BECAUSE of the wars of aggression of the United States, its use of mercenaries, and because of movies glorifying a romanticized warrior code, we forget the deeper meaning of the Republic’s soldiers willing to die when ordered into battle by their commanders. They are dying for us the living, and for Filipinos still to live.
In contrast, the Islamic State terrorists are really fighting selfishly for themselves. As jihadists, they believe that Allah looks down favorably at them, and will reward them in the afterlife with eternal happiness, starting with an orgy with 72 virgins, as the Koran claims.
But men never admit selfish agendas: the US invasion of, and near genocide, of Muslims in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria, has of course given them the justification that they are not just fighting for an after-life in ecstasy, but for the Ummah–the global community of all Muslims–which has been threatened with extinction by the modern “Crusaders.”
Cloaking materialist, selfish agendas with sacred clothes has not been exclusive to the Muslim religion. The Crusades, first called by Pope Urban in 1095 and which lasted for two centuries, made up the first Holy War, with the purportedly noble cause of recovering the land where Christ lived and died from the heretic Muslims. Unsaid though was that it was really the drive for treasure by European lords, and for ignorant, impoverished peasants to get passports to heaven.
Even up to the modern era, religious wars have killed thousands and even hundreds of thousands, as in the European wars of religion (Catholicism vs Protestant branches from 1524 to 1648); the Jewish establishment of the State of Israel in Palestine; the Catholic-versus-Protestant “Troubles” in Northern Ireland; the India-Pakistani (Hindu vs Muslim) conflicts, the Yugoslav wars, and the Lebanese civil war. The conflict in Iraq and Syria is even to some extent due to the ruthless enmity between two branches of Islam, the larger Sunnis and the minority but often politically powerful Shia.
Wars have been for nation-states
It is, however, false to assert that most wars of humankind were religious wars. In the book, Encyclopedia of Wars, authors Charles Phillips and Alan Axelrod claim that in their list of 1,763 wars, only 123 have been classified to involve a religious cause, accounting for less than 7 percent of all wars.
While these authors did not conclude what has been the main cause of wars in modern history, another book War: What Is It Good For? by Ian Morris implied that the main reason for wars in the modern era has been for states to expand (among these, the Roman empire, the Third Reich, and the US hegemony), to consolidate their rule (the American Civil War), and defend themselves from other states’ attempts at expansion (the two world wars).
The book’s astonishing conclusion: Wars in general have reduced violence, since through wars, nation-states emerged that kept the peace over their subjects, in contrast to the endless, continuous fighting among tribes and even clans in areas where there were no nation-states. “Uncomfortable as the fact is, in the long run war has made the world safer and richer,” Morris wrote. He cited statistics that showed that in the modern era of nation-states, murder rates (including those killed in wars) were one-tenth of the rate found among Stone Age hunter-gatherers.
But wars aren’t fought in the abstract. Most wars in the past and today are fought by flesh-and-blood soldiers, and for their nation-state, the most important organization that human beings are members of. The nation-state is the organization that determines the quality of the life they live now, and will determine the quality of life of their descendants. While soldiers often mouth slogans, that they are fighting for “God and country,” the reality is that they are fighting solely for the nation-state.
Fighting for a fiction
The IS-linked jihadists are fighting for the fiction of a paradise in an after-life, and for the Philippine nation to be incorporated in an Islamic theocracy with little individual freedoms.
Our soldiers are fighting for the nation-state, the most important entity that determines the welfare of its current and future members. The integrity of our nation-state’s territory will be degraded if the IS-linked jihadists maintain their hold of Marawi.
This is why the most sacred symbol of a nation-state is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in nearly all countries’ capitals. Such monuments are in honor of and in celebration of that fabulous mystery that make up heroes: Why would a human being offer his life to the extent that he would even die unknown, to a nation-state, which he would never see in the oblivion of his death?
The families of the fallen in Marawi are lucky that their sons and husbands aren’t unknown. We have to honor them; newspapers should devote a whole page to identify them with their photos. I have a list only of the 45 out of the 72 reportedly killed, and I salute them:
Edwin V. Placido, John Carl C. Morales, Freddie Solar, Mcglenn Z Abuyabor, Jessie B Santos, Aldrin Dinglasan, Julhabir J Dakkay, Joseph P Villanueva, Marlon V. Baldovino, Eric Jason J., Coros, Asah A. Sakiran, Throlen R Lago, Rudy A Espelimburgo, Benito G Serrano, Elmer M Anno ,Tahiruddin K. Salahuddin, Philip G. Ao, Aliyasir I. Abdulla, Ricky A. Asan, Christopher C. dela Cruz, Nilo R. Donato Jr., Reymund A. Paracuelles, Johva M. Aquino, Eldon C. Rogador, William B. Tuanda Jr., Bermilou P. Pardillo, Dhan Ryan A. Bayot, Angelo A. Estores Jr., Dondee D. Orboda, Elmer D. Bueno, Melvin S. Raton, Edmond D. Principe, Anthony C. Capulot, Kevin E. Sisiban, Arhanie O. Amlo, Jessrael O. Butalina, Reymar E. Carloto,Rowee M. Montalban, Marlo P. Rota, Junie Berth R. Purlas, Roel M. Cabonita, Ramon L Montejo, Saed Abdul Rahman H. Palada, Mark Daryl A. Parba, Junaid S. Mama.
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