[Dan] Rather was surprised when Hussein challenged Bush to a debate, a gambit that was quickly dismissed by the White House. "I wasn't sure he was serious," the anchor explained. "I said to him, 'Mr. President, are you joking about this?' He said no, war is too serious to joke about."
Political philosopher Hannah Arendt says that one of the most common reasons behind the rage of a people is hypocrisy.
I think this is becoming pretty evident right now, among the parties who do not agree with U.S.'s stand on Iraq. Here are a few arguments I've seen on the Web today: (Please note that the opinions expressed below do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the rowster.)
Maybe I'm being naive, but I'm having difficulty seeing the logic of trade embargoes. You block trade to a country in order to punish a tyrant ... but who suffers? Not the tyrant (who probably has means to barely feel the effects of the sanctions), but the citizens. So now the citizens are suffering twice over, first from the oppressive rule of their government; second from the economic sanctions on their nation.
Meanwhile, a cousin of mine who knows the horrors of terrorism only too well (she lost her fiance in the 9/11 attack) sent our family a beautiful e-mail message advocating peace. "What's the rush?" is her stand. Her fear is that if her government rushes too quickly into a war against Iraq, this will only give terrorists around the world more reason to hate the United States.
She ended her message with two appeals:
(1) Please visit peacefultomorrows.org, a site that advocates for peace "by showing the human faces and telling the stories of the innocent people who are and will be affected by the war and terrorism."
(2) For those who wish to help find a better way to resolve the conflict, she encourages people to join the February 26 (U.S. time) Virtual March. It shall be a protest via the internet, fax messages, and voice-calls to Washington DC. Details can be found at www.moveon.org/winwithoutwar/.
Finally got to watch Hero last night. It was BEAUTIFUL! Winner si Zhang Yimou!!! Technical brilliance and an incredible story. This has a good chance of making it to my list of all-time favorite films.
I grew up exposed to kungfu movies, but the past few years have really raised the bar. Everything that is beautiful about Chinese martial arts movies--the stunning acrobatics and amazing kungfu--has been combined with incredible technical production, more innovation, and more creativity.
Of course, after watching the movie, M and I discussed the question: "Which did you like better, Crouching Tiger, or Hero?" Honestly, I liked Hero better. I loved Crouching Tiger as well, but I felt that Ang Lee was simply taking the elements of a traditional Chinese martial arts movie and introducing it to a Western audience--in that sense, I didn't find Crouching Tiger extraordinarily original (although it was a GREAT movie nevertheless).
On the other hand, Hero does't pander to a Western audience; it is not only fantastically well-made, it also struck me as a very honest film. Well-made: the artistry was, needless to say, incredible. Many times I felt I was looking at a Chinese painting (one longshot shot from underwater during one of Jet Li and Donnie Yen's fight scenes had me agape). The elements borrowed from Chinese opera lent drama and intensity to the film. Honest: It raised very honest questions about Chinese history and Chinese heritage. I appreciated the way it sought to remind its Chinese audience about the ultimate meaning of the traditional Chinese arts, and the way it upheld some core Chinese values. But I confess, despite the controversy that it has stirred, I also liked the way it asked whether it was possible to explore a more human side of Qin Shihuang.
Footnote: I just find it a little sad that in between making brilliant epic Chinese films, Shaolin-trained Jet Li goes to Hollywood to do brainless gangster flicks. Sigh ....
Today is the 17th anniversary of the People Power Revolution that ousted Ferdinand Marcos ... and here we are, still in the slow painful process of democratization.
I sometimes get a little impatient when people talk about "democracy" as something swiftly won, as in a war, or in a four-day revolution, or merely a change of powers.
Democracy is something worked at for years, decades, even generations. Democracy involves the slow process of awakening people to a culture that is often completely different from what they are used to.
I switched on the television to see, live on CNN, Prime Minister Mahathir giving a speech in Kuala Lumpur (where a 116-nation strong convention of non-aligned developing states is ongoing) strongly supporting disarmament (in Iraq and in North Korea) but also strongly condemning war.
One of his most brilliant statements was when he said something about envisioning democracy as not only being internal democracy for individual states but a global democracy.
