All of this has very little to do with what the title of this column implies, which is that a war might break out soon. Don't get me wrong -- in a perfect world, this is precisely the kind of thing we'd deploy the military forces of the world to stop before it even starts. But things just very rarely work that way. We didn't even get involved in World War II until FDR did Pearl Harbor. That's not something I actually believe; it just makes for a perfectly reasonable segue into talking about what's really going to make Duterte the next world leader to commit suicide by U.S. military invasion.
When that inevitably happens, Duterte won't have his stance on drug users to blame. Rather, the culprit will be his updated feelings about the EDCA, or Enhanced Defense and Cooperation Agreement, if details are your thing.
Pictured: a political cartoon from back when the Philippines still liked us.
The Philippines have been one of our best allies in Southeast Asia for decades now, in a kind of unofficial way. Basically, the EDCA made that alliance official. It's an agreement between the United States and the Philippines that allows us to keep a permanent military presence in the area. Troops, access to bases -- all the good stuff you need to have in place for when war breaks out in a far-off land. That's especially important when you take into account that China, one of our biggest quasi-enemies, otherwise dominates the region. All you need to do to understand how vital the Philippines are to us from a strategic standpoint is to look at a map. There's nothing between the United States and the Philippines except Pearl Harbor and thousands of miles of ocean. If some shit were to jump off which required us to get our military to Southeast Asia, it's way easier for us if we're already there. Or barring that, the Philippines at least provide a handy spot to stop and refuel and pick up more supplies and such. For all intents and purposes, the Philippines are our gateway to the (South)East.
Arrows added by me for emphasis.
However, it's not just that Duterte wants to rescind the EDCA. He's threatening to kick the United States military out of the Philippines altogether. That alone would be bad enough, but it gets worse. You see, the thing that's got Duterte so angry at us is our denouncement of his insane war on drugs. Not only does he want us to stop criticizing his decision to mass murder drug users, but he also wants us to help. Even our silence means nothing if we aren't also actively helping him rid the country of people who smoke meth. How does that make things worse? Because our enemies agree.