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The 1990-91 U.S.-Philippine Base Negotiations: Killing the American Goose

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The withdrawal of U.S. forces from the Subic Bay Naval Base at the end of 1992 marked the end of the special relationship between the U.S. and the Philippines, centered, since the 1947 Military Bases Agreement MBA around a substantial American military presence. For much of that quarter century, the relationship weathered Philippine nationalist resentment of the U.S. role in the islands, disputes over compensation for U.S. use of military facilities, differences about jurisdiction over military personnel and specifics of base operations, and evolving visions of the strategic value of the bases. Yet, until 1990-91, both sides were able to agree on conditions which allowed the U.S. presence to continue and huge amounts of U.S. assistance to flow. Why did protracted negotiations fail to bring about agreement under Aquino It appears that 1 the U.S. estimate of the value of the U.S.-Philippine relationship and of the bases declined over the course of the negotiations and 2 the Philippines failed to perceive the change and continued to act as though the U.S. commitment to their country and the bases was immutable. How was the U.S. able to overcome the inertia of a policy in place for a quarter century Why did the Philippines miscalculate The lens of the bureaucratic model of national decision-making provides a framework for suggesting answers. Ironically, both the U.S. and the Philippines took the positions they did in the negotiations because of factors that 3 sharply circumscribed the power of their respective Executive Branch bureaucracies. On the U.S. side, a bureaucratic innovation the off ice of Special Negotiator provided the vehicle for a strong personality to marginalize the bureaucracy and its attachment to the status quo. In the Philippines, a weak presidency allowed base opponents to seize control of the negotiations from the Foreign Ministry.

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  • Government and Political Science
  • Geography
  • Civil Defense

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