Wednesday,20 February, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1356, (10 - 16 August 2017)
Wednesday,20 February, 2019
Issue 1356, (10 - 16 August 2017)

Ahram Weekly

‘Double, double, boil and trouble’

Is it really “just around the corner” as the experts say? This is WWIII, I mean. The consensus is that it will not be long before our planet is once again embroiled in mortal combat, aflame in nuclear warfare, with missiles flying from every corner, blistering, searing and scorching human flesh.

So convinced and convincing are they, one can almost see the glow of nuclear explosions and smell the smoke of decaying corporal remains. But who, where, what is causing all this, we ask. Almost anyone, anywhere or everywhere comes the answer of doom and gloom. It can be ignited from different places. Would you believe Poland is one of them, or China, Russia, North Korea and certainly the Middle East?

As we fervently pray for peace, all indications are that the cauldron is boiling, trouble is brewing and a worldwide conflict is looming. 

Nuclear missiles are flying all over space like kites in the springtime in the hands of excited children. In the wrong hands such as North Korea or Iran they are transformed to war games and may well trigger WWIII. As Winston Churchill put it: “War is mainly a catalogue of blunders.” 

If WWI was called the “Great War” what should we call this one, the “Last War”? 

Potentially, WWIII can be triggered by activities in Syria where the two great powers are supposed to be fighting the Islamic State (IS) and IS is fighting for its life. The Jihadis are fleeing from their comfort zones, with their eyes on Africa where they already have made inroads.

Iran is a leading sponsor of terrorists and its nuclear capabilities are shrouded in mystery. Thanks to Barack Obama it was able to launch a missile last week. If this technology falls in the hands of their friends Hizbullah or Hamas, God help us. 

It is little wonder that a recent survey of 9,000 across nine Western countries by Yougov found that we are much closer to global war than world peace.

Russia’s posture is feared by all. Sanctions by the West, unlikely to work, and in retaliation Russia is closing US diplomatic compounds and sending 32 American diplomats back home. Annexation of Ukraine would be effortless, others like the Baltic States Poland could be implemented with great speed and Putin is unhappy with the states signed with NATO. What then will NATO do? Its 28 states are sworn to respond as a group if one single country is attacked. Fight Russia? Russia’s super submarine fleet is unstoppable.

The dispute in the South China Sea is of great concern. China has already seized it, building artificial islands on which it plans to base jet fighter planes, alarming Viet-Nam, Malaysia the Philippines, South Korea and most of all Japan which has originally claimed this region. 

 What is a world war? A global war involves two continents or 20 major nations. We had two world wars in the 20th century and for six decades there has been no major combat between the great powers since WWII. It was hoped to be the last. “I know not with what weapons WWIII will be fought but WWIV will be fought with sticks and stones,” said Albert Einstein. However George Friedman founder of Stratfor, the geopolitical forecaster, writes extensively about the emerging trends that send a serious warning that war is imminent. 

Britain’s Admiral Lord West thinks “we are in a more dangerous, chaotic and unpredictable time than any other in my 50 years in the force.”

Most combustible of all sources is the supreme ruler of North Korea, Kim Jong Un who has vowed to destroy all US military bases and laughs as he plays with his Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles. His latest reached 600 miles, landing in the ocean off the coast of Japan. His nuclear powers are steadily getting stronger. Where will the next one land — Hawaii, California, Chicago? What a laugh that will be.

At 32, he is the youngest head of state in the world. Spoiled, complicated, arrogant and merciless, he is suspicious of everyone and is the brutal warden of 120,000 political prisoners. Notorious for his playboy lifestyle, he is vain enough to wear lifts in his shoes and a pompadour hairstyle to appear taller. With hundreds of titles such as “Sun of the 21st Century”, he has China’s backing and has invested the country’s resources in building his nuclear arsenal, while his people starve. By far, the world’s most eccentric, unpredictable, enigmatic figure he is capable of hitting the US within a year.

In a pompous military parade through Pyongyang he marched his soldiers carrying nuclear-marked backpacks— a warning to the US.

Pre-emptive US military strike is in the plans besides other options such as building a missile defence system before the US mainland is hit.

“As in the past, WWIII could start with a small event by accident,” concludes Peter W Singer, co-author of Ghost Fields, “so get ready for war”.

How do we do that?

No one wants war. Good men die on both sides. There is no victory in war. 

With conventional weapons an estimate of 50 to 80 million died in WWII. If nukes are used in a third World War the estimate is two billion deaths to extinction. 

No one really knows.

The only hope we have is that it will never happen. 

“War, he sung, is toil and trouble

 Honour, but an empty bubble”.

John Dryden (1631-1700)

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