Retaliation and restraint

When should a country retaliate to an attack on its territory and forces? What form should a retaliatory response take? When is restraint a preferable course of action? Questions like these suggest that conflict is a complex communication system in itself. Norms are observed even in war. No country wants to be accused of igniting … Read more

Dealing with China’s rise

From a broader perspective, the tensions in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) are only secondarily due to our maritime territorial disputes with China. These tensions are primarily an offshoot of the worsening great power rivalry between the United States and China. That rivalry encompasses multiple issues and has its own dynamics. As a … Read more

Overcoming political despair

When presented by opinion polls with the top choices for senators at next year’s midterm elections, middle-class educated Filipinos typically react with a mixture of disbelief and despair. They rue the fact that from the same list are names of politicians who may someday be perceived as “presidentiable.” In the current election cycle, the ones … Read more

Fatigue and recuperation of the senses

For many of us in this predominantly Christian nation, Easter is a time for spiritual reflection on the meaning of our lives, the certainty of death, and the promise of eternal life. But whether we admit it or not, it’s also a time for a break—whatever that might mean. Perhaps a break from the dullness … Read more

Can US institutions survive Trump II?

Americans who did not vote for Donald Trump in 2016 quickly recovered from the shock of seeing him become United States president in 2016 by taking comfort in the thought that the country’s democratic institutions were strong enough to withstand the autocratic assaults of this supremely narcissistic businessman-politician. The belief in the promise of strong … Read more

Politicians and pastors

Even in our largely pre-modern society, politicians and pastors normally observe a respectful line between their respective domains. To the extent possible, they take care not to cross this sensitive line. But, in the rare times they feel compelled to do otherwise, they do so with studied courtesy, making sure not to offend sensibilities. A … Read more

A visit across time

This piece is not about time travel, though it may well be. It is, more accurately, about the precious experience of seeing people again, more than half a century after we first met them. It is about those rare events in our lives when, in full awareness of the remaining time we have, “everything can … Read more

Russia under Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin served as a KGB foreign intelligence officer for 16 years before he was appointed prime minister in August 1999. Only a few months later, he took over the presidency after the resignation of Boris Yeltsin. Thus began his unprecedented rise as Russia’s undisputed leader. At 71, Putin is today Russia’s longest … Read more

The end of another coalition

To all intents and purposes, UniTeam, the North-South partnership that delivered the presidency to Bongbong Marcos (BBM) in 2022 is dead. Like all coalitions of convenience – i.e., alliances without ideology, organization, or long-term program – it was created for one sole purpose: to ensure the election of its principal candidate. The union of the … Read more