“If they are Caesars or Cromwells, they seize power for themselves. If they are spineless courtiers, uninterested in doing good yet dangerous when they seek to do harm, they go back to lay their power at their master’s feet, and help him to resume arbitrary power on condition they become his chief servants “
– Maximilien Robespierre, 1791
Thanks to the Internet and possibly a publicity stunt to show that the Hashemite monarch Abdullah II is both decisive and daring, the majority of the people with little to no understanding of the complexities of international relations have fallen under his spell. Indeed, it is very easy to praise strongmen with the likes of Stalin, Franco, Hitler and our very own strongman Marcos, which myth is still continuing to delude a great number of people. Before you may start your criticism that I am a Yellowtard, please bear in mind that I view both the Marcos and Aquino governments with the same perspective that they are not great governments whether the former is an authoritarian militaristic crony state or the latter as a liberal crony state who kept on being hypocrites on social issues. With that out of the way, here are my arguments on why Filipinos should not support King Abdullah’s war.
I do now see that some people mocked Pnoy for his refusal to go to war, and I am one of the people who didn’t like his administration, but I have a good reason why our country should not implement an all out war policy. However, I wanted to focus on Jordan and especially its King, who is considered as one of the greatest allies of the United States and the West. I did really wish that those who are for war should be the first ones to be drafted or to immigrate to the United States and become the target audience of the rhetoric of the war hawks there, especially those of George Bush more than 10 years ago.
1. The King of Jordan is first and foremost, an autocrat and a hypocrite
The monarchy tries to maintain a glossy image to the citizens of the outside world as a progressive bastion of the Middle East, just like how passionate are the people who defended the actions of Israel’s current land confiscation from the Palestinians. Jordan is not a glossy paradise that it tries to portray itself to the world, although it is technically a constitutional monarchy with the King’s powers being limited, King Abdullah rules more like a despot than a constitutional monarch should act. Corruption in Jordan is one of the world’s worst, as the Corruption Perceptions Index placed the country as 47th most corrupt with rampant bribery, nepotism, favouritism and violation of due process. Freedom of speech and the press although good by Middle Eastern standards are still lacking, with the police detaining individuals suspected of promoting dissenting views against the monarchy. While the parliament has become more representative of the public opinion of the people of Jordan, the monarchy is known to have rigged parliamentary elections in favour of the factions loyal to the King. He is ruling Jordan as an autocrat and to some leftists, a puppet of the West.
2. It is an act of gathering popular support for the monarchy which is faltering
Indeed, the execution of the Jordanian fighter pilot is both horrific and should be condemned, but instead of intimidating Jordan, the country used it as an excuse to divert the attention of the public from its domestic problems to a foreign enemy, which is the ISIS, although the people’s attention have been already diverted on the refugee crisis in Syria into their borders. With this war and showering support of jingoism and nationalism, the power of the monarchy has become somewhat stable and like the United States under the Bush administration, its repressive police force could have an excuse to crush domestic factions whose political ideologies oppose the State. The support of the monarchy would go for a long time and as long as the ISIS exists, Jordan’s national policy will be more on revanchism than social or political reform. From a long term perspective, all out war will be disastrous for Jordan economically and might increase the ranks of the ISIS because of the airstrikes, as some of the people would take up arms to avenge their relatives which could become a bigger problem in the future.
3. Jordan could get away with its repressive regime because of geopolitical considerations
The Hashemite kingdom since the end of the Cold War is a very crucial ally of the United States and the West, and this is why it is easy to pay lip service to the political system of Jordan for pragmatic reasons. Jordan is a key player in the Middle East, a partner to the peace process between Israel and Palestine, as well as a major contributor to the U.N peacekeeping force and a bastion against the spread of Islamism, which only became radical after the mismanaged foreign policy of the United States. The King would enjoy international aid and loans because of these conditions, and he would basically have an endless amount of support to wage war against the ISIS.
These are primarily the three major reasons, and also it is important to note that Jordan is fighting for its self interest rather than idealistic aspirations of democracy or justice, because any regional upheld would benefit the King and his courtiers. Jordan narrowly avoided the Arab Spring because of the monarchy’s approval of having a more representative government although still loyal to the monarchy and massive spending on social services to control social unrest. Despite Jordan’s relatively successful economic reform efforts, it only created a wide economic gap between the towns and cities, and the King’s rhetoric for a strong government at home and his talk of change abroad have basically led us to the conclusion that the King is a two faced jackal (In Jordan, I could be charged with the crime of lese majeste for this).
The reason why some privileged idiotic Filipinos support war
So why do some Filipinos support this man who literally use these events as a way for the status quo to stay as it is? It is because that some Filipinos have become tired of consensus and liberal democracy in general that they are willing to support short sighted measures to solve a problem that they perceive while ignoring the causes of the problem. This is the reason why keyboard warriors wanted all out war, as they have never experienced it first hand. I do still support the Bangsamoro Basic Law because I do believe that any ethnic group residing in this country has a right of self governance from a society which often excludes them from the contemporary musings of a Filipino nation, which is itself an imagined community. Some have argued about our supposed Christian civilisation as a justification for war, ignoring the fact that hundreds of thousands died under the name of the Spanish Monarchy and their God.
The Root of ISIS
We should also consider that the ISIS is not an archetypal organisation with vague ideals, it is shaped by the political climate of the Middle East which awakened during the Allied sponsored Arab Revolt of 1916 which culminated to the destruction of the Ottoman Empire and the betrayal of the Arabs known as the Sykes-Picot Agreement which divided the Middle East into French and British spheres of influence in the 20th century which left the Hashemite monarchs being deceived and isolated.
At the end of the Second World War which dealt a blow to both the French and British colonial empires, the role of preserving the West’s interests in the Middle East has been taken over by the United States which supported oppressive governments as a counter balance to the Soviets by supplying countries such as Iraq with chemical weapons used to gas the Kurdish people and the Iranians, military coups aimed and the overthrow of nationalist governments such as the case of Iran’s Prime Minister Mohammad Mossaddegh and the oil monopolies imposed by Western companies.
The U.S also didn’t supported the war of national liberation against Saddam during the time when the rebels had taken over 14 out of 18 provinces of Iraq at the aftermath of the First Gulf War in which Saddam used the end of the war with the U.N and regained the initiative by diverting the Republican Guard divisions which brutally crushed the uprising which later led to the general mistrust of the people of Iraq to the West. The insurgency which followed the 2003 invasion, the withdrawal of the Coalition forces in Iraq, the Arab Spring which plunged the Ba’athist regime of Iraq into civil war led to the sudden rise of the ISIS which has become a force of Islamic fundamentalism, a product of the greatest historical blunders of the previous century.
War is not a simple affair anymore of soldiers marching on the field of battle and taking volleys upon one another to see who will break and retreat, it is now fought in several areas. It is fought at land, at sea, at air, at the conference tables, at the peace process, through diplomatic compromises, in the legislative halls, at the Internet with the keyboard warriors screaming for war, at home, at schools, at the streets, at children and at the future generations itself. War is now both as an act of self preservation and destruction. The rhetoric that “we should not negotiate with terrorists” will still remain as a joke for the succeeding generations as the testament of a narrow minded and short sighted policy, and this mentality would create more monsters and justifications for them to plunge the world into a comedy of errors and a tragedy of the tragedies.