants to avoid conflict with any of its neighbors, according to Senator Alan Peter Cayetano.
The veteran lawmaker, who served as Secretary of Foreign Affairs during the Duterte administration, gave this as a reply to a comment on a Facebook post he made on March 26, 2023, about the book “Has China Won?” by Singaporean diplomat and former United Nations Security Council president Kishore Mahbubani.
A netizen lamented in the post’s comments section that war and the constant contests among nations for territory and resources have always been inevitable throughout human history.
“It is sad really that we only have one Planet Earth, and yet there is no peace between us,” the commenter said.
The senator replied that he appreciates the insight and that there is reason to hope despite the seeming inevitability of war throughout history.
“There is wisdom in learning from history. Let’s hope our policymakers, diplomats, and the military are studying the Cuban Missile Crisis and the genesis of the war between Russia and Ukraine,” Cayetano said.
The senator was referring to the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, a diplomatic standoff between Cold War rivals the United States and the Soviet Union widely regarded by historians as the closest the world has gone to the brink of full-scale nuclear war. The resolution of the crisis served as a turning point for US-Soviet relations at the height of the Cold War.
The senator also pointed to the contemporary conflict between modern Russia and Ukraine, with Russian forces occupying significant areas of eastern and southern Ukraine while western countries have continued to support Kiev’s resistance efforts.
Cayetano has repeatedly voiced his preference for careful diplomacy in the country’s dealings with its neighbors and allies in general, and with China in particular.
“I’m a believer in diplomacy. Ako’y naniniwala na hindi dahas, hindi war, at hindi rin po force ang magso-solve ng problema natin sa West Philippine Sea kundi diplomacy,” he said in a June 2022 interview.
In his March 26 post, Cayetano expressed his eagerness to glean from the views of “great thinkers and thought leaders” on US-China relations, describing the situation as an “evolving relationship and rivalry.”
“May God Almighty give our leaders wisdom and understanding, that we may be the salt and light among nations, and that Filipinos may be instruments of peace, progress, and transformation,” the senator wrote.
“I highly recommend (Mahbubani’s) book. I will recommend other readings on US-China (relations) soon,” he added.