What Wars Are; What They Are Not

A visit to the The Rain Maker, the blog of fellow Igorot Daniel Ted, inspires this piece today. His most recent post deals with war and peace.

My young Igorot American friend, Mark Leo is into a relentless campaign against the US- Iraq or any US-led war, or any war for that matter. In Bibaknets, a discussion forum of Igorots worldwide, he called everyone's attention to the plight of Pat Tillman. Tillman was a casualty of the US-led war versus Afghanistan. A professional football player, he gave up his sports career and enlisted in the United Stat,s army. He was joined by his brother Kevin. He must have believed that something good would come out of the US-led wars that he abandoned a lucrative profession. Others evaded the draft; this guy, however, sought it.

But Pat Tillman died in the war he believed in, sadly not as a hero but as a victim. His death was reported as the result of hostile fire or fire coming from the enemy. Perhaps due to his stature, his death generated a lot of publicity. Questions went beyond the surface until the Pentagon had to admit that he was killed by friendly fire. In harsher terms, he was killed by his own country, the country he went to serve in the battlefields of Afghanistan.

But let us go beyond Pat Tillman and the others who died in Operation Enduring Freedom which is America's military response to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. Filipino-American soldiers died in the US-led wars, too. The latest casualties of the Iraq war include Michael E. Tayaotao from California. His parents are from the Mountain Province, Philippines. You can read about him in Bill Bilig's From The Boondocks. So the tragedy is very real to us.

And, as though dying from a bullet fired by an assassin who might as well be one of us, we ask Richard North Patterson's Private Screening martyr James Kilcannon's question before he gave up the ghost: "Such a joke. But what does it mean?"

For Pat Tillman, I wrote some lines which I posted in 2006 in American blogs opposed to war:

Who Wins a War?

(to the memory of Pat Tillman)

Who will win the US-Iraq war? Who wins a war?
Does body count demarcate triumph from defeat?
Who won World War I? Who won World War II?

Who wins when limbs and torsos fly in the air?
Who wins when blood squirts profusely from the
belly of a baby who has no name yet,
hit by a stray bullet a day after its birth?
Who wins when civilians are maimed forever
to exist lifeless in the land of the living,
a merciless fate worse than death?
Who wins when a passer-by's brain explodes
while he is ruminating his son's future?
Who wins when women are raped to weaken foes?
Who wins when an entire village is reduced to
nothingness even ghosts cannot survive?

Victory in war is a tall tale, a gory monster tale.

Victory is mindless and random destruction.
Victory is food shortage, hunger, deprivation.
Victory is death, murder, genocide, ethnocide.
Victory is the massacre of innocent people.
Victory is orphaned defenseless boys and girls.
Victory is mothers and widows with broken hearts.
Victory is robbery of the dreams and future of
men and women who barely graduated
from the crib, compelled to render
military service to fight a senseless war.
Victory is the remorseless sacrifice of soldiers
like Pat Tillman in the cold, cold altar of
unquenchable thirst for power and gold.
Victory is recurrent nightmare for soldiers forced
to pull the trigger on fellow human beings.

Victory in war is the big, big lie always passed on
as the big, big truth that it is not.
Victory in war is the big, big truth seldom told as
the big, big lie that it is.

The only truth is defeat and material accumulation
for the manufacturers of death machines.
There are no winners, only losers and profiteers and
eternal curse for those who gain from the
tragedy of the human race, and the seed
of their loins up to the third generation.

Why do governments assign huge budgets
for firearms and death machines in the name
of peace, when peace is nothing but a stomach
that does not grumble from hunger and want?

If peace is the absence of war, why go to war
to have peace?

If peace is the presence of justice, why should it
be achieved through an innately unjust means?

Must we have wars at all? Must we live a lie?
Must we have wars at all? Must we live a lie?

-Cheryl L. Daytec, 22 October 06
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