Amazingly, he divided the world between THE NORTH AND THE SOUTH and called the "war on terror," a war, at the same time "of the north to dominate the south." He cautioned the world about the effects that the current events may have on the world order. He challenged the United Nations to play a much more assertive role in world affairs.
He also made many strong statements about the "double-standard" of the north--both politically and economically--and called on the states of the south to stop being silent and to be more aggressive in speaking for themselves and fighting for their rights.
Whoo-hoo! Go Mahathir! Say it for all of us marginalized states!!!!!!!!!!!!! Say it for the, ahem, "BACKWATERS" of the world!!!!! ;)
U.S. troops appear suddenly to be deploying everywhere, and with very little notice....
Welcome to Pax Americana. U.S. armed forces are on the move around the world in ways that have not been seen since at least World War Two, in what is a dramatic illustration of the Bush administration's National Security Strategy that was publicly released last September....
But as pointed out by Max Boot, a prominent neo-conservative writer based at the Council on Foreign Relations, it is really the globalisation of the Monroe Doctrine, or, more precisely, the Roosevelt Corollary issued by Theodore Roosevelt in 1904. It came two years after the end of the Spanish-American War and the defeat of the bloody Filipino insurgency against U.S. annexation and one year after Washington's own sponsorship of the Panamanian secession from Colombia, which laid the groundwork for the Panama Canal.
The 1823 Monroe Doctrine was designed to assert Washington's exclusive sphere of influence over the Americas. Unenforceable due to U.S. military weakness until the eve of the Spanish-American War in 1898, the Doctrine warned European powers in particular that any intervention in the hemisphere's affairs would be presumed to threaten ''our peace and happiness''.
Based on the Doctrine, Roosevelt's Corollary asserted the additional right of the United States to intervene against not only against European intervention, but against anything in the Americas that Washington deemed a threat.
... [In] 1898, the United States intervened in Cuba's revolution for independence from Spain. The resulting "splendid little war," as John Hay, the U.S. ambassador to England, described the three-month Spanish-American War, closed with a treaty ceding to the United States control of Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines. Spain was paid twenty million dollars for the Philippines.
Like many Americans, Twain thought that the war with Spain was fought solely to free Cuba from Spanish oppression, and he supported it for that reason. But when he read the Treaty of Paris that concluded the war he learned that the U.S. government had no intention of freeing any of the other Spanish colonies. Interviewed in October 1900 about his anti-imperialist stance, he explained, "I thought it would be a great thing to give a whole lot of freedom to the Filipinos, but I guess now that it's better to let them give it to themselves." He later called the $20 million payment for the Philippines the United States' "entrance fee into society -- the Society of Sceptred Thieves."
When it purchased the Philippines, the United States held only Manila and its suburbs. The Filipinos, who had been fighting for their independence since 1896, controlled the rest of the country. With the Treaty of Paris still pending before the Senate, U.S. troops fired on a group of Filipinos in February 1899, and the war began. Or, as Mark Twain put it in "To the Person Sitting in Darkness," his first major satire of the war: "What we wanted, in the interest of Progress and Civilization, was the Archipelago, unencumbered by patriots struggling for independence; and War was what we needed. We clinched our opportunity." The war officially lasted for more than three years; skirmishes and local rebellions continued throughout the islands long afterward.
Mark Twain described the war as "a mess, a quagmire from which each fresh step renders the difficulty of extrication immensely greater." This statement was not the only omen of Vietnam to come from the United States' first protracted war in Asia. In a practice later repeated in Vietnam, U.S. army officials tried to placate growing concern about the war within the United States by releasing casualty figures that purportedly showed that victory was imminent. In "To the Person Sitting in Darkness," Twain quoted a recently released War Department report: "During the last ten months our losses have been 268 killed and 750 wounded; Filipino loss, three thousand two hundred and twenty-seven killed, and 694 wounded." [Emphasis added by Twain.]
Twain's essay was ostensibly directed to the "persons sitting in darkness" in China, South Africa and the Philippines who were then having "Progress and Civilization" conferred upon them by the "Blessings-of-Civilization Trust." "We must stand ready to grab the Person Sitting in Darkness," Twain commented at this point in his narrative, "for he will swoon away at this confession, saying: 'Good God, those "niggers" spare their wounded, and the Americans massacre theirs!'" "Do not wince at the word ["niggers"]," Twain wrote in another essay; "I note that many of our people out there use it to describe the Filipino." Within the United States, too, editorial cartoons frequently portrayed Filipinos as stereotyped blacks. Paternalistic cartoons depicted Filipinos as black children being carried off to a school by a U.S. soldier or lectured to in a classroom presided over by President McKinley. The reality during the war was often more brutal. A U.S. soldier writing home in early 1899 declared, "Our fighting blood was up and we all wanted to kill 'niggers.'... This shooting human beings beats rabbit hunting all to pieces."
