Just the lull between battles


    ‘Perpetual peace is frustrated by endemic warfare, ritual battles (Mindanaoan rido), and class conflicts, among others.’

    THEY dreamt of maintaining a world peace and woke up to find themselves in a world war.” [Mein Kampf]

    The quote is for Mikio Oishi (Professor, Asian University for Women, Bangladesh), Asakawa Kazuya (Former Professor of Tokaigakuen University in Nagoya and member of Bridge for Peace, Japan), Flora Chong (Executive Director, ALPHA Education) and the other attendees of the International Thursday Forum on Peace and History, reminding one and all of the ghost of the author of “My Struggle” who haunts the past, the present and the future.

    “Nobody can doubt that this world will one day be the scene of dreadful struggles for existence on the part of mankind. In the end the instinct of self-preservation alone will triumph. Before its consuming fire this so-called humanitarianism, which connotes only a mixture of fatuous timidity and self-conceit, will melt away as under the March sunshine. Man has become great through perpetual struggle. In perpetual peace his greatness must decline.” [Adolf Hitler]

    While the honorable Hong Jae Im (former Korean ambassador to Vietnam, Iran, and Iraq) and the other attendees of the International Thursday Forum on Peace and History may dream of perpetual peace, the current reality is one of perpetual war (War on Drugs, War on Poverty, War on Terror, even a War on Worms peddled by a UP Manila yak-shaver).

    Indeed, my friend Neil McLennan (Senior Lecturer and Director of Leadership Programmes, School of Education, University of Aberdeen, UK) and I can agree that: “No state having an independent existence—whether it be great or small—shall be acquired by another through inheritance, exchange, purchase or donation.” [Immanuel Kant, Containing the Preliminary Articles of Perpetual Peace Between States].

    We also recognize this principle: “No national debts shall be contracted in connection with the external affairs of the state.” [Immanuel Kant, Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Essay, 1795]

    “This source of help is above suspicion, where assistance is sought outside or within the state, on behalf of the economic administration of the country (for instance, the improvement of the roads, the settlement and support of new colonies, the establishment of granaries to provide against seasons of scarcity, and so on). But, as a common weapon used by the Powers against one another, a credit system under which debts go on indefinitely increasing and are yet always assured against immediate claims (because all the creditors do not put in their claim at once) is a dangerous money power.”
    Thus, we continue to view the hegemonist’s debt diplomacy as serious “rejectile” (pity the Dimwittilians who trudge the silk road to hell paved with good intentions).

    Perpetual peace is frustrated by endemic warfare, ritual battles (Mindanaoan rido), and class conflicts, among others. Review, for instance, the Phnom Penh Resolution of 2012, which reiterated that “hegemonic acts of militarism, chauvinistic nationalism, colonial expansionism, and a failure to address past issues and grievances, including irresponsible denial of past war crimes, are obstructing the road to historical reconciliation and a regional peaceful community in East Asia.” [Adopted by all the participants from 19 countries and territories at the East Asian Conference of NGOs on History and Peace on 18-20 October 2012 at Phnom Penh, Cambodia]

    Perpetual peace is sabotaged by the military-industrial complex as well as the medical-industrial complex. “The most important health-care development of the day is the recent, relatively unheralded rise of a huge new industry that supplies health-care services for profit…This new ‘medical-industrial complex’ may be more efficient than its nonprofit competition, but it creates the problems of overuse and fragmentation of services, overemphasis on technology, and ‘cream-skimming,’ and it may also exercise undue influence on national health policy. In this medical market, physicians must act as discerning purchasing agents for their patients and therefore should have no conflicting financial interests.” [N Engl J Med. 1980; 303: 963–70]

    With hope tempered by realism, we expect that the ideal of perpetual peace will be substantiated at the ongoing 2020 International Conference of NGOs on History and Peace, thus, we suggest a re-reading of “Peace” by Aristophanes, especially this retort from Hermes: “Because they have afforded you an opportunity for peace more than once, but you have always preferred war. If the Laconians got the very slightest advantage, they would exclaim, ‘By the Twin Brethren! The Athenians shall smart for this.’ If, on the contrary, the latter triumphed and the Laconians came with peace proposals, you would say, ‘By Demeter, they want to deceive us. No, by Zeus, we will not hear a word; they will always be coming as long as we hold Pylos’.”

    Kudos to Sungho Kang (Secretary-General, History NGO Forum for Peace in East Asia, Korea) for his amiable conduction of both the International Thursday Forum and the 2020 International Conference and we share parts of the Statement on the International Response to COVID-19 from the Global Citizenship Network of the History NGO Forum for Peace in East Asia endorsed by Maja Groff (International Lawyer, Canada), Raymond Ciriaco (Consultant-Facilitator of the Franklin Covey Center for Leadership and Change in the Philippines), Vesselin Popovski (Professor and Executive Director, Centre for the Study of United Nations, O.P. Jindal Global University, Haryana, India), and Charis Psaltis (Professor of Social and Developmental Psychology, University of Cyprus), among others:

    “We would rather believe that global cooperation should be key in these challenging times, and that human-faced Cooperative Leadership—rather than strategies of confrontation and competition, including the spreading of false information, blaming and aggressive disputing—will safeguard our collective well-being.”