Where do you stand on the war?By Philip Dominguez Mercurio
I don’t like stating my stance about issues concerning war. I’d like to, especially in these days of conflict, but I don’t because in this country, you’ll likely end up either at the end of one of two extremes: the “for war” crowd or the “against war” bunch.
Haven’t you ever noticed? Either you’re portrayed as a war hawk, stomping the pulpit for blood or you’re seen as someone siding with the enemy; weak and unpatriotic.
To place such a debate about something as engaging as war in such a context is ridiculous and it’s no wonder why when you listen to radio or the cable networks, much of the conversation consists of rambling personal attacks upon the other side instead of intelligent debate about the issues. Such talk is not only damaging to society but for most Americans; it’s terrifying. Who wants to be seen as a “warmonger” or a “coward”? I surely wouldn’t.
Since we are Filipinos, we should easily understand why a debate on the grounds of “pro or anti” war fails miserably at the historical level. For instance, the Philippine-American War -- that nearly forgotten war. Here was a people at the cusp of winning their freedom from their own colonizers subjected to the authority of another colonial power in a brutal and uncompromising way.
For those of you who are pro-war all the time, you would be hard-pressed to prove that their drive to war was in the best interest of the civilian population a good portion of whom -- one-hundred thousand or more -- were killed as a result of the ensuring hardship caused by the American push across the country. You may try to say, “Well, we were able to build a successful and sustaining colony after that war making our intervention via the Philippine-American War beneficial for the Philippines and Filipinos as a whole,” but I’d likely counter by asking, “Why did America need to follow such a treacherous and deceitful road for their own personal gain? Couldn’t there have been better way?”
On the other hand, World War II presents the other side of the coin for us Filipinos. It was a war with unfortunate civilian causalities, but there was the imperative to win. Here was a people, again on the cusp of having the freedom to run their own government, suddenly incorporated into a newly forming Asian Empire. The oppressive Japanese forces ruled us with an iron fist, implementing a puppet government, only to be run out of the Philippines thanks to the valiant efforts of the American and Filipino liberating forces.
For those of you who are pro-peace, you would be hard-pressed to prove that we should have just submitted to the Japanese without a fight. Research has concluded that the Japanese had in fact wanted to have the Americans submit to peace instead of wage war against them. Their tactic was to claim as much territory as possible, hopefully keeping that territory by breaking America’s will to fight via the swift destruction of America’s Pacific Fleet. Thank goodness Americans were able to rev up their war machine to start the liberation process, thus effectively saving the Philippines.
In Manila, tens of thousands of Filipinos were killed in the ensuing firebombing of the city to rid us of the remaining Japanese soldiers. But wasn’t it worth it? Could you imagine the Americans having to stop the war at every step of the way to account for the vulnerable civilian population? Perhaps the Battle of Manila wouldn’t have been finished like it had. It may have extended for many months, even years, noting how tough the Japanese will was.
Instead of thinking about the war in those terms, I think a more logical way of debating the war would be asking whether or not it was a just one or an unjust one. Such a system would allow one the leeway to support good wars and denounce bad ones. People could choose to say for example that the Philippine-American War was unjust and another war, World War II was just.
Chances are if the debate was focused along these two parameters, more Americans would be able to voice their opinion and not be afraid of being placed on one of two extremes that exist now. - PDM
See this article,"Where do you stand on the war?" in Philippine News. Click here.