Mr. Twain, I thank you for your concern. I only hope we've sung about our burden well.
Just read someone's comment on brownpau's blog calling South Korea an "Asian backwater." I couldn't help but react. (South Korea???? Asian backwater???? What does that make the Philippines, for crying out loud!)
While I don't necessarily feel any major affinity towards South Korea myself, reading the comment stirred in me that old feeling of sadness and anger about my own country's colonial past.
Sometimes I find it strange that I, born more than two decades after my country found its independence, can still feel so strongly about the oppression that our country experienced under our colonizers. (I don't know whether people from the "dominant" cultures of the world understand that. I hope they do. Although, frankly, sometimes I wonder whether people in those dominant cultures are even aware of what the colonized part of the world went through. I remember riding an airplane in the United States once; I was sitting beside an American man who had a Ph.D. in engineering. He commented that I spoke English so well. I explained that most Filipinos had some knowledge of English because we were colonized by the U.S. for fifty years. He expressed surprise that the U.S. had colonized anyone at all.)
Let me clarify. I hold a relatively moderate opinion regarding the war in Iraq. I don't necessarily think US intervention in our local affairs necessarily amounts to potential neo-imperialism. In fact, I think that most of the US's history as a colonizing power was the product of the best intentions (misguided and ignorant intentions perhaps, but good intentions, nevertheless).
But all of this talk about the United States honestly does stir up a bit of my forefathers' anger in me. Today, five decades after they left our country (although admittedly, they never really left), I sometimes ask myself whether any move on the part of the American government would be sufficient psychological reparation for myself and other Filipinos who feel the same way I do. Maybe deep down I just wish that the US would acknowledge the sins of its past. An apology would be nice ... but a lesson learned--a lesson, that is, in respecting the sovereignty of other free countries--would be nicer.
I just came back from a weekend in Taal. Whenever I go out of Metro Manila, I feel such amazement at the beauty of this country. And a part of me begins to understand the revolutionary songs of the late 1800s to the 1940s: "... at sa kanyang yumi at ganda, dayuhan ay nahalina; bayan ko, binihag ka, nasadlak sa dusa!"
The new world reality is a division, a sharp split, between the civilized world on one side and those who comprise, or refuse to thwart, the uncivilized world. The civilized world wants peace and means to stop those who would use weapons of mass destruction to kill civilian populations and terrorize the people of world. Many in the uncivilized world love peace also, but not all, and a key question is whether the peace lovers in their alliance encourage murderous violence by refusing the stop the uncivilized war-bringers in their midst, such as Saddam Hussein.
Is it quite right in this formulation to call a France, a Germany, uncivilized? Germany is so cultured, France so refined. But they are like the Boston Brahmin figure of whom it was long ago said, "He has a mind like the new England countryside, highly cultivated and inherently sterile." They are lost in the postmodernist ozone, they are post-church countries with great wealth and no faith. They love to talk, and not only because they enjoy the sound.
To oversimplify the issue by that much, to lamely piece together a straw man of the French and German opinion ... sorry, Ms. Noonan, but that just reeks of intellectual irresponsibility. The most regrettable wars have been fought because of people's haste at dividing the world into good and bad, us and them, right and wrong, civilized and uncivilized .... This was the excuse of the Western imperialists four hundred, two hundred, a hundred years ago ....
The differences between French/German opinion and U.S./British opinion are much subtler than you describe, Ms. Noonan. No one disagrees that Iraq should be disarmed (if indeed there are arms that need removal), or that Saddam should be stopped. The question here is one of method and timing. The issues at stake here are issues of global democracy, and respect for the sovereignty of all nations.
Pile on the brown man's burden
To gratify your greed;
Go, clear away the "niggers"
Who progress would impede;
Be very stern, for truly
'Tis useless to be mild
With new-caught, sullen peoples,
Half devil and half child.
