There’s a lot President Duterte and other world leaders can learn from history, specifically from the principles of the Peace Treaties of Wesphalia of 1648 in Germany that can guide them, as these have proven to bring back world peace and development.
Pre-Westphalian wars brought havoc. Prior to the series of peace treaties from May to October 1648 in Westphalia, Germany, involving 109 delegations and 94 states and kingdoms from all over Europe, there were unending internecine wars among Europeans for over a century that brought havoc and millions of deaths.
The worst immediately before the treaties of Westphalia was the Thirty Years’ War from 1618 to 1648 involving the Holy Roman empire, or much of Europe. Earlier was the Eighty Years’ War (1568 to 1648) between Spain and the Dutch Republic. Much earlier, was the Spanish Grand Inquisition by Tomas de Torquemada, a Spanish Dominican friar, who persecuted Muslims and Jews and expelled Jews from Spain in 1492.
Mainly characterizing these wars over religion was the policy of retribution, or basically reviving the Old Testament’s “Eye-for-an-eye, tooth-for-tooth” conflicts that even worsened the conflicts. It is lamentable that Duterte seems to believe in this outdated, distorted form of justice.
Doing the advantage for others
Apart from the religious wars that dominated Europe then, states were taxing each other, particularly those along Europe’s rivers. To avoid getting penalized, they took over each other’s territories and fought wars.
But in a contiguous continent, everyone had to share the same resources, like river systems. No state had full control, without sharing, unless it goes to war and amasses the spoils of war along an extractive and destructive economic relationship over defeated enemies.
It had to take the genius of a Cardinal Jules Mazarin, an Italian diplomat, a politician in robes and chief minister of France acting as de facto ruler, who initiated the treaties of Westphalia that ended the wars and finally brought peace and development to Europe.
Peace prospered when each state tried to do the advantage for the others, which is enshrined in Mazarin’s Westphalian principles on state sovereignty, equality of states and nonintervention on each other’s internal affairs, but helping one another, the precursor of what today is the UN.
Revival of the ‘Clash of Civilizations’
But history shows how certain groups want the world in permanent revolution and permanent war, despite the thawing of the Cold War with the breakdown of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s with Mikhail Gorbachev’s “Glasnost” and “Perestroika” policies on openness and restructuring. The communist bogey vs. democracy propaganda lost its appeal, leading to the fall of the Soviet Union’s iron curtain, China’s bamboo curtain and the Berlin Wall. This threatened the industrial-military complexes from irrelevance and imminent bankruptcy.
Luckily, they found an ideological savior in Samuel Huntington, author of Clash of Civilizations, whose ideas fanned the old pre-Westphalian flames of hatred between Islam and Western Christendom and fueled the imminent clash between China and America.
Facing the throes of death amid threats of another financial bubble brewing, maybe worse than the 2008 global financial crisis, the neocons have been behind many geopolitical destabilizations. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s doctrine for regime change and lying about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction triggered the conflagration in the Middle East and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) specter in Syria. George Soros is also believed funding the “color revolutions” like the Orange Revolution in Ukraine; Rose Revolution in Georgia; the failed White Revolution in Russia; Yellow Umbrella Revolution in Hong Kong; the Arab Spring in the Middle East and North Africa and lately the destabilization against President Donald J. Trump.
Former US President Barack Obama’s fingerprints were also all over the place, and even two weeks before Trump took over the presidency, Obama sent 4,000 troops to Poland on Russia’s border in an act of provocation to Russia and disrespect for Trump, who believes the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (Nato) built to stop the Soviet Union is now obsolete. Obama’s Pivot to Asia also triggered friction with China.
Duterte must not fall for the martial-law trap. The neocons are sophomorically linking Trump with the old bogey Russia, mainly because he has postured to talk peace and development with Russia and cooperate with China’s One Belt One Road Initiative that has gathered 29 heads of states and top-level representatives from 130 countries during the recent May 14 and 15 summit, which is seen to wipe out terrorism with the massive infrastructure development globally.
Despite his earlier Islamophobic remarks, Trump talked peace recently with Saudi and other Muslim leaders. He also wants the Israel-Palestine issue resolved, or finds the Cold War remnant Nato obsolete, which are angering neocons and, likely, new rounds of troubles globally.
Locally, we have the ongoing ISIS-inspired Maute Group rebellion in Marawi City, which triggered Duterte to rush (yan) the imposition of martial law while in Russian land.
Caught flat-footed, Duterte’s knee-jerk or panic reaction was to impose martial law, which is dangerous, as it brings horrific images of the past, but more the fear we fall into the trap laid out for him that may trigger more radicalization of displaced Muslims and the resulting escalation of violence.
He must instead do the same surgical offensives sans martial law, because even if the threat is valid, as the sayings go, “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”, and that the “road to perdition [hell] is paved with good intentions”. There is a danger therefore that flirting too long with martial law, or even toying with the idea of expanding it nationwide is a political quicksand trap that could lead to an abyss of destruction that may reverse his Dutertenomics and “Golden Age of Infrastructures”.
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