Dr. Clarita Carlos examines the political and psychological challenges that the world's non-Muslims will need to overcome as they try to bridge the "divide" between Islamic societies and their own, and she will also discuss the ways in which identity relates to security, attempting to answer such questions as: To what extent do the distortions in how groups see each other exacerbate the divisions between them? How does Muslim insecurity correlate to a continuing perception that many powerful others do not accept them as Muslims? Can some of the world enjoy security at the expense of the insecurity of others? Finally, does realpolitik tell us that such a state of affairs is natural: powerful people define and the powerless are defined?
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Dr. Carlita Carlos
Dr. Clarita Carlos, Professor, Political Science, University of the Philippines; President, National Defense College of the Philippines (NDCP)
Dr. William S. Cole
William S. Cole is the director of The Asia Foundation's Governance, Law, and Civil Society program where he is responsible for coordinating democratic governance, the rule of law, and conflict management. He concurrently serves as the director of the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) program. Dr. Cole plays a central role in strategic planning at the country level and has been instrumental in introducing new program areas and directions for the Foundation. These include small and medium business policy reform, counter corruption programming, information technology, and conflict management. He has contributed significantly to the re-establishment of the Foundation's office and programs in Afghanistan, where he spent most of 2002. Prior to his current position, he served as director of the Economic Policy Reform program in Indonesia. Dr. Cole has written widely and is a frequent speaker on topics related to Asian development, Afghanistan, democracy and governance, and the political economy of social and economic reform.
Okay, I'm delighted to introduce our speaker for today, Dr. Carlita Carlos. She was the first womanpresident of the National Defense College of the Philippines, the NDCP, serving from 1998 through2001. Dr. Carlos was also the director of the NDCP's institute for national security studies, where shestudied, or where she conducted research studies in the areas of national security, foreign policy,multilateral relations, military affairs, environmental conflict resolution, political tolerance, and gerontological studiesDr. Carlos has also been teaching for nearly forty years at the University of the Philippines, where shegot her first degree. In 1995, she received the most outstanding teacher award in the full professorcategory at the university. For many years she was consultant to the Philippines Senate, in the areas offoreign policy and security. She's also served as a consultant with the local government developmentfoundation on local capacity building. Dr. Carlos has written several volumes on Philippines politics.Her current research interest is in human security. She'll be speaking today on the topic of security,specifically on the relationship between security and identity, and how it can impact Muslim and non-Muslim relations. Please join me in welcoming Dr. Carlita Carlos.Thank you very much, Mr. Cole. Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you very much for inviting me tothis forum. What I'd like to share with you this afternoon is the story of the Muslims in the Philippines.I'd like to use that story, which might relate to the continuing story that we see, which is so central toyour life here in the United States. I've been here for several days, several weeks in fact, and I hadfollowed closely the American elections. There are many many things that we would like to emulate,but there are also many many things that we would not want to. So I have titled my paper "Bridging the Divide: the Politics of the Prisms in our Minds."It has often been said that the powerful defines and the powerless are defined. I would like to view theaftermath of September 11th from the prism of a student of politics, listening, watching, and analyzingthe discourse that have emanated there from. Your president could not have articulated more clearlythe divide between the Democratic world, labeled the free world, and the rest of the world, which isostensibly the un-free world. With his assertion that if you are not with us, you are against us. Theversus framework has been the track of American politics starting from its birth as a nation more than200 years ago. This is, however, not unique to America, as the history of the world has always been ahistory of clashes amongst peoples, characterized by division, contention, and confrontation.Indeed, Hegel may very well be right when he declared that mankind moves forward through aninexorable dialectics of events, the thesis, antithesis, and the synthesis. But what we are seeing is thatworld politics has in fact become the framework for dirty politics. The prisms that we use to view theworld, the schematics, if you wish, with which we view other peoples and make judgments about themare products of our life-long socialization. They consist of our values, our beliefs, our orientations andour attitudes. As the world becomes more complicated, and our propensity to simplify and to reducethem to slogans and labels what underground might be very complex phenomenon, is rife.But this may be because if we do not simplify things, the plethora of events that bombard us from dayto day will be enough to bring us to not only a state of frenzy, but a state of madness as well. Thus,simplification to me is a survival as well as a coping mechanism. It is therefore easy for us to acceptthe "with us, against us" framework. Thus, when planners talk about moving boxes, they actuallymean re-conceptualization, or a major re-organization. It is easy for us to digest the notion of an axisof evil against the axis of the not-evil. The rogue states against the not-rogue states. The coalition ofthe willing from the coalition of the not-too-willing. And the world has accordingly lined itselfaccording to these categories. In every dichotomy that we use that's a part of