Pile on the brown man's burden;
And, if ye rouse his hate,
Meet his old-fashioned reasons
With Maxims up to date.
With shells and dumdum bullets
A hundred times made plain
The brown man's loss must ever
Imply the white man's gain.
Pile on the brown man's burden,
compel him to be free;
Let all your manifestoes
Reek with philanthropy.
And if with heathen folly
He dares your will dispute,
Then, in the name of freedom,
Don't hesitate to shoot.
Pile on the brown man's burden,
And if his cry be sore,
That surely need not irk you--
Ye've driven slaves before.
Seize on his ports and pastures,
The fields his people tread;
Go make from them your living,
And mark them with his dead.
Pile on the brown man's burden,
Nor do not deem it hard
If you should earn the rancor
Of those ye yearn to guard.
The screaming of your Eagle
Will drown the victim's sob--
Go on through fire and slaughter.
There's dollars in the job.
Pile on the brown man's burden,
And through the world proclaim
That ye are Freedom's agent--
There's no more paying game!
And, should your own past history
Straight in your teeth be thrown,
Retort that independence
Is good for whites alone.
Pile on the brown man's burden,
With equity have done;
Weak, antiquated scruples
Their squeamish course have run,
And, though 'tis freedom's banner
You're waving in the van,
Reserve for home consumption
The sacred "rights of man"!
And if by chance ye falter,
Or lag along the course,
If, as the blood flows freely,
Ye feel some slight remorse,
Hie ye to Rudyard Kipling,
And bid him, for your comfort,
Turn on his jingo stop.
The bigger picture, I think, is this: the world order is changing. I'm not sure how it is going to change, but already we are seeing the birthing pains. Once the U.S. acts without U.N. cooperation, what will happen to the world order? What will happen to the U.S.'s current position as the only global superpower? And what will happen to the authority of the United Nations?
Sister Howard (who is a nun of the Notre Dame order) is a friendly sort, so she thought nothing of striking up a conversation with the Muslim man sitting next to her on the bus. She tried first in Swahili and then switched to English. Everything was going fine until she acknowledged that she was an American.
"When I said I was from the States, he got so upset," she said. "He said we were trying to rule the world. He said that over and over..."
Sister Howard has gone on with her life, one that is as close to the people of Kenya as it always has been. She has experienced no other incidents but is constantly bracing for them. She has a wish: that American policymakers from President Bush on down try living overseas themselves, not in fancy hotels or expatriate enclaves, but with everyday people, some of whom may not like them very much.
"I felt overwhelmed, but it made me reflect," she said of her conversation with the man on the bus. "What kind of people are we? Why do people think this way?"
Talking about the impending war is a lot easier for us who are so far from it, than it is for these kids who are seeing their parents off to war. In post schools (schools in military installations), children of military men and women meet after school, not to debate political views about Blix and Rumsfield, but to share their deepest fears, now that Mom or Dad has been deployed. Excerpts:
Maryann Williams, the guidance counselor who runs the club meetings as group counseling sessions, asked the children to talk about their fears.
"Sometimes I worry about what's going to happen to my mom," said Brittney, 9, whose father is holding down the family now that her mother has joined the troops abroad. "Will she ever make it back?"
In a voice so soft that Mrs. Williams had to strain to hear him, Jacob, 8, volunteered, "I'm worried my dad's going to be shot and killed."
Seated around tables in a classroom hung with paper snowflakes, the youngsters were quiet. What Jacob worried about, they finally agreed, was pretty much what they all worried about.
After the Club USA meeting at Holbrook, Anthony Kelley, 9, recalled a talk that he had with his father before he left for Afghanistan.
"I said, `Dad, why can't you stay here and not go to Afghanistan?' " Anthony recalled. "He said, `My job is to protect the country.' "
Anthony peered solemnly out from behind the long brown bangs and wire-rimmed glasses that give him a resemblance to his hero, Harry Potter. "I said," he added, " `Your job is to stay here and protect us.' "
"At this point Iraq is, for each of us, a gut call. We probably have as much information and hard data as we're going to get. There are different ways to interpret the evidence, to understand the peril. No one can prove containment will work in the future, for instance, and no one can prove that it won't. There will be a price to pay if we invade. There will be a price to pay if we don't. And ultimately you have to go with your instinct, your gut sense of the world and of men."
