Peace on Earth...

Can any of the existing major conflicts in the world lead to a new world war? Before answering this question, one needs to think of how some isolated conflicts eventually lead to WWI and WWII in the last century. The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, by a Bosnian-Serb nationalist led to WWI. Then, two independent wars, one between Germany and Poland in Europe and the other between Japan and China in Asia merged into one and led to WWII. Some of the existing conflicts, such as the one between Arabs and Jews, Iran and Israel, India and Pakistan, and between North Korea and some of its neighbours, appear to have the potential to deteriorate into a worldwide catastrophe, given the right conditions.

At the same time, if a third world war somehow broke out, the odds are humans will fight that war with nuclear weapons. Some believe that the world has already geared up for this. This is certainly not daydreaming. According to a report by Schultz, Perry, Kissinger, & Nunn (2008), a group of influential former Cold Warriors based at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution has categorically stated, “The accelerating spread of nuclear weapons, nuclear know-how and nuclear material has [already] brought us to a nuclear tipping point. This is a warning no one should ignore. Those who issue the warning have extensive knowledge and experience in world matters. They include former US secretaries of state George Shultz and Henry Kissinger, a former US Defence Secretary William Perry, and former US senator Sam Nunn. This and other such expert opinions simply point to a looming global nuclear catastrophe, waiting to explode. The world would face its dire consequences if it fails to prevent the outbreak of this global catastrophe. The consequences of the first and second world wars (WWI and WWII), which were fought by conventional weapons, would be simply scanty when compared to what could happen in such a global nuclear catastrophe. The WWI claimed over 15 million human lives. Then, the WWII claimed 65 million human lives. In contrast, the nuclear weapons now stockpiled on earth may have the power to annihilate humanity, and most life on earth.

There is also no guarantee that there would be no further nuclear proliferation. The United Nations has failed to avoid the spread of nuclear weapons, nuclear know-how, and nuclear material in the past. All signs are that it would continue to fail in those tasks in the coming years and decades. It is true that the two countries having the biggest stockpiles of nuclear weapons, United States and Russia, are continuing with their talks for further reduction of nuclear weapons between them. However, there are no serious talks on complete abolition of nuclear weapons from the surface of earth. In this scenario, it is quite possible that more countries that do not possess nuclear weapons now would produce such weapons in the coming years and decades, further endangering life on earth.

In the above situation, is the world ready to avoid the possible outbreak of the looming global nuclear catastrophe? The world did fail to avoid global catastrophes twice before, first before the WWI and later before the WWII. Obviously, the strategies used to avoid global catastrophes then would not help now. The world now needs new strategies and wisdom, if we really want to avoid the possible outbreak of the looming global nuclear catastrophe.

Then, avoiding the looming global nuclear catastrophe by whatever means is also not good enough. This is so, as the world could face threats of world catastrophes even later. As for now, it appears that living under the clouds of looming global disasters every so often is a human destiny. We also need to change this human destiny to one of lasting peace on earth. It is also not a mere daydream. We do have the power to make the world we like to see. For this, we all need to act positively to bring peace to the troubled world. Playing ignorance and doing nothing is not any solution to the current situation in question. Echoing similar thoughts, Albert Einstein (1879-1955) had once said, “The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.” A number of other great thinkers had expressed similar thoughts even before. For example, the eighteenth century Anglo-Irish statesman Edmund Burke (1729-1797) had said, “The only thing necessary for evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing.”

So, let us first try to figure out what it would take to avoid the looming global nuclear catastrophe and to establish lasting peace on earth.

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