I lived for 4 years in Manila writing my 16th book, so my credentials for writing this are sound. I love the new President there, Duterte from Davao, but I wish he would like me more. He does not like America, and China seems his country of choice. But he is not simply a piece in the Asian chess board of politics, he is the Queen, and we might remember that to control the Queen in Chess is 90% of the game (I do not think we should try to control, however – I just want to be his friend). Remember also that the Philippines have a historical interest in the South China Sea and the islands there. They want to add a few more islands to the 7107 they already own, and you can’t blame them. But, China is bigger and richer and they are not afraid to bully people about (they just constructed a new island there without anyone’s permission). We need the Philippines and the Filipinos are asking to shut down whatever military presence we have there and make sail for home. We failed completely in our diplomacy in that most important strategic geography and we should try to send the right person there to become Pres. Duterte’s friend – not a professional ambassador but someone new to diplomacy. However, one who knows well the City of Manila and its surrounding islands. The Southern Muslim Region houses the 300 to 500 murderous terrorists of Abu Sayyaf, and they have endorsed ISIS, making of that region a part of the Caliphate – bad news for the world. We can provide much help to the Philippines, but first we must win over Pres. Duterte, and he is not available for the usual Asian bribe. He is an honest man of strong opinion, and this can make him a significant problem for the US in the shift to Asia. President-elect Trump, I will go to talk to him if you thought it could be a part of the art of the deal. I will take Lee Ielpi with me, and you will never find two men who have been in as many fires as we have been – for every smart person can see the Manila smoke if not yet the fire. Together we will put the fire out.
Dennis Smith, FDNY (ret.), Engine Co. 82

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