The Winds of War – Global Issues


  • Opinion by James E. Jennings (Atlanta, Georgia)
  • Inter Press Service

Today, more and more people around the world are affected by ongoing conflicts, sometimes living in societies so disorganized that they even welcome war as a solution to their problems.

The news in a single day in June 2024 was not exactly reassuring: the US and NATO agreed to use Ukraine to attack Russia; Israel turned its nose up at US demands to end the genocide in Gaza; Hezbollah bombed northern Israel for the umpteenth time, and Israel did the same.

Yemen carried out missile attacks with US warships in the Red Sea, while Israel and Iran fired hundreds of intercontinental ballistic missiles at each other.

Meanwhile, China announced that any attempt to grant sovereignty to Taiwan would be met with a strong military response. Just a few days later, on July 4, Russia and China convened a bloc of their Eurasian allies in Astana, Kazakhstan, for the Shanghai Cooperation Organization to pursue a policy of resistance to Euro-American control of the global economy.

Also sobering is that Japan and the Philippines have just formed a defense alliance that mirrors Japan’s security zone posture in World War II. All of these moves indicate that the major powers are indeed preparing for war.

Elsewhere, major regional wars are underway in Sudan and Congo; Haiti is in bloody chaos, and so are several countries in West Africa, notably Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso, which recently formed the Alliance of Sahelian States to oppose the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Political destabilization within countries is everywhere, from Myanmar and Bangladesh to Europe and Latin America, with a startling political divide in the United States. What could possibly go wrong?

The real problem in America and the West is cultural fatigue, with a lack of clear focus on a course of action, as we had in both World Wars and the Cold War. A “War to End Wars,” as the battle cry of WWI, would not work today.

Nor would it be “Make the World Safe for Democracy,” as both world wars intended; or “Better Dead than Red,” the slogan of the Cold War. Instead, it’s “Ho-hum, another war.” Not very inspiring.

The ostrich is known for burying its head in the sand when danger threatens. With wars brewing everywhere, Americans may be adopting the same tactic. There was a disturbing moment during the D-Day ceremony in Normandy on June 6, commemorating the 80th anniversary of the Allied assault on Nazi defenses during World War II.

In her prayer, U.S. Army Chaplain Karen Meeker thanked those who had sacrificed their lives and blessed the surviving heroes during the ceremony, but she also used an ominous phrase: “As the clouds of war gather …” Does she know something the rest of us don’t? She probably does, and it’s troubling. The clouds of war are gathering. All we have to do is pay attention to the news, listen to the statements of key leaders from many of the major powers, and read the headlines. It’s hard to miss the central theme: that the world is becoming increasingly ungovernable.

At a conference in Tallinn, Estonia in May, Yale historian Timothy Snyder suggested that the present moment reminds him of Europe in 1938, just before the start of World War II. That should frighten anyone. His warning means that unless something extraordinary happens, a widespread, general conflict is on the horizon.

Today’s most pressing issues include the ongoing genocidal war in Gaza, the bloody and seemingly endless war between Russia and Ukraine, and the regional wars in Sudan, Congo and Myanmar.

The growing economic gap between East and West and the poverty gap between North and South seem insurmountable. If these conflicts spread, global civilization will face a world of pain.

Perhaps that is why a tough-guy image like that of our more belligerent presidents like Andrew Jackson and Teddy Roosevelt is still so appealing today, along with a larger-than-life fictional character of the “John Wayne” variety. But it is never that simple, and there is always a price to pay.

Roosevelt’s son Quentin died in the war his father so vehemently advocated. The Greek historian Herodotus made the wise but painful observation that “in peace, sons bury their fathers; in war, fathers bury their sons.”

So what do we do? Maybe the US can start by ending its support for the bloodthirsty murder of so many defenseless civilians in Gaza. All it takes is for President Biden to have the courage to say no to an ally and mean it. As for Taiwan versus China and Iran versus Israel versus the US, why not start talking to our adversaries?

That simple tactic has worked before. Why not at least start a meaningful peace process in Sudan and Congo? It may take a long time, but peace is always better than war.

During the American Academics for Peace conferences that we organized in Iraq, Iran, Syria and Sudan in the decades before and after the American invasion of Iraq, we advocated the principle that dialogue is essential, otherwise conflict is inevitable.

Why don’t you try it? It might work.

James E. JenningsPhD is President of Conscience International and Executive Director of US Academics for Peace.

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© Inter Press Service (2024) — All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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