“Why and how do men go to war?”

In an article[1] written by Roger Highfield and Nic Fleming, they said that, “(m)en need threats, rivalry and war for them to work together the most effectively, according to a study of the “male warrior effect”. The ‘male warrior effect’ refers to a study conducted by Professor Mark van Vugt of University of Kent. This was a study that involved some 300 participants in a psychology test that involved economics game. The participants were given money either to keep it for themselves or invest it in a group fund. The whole research had an interesting process, but in summary it says that “having a common enemy brings out the best in men”.

Comparing the result of this study in relation to conflict and war, we can see that nations are more united when they have a common enemy. Take the case of the “crusades” or the battle to get Jerusalem, a fight between Muslims and Christians. Key persons like Salahudin and King Richard became the greatest warriors of their time representing the religions they belong. In a way, it was not totally about religion, both Islam and Christianity claim its roots as Abrahamic faith similar with Judaism. The three religions believe in One God, and all claims that they are a religion of peace. But getting the control, either politically or economically, of Jerusalem means a lot to them. Even up to now, we see the conflict in Palestine as a global issue of the Muslims (specifically the Arab world) and the Jews (or the Zionist regime).

Before we proceed at the local level, let us take the case of Islam and democracy. Are they compatible? With what is happening now in the Middle East and the so called Arab spring, this has ways of drawing the line between Muslims: radicalist, Islamist, or critical minded Muslims, that resulted in defining the present socio political landscape of the entire region.

Although a lot of my fellow Muslims would say that Islam and democracy do not co-exist, but I do believe that they do. Both have similar key points in terms of principle. Graham Fuller said in one of his essays that, “(s)ome Western scholars examine the Koran and Islamic law and tradition to textually “demonstrate” that Islam is not compatible with democracy”.[2]  This is not only limited to Western scholars alone. I see and know many Muslim Islamists and radicalist that say democracy is not part of Islam. For them democracy is a product of the Greeks and Romans. Moreover, for them, the Holy Quran is the basic law and guidance from Allah (SWT).

Fuller also added, “the essence of the radical argument rests on the divine source of Islamic law: If God has revealed clear principles of what is to be encouraged and what is to be proscribed, then human desire and man-made law have no place in tampering with these prescriptions and prohibitions[3]“. This topic has cause conflict within and outside the Muslim world. Take the case of Syria, Egypt, and Afghanistan.

Unfortunately, in our country, our own Islam is also threatened by the globalization of Islam. This is what I see as the future threat in Mindanao. Although the MNLF  and MILF have already shown their willingness to agree on autonomy, but the rise of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters is a force that slowly gain momentum. The BIFF may be the clear and present danger, but unknowingly, our madrasahs and religious leaders (aleems and ustadzes) are actually putting folk Islam to extinction. Thus, the politics of identity is a present phenomenon that is a root cause of conflict that may erupt to a bigger conflict. This I believe may also be a reason why men go to war.

Looking at the present peace process of the GPH and the MILF, I have the impression that the present administration shows their lack of appreciation of proper consultation at the ground and lack of having inclusivity. The recent case at Zamboanga has shown some valid claims of the MNLF. Unfortunately for them, it was not properly presented. It backfired to them and depicted Misuari and his followers as “spoiled brats”. Now, they are wanted for crimes against humanity. Therefore, even the peace process, which is “mishandled”, may also be a reason why men go to war.

Aside from those I mentioned above, there is also a point about ethnopolitics and ethnomobilization. First, we know that the Bangsamoro construct was just a recent invention of the moro front advocates. Saleeby started it. Majul followed and designed in epic proportion the “moro wars”. Misuari, as a research assistant of Majul, became the holder of the “franchise” of representing the Bangsamoro people.

History of our republic has shown that the process of integration with the Muslims / Moro people has already started as early as 1900s. Several “datus” or local chieftains  had already accepted the process of integration and fondly call themselves as Filipinos. Now, Kiefer said that for every complaint datu, there is a defiant one. The source of conflict has rooted on the process of nation building that was imposed on the indigenous peoples and even to the Islamized IPs where not all has the same view and appreciation of the “reality”, world view, and history. For most Christian Filipinos, they believe that the history of the country started at the time of Magellan and Spanish colonization. The Muslims on the other hand, strongly believe that it was the time that Islam was brought to Mindanao sometime in 13th and 15th century. This perception somehow tells us religion was the point of reference. But we know that our history is far more interesting than those points of references.

Last point, men goes to war simply based on historical, theological, political, and nationalist context. We have all these in our own little country. As to how, there can also be several factors. It can be through massive propaganda or “brainwashing”. It can be through the use of terroristic acts, guerilla warfare, or it can also be through the declaration of the pope, or the king, or the president and supported by their congress. Thus, peace can also be achieved if we do all the causes of war in the opposite.


[1] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/1528418/Why-do-men-need-war-Its-male-bonding.html


[3] Ibid.


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