Ukraine war or the end of the world?
Since the end of the Second World War in 1945, the threat of a nuclear Armageddon hung over the world and it was feared during the cold war days that the end of the world would come about after a nuclear war between the communist bloc and the Western democracies.
The nightmare of a nuclear disaster was very narrowly missed during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962.
Now sixty years later we are again faced with the nightmare of the use of nuclear weapons. Six decades earlier the world was on the brink of the third world war when the USA and the USSR were in an eyeball to eyeball confrontation because of the nuclear missiles installed by the USSR in Cuba.
Better sense prevailed and the world was saved from the horrors of a nuclear conflict. Now once again the world is faced with the threat of the use of nuclear weapons.
President Putin of Russia has issued a warning that the use of nuclear weapons could be considered in the ongoing war with Ukraine.
According to President Biden of the USA “the prospect of defeat could make Putin desperate enough to use nuclear weapons.
” This is a serious challenge for the world community because the very survival of the human race is at stake only because of the Russo-Ukraine war.
The Russian President has announced mobilization of the military, President Zelensky of Ukraine requested to be admitted to NATO and Russia went ahead with the so-called referendum to annex one fifth of the Ukrainian territory igniting another serious conflict between Russia and the western world headed by the USA.
Today the world is definitely much closer to a nuclear Armageddon than it has ever been since the collapse of the USSR and no effort is visible to prevent such a tragedy.
In recent years the Nexus between China and Russia appears to be an attempt to break the West- dominated world order to a multi-polar world society and provide a level playing field to all stakeholders in world politics.
In this scenario, Russia is an aggressor against Ukraine but China since 1979 has followed a strict policy of non-interference in the affairs of its neighbours.
According to an article in the Economist of London published on March 19th 2022 “Both Chinese President, Xi Jinping and Mr. Putin want to carve up the world into spheres of influence dominated by a few big countries.
China would run East Asia, Russia would have a veto over European security and America would be forced back home.
This alternative world order would not feature universal values of human rights, which Mr.Xi and Mr.Putin see as a trick to justify western subversion of their regimes.
They appear to reckon that such ideas will soon be relics of a liberal system that is racist and unstable, replaced by hierarchies in which each country knows its place within the overall balance of power.”
It is a painful reality that today the USA is the sole superpower and the idea of replacing the American-led coalition with a new hegemonic world order led by the nexus of Russia and China is rather scary and counterproductive.
Today the western world or the capitalist society has a definite edge in science and technology, economy, military power and respect for human rights.
China has not shown total support for the Russian aggression in Ukraine and this was exhibited in the 22nd SCO summit in September this year.
The article in the Economist goes on to say “China’s approach to the Russo-Ukraine war is borne out of Mr.Xi’s conviction that the great contest in the 20th century will be between China and America, one he likes to suggest that China is destined to win.
” But, reports indicate that the Chinese President is in dire straits because of internal challenges to his rule; and if he survives from prevailing threats from foes in the hierarchy of the Communist Party of China, there is a hope for an alternative world order.
The blatant and chilling threat by Vladimir Putin to use nuclear weapons in case of defeat in the war in Ukraine should be a very serious threat and a wake-up call for the western democracies led by the USA.
Crossing the red line by Russia will definitely result in the Third World War culminating in the total annihilation of the human race.
The relentless Russian missile attacks on Kyiv and some other cities in Ukraine is adding fuel to the fire of the raging conflict and drawing the world closer to a nuclear disaster of unthinkable proportions.
So far the UN and the ICJ have remained silent spectators to this impending doomsday scenario because of the possible conflict between Russia and the USA.
The world powers should not adopt a policy of appeasement like the pre-WW11 policies adopted by Britain and France that resulted in the horrors of the Second World War.
China has the military and economic muscle to force Russia to reverse its policies in Ukraine.
Today the war in Ukraine is the centre of gravity for the world and the future of the human race is at stake.
Today the world is faced with the horrors of climate change, global warming, food crisis, energy crisis and new forms of viruses and the world leaders are only concerned with the war in Europe.
—The writer is Professor of History, based in Islamabad.