By: Chee Soon Juan
I wrote this article in Aug last year after the PM was feted in a state dinner at the White House. It is an occasion that international leaders covet, but also one that doesn’t come for free. The event was Obama’s not-so-subtle way of telling China that Singapore remains firmly in the US’ geopolitical orbit.
But as I say in the piece, the US has no friends, only interests. And with changes in the presidency, policies and tactics also change. With Trump as president, is America still as committed to Asia? Will he rely on diplomacy or resort to force over the SCS dispute?
In this vein, Singapore’s foreign policy must be less maladroit. Getting in bed with the US and trumpeting about it is not the smartest thing to do especially in an era of a rising China.
(Another case in point is our foolish support of the Iraq War. Goh Chok Tong had said then: “It is clear to everyone, unless that person wears blinkers, that this is a war to remove the weapons of mass destruction from Saddam Hussein.” It turned out that Saddam did not possess WMDs and the war spawned ISIS.)
It goes without saying that we will not allow China or any one else to bully us. But the inability of the PAP to read changing geopolitical trends is what has landed Singapore in this unholy diplomatic mess. The bigger worry is whether its bungling has placed Singapore in a no-win situation should armed hostilities break out between the big powers.