I agree with that paragraph at least. It is a gut call. It is a gamble. And I just hope that our world leaders are making the right calls.
Here are some poetic commentaries on what's going in the Philippines and in the world:
It was told under the crescent moon
our father and his father's father
had breathe freely.
But my son and I cannot.
We have nowhere to salaam,
the waters of the Lake has receded.
Gunfires in place of murmuring crickets
dirged our fastings.
The evacuation centers are filled
with hunger cries.
If gunmen come tomorrow,
we move to Paradise.
--- by Tomasito T. Talledo
Tom Talledo is a professor from UP Iloilo.
ANG PAANYAYA NI BUSH KAY GLORIA
Halina sa Iraq,
Tayo ay magpasiklab
Ng gerang uutas
Sa mga teroristang de-balbas
Na, aba’y, nangahas mangahas
Lumaban sa banal na dahas
Ng Amerikang may dakilang misyong iligtas
Ang mundo sa tiyak na pagkapahamak.
Halina, ikaw ay itatakas
Sa mga problema mong di malutas-lutas –
Lumulobong utang panlabas,
Ng kriminal, kurakot at kulimbat,
Bayan mong walang hinaharap
Halina, masdan ang iyong bukas –
Dagdag na pautang, pinaglumaang armas
Tiyak na ang pagkautas
Ng NPA, MILF, Abu Sayyaf.
Bayan mong di makausad-usad
Hihilahin tungo sa pag-unlad,
IMF-World Bank ang hahawak
Sa yaman ng mina mo’t gubat,
Sa biyaya ng bukid mo’t dagat.
Halina sa Baghdad,
Kay ganda, ang siyudad, nagliliyab!
Sa lahat ng dako ng estadong malawak
Dumadagsa ang aking hukbo ng sindak
Sinusuyod ang bundok at gubat,
Kapatagan at dagat.
Mga pangil ng apoy nginangatngat
Ang langit na lumiliyab!
Hayun, ang lupai’y nagbibitak-bitak
Mga gusali’y nadudurog, bumabagsak,
At sa lahat ng dako bangkay ay nagkalat,
Bata matanda babae lalaki bading lesbyana
Terorista silang lahat!
At sa disyerto ng Iraq,
Langis na dumaranak,
Itim na gintong naglalandas,
Tubo na sa Wall Street tumatambak.
Halina sa Iraq!
-- Bienvenido Lumbera
BUSH'S INVITATION TO GLORIA
Come to Iraq,
Let’s make war a spectacle
That will finish
That, oh, dare
Oppose the benevolent violence
Of America’s great destiny to save
The world from absolute perdition.
Come, you will be released
From your insoluble problems—
Swelling foreign debts,
By the criminal, the corrupt and cheat,
Your miserable country.
Come, look at your future,
More debts, hand-me-down weapons
My generosity all,
Sure to butcher
The NPA, MILF, Abu Sayyaf.
Your idle country
Will be propelled to development,
The IMF-World Bank will handle
The minerals and forests
The gifts of your mountains and seas.
Come to Baghdad,
How beautiful, the city, burning!
In all corners of the vast land
My armies of terror charge
Sweeping heights and woods,
Plains and seas.
The fanged conflagration
Devouring the bright sky!
There, the earth cannot hold,
Houses tremble, fall,
And the dead scatter the landscape,
Young old women men gays lesbians
They’re all terrorists!
And in Iraq’s desert,
Oil that springs,
Dark gold that trails,
Profit flooding Wall Street.
Come to Iraq!
-- Bienvenido Lumbera
(Translated from Filipino by Charlie Samuya Veric)
Dr. Bienvenido Lumbera is a Ramon Magsaysay awardee and Professor Emeritus of the UP-Diliman Filipino Department. He read this at the 14 February 2003 anti-US war mobilization at Plaza Miranda. The English translation was made by Charlie Veric of the English Department, Ateneo de Manila University.
Larry Bell, director of international students and scholars at the University of Colorado, got a first-hand look at this new world, after local immigration agents detained a half-dozen Iranian students in Colorado during special registration. One of those students, Yashar Zendehdel, had fallen below the minimum course load for a full-time student when he switched majors and dropped a course. The law allows foreign students to do that with university approval, but Mr. Bell said local immigration officials appeared unfamiliar with the law, and threatened to deport Mr. Zendehdel.
