Nationalism: The Soil of Senseless Wars

This is my graded persuasive speech I recently delivered. I thought it'll be good to post this speech for educational purposes.

Assalamualaikum warahmatullah to everyone present today. I wish to start my speech with this song. (play Negaraku)

For those who didn’t recognize the song, it is the Malaysian national anthem, a song sung by all Malaysians every week for a good 11 years. The second line of the national anthem means ‘my blood pours on this soil’. This very line, memorized to the very core by Malaysians shows the sanctity of land over lives. My speech today is entitled Nationalism: The Soil of Senseless War.

What has nationalism has anything to do with war? How is it even considered as the soil, the habitat of war? I know for many this doesn’t make sense at all. I mean, how is devotion, which is another word for love that starts with D be responsible for the disastrous 3Ds: Disease, destruction and death? Well, let me put it this way. Remember the occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq? Those wars were initiated due to the terrorist attack on World Trade Center. After 9/11, nationalism was pitted and used by former President Bush to get parliamentary support for series of occupation. Because of Americans’ undying devotion to their country, bills were passed to support the war, resulting the aftermath of can see and hear to this very day.
I watched the Doha debate recently on BBC and was appalled to see how the debaters were defending the importance of revering each other’s boundaries when the main issue at hand was Unity of Arab countries. Suffice to say that the tension caused by strong opinions of each countries reflects the state of mind of arabs today. Past wars between Middle Eastern countries like Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Iran were all started by a small group of people to get a grip on natural resources but they were all made possible by nationalism. The same can be said to other wars like war against terrorism in Iraq or war for liberation in Vietnam. Colonel David Antoon, a retired Vietnam army wrote the article The Reality of War. He highlighted how the US government manipulated information to enflame nationalism among the American citizens so they can be enlisted and serve the country by going to war. After the article was published, David Antoon was enlisted by the government yet again, but this time in a terrorist watch list. David Antoon, a national hero is now a possible terrorist.

It may surprise you that cruelty inflicted by dictators like Stalin, Mussolini and the infamous Hitler were only made possible by nationalism. Adolf Hitler who rose to power through his party of national socialist used nationalism by perpetuating the Deutschland superiority. He and his ministers constantly preached on national pride to stem hatred towards rival Europeans and Jews. (listen to sound clip) That was Nazi’s high official, Joseph Goebbel who said (when translated) we have German theatre, German films, German press, German literature, German art and German broadcasting. With that extreme nationalism propagated by the Nazi, 50 million people died as a result of which 5 millions were Jews.

But is nationalism the cause of all this death? Many critics say nationalism is a human nature as human beings are born feeling entitled to their properties....but to what extent? This sentiment, although is justifiable for security purposes were abused by politicians and capitalists in almost all cases involving territorial disputes. Think of it this way. Let’s say a person attacks a neighboring country to make sure his land will forever be owned exclusively by him. Let’s say he dies in the process. The land it still there, apparently his but without him. How does this make sense to you?

If we open up our history books we fill discover the most peaceful time in the world is when boundaries were breached not secured. The Ottoman kingdom that stretched from the middle east to Spain see its citizen, Muslims, Christians and Jews alike living peacefully. During those times, differences were celebrated and not used against each other. The concept of caliphate was successful at ensuring the quality of life because there were no nationalistic sentiments that divide the people, only that of loving and fearing one force: Allah S.W.T. that united people of all religions and race.

In conclusion, nationalism is indeed the soil that grows contempt to one another and is used constantly used for a small group of people to achieve selfish goals. Having said this, we should relinquish our nationalistic sentiment to achieve greater heights. Imagine replacing our very own national catch phrase Keranamu Malaysia (For you, Malaysia) to Keranamu Tuhan (For you, God). For muslims like you and I, this transition of mindset is only natural.

Thank you and wassalam.

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