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Edition 148-April 1, 2017
Is World War III inevitable?
Mikhail Gorbachev: It all looks as if the world is preparing for war
By Thomas Terrio

In a recent Time Magazine article dated January 26, 2017, former General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev made an ominous statement when he suggested―the world was once again preparing for war.

Once more we have reached a turning point in human history, where we will either survive as a species, or destroy ourselves and vanish from the cosmos forever. An ancient Chinese proverb says, “May you live in interesting times.” But the truth is: we live in very dangerous times.

With NATO deploying more troops in the Baltic States, a new missile defence shield in Romania and Poland, the Russian annexation of Crimea, and Putin’s proxy war in Ukraine, it’s no wonder there is talk of a new cold war and the inevitable confrontation between NATO and the recently formed Russia/China military alliance called the Collective Security Treaty Organization or CSTO, which includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, and Tajikistan.

Tensions have also increased in the Asia Pacific Region between China and its neighbours: the Philippines, Malaysia, South Korea, Vietnam, Japan and Taiwan, since Mainland China began asserting itself by constructing man-made islands in a disputed area on the Fiery Cross Reef in the South China Sea―technically in international waters. To further antagonize the present situation, are the actions of Iran and North Korea in developing strategic nuclear weapons, and the ongoing threat from international terrorists such as the Islamic State.

The status quo

Since the end of the Second World War, many countries have based their hopes on the United Nations and its Security Counsel to reach beyond borders by providing a forum for global human rights and security; specifically representing a place where third world nations could request assistance from the first world order; and where disagreeing parties could settle conflicts before declaring war.

Even though the majority of U.N. efforts are sincere, the U.N. has proven to be a failure with respect to global security and human rights going back to the genocide in Rwanda and Bosnia, as well as famine in places such as Somalia and Ethiopia

A possible solution

A solution to the next potential global crisis could be a new framework between the global powers―independent of the U.N. and focused on global security―involving the United States, China, Japan, Russia, India, United Kingdom, France and Germany.

This approach may be more conducive to world peace than the ambient noise or political tension which presently exists with 193 countries at the U.N. in New York. Overall, it would be a more productive way to avoid world war and increase the opportunity for global economic growth and stability. Common sense dictates the major powers must continue talking at the highest level in order to avoid any misunderstanding which would lead to conflict; communication is the best defence against a global conflagration.

Weapons of Mass Destruction

In today’s world, Russia, China, Israel, United Kingdom and United States, France, India and Pakistan collectively hold thousands of nuclear weapons. Many possess armed ballistic missiles holding multiple warheads known as MIRVs, or Multiple Intercontinental Re-entry Vehicles a thousand times more powerful than the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In other words, one single ballistic missile has ten or more multiple warheads capable of destroying ten different targets the size of the State of Texas.

Treaties have reduced the amount of nuclear warheads, but still enough remain to pose a significant threat to the future of humanity. Furthermore, accuracy has been perfected to the point where such weapons can land within a few hundred metres of their designated target.

And yes, they are well hidden. Some can be launched from submarines deep in the ocean; others from mobile launching platforms with the ability to move anywhere, mostly underground where they cannot be readily detected by satellite. According to the U.S. Secretary of Defense Annual Report to Congress in 2011, the total length of China’s network of underground tunnels could be as vast as 5,000 km or more.

Conventional warfare and WMD

With the advancements in 21st Century weaponry, there isn’t much difference between a nuclear war and a so-called conventional one. Today, a conventional war can be just as destructive as a nuclear exchange. Many nations have developed both chemical and biological weapons, which if unleashed―would cause mass casualties beyond comprehension.

The recent assassination of Kim Jong-nam, half brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un in the Kuala Lumpur airport on February 13, 2017 using the VX nerve agent, sent fear throughout the international community. The VX nerve agent is tasteless and odourless. It can be used in liquid or gas form, and is believed to be the most toxic nerve agent known to man. One drop is considered lethal. With the exception of medical research, the VX nerve agent was banned globally by the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention. The convention currently has 192 state signatories. Israel has signed, but has not yet ratified the convention, and North Korea refuses to do so.

Many, if not all chemical weapons, such as Sarin gas―used recently in the Syrian Civil War―can easily be loaded onto today’s advanced missile systems; and if acquired by terrorists, could be used in an attack resulting in mass casualties. In the Iraq war, the U.S. deployed the chemical white phosphorus, better known in the military as “Whiskey Pete,” which burns skin to the bone leaving buildings and clothes intact.

The danger is not limited to nuclear or chemical weapons. Biological weapons make use of viruses and bacteria as well as fungi to kill, and can easily be deployed in the form of an aerosol. Both smallpox and anthrax have been weaponzed. Even the Ebola virus could one day be used as a weapon. Russia is alleged to have the largest stockpile of biological weapons in the world. The recent developments in laser technology as well as the development of robotic drones, nanotechnology, and smart bombs have turned the conventional battlefield into a futuristic killing field of mass destruction.

In my view, the destructive power we now possess as a species is beyond anything imaginable in the past. We have arrived at a critical point in human history where nations must turn away from war or suffer the inevitable consequences―the end of mankind as we know it.

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