"It's had a fairly chilling effect on students," Mr. Bell said.
Far from home, they take care to follow the rules, he said. "Then they hear of students who did everything right and still get the book thrown at them," he said.
Jorge Martinez, a Department of Justice spokesman, rejected the accusations of some students and higher education officials that the special registration amounted to racial profiling of a sort.
"The criteria has absolutely nothing to do with race, religion or ethnicity," Mr. Martinez said. "It is totally based on national security considerations," tied to intelligence and other reports of where terrorist groups are active. "Everyone who was detained was here illegally."
Mr. Martinez would not comment on the specifics of Mr. Zendehdel's case or any other, but countered that "federal law supersedes decisions made by universities."
Mr. Zendehdel said that, for him, American policy boiled down to his 40 hours with immigration agents he saw as intent on forcing him out of the country. While he once urged his brother, sister and friends to study in the United States, he said, he now advises them to go elsewhere.
After hearing that my cousin is going to be deployed, I quickly sent an e-mail message off to an old high school friend of mine who is now in the U.S. Navy, asking if she was going to be sent to Iraq as well. She isn't, she told me, because she is currently stuck on a base in Cuba (boring, boring, boring, she said), but yes things look bad don't they?, and if she were in the U.S. she would probably be deployed, and she just hopes that if there is a war it's quick and relatively painless.
Today, I received more Bush jokes in the e-mail, plus invitations to a variety of anti-war protests around the metropolis.
In a word, I am sick of this whole thing, sick of that growing sense of fear at the bottom of my stomach, sick of actually feeling (heartless though it may be) thankful that I'm not in Iraq or in the United States, sick of not even being able to make a decisive stand on the issue because the people in power aren't even really telling us anything, sick of seeing the prices of gasoline rise, sick of seeing headlines about the war and about the dollar and about oil .....
I have alternated between being pissed off at George W. for putting this entire world into this mess, and withdrawing that opinion because of the lingering question, "What if he's right, and we're wrong?" I don't even feel any passionate conviction about this issue (unlike I do with some issues), because there is too little to base any conviction on ... and also because it's easier to have a stand on things that "don't really affect you personally" and this issue is not one of them.
At the same time, I feel ashamed that I should even be feeling any sense of dread, when I have a cousin who is packing his bags in preparation for his deployment, and whose quick goodbye e-mail message to his dad promised that that he would be keeping a picture of our entire family (taken during my grandfather's wake in the United States) in his left breast pocket, close to his heart .... After a message like that, what right do I really have to feel any sense of anything ...? I, so far away, so removed from the situation, who will be, compared to my cousin and to the thousands, tens of thousands of people in Iraq and in the United States military, so unaffected ....
Obituaries here in the Philippines are never this interesting. (Partly because they're usually only twenty words long here.) They're never as well-written either (but no use competing with the British).
Amazing how much has happened since my last post. Chirac and Blair's press conference after their talks was something to watch. And now ... ooooh ... finally, Colin Powell has has presented the evidence to the public .... Interesting, interesting, interesting ....
1. As a child, who was your favorite superhero/heroine? Why? Wonder Woman, because she was a woman. (The lasso was pretty cool, too.) I also liked Hulk. I don't remember why though.
2. What was one thing you always wanted as a child but never got? Fake blood. And a doll that walks and talks. And a billiard table.
3. What's the furthest from home you've been? Halfway across the world. The United States.
4. What's one thing you've always wanted to learn but haven't yet? To play the guitar well. To play Fantasie Impromptu.
5. What are your plans for the weekend? Last weekend I went to school, worked, and hung out with M's friends (though the last wasn't really planned). This coming weekend, I'll be attending a wedding and probably having dinner at my aunt's.
Wow, I've been pretty busy these last few days, stressed out about school. But thank goodness--finally--for this weekend's long weekend.
Last night, I did something I haven't done in ages--hung out until 4:30 in the morning. M and his barkada had a little get-together and after a game of Hero Clix (boys will be boys), they just stayed up talking ... and talking ... and talking ... until the the night sky started to glow slightly reddish and the traffic in the distance started to get noisier with people starting their day. Fun. :)