I don’t want war. All I want is peace. Peace. Peace!
A little piece of Poland, a little piece of France
A little piece of Portugal and Austria perchance
A little slice of Turkey and all that that entails
Und then a piece of England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales
A little nip of Norway, a little spot of Greece
A little hunk of Hungary, oh what a lovely feast
A little bite of Belgium and now for some dessert
Armenia Albania and Russia wouldn’t hurt
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A little piece of Poland, a little piece of France
A little piece of India and Pakistan perchance
This was a song delivered in a portrayal of Adolf Hitler by Mel Brooks in the movie History of the World. It is a light-hearted take on how a loose definition of “peace” routinely belies seeds of war germinating underneath a mask of delusion.
Indeed, we need look no further than what happened to Marawi City. The Inquirer Editor asserts that “[before] the terrorist siege that laid waste to Marawi, it was a model community of harmony between its Christian and Muslim peoples…”. This is a definition of peace and “harmony” in Muslim Mindanao shared by many a hipster folk waxing new age commentary from Imperial Manila. Debatable at best, fatally delusional at worst. War has since erupted and now Marawi City is being reduced to rubble as I write this.
The truth is, Marawi City has been at war long before Duterte’s troops came to town. It was afflicted by the cancer of Islamic radicalisation long festering underneath that veneer of “peace” that kept Imperial Manila “influencers” — including the esteemed Editor of the venerable Iquirer himself — fooled for decades. Fooled even when the symptoms started showing. Fooled even now as the scourge erupts in full force.
So now, everyone in Imperial Manila has turned to talking about how to achieve “peace” in Mindanao. Talking about peace is nice, of course. That’s the reason why peace and other “nice” topics consistently form interview questions in beauty pageants. What is disturbing about all that talk, however, is the absence of any intelligent discussion about what peace in Mindanao actually looks like. Is it the same sort of “peace” that Duterte’s critics insist characterised Mindanao before Duterte came to power? That sort of pre-Duterte “peace”, lest we forget, was one where no less than the national government needed to ask “permission” from bandit leaders before they could march a contingent of elite police officers into “their territory” to arrest a terrorist crook.
Indeed, the delusion that there was “peace” in Mindanao back in 2015 was what contributed to the massacre of 44 such police officers by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Perhaps this is the sort of “peace” Imperial Manilans want — a Mindanao that is stable — i.e., with all its warlords and chieftains not shooting at each other (albeit remaining armed to the teeth) — but not necessarily at peace within the framework of the Law. This makes sense from an imperialist perspective, of course. To the average imperialist, the only truly important property of a colony is that its natives are at rest — sufficiently cowed by local tribal chieftains who had cut deals with Manila’s taipans to allow exploitation of resources within their respective “territories”. To imperialists, rules that apply in Rome don’t necessarily apply at the barbarian fringes of the empire.
In short, “peace” in Mindanao according to Manila’s hipsters is framed by what is good for their business interests there. As long as ordinary Marawi residents “live in harmony”, it does not really matter if the Talibanesque rule of ISIS casts a black shadow over them — just as long as the different tribes remain “at peace”, don’t dampen consumerism nor disrupt shipments of raw material off Mindanao’s ports destined for Manila.
Do Imperial Manilans really know the people of Marawi City? Perhaps now they do now that they are portrayed as “victims” by their media. Interestingly enough, Imperial Manilans know a bit more about their military. The Philippine Army are, but of course, the evil tools of Duterte’s Martial Law. It is these two laughingly flawed presuppositions that now serve as pillars of Manila’s “national debate” over the future of Mindanao — victim porn and Martial Law Crybabyism.
We may all agree that we want “peace”. To achieve that, we may need a little piece of brain first.[Photo courtesy Inquirer.net.]
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