HANDS OFF IRAQ by Dr. Francisco Nemenzo
President, University of the Philippines
In my personal capacity as a citizen of a supposedly democratic republic, I add my voice to the global chorus of protest against the impending US war on Iraq.
The issue is not Saddam Hussein. He may be cruel and oppressive, but it is for the Iraqi people, not the US, to decide his fate. The issue is whether the US, ignoring the United Nations, has the moral authority to apply overwhelming force to change a regime in another sovereign state.
We are all against weapons of mass destruction, but let us not forget that the US maintains the biggest stockpile of such weapons. We are all against terrorism, but no other nation surpasses the US record of terrorist acts. The CIA tried to assassinate Fidel Castro eight times and provided the logistics for bombing hotels and burning sugarcane fields in Cuba. The US is the ONLY country to use nuclear weapons, against Japan in 1945. It was also the first to make extensive use of chemical weapons in the Vietnam War. Even Hitler desisted from engaging in chemical and bacteriological warfare although Nazi Germany already had those!
As the lone superpower in the world today, the US is bullying everybody, even its European allies. In the name of democracy, it has supported tyrants for as long as they serve its purpose. Saddam Hussein himself was once a protege of the US. The US helped build his war machine to make Iraq a counterforce to Iran. The US also armed, trained, and financed the Talibans to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan.
Only when the Talibans got out of control did the US pursue them with hammer and tongs. After ousting the Talibans, the US installed as president of Afghanistan a former employee of a company the Bush family partly owns. But Afghanistan is not a svery valuable trophy because it is devoid of strategic resources. George W. Bush now sets his eye on oil-rich Iraq.
If, indeed, Iraq has weapons of mass destruction and Saddam Hussein is as crazy and heartless as Bush says he is, he might unleash those weapons when pushed in a desperate situation. That will endanger the hundreds of thousands of Filipinos not only in Iraq but also in neighboring countries.
Bush might also adopt a scorched earth policy and blast the Iraqi oil fields, one of the main sources of oil in the world. That will cause the price of oil to shoot up, making our lives more miserable and the oil business more profitable.
If the peoples of the world applaud him as our government does, Bush will be encouraged to attack the other components of what he calls “the axis of evil.” The Texas cowboy seems bent on waging war wherever US power is challenged. North Korea and Cuba may be next in line. Peace is the unlikely outcome of such adventures. They are more likely to foment religious discord and a wave of retaliatory actions in weak states like the Philippines where the police is famous for incompetence.
Let it not be said that UP stood silent as the Bush-fire grows into a conflagration. Let it not be said that UP stood silent and quiet at this moment of grave danger to humankind.
The date posted here is due to our website rebuild, it does not reflect the original date this article was posted. This article was originally posted in Yonip in 2003