TEODORO L. LOCSIN, JR.
Secretary of Foreign Affairs
on the Occasion of the 75th Anniversary of the
End of Second World War
I was born three years after the War. So I have no recollections of it. My father was a decorated hero of the Resistance and this I recall. At all the parties held in our house with the American ambassador and others, a Japanese couple were always present. Mr and Mrs Takahashi, I think; such a long time ago but I remember them distinctly. He was not the Japanese ambassador. We had none at the time. But he represented Japan in some way. No one in these parties ever alluded to the War. The past was past and there is only the present to live in and the future to hope for.
Your Excellency Ambassador Sung Kim,
Your Excellency Ambassador Koji Haneda,
U.S. Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission John Law,
Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr.,
Manila Mayor Francisco Moreno Domagoso,
Fellow workers in government,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Half way through the 20th century, the US liberated Asia and the Pacific from one of the two totalitarian nightmares of all time, worse than the Mongol. Then it stayed on to keep us safe from Communism until it won by beating its chief opponent in the Cold War; though at great cost in fiercely contested hot wars.
Meanwhile we made our way out of the smoke and ashes to build as best we could from the ruins; but America’s protection gave us the calm and assurance to focus on reconstruction and progress without fear of being ambushed along the way. Thank you, America.
America’s leading role in bringing the Second World War to a sweepingly victorious conclusion indeed brought us peace and gave us a future. Although what we could make of that depended entirely on ourselves. We didn’t do too badly, I think.
But America gave us and the rest of the world even more. She gave us all a new international order that would make, if not all conflicts unlikely, then at least it avoided by a mile another World War.
And it wasn’t an easy and simple matter of victorious dictation. It was “a close run thing” all the way until the very end. America’s global presence, which never was hegemonic, guaranteed that the last one would truly be the War to End All World Wars even while running the risk that the next world war would be The One that Ended it All.
This still holds true today, despite the carnage in tragedy-haunted places. In that global peace free from foreign aggression and tyranny, for the most part we and most of the world made good use of the future.
That future of peace and freedom is our present; and we guard it fiercely and without compromise; so that we and those who come after us shall ever live with the fullest reality and the most certain promise of peace and harmony without end.
As we commemorate the end of the Second World War— a war that claimed over sixty (60) million lives, twice as many civilian casualties as those who fought in defense or aggression; where bombs laid waste to cities; where war crimes as atrocious as the Holocaust and the rape of Manila were committed— we also celebrate the idealism that led to the creation / of the United Nations. The United States was generous to invite us to be a Charter Member even before we attained independence. That is why the Charter of the United Nations begins this way: “We, the peoples of the United Nations…” Not nations, not states but “We the peoples…” Which means that the assurance of peace and freedom, the promise of prosperity and progress, the guarantee of liberty and justice attaches to the people and not to the states in which they live.
But have we achieved world peace in the wider and deeper sense the UN founding members wished for — the avoidance of all conflict and the assurance of greater safety from its terrible wounds?
War has different faces. The adroitness and sobriety of the protagonists in the Cold War spared us its worst visage of human extinction. But the other faces of war prevailed in its place; and they make us feel as if what we thought the worst had only given us something more horrendous: the assurance of human suffering through the terrible wars of mayhem and terror that completely fill with hurt and horror the tragic, grief-laden lives of its millions of innocent victims.
The rise of Daesh and other terrorist groups has brought countries together to keep them from crossing our borders or sprouting in our midst. Again the US has led the way at enormous cost in treasure and, more preciously, in the blood of its youth.
The US Patriot Act remains the only realistic template for democracies to combat terror without doing violence to democratic principles. But nothing is as crucial to success, especially in the short run, than international intelligence and military cooperation. Bad ideas and worse intentions cannot outlive the bad people who have them. We just have to know in time who and where they are.
We have also learned that effective cooperation brings mutual benefits to all while discord leads to isolation and vulnerability. When resolving conflicts through open and candid discussions turns into a hard slog, countries still need not go to war. The international courts exist for such purpose. And between friendly nations, any gaps are just more reasons to sit down, talk and get back to working together more closely and candidly; more effectively. But of course, in the end, if all that comes to nothing — if more talk just buys more time for the determined aggressor —then there is the ultima ratio regis, the last expression of sovereignty engraved on cannons. We know that New Hampshire is right to have for its state motto: Live Free or Die. For peace at any price is just a long slavery/ infinitely worse than anything war brings in its wake. That too is the lesson of the terrible cost paid by good people for the Second World War. Thank you. (END)