Recently, a number of activities have taken place to mark the 70th anniversary of the Mutual Defense Treaty between the Philippines and the United States. Senior officials from the defense and state departments of both countries gathered in Washington to celebrate the occasion. But amid calls for greater cooperation and a stronger alliance to include a review of the agreement on aging, no one seems to have noticed that for nearly a year now, the post of U.S. ambassador to the Philippines was vacant. In the world of diplomacy, such a situation can take on important interpretations. When a position remains vacant for a long time, it may indicate a lack of enthusiasm or interest in maintaining a strong and vibrant relationship. It could also be a sign of irritation or dissatisfaction with the other party.
When ambassadors are abruptly withdrawn or recalled, a more serious situation exists. This is the case in the case of France, Australia and the United States. Australia’s cancellation of a multibillion-dollar diesel submarine contract with France, for nuclear-powered submarines offered by the United States, has led France to withdraw its emissaries from Canberra and Washington, DC, and called their actions “a stab in the back.” Â»And a betrayal of trust between allies.
In the case of US-Philippine diplomatic relations, when Ambassador Thomas Hubbard left in July 2000, it was a year and seven months before his successor, Ambassador Francis Ricciardone Jr., arrived in February. 2002. In the meantime, a charge d’affaires headed the embassy. .
A Bit of History The first United States Ambassador, Paul V. McNutt, was actually the United States’ High Commissioner to the Commonwealth of the Philippines government. His title simply changed from high commissioner to ambassador. McNutt was a former governor of Indiana, with a reputation as an old-fashioned politician who demanded that state employees donate two percent of their salaries to the Indiana Democratic Party. In 1936, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt appointed him high commissioner for his support for FDR’s candidacy for re-election. He was replaced by Emmet O’Neal, an abandoned Kentucky politician who served for a brief period before returning to his law practice.
In 1952, Admiral Raymond Spruance, the hero of “The Battle of Midway”, was appointed by President Harry Truman to serve in Manila. Spruance, a graduate of the US Naval Academy, is considered one of the greatest admirals in the US Navy. He led the attack on Midway which wiped out Japan’s aircraft carrier fleet and turned the tide of the Pacific War. His time in the Philippines saw the election of Ramon Magsaysay as president.
Charles “Chip” Bohlen was foreign policy advisor to every American president from 1943 to 1968. His expertise focused on Europe, in particular the Soviet Union where he was ambassador. But he had problems with Secretary of State John Foster Dulles who exiled him to the Philippines from 1957 to 1959. He replaced Ambassador Albert Nufer who died of coronary thrombosis at his residence in 1956, the only one sent to die in Manila.
General Henry A. Byroade graduated from the US Military Academy at West Point, joining the US Army Corps of Engineers. President Richard Nixon appointed him Ambassador to the Philippines in 1969, and it was during his period of service that President Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law in September 1972. In the years of martial law that followed, William Seasoned career diplomats Sullivan, Richard Murphy, Michael Armacost and Stephen Bosworth took turns at the embassy in Manila with Bosworth overseeing Marcos’ departure after Edsa.
The first female U.S. Ambassador to Manila was Kristie Kenney, who served from March 2006 to July 2009. She was followed by the first African-American envoy to the Philippines, Harry K. Thomas Jr., who found himself embroiled in controversy over his remark that â40% of male tourists to the Philippines go there for sex. He apologized and ended his service with a second wife, a Filipina. The first Asian American and the last to serve in Manila was Sung Y. Kim, a Korean American who left in October 2020.
Maybe Uncle Sam doesn’t really need an ambassador in Manila. His relations within our government are impeccable and very reliable. In 2016, President Duterte declared the end of RP-US military exercises. âBalikatanâ continues to this day. The president called for the termination of the visiting forces agreement. The VFA continues aided by US vaccine diplomacy.[emailÂ protected]
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