Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Avoiding ‘War of Minds’ into ‘War of Arms’

Avoiding ‘War of Minds’ into ‘War of Arms’
By Erick San Juan

Being one of the claimants in the disputed areas in the South China Sea (or West Philippine Sea), we will always be confronted with tensions and provocations from other claimants particularly with China. To make matters worse, we are perceived by other countries as Uncle Sam’s “military outpost and doormat” in this region, whether we like it or not. As if a giant magnet, we are perceived to be attracting more enemies and in the process we are putting our country in the crosshairs.

What we are experiencing at the moment are exchanges of rhetoric in the name of diplomacy and/or deception, affected countries should be vigilant. We could all be possibly drag to a mutually assured destruction.

In Drazen Pehar’s analyses in the argumentation made by George Lakoff of the University of California at Berkeley, in his seminal paper on ‘Metaphor and War’, the following excerpt is worth considering:

Analysis of the rhetoric that leaders use to explain, justify, and pre-program their foreign policies seems to offer a sound basis for diplomatic prevention of armed conflicts. There are two reasons for believing that this is the case.

“First, rhetoric, together with historical memories, cultural practices etc., belongs to the set of spiritual and psychological causes of war. Rhetoric usually precedes armed conflicts and hints at the important issues over which the upcoming war will eventually be fought. Thus, through leaders’ rhetoric, one can witness a not yet fully materialized "war of minds". This may then, ideally speaking, prompt one to try to remove the spiritual incentive to fight a war; to cool down the "war of minds" before it turns into a "war of arms".

Second, the rhetoric that leaders use is, as a matter of principle, extremely rich in imaginative projections, in fanciful descriptions of the international affairs of leaders’ concern. The rhetoric is therefore always half a dream, and half a reality, which, from the perspective of critical and rational argumentation, makes it fragile and relatively easy to debate.”

If and only if that such rhetoric or the war of minds can prevent the war of arms, the growing tension in the South China Sea will remain a tinderbox that only a spark can lead to a shooting war.

Annually, country leaders and think tank gather in different conferences, meetings, forum and so forth and so on, in an effort to solve and resolve international issues in various aspects – peacefully. Yes, they come and go and most of the time the problem remains a dilemma for most countries.

Leaders representing their countries only engage in what we call a play of words and much rhetoric, in the end the problem remains.
In our country’s situation, through the present leadership, the arms race for a possible ‘war of arms’ begun. It’s quite obvious that the centerpiece of Uncle Sam’s return to the Asia-Pacific region is the military modernization of its allies. They gained a lot by selling war materiel and sustained their military- industrial complex operation while the poor (and most of the time 'stupid') ally will become a pawn in their game of war.

The other day, China Daily warned that the Philippines, Japan and Vietnam might compromise peace, stability and freedom of navigation in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) if they enlist the U.S. support in the territorial disputes.  The arrival of several nuclear warships and the aircraft carrier, USS George Washington  to the Philippine shores is perceived by China's People's Liberation Army as an agit prop(agitation).

This writer has been constantly reminding our leaders through the years to be wary in dealing with our "friends". Most of them are so hard-headed and keep on repeating history wherein some leaders turn to dealers. Their only motivation - “what’s in it for me” and forget the people they were supposed to serve and protect. The people were repeatedly shortchanged and kowtow to this perceived master.

Again, the predicate has been laid and we must read the writings on the wall. Remember: “Rhetoric usually precedes armed conflicts and hints at the important issues over which the upcoming war will eventually be fought”.

If we can still avoid the war of minds to become a war of arms, let us unite and support the present leadership, if not all of us will be dragged to war not of our choosing.

Wake up!

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