Russia’s war on Ukraine
It is painful to regularly watch man’s inhumanity to man in the Russian war against Ukraine. And, truly, the fact that the Philippines is not directly involved as a state in that violent war necessarily and deliberately targeting civilians is no excuse for Filipinos to be unconcerned. The massacre of civilians in Ukraine is like a dark and ugly horizon over all of mankind. It is an attack on our soul even if not on our soil.
That is the nature of wars – the bloody violence. But the attack on Ukraine is a special model of violence by a bully nation against a smaller neighbor. It is like a preview of how things can be if and when China attacks the Philippines. Because the armed forces of the Philippines are too few and too poorly equipped to be competitive against a possible Chinese invasion, innocent civilians are the next and only other targets left.
Inhumanity in full view – that is what Russia does before the eyes of a concerned, even frightened, world. Filipinos must closely watch what is happening to Ukraine. There are many lessons we can quickly learn from how Ukraine is defending itself against a force much more superior. There is too much parallelism between Ukraine and the Philippines. Ours is only a threat so far, but there is a very thin line between a probability and the reality of an invasion.
Ukraine is holding on despite the huge Russian war machine because a largely sympathetic world leaped from apathy to sympathy, and from sympathy to an outpouring of material and technical resources. In other words, it may be termed the Russia-Ukraine war but, in truth, it is the fight of several countries against Russia. It is the fight of those who anticipate the bully will also attack them in the future.
Several nations believe Russia has designs on a much bigger arena than just Ukraine. Another strategic parallelism with China and several nations in the region. If Russia is not stopped, the whole of Europe is naturally threatened. That is from the truism that bully will bully, period. And bullies who use force will continue to use force on the next victims who will resist their expansion or invasion.
China has already been using superior force against the Philippines. When they used naval ships or much bigger boats against Filipino fishermen inside Philippine waters, that was an attack on the Philippines. When China takes over islets within Philippine territorial waters and shoos away not just Filipino fishermen but Philippine Navy ships as well, that is an invasion.
Why is there no bloodshed, then, like the Russian attack on Ukraine? First, because the attacker has decided to use force only as a threat more than an actuality. China believes that the Philippines is afraid of its military might, that just raising its voice a little or using water cannons can do the trick. A fearful Philippines will just quietly take it, but a full-fledged attack may force Filipinos to fight back.
China is not Russia. China believes that it has money, it has technology, and it has a strong business sense. Russia only knows power and how to use it. It has no money, it has little technology, and is not an entrepreneur. Therefore, Russia’s options are very limited. Its strength is being a bully and expanding its war machine, and little else.
China has many more options. First, it knows how to weaponize its financial and technological assets. It seems that China in its history and culture has natural skills in business and trading. Therefore, the use of business and money to get what it wants is always an option for China. In business and in politics, money talks. China is more multifaceted than Russia.
It helps China a lot, as well, that many Filipinos have Chinese blood in them. Unfortunately, I do not have the numbers regarding Filipino people with Chinese blood in them. I only know mine has – from both sides of the family. There are among the richest Filipinos today a big percentage who are Chinese-Filipino. They are another asset that China can use to influence Filipinos.
Ultimately, however, it is superior military force that will be used against the Philippines to suit the agenda of China. There will come a point when Filipinos, with or without Chinese blood, will resist any unfriendly overreach. There will also come a point when other countries will be threatened with any Chinese expansion via the Philippine seas or lands. If the Philippines will find the courage that now defines the people of Ukraine, many countries will support Filipino resistance against superior Chinese might.
I noticed, too, that China has not condemned Russia’s adventurism despite the brutal impact on innocent civilian lives. Maybe, China is not willing for Russia to join a global condemnation in case China will become brutal against people who will resist China’s expansionism. They are both bullies and will expect that they understand what it is all about.
Let me go back to the essential message about bullies and victims. Bullies are the culprit, not the victims. No one is attacking Russia, and no one is attacking China. Except maybe some of their own people who are fed up by the rigid domination of their leaders. Both Russia and China are also controlling the level of communication between their people inside their country and all the more with the world outside. Both treat dissidents in like manner – harshly to brutally.
The other, and nobler message, is about Ukraine. I hope Filipinos will look to the people and state of Ukraine to understand existentially what patriotism and courage are all about. There are no better models for us as a people than the Ukrainians who confront the Russians with pride and determination – to the death. The example of Ukraine and how the world supports it will lessen the fear in our hearts and hopefully, too, the cowards in our midst.
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