Young Filipinos opposed to the US war on Iraq



The United States (US) of America, through its President George “Dubya” W. Bush, is gearing for a war on Iraq. Bush says Iraq is a threat to world peace, claiming it has links with the al-Qaeda terror network that masterminded the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center, and that it has weapons of mass destruction. Bush has closed in on Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, calling him a tyrant. For all these, the US wants to engage Iraq in a war.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo refuses to comment on the possibility of US military action without the sanction of the United Nations. However, her statement that the Philippines is ready “to extend political, security and humanitarian assistance to the United States in the pursuit of its most vital interests, which coincide with our own vital interests, to defeat terrorism,” is an obvious expression of her to support to the US war on Iraq.

Our own government is willing to support a patently unjust war.

The US cites as proof that Iraq is a threat to world peace its attacks on Iran in the 1980s and Kuwait in the 1990s. But why did the US not condemn Iraq when it attacked Iran? Iraq has not attacked any nation for the last ten years, and has even made peace with both Iran and Kuwait. How then can it be a threat to world peace?

Israel is the only nation in the Middle East that holds territory other than its own, and has been conducting the most savage attacks on the Palestinian people for decades–yet the US has not called it a threat to world peace.

The US has no concrete evidence linking Iraq to the al-Qaeda network. All it has managed to come up with are accusations that Iraq is linked with the al-Qaeda.

And even if it were true that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, the US has no moral right to attack Iraq on that basis. Data from the Natural Resources Defense Council show that the US is at present the world’s greatest nuclear menace. It ranks second among the top five nations with the highest number of nuclear weapons; as of 1996, the United States has 12,937 nuclear stockpiles, second only to the former Soviet Union’s 25,000, which have long been under maintained and only half of which is active. The US has more than those of the next three nuclear powers combined: France with 450, China with 400, and the United Kingdom with 260. The US is thus, at present, the world’s greatest nuclear power.

The US advocates regime change in Iraq on the basis of Saddam’s tyranny. But a closer look at recent history would tell us that Hussein attained his position through a coup supported by the Central Intelligence Agency. But he has not kowtowed to the wishes of his American patrons. Instead of giving in to their demands that they be allowed to control Iraqi oil, he nationalized the Iraqi oil industry and devoted a substantial portion of the income to basic services such as free education and health care.

For that matter, human rights have not fared any better in Turkey than they have in Iraq in recent history. Why is the US not advocating regime change in Turkey?

Bush has included Iraq in the so-called “axis of evil” with North Korea and Cuba. But the US does not want to risk even a small war against North Korea due to pressure from South Korea and Japan. And though it has successfully crippled Cuba with its sanctions, the island country is still branded as a threat.

The impending war on Iraq, therefore, is clearly a war not for the defense of the Free World, but for US global hegemony, in the quest for which oil plays an important part. Whatever may be said of Iraq, it has been a hindrance to US designs for world hegemony, and for this the US is threatening it with the scourge of war.

Our government’s support for this war would mean jeopardizing the lives of millions of Filipinos working in Iraq and its neighboring countries. The Philippine economy is largely dependent for sustenance on remittances from overseas Filipino workers; therefore a war on Iraq will exact a heavy toll on the Philippine economy.

As Vice President Teofisto Guingona, Jr. pointed out in his call to stand for peace, the impending war will also imperil the price of oil, distort foreign exchange, and may intensify violence in our country, especially Mindanao.

President Macapagal-Arroyo would do better by heeding the no-to-war call of Vice President Guingona and by following the example of respected leaders like Pope John Paul II, former US President Jimmy Carter, and former South African President Nelson Mandela.

We must uphold what the Constitution says: “The Philippines renounces war as an instrument of national policy, adopts the generally accepted principles of international law as part of the law of the land and adheres to the policy of peace, equality, justice, freedom, cooperation, and amity with all nations.”

We, the Filipino youth, stand in solidarity with our American brothers and sisters, in whose name their leaders are committing so much bestiality. We do not want to see the names of a people who built their nation on a most fervent love for freedom tainted with blood spilled in an immoral war.

We refuse to forget the more than one million Vietnamese killed in the genocide called Vietnam War, as well as the hundreds of thousands of Filipino freedom fighters and civilians murdered during the Philippine-American War. Thus, we condemn this war that could kill as many as half a million Iraqis.

Our generation does not want to inherit a world torn by wars of aggression. We therefore join the voice of the youth all over the world crying for peace and justice.

We reject the US war of aggression against Iraq. We urge the Philippine government to do the same.

–Filipino Youth for Peace

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