Our world, more than ever, faces serious dangers created and maintained by man. Climate change is no longer a threat. It is already there with all its consequences, both on people’s health and on their security and peace.
This new weapon is different from all the existing thermonuclear arsenal. It is a weapon that threatens the very existence of humanity and whose consequences we are beginning to see on all parts of the globe. A weapon that will spare no country, powerful or weak, rich or poor. As proof, the great drought that hit Europe, accompanied by the burning of tens of thousands of hectares of land. Not to mention the impact of these phenomena which upset all certainties and accelerate the global economic crisis. To deal with it, nothing better than to strengthen collective measures to mitigate the harmful effects of man on the earth, our common good.
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For a long time, the arms race was the greatest threat to the future of humanity. It still exists and becomes clearer. The words contained in the excellent column published in Le Figaro, on May 13, 2022, by Claude Guéant, former adviser to President Nicolas Sarkozy, at the start of the war in Ukraine, challenges us all. “We walk towards war like sleepwalkers. »
The two deadliest wars that marked Europe – involving the rest of the world – took place in the first half of the 20th century. They caused approximately 18.6 million deaths for the first and more than 60 million victims for the second, and saw bestiality cross all limits with the heinous crimes perpetrated in the Nazi death camps.
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In the aftermath of these terrible events, men thought that never again would the specter of war threaten the existence of humanity. They devised a new mechanism to safeguard the peace in the world, through the creation of the United Nations. Wasted effort. The hotbeds of war remained.
Barely out of those two wars, the world came close to another confrontation in Korea between the new military powers dominating the world, with full alert reached during the Soviet Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.
Misguided political geostrategy
Today we are helplessly witnessing a new war on Europe’s doorstep which, if not controlled, could involve all the European countries and, in the long term, a confrontation between the nuclear powers. I remain convinced that the war in Ukraine could have been avoided. Disregard was made of all existing conflict prevention and resolution mechanisms. Diplomacy has not used all its capacities. It is regrettable to note that rather than preventing the emergence of this conflict, the countries continue to stir it up, in the name of a political geostrategy.
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In this war, it was obvious from the start that the Russian Federation, feeling threatened by its encirclement by NATO forces, would take the decision to invade Ukraine militarily. A flagrant violation of the principles of international law unanimously condemned. Western countries feed the desire to see Russia mired in this war with, as a result, the panoply of sanctions imposed to paralyze the Russian ogre. They continue to fan the fire by supplying Ukraine with the latest generation weapons.
The sanctions imposed on Russia will naturally have many impacts on this country, but the European countries are beginning to realize that they are the collateral victims of these retaliatory measures, so obvious is their energy dependence on Moscow. Other consequences with planetary dimensions are felt at several levels: the food crisis, the negative effect on the development of agriculture with the scarcity of fertilizers produced, for the most part, by Russia and Ukraine.
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The nuclear threats made by President Vladimir Putin must also be taken seriously. The use of this type of weapon is not a chimera. The history of humanity attests that man, since his appearance on earth, has used all the weapons he has invented. From the stick to the stone, from the stakes to the spear, from the knife to the sword, from the rifle to the cannon and, since the last two wars, chemical weapons, the aviation, the navy, and, to top it off, the atomic weapon. All sources attest that the United States had no need to use the atomic bomb in Hiroshima or Nagasaki in 1945, Japan having already been defeated militarily. But, since the atomic weapon was born, it had to be used.
We are entitled to worry about the turns of this Russian-Ukrainian conflict which is beginning to affect Crimea, which Russia had annexed years earlier and which it considers to be an integral part of its territory – a war which could quickly affect other European NATO member countries. A major confrontation could arise then, to the misfortune of the whole world.
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In another part of the world there is also a threat to world peace. This time, it could bring face to face two military powers, nuclear moreover, the first and the second world economy. Two outbreaks have already been identified, with different intensities, but both likely to trigger a conflict between the United States of America and the People’s Republic of China.
The reconquest of the island of Taiwan, detached from the People’s Republic of China at the end of the civil war which opposed nationalists and communists and was followed by the victory of Mao Tse-tung’s troops, is one of them. The nationalist leader Chiang Kai-check, after his flight on December 8, 1949, took refuge on the island of Formosa where he established his government, supported by the United States of America and benefiting from their military support. Since then, the People’s Republic of China is struggling to recover its place in the United Nations, and it has never given up on recovering its legitimacy on the island of Taiwan, which it considers an integral part of its territory.
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The change in the status quo on the Chinese islands in the South China Sea is also a real source of confrontation between the United States of America and the People’s Republic of China.
Dominant male and harem
The history of empires resembles the animal kingdom, in which the law of the strongest is the rule and where, implicitly, the dominant male reigns. Each time a young person feels the strength to confront the dominant, a fierce struggle is established between them to designate who will take control of the harem. It is the same for empires that know beginnings, apogee and decline, as was the case with those of the pharaohs, the Romans, the Greeks, the Ottomans or the British.
Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter, wrote in his book America facing the world. What foreign policy for the United States, that the decline of the United States would come. But not as soon as some around the world predict, nor as late as Americans think.
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Several harbingers of this development are perceptible today. The America of today is very different from that of the 1940s and the post-war period, during which the United States had invested 16.5 billion dollars (the equivalent of 173 billion today) in the reconstruction of European countries devastated by the conflict, not to mention the recovery of Japan.
Today, the People’s Republic of China, which has become the second economic power in the world, dominating world trade and boasting an impressive cash flow, feels able to challenge the United States. According to several sources, it generated a trade surplus of $690 billion in 2021, while the United States trailed a colossal budget deficit of $668 billion.
However, America still maintains an economic and financial, military and cultural lead, not to mention its success in technological innovation. This gap allows it to maintain its world hegemony and its place as the first planetary power.
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But the debate on the mutation is engaged on several levels. Researchers, political scientists, including my excellent former Singaporean colleague on the Security Council, Kishore Mabubani, believe that the 21st century is that of Asia, with China playing the driving role.
Beijing is trying to change the status quo in the China Sea, by deploying an impressive fleet in this part of the world to counter the influence of the American 7th Fleet. The first test will be on the island of Taiwan. If, by chance, Taiwan decided to declare its independence, it is reasonable to think that the island, which is within easy reach of the People’s Republic of China, would be invaded immediately by the armed forces of Beijing. The other hypothesis is an invasion of Taiwan by the Chinese army. In these two scenarios, what will the United States of America do in the face of the annexation of a territory to which it is bound by a defense agreement?
Currently, eyes are on two parts of the world, Europe and Asia. A recreation of the situation that prevailed during the Second World War, with Germany on one side and Japan on the other. Are the latest military maneuvers by Russian and Chinese forces the sign of a new alliance facing the Western world?
I will not forget to mention recurring unresolved conflicts such as the Middle East crisis, the Iranian nuclear issue, the emergence of violent extremisms such as al-Qaeda, Daesh or the Islamic State.
It is time for the international community to take stock of the real threats to world peace in order to find the means to defuse this visible tension which risks plunging the world into dark days for survival. of humanity.