our language we attachthe value of what is good, what is desirable, and what is valued.And to the other we assign the value of what is bad. Not desirable and not valued.Now why is language so crucial in our attempt to understand the aftermath of September 11, and thesubsequent global campaign against terrorism? I believe language is so central to the meanings that weattach to them and the consequent actions that we take there from. Language is important was wedefine individuals, groups, and aggregates. And the prisms in our minds are the results of thestrangulations that we make, where we almost subconsciously locate individuals, groups, nations, andother entities, and put them in boxes. And our prisms are coming from our varied socializations throughout our lives.In my own childhood socialization, some things stand out which carried over to my young adulthood,as I entered the university. I remembered very well the admonitions of my mother, a public schoolteacher herself of English and Social Studies. She would always tell me, "You know, when you meet aMuslim, make sure you walk alongside him. Never walk in front of him, because he's more likely tostab you in the back. As Muslims are vengeful and not to be trusted." Our lessons in our Philippinehistory will not be complete without that period of American occupation, when for thirteen years, thebetter guide of the American generals assigned to the Philippines was, a good moral is a dead moral.But tomorrow has entered our lexicon, to refer to something which is a farce. It was born out of theactions of the nearly 400 years of Spanish rule, and nearly 50 years of American rule, and later thePhilippino elites, after independence, who continued to recognize human gate and marginalize theMuslims. Presently the Muslims in the Philippines number about 2.4 million, or about 5% of our totalpopulation of about 87 million. In the latest report measuring the human development index, all theareas in the Philippines populated by the Muslims are at the bottom of ever list.From nutrition, life expectancy, education, GDP per capita, and so on.Sadly, part of the recognition of the Muslims in our midst is our inability to even remember that longbefore the Philippines became a political entity, the Sultanates and Salu and other outlying islands,including what is presently Malaysia, were communities headed by Sultan, and were thriving under adistinct culture. We also do not remember that Islam came to the Philippines in the 13th century. 200years before, a certain Ferdinand Magellan claimed the island for Spain and named it afterPhillip. The continuing part of the marginalization of the Muslims occurred afterpolitical independence from the United States. Where a national policy of national integrationand massive re-settlement of the More lands reduced the lands that the Muslimsnow occupy to only about 17% of what they used to be.Part of the loss of the identity of the present Muslim is their continuing feeling and perceptionthat they have been deprived of the resources of their land. Which, over sixty yearssince independence, deprived the people of what is rightfully theirs. Over their ancestrallands. And it is no accident that these ancestral lands represent what we call the Treasure Chestof the Country. They contain 100% of our rubber, 90% of our iron ore, 89% of nickel, 50% of zinc,and 100% of our exports of pineapple and bananas come from this section of our country.That the Muslims now occupy mostly barren land, and that 84% of themhave become landless, rankles deep in the psyche of every Muslim.We in Manila, Imperial Manila, they called it, have defined our Muslim communityin an environment replete with prejudices and bias against these people. When I startedteaching in 1967, one of the junior faculty members who had impressed me much was NuralajiMisuari. It was Misuari who re-educated me from all the wrong socialization that I got from mychildhood and adolescence. It was no accident that it was the nurturing environment of theUniversity of the Philippines, where liberal education was rife that brought forth the spiritof what would be now the founder of the Moral National Liberation Front, Nuralaji Misuari. Nurknew only too well that nearly 400 years of Spanish occupation in the Philippines had failed toincorpoerate the moral lands by the polity that was the Philippines.He also knew too well that 13 years of American moral pacification campaignunder American occupation simply continued the massive divemsement of theirancestral lands. And finally, Misuari knew only too well that when the United States of Americagranted political independence to our country, called the Republic of the Philippineson July 4th, 1946, the morelands were suddenly incorperated in that new political entity.Nur indeed to aspire to my higher education about the Muslims. It was through largelyhis influence that I am not inclined to use many words which would hurt the Muslimsin our midst. Nur may also be the reason why I continue to believe that the languagethat we use, the prisms with which we view the world, are so criticalto the actions that we take in relation to them.So how do we view the Muslims of the world, and why have they become so central toour lives? The short simplistic answer is that the large segment of our life is affectedby what is beneath the soils of this countries. As I've often said, if Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Libya,Kuwait and Iran were growing cauliflower, they would be in the last priorities of the countrieswhose economies are made robust by the resources from these countries. Were it notfor this energy source, they would be in the margins of our minds. President Marcos will speak toalso point this out as a matter of fact, under martial law he was the first president of our republic whore-aligned their foreign policy away from being the tail of the American kite, to new shores likeLibya and Saudi Arabia, with the then first lady Ismelda Romaldes Marcos as the special envoy.As we must have noticed, the divide has been the majorphilosophical and political sub-structure of our lives.Flying to San Francisco, I was reading on the plane a short article suggesting that theone American position that can be taken with regard to