Operation Tolstoy

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    OF Philippine President Duterte’s visit to Russia last week, we noted the following:

    (1) Russian President Vladimir Putin told the 03 October 2019 bilateral meeting in Sochi: “We want also to increase our industrial cooperation and to improve our cooperation when it comes to the exploration of space and the use of digital technologies.” For his part, Duterte highlighted: “In 2018, BRP Tarlac made a port call at Vladivostok, the first ever by Philippine Navy. This was highly a political issue and importance given that a few years back this would have been unthinkable.”

    (2) “The liberal global order built after the Second World War was the Pax Americana…As the 21st century unfolds, the legitimacy of this order is increasingly questioned, its appeal weakened, and its hold over countries diminished.” [“World Order Seen From The East,” Speech of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte at the plenary session of the forum of the Valdai International Discussion Club, 03 October 2019]

    (3) “They (China) have a missile that can reach Manila in seven minutes. Would I be crazy to go to war with that kind of armaments arrayed against my country? Mahirap na mag-assert ka, kasi kung bubukuhin ka, insultuhin ka, away talaga ‘yan.” [Speech of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte during his meeting with the Filipino community in Russia, delivered at VDNH, Moscow, 05 October 2019]

    (4) “Our efforts to revitalize bilateral relations are bearing fruit. Very recently, two or more Philippine fishery establishments gained accreditation to export to Russia and to other Eurasian markets.” [Speech of President Duterte, Philippines-Russia Business Forum, House of the Unions, Moscow, Russia, 04 October 2019]

    (5) “Davao City has the most number of Japanese-descended Filipinos. It used to be the territory of the Japanese long before the Second World War.” [Q&A after the arrival statement and press conference of President Duterte following his official visit to the Russian Federation, Francisco Bangoy International Airport, Davao City, 06 October 2019]
    Interestingly, the Duterte visit coincided with the 75th anniversary of WW2-era events like the Dumbarton Oaks Conference. This week, the anniversaries include the Red Army’s Petsamo–Kirkenes Offensive against Axis forces in Finland and Norway, Battle of Tehumardi, Battle of Turda, and the Fourth Moscow Conference, among others. This Conference (aka Operation Tolstoy) involved a ten-day meeting between the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and the Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars of the USSR J.V. Stalin wherein the former (“taking a long view of the future of the world”) told the latter that “it was no part of British policy to grudge Soviet Russia access to warm-water ports and to the great oceans and seas of the world.”

    As a postscript to both the Duterte visit and the 75th anniversary of WW2-era events, we can cite Stalin’s Speech at the Celebration Meeting of the Moscow Soviet of Working People’s Deputies and Moscow Party and Public Organizations, 06 November 1944: “History shows that aggressor nations, the nations which attack, are usually better prepared for a new war than peace-loving nations which, having no interest in a new war, are usually behindhand with their preparations for it. It is a fact that in the present war the aggressor nations had an army of invasion all ready even before the war broke out—while the peace-loving nations did not even have adequate armies to cover their mobilization. One cannot regard as an accident such distasteful facts as the Pearl Harbor ‘incident,’ the loss of the Philippines and other Pacific Islands, the loss of Hong Kong and Singapore, when Japan, as the aggressor nation, proved to be better prepared for war than Great Britain and the United States of America, which pursued a policy of peace. Nor can one regard as an accident such a distasteful fact as the loss of the Ukraine, Byelorussia and the Baltics in the very first year of the war, when Germany, as the aggressor nation, proved better prepared for war than the peace-loving Soviet Union. It would be naïve to explain these facts by the personal qualities of the Japanese and the Germans, their superiority over the British, the Americans and the Russians, their foresight, etc.”

    On the other side of the globe, October is Filipino American History Month in the State of Washington in the United States for which a conference on WWII in the Philippines was held at Seattle University last October 5, featuring Cecilia Gaerlan of the Bataan Legacy Historical Society, Bernard Karganilla of the University of the Philippines, and “Honor: The Legacy of Jose Abad Santos” film.

    As a solicited response to this Seattle conference, Gil Florentino A. Garcia, who lectures on World War II Arts, Language and Education, said: “The lessons of World War II can never be understated and it should never (at all) be discreet. It should be told as it is. From the point of view of the conquered nations who fought back and won that war for their own sakes. The atrocities, the crimes against humanity and the mindlessness of it all should never be forgotten. Not today, and most especially, never tomorrow.”

    In this regard, the Hunters-ROTC Historical Society (in helping to draft a bill mandating the instruction of World War II in the Philippines in Senior High School) points out that wartime leaders like Macario Peralta, Eulogio Balao, Ramon Magsaysay, Eleuterio Adevoso, and Ruperto Kangleon, to name a few, also guided the Republic in its early modern years.
    Other matters of interest:

    (1) A Filipino scholar of the University of the Philippines in Los Baños and 64 scientists from 11 different countries called on mayors across the globe to reduce meat in their public canteens in order to tackle the climate emergency. [https://www.scientists4lessmeat.org/]

    (2) A Greenpeace report (“Throwing Away the Future: How Companies Still Have It Wrong on Plastic Pollution ‘Solutions’”) shows how multinational companies continue to harm the environment by using paper and crops-based bioplastics, which cause deforestation and threaten food security. [https://storage.googleapis.com/planet4-international-stateless/2019/09/8a1d1791-falsesolutions2019.pdf]

    Back to Russia. Read the Valdai International Discussion Club Reports: “It is a worrisome sign that the major players lack reliable interaction mechanisms in the event that the worst-case scenario comes to pass. All sides are increasingly inclined to see containment as the best option, complete with all the ensuing consequences such as the ‘spiral of fear,’ the Thucydides trap, and ‘security paradox.’ A war provoked by a stupidity is quite possible in this situation.” [“A New Anarchy? Scenarios for World Order Dynamics,” July 2019]