WAR SOLVES NOTHING
Statement read by
PATRICIA B. LICUANAN
PhD, Miriam College President
Joint Press Conference of School Presidents
Faculty Center, University of the Philippines
20 March 2003
We have always taught our students that a multilateral forum, no matter how imperfect, was necessary if every country were to find its role in a world that is plural, diverse and inter-dependent. Linked to this, we welcomed the global information explosion as an instrument of justice and peace – a means for cross-cultural inter-connections, expanded dialogues, and consensus building. We were not naive to think that power did not play out in global institutional sites but we also believed that engagement and dialogue was the way toward peace and conviviality.
It makes sense to build, destroy and re-cast the way we dialogue, where we dialogue, what we dialogue on, and whom we dialogue with. It makes no sense at all – and in fact it is unjust – to destroy a country and nation.
As history has taught us, no amount of planning can precisely predict how long a war will last. Nor could it adequately prepare for the extent of rehabilitation and rebuilding needed by a wounded people and a devastated country. Operation “Shock and Awe” exudes swiftness and precision. Once enforced, however, it may very well become protracted and more complex.
War solves nothing. The war against Iraq will once again bring destruction, death and misery. It would be harsh to those who are most vulnerable, implicate the innocent, and dehumanize everyone. Countless Iraqi women would lose their sons and husbands in battles while widows, the aged and the young would carry on with living and reconstruction even before their grief subsides.
We are alarmed about the effects of the war on social care and functional entitlements, in particular on people’s access to basic necessities, services and mobility. The citizens of Iraq are already low in the supply of medicines and medical equipment that was a result of the decade long embargo. The sick and the wounded will not stand a chance at survival.
The war will not spare Filipinos. We are especially concerned about the dangers it would bring to 1.7 million Filipino workers in the Middle East, mainly women. Let us not have a repeat of the horrors of escape, forced detention and rape that our women overseas contract workers experienced when they fled Kuwait and neighboring countries at the height of “Desert Storm”.
Given the tensions around the world and existing conflicts in the Middle East, the war in Iraq will be more difficult to contain. We are afraid that it will exacerbate and internationalize antagonisms and hostilities – wherever these are found. In our country, the build-up to war has already led to a more aggressive response by the Philippine government to the Mindanao Question. The children of Pikit, South Cotabato who still have to break through the psychological impact of Erap’s All Out War Policy are once more awakened by gunfire and grenade blasts. A war culture will slowly creep into societies, the Philippines included, which will only embolden the military and other armed groups to intensify its use of violence.
The call for war is a rite of machismo. It is bolstered by the patriarchal idea that violence is indispensable. Rather than violence, and in the midst of it, let us continue to search for paths that will enable us to build a world based on a respect and promotion of the human right of every individual – women and men, young and old – regardless of creed, culture and nationality.
The impact and ramifications of the war in Iraq will not end with Saddam’s departure. The damage it has wrought upon the future of multilateralism, the legitimacy of the United Nations and on the search for international peace and cooperation, is as great as the physical damage and destruction of lives and livelihoods that it carries. The idea of force as being necessary for peace is once again socially reproduced and impressed on our collective psyche. This war will haunt us for a long time.
In the post-Cold War period, we all looked toward a changed global system in which states would more genuinely seek collective decisions and even more earnestly arrive at the common good. We thought that one promising frontier for innovative ideas and ways was in interlinking the goals of global peace, people’s security and human rights, women’s rights included. Let us not allow these difficult times to hinder us from such constructivist endeavors. It is the duty of the academe to critically expose what does not seem right. It is equally our duty to contribute new ideas and fresh thinking that will move humanity out of its dark moments. Let us all pray we do not fail in our duty!
Katipunan Avenue, Loyola Heights
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 on Mar 26th 2003