Iraq is to divide it 3 ways:Shiite, Sunni, and Kurd. So the divide is so germane to many of the prisms that we use to viewthe rest of the world. We have South and North Korea, once upon a time East and West Germany,Turkey, Cypress, Greek Cypress...Kuwait, Lebanon, and Jordan carved out from the vitiates ofMesopotamia. The courts leaving in four countries Turkey and so on. And now the sub-structure ofour discourse is the free world, the United States of America and the rest of the world...and the rest of the world, which ostensibly is the un-free world. And the rest of the world after 9/11is the nearly 1 billion peoples in more than 40 countries, spanning the whole globe, with varying economics,politics, morals and ways of life, being viewed as a monolith and simply labeled as "The Muslim World."So what is unacceptable about viewing the Muslim world as if it were a monolith,a homogeneous whole? What is unacceptable is that the attributes that we attach to theword Muslim are replete with everything else that is the antithesis of the values that the restof the world represents. Professor Edward Saeid was correct when he observed that the Muslimworld has often been cast as a rigid, pre-scientific, under-developed, hostile, unstable, and populatedby failed and about-to-fail states. The Arabs in history are cast not as precursors of Algebra,Geometry, the cradle of civilization, but the villains who burned the libraries of the Persian Empire.The ones who overtook Jerusalem. And the ones who dynamited the icons of Afghanistan.The Muslims and Arab meets whether Indonesian, Malaysian, Philippino, Moroccan, Libyan,are all viewed as sewn from the same cloth and imbued withunacceptable attributes that corrupt the rest of the world.The word terrorist does not conjoin our mind, a white Caucasian, clean shaven, who's wearinga suit, the terrorist in our mind is a fully bearded male, turbaned, with flowing whitegarments, laying himself prostrate five times a day to worship his god. To many of us, Islam asa religion leaves little to be appreciated as it's represented in our minds. For most parts, thebarbarism, the medieval theocracy and the exoticness of the religion. And yet, when it isconvenient for us, we close our eyes to the authoritarian states, which are all Islamicstates whose governance using the democratic imperatives like freedomof speech and freedom of association are so patently absent.And the media, how often have our own Philippine media written about the Muslim terrorists,the Muslim hijacker, the Muslim amok, and rarely mentions the Catholic murderer, theCatholic rapist, etc. The media reinforces the prejudices and biases we all know.Because of the instantness of news coverage, the advances of technology enabling us to be therewhere the action is happening, the ratings war and other factors, there is little time for research,for history, for reflection. For example, as the Lebanon crisis unfolded in front of us we watch itfrom the Philippines. How many times did our own media echo the battle cry of your politicians inWashington, DC? Arguing its allies all over the world to make sure that the Hezbollah is to beobliterated. Who among the journalists took time from the millions who were watchingthe historical antecedents that were presented another perspective of what is going on in Lebanon?Media, I think, for the most part, echoes the politicians which reinforce these divides and misunderstandings.In simplistic termalization for what otherwise might be a very complicated situation.So this is where we are now. What is to be done, and where do we go from here?I think we, as academics, have a major role to play: the of these imagesof the Muslims. We as academics must clean up the conceptual and the methodologicalunderbrush that clouds the understanding of the Muslims. We must point out theneed to de-segregate the Muslim world as the whole world continues to battle the many heinouscrimes committed in the name of terrorism. I believe the academic world has a lot to make up for,for the gaps in knowledge and understanding and the conduct of studies thatwould provide guidance and enable our political leaders to viewand review their policies and understand implications at the same.The moderate Muslim cannot be further radicalized by the actions of our politicians,with their convenient slogans, labels, and simplistic explanation. We as academics,I think, participate in this conceptual conundrum, to the extent that we fail to contribute studiesof the regalicity of Arabdad, and compassionately argued that will inform our respective nation'spolicy. I know, for example, in a recent report I saw on how one of your top intelligence agenciesconducts a straining. It was reported that out of a total of 700 lecturer hours of its trainees, onlyone hour was devoted to Arab culture. Similarly, as I search in our own biggest bookstorein my country, looking for materials on Muslims, I only found one seven-page booklet for the gradesentitled, "My Brother the Muslim." Which maybe represented our punyattempt to bridge the divide between us and our Muslim brothers.What is to be done? As the greatest military power on earth, the United States of Americadevotes billions of dollars to confront the many crimes against humanity. Perpetratedin response to the percieved humiliation, the recognition of the marginalization of the Muslimpeoples. I believe there is a genuine need to redirect the resources for war material and logisticsto the other part of the equation, dealing with how we should extend our hand of understandingand cooperation to the rest of the Muslim world which is not yet radicalized. Unfortunatelyand ironically, it is a distraction of the self. The suicide bomber, the martyrdom, which is seen asthis ultimate action to be recognized. After this time, five years after 9/11, many many lives havebeen lost unnecessarily. Because we have been paying more attention to the effects when weshould be paying equal if not more attention to its causes. I think we should help clear and cleanthis conceptual underbrush and I think we should all guide our policymakers to a pathof understanding, so that our percieved enemies may not lead us to the pathwhich is so dreadful to contemplate. We can do no less. Thank you.