By Herman Tiu Laurel

In his speech to the Russian nation, which is the equivalent of the State-of-the-Union Address in the US or State of the Nation Address in the Philippines, President Putin justified the war as the defense of the very existence of the Russian motherland while castigating the civilizational decay of the West. But the highlight of the speech was his announcement of Russia’s suspension of participation in START, the only remaining treaty on nuclear arms de-escalation.

The START, Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty talks, aimed to reduce the nuclear arms stockpiles of Russia and the US, which then constituted 90 percent of the world’s nuke arms in existence. Over the decades since the Gorbachev-Reagan talks, nuke stockpiles of the two countries have been reduced from about 45,000 to 5,977 for the USSR and 31,255 to 3,750 for US today. As usual, the US started backtracking on its nukes commitments under the START pact starting 2001 and it has been on a downhill since then until this nadir.

Few Filipinos truly dread the imminence of a nuclear war under the present circumstances of the country. Instead, 97 percent of the populations are obsessively concerned about the constantly rising costs and prices of goods and services that make increasingly difficult to maintain a decent, humane daily existence in Metro-Manila and around the country. But in Europe and the US, the “nuke bomb shelter home industry” is starting to enjoy brisk sales and bulletins on nuke fallout preparedness are already popping up.

In protest, anti-war movements are beginning to stir and show signs of life in the US, including the Feb. 19 Rage Against the War Machine demonstration at the Lincoln Memorial, which was preceded by a series of anti-war rallies commemorating Martin Luther King Day. Since late 2022, Europe has been the site of vast demonstrations have been seen against the Ukraine War, and in opposition to NATO policies provoking war with Russia and the supply of arms to the Zelensky government.

In the Philippines we have started coordinating with various ideological movements and groups- including US and international anti-war groups -- to kick-start Philippine advocacy that is anti-war, anti-US EDCA bases and anti-joint US-NATO-Japan-PHIL sea patrols, which have all been engineered by the US as trigger and cannon fodder in the “Asian Ukraine” war that is meant to ape the European version. The US target day is 2025, maybe a bit sooner or later, but if we don’t stop it, it’s going to happen.

Most people tend to pooh-pooh the prospect of a nuclear war, believing that not even the warmongering faction of the Americans are foolish enough to end their own lives in a nuclear winter; but they are wrong in thinking stupidity doesn’t happen. The US intends only a “limited war” to “exhaust Russia” and, in the case of China “reduce its GDP by 35 percent” through destruction of its industrial belt along the coast of the South China Sea. The US plan is to do this short of nuke war.

The war hawks may intone, “Look there’s no nuke war yet in from the Ukraine War”; true but escalation builds on escalation and at some point, like nuclear fission, it cannot be stopped. Asia will be lucky if the nuke exchange starts in Europe and all parties have to rush to stop it -- saving Asia from the same fate; but what we are now seeing is China buttressing Russia in anticipation of continuing US pressures on Asia through the new additional bases in an “ally country,” which is now the talk of the geopolitical circuit.

This piece has been about the imminence of nuclear war. But all is not yet lost. Even if “I realize I am fighting alone, There’s no place like home.”

In memory of the 150,000 Ukrainian young troops that died in the past year... and the 15,000 Russian young soldiers, here is an excerpt of the lyrics of the anti-war song, State of the Nation, from the Industry Band:

“I see them marching off to war
They're looking so heroic
I'm told they won't be gone for long
But that's a lie and they know it
Ten thousand gone they won't return
Never to be seen again
Strategic games is all we learn in the end
But they say:
Don't you worry about the situation
(A message from the telephone)
They out there fighting for the state of the nation
(I'm waiting a chance to come home)
They always have to fight the alienation
(I realize I'm fighting alone)
When nightmares memories fades to dust
We'll get back on our feet again
This war has nothing to do with us
But somehow we're still involved in it
Well, Don't you worry about the situation
(A message from the telephone)
They always have to fight the alienation
(I realize I'm fighting alone)
There's no place like home
There's no place like home
There's no place I don't want to be anywhere else
There's no place like home...
Don't you worry about the situation
They out there fighting for the state of the nation...
They always have to fight the alienation
(I realize I'm fighting alone)
There's no place like home”

Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in the foregoing article are solely the author’s and do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of the Philippine News Agency (PNA) or any other office under the Presidential Communications Office.

About the Columnist

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Herman Tiu Laurel is a veteran journalist and founder of think tank PHILIPPINE-BRICS Strategic Studies.