Skip to main content

We are facing the possibility of a second Cold War – and if it happens, Isis will never be defeated

When America and Russia cannot act together in the face of a common threat on the scale of Isis, then there is little cause for optimism Getty
At the risk of sounding a little foolish, there is, sadly, much evidence that World War Three has already arrived, though not quite in the way so many futurologists of the past imagined it, as a clash between superpowers, their tanks chasing each other across the North German plain.
Nowadays, our planet is much more kaleidoscopic and asymmetric in its violence than that, and the world is pretty much in flames already, should we care to look. The question is whether all the present (relatively) little wars could actually mutate into, or trigger, a real superpower conflict involving the US, Russia and China, at the least.
We are probably not yet at the most dangerous pass since 1945: the 1962 Cuban missile crisis and the early 1980s felt more frightening in those terms, in truth much more than after 9/11, traumatising as that event was. But we are certainly in risky, unstable, uncertain times.
Former Mi6 Chief says we’re entering an era ‘more dangerous than Cold War’
There are about 195 countries in the world. Only a dozen or so can be said to be properly at peace: Iceland, the world’s most peaceful country according to the Global Peace Index, followed by Denmark, Austria, New Zealand, Portugal, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Canada, Japan, Slovenia and Finland. A tiny proportion of the world’s population reside in these outposts of calm. The list of conflicts, wars, civil wars, insurgencies and permanent states of terror is a much longer one, from the all-too-familiar agonies of Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Ukraine, Boko Haram in west Africa, and Yemen through to less well-covered conflicts such as the drugs wars in Mexico and insurgencies from Burma to Armenia and Azerbaijan to (until recently) Colombia. Britain, one way or another, has been in some sort of conflict every year since 1914, with the sole exception of 1968.
So the world is at war, and more so than at any point than in most people’s lifetimes. It is a way of life for most of humanity. Each conflict is different, of course. Slogans such as the “war on terror” or the “war on militant Islamism” fail to capture this reality. After all, many of these conflicts – as we see graphically in Syria and Yemen, for example – are between different groups of militant Islamists, with the Sunni-Shia divide more or less visible. Closer to home, in Northern Ireland, some of the bloodiest moments in the Troubles came when armed Republicans fought armed Loyalists, rather than the security forces. The tendency with al-Qaeda and Isis is for semi-autonomous or autonomous groups, or just random disaffected individuals armed with only a light truck or a smuggled gun, to “affiliate” themselves, often after the event.
The “clash of civilisations”, the famous phrase coined by Samuel Huntington a quarter century ago, has not materialised in the sense he envisaged – substantial blocs of nation states fighting conventional wars across “faultiness”. Instead, we have these fragmented, chaotic, unpredictable sets of “players” that vary in size and potency from the United States of America to a lone maniac with a machete on a train in Germany, or gangs of drunken child soldiers in the Central African Republic. There are proxy wars which defy easy categorisation into a pattern of “the West versus the Rest”. Where America wants to retain friendlier relations with Iran and Saudi Arabia, whose side is the US on in the proxy war between Tehran and Riyadh in Yemen? When the Hutu and the Tutsi attempt genocide, they do so for ethnic not geopolitical reasons.
Even so, the immediate danger now is Cold War 2, much more than a “hot” Third World War, though one could grow out of the other. The US-Russia relationship is on a pivot between progress and failure, more so than at any time since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Also unsteady are America’s and Russia’s respective relations with China, which, as has been true since the Sino-Soviet split in 1961 and Richard Nixon’s historic visit in 1972, can be categorised, in Huntington’s terms, as a “swing superpower”, and a better armed, active and richer one nowadays.
When America and Russia cannot act together in the face of a common threat on the scale of Isis, then there is certainly little cause for optimism. Putin won his war in the Ukraine with the annexation of Crimea and the de facto capture of eastern Ukraine, on the very borders of Nato and the European Union. Perhaps, had Donald Trump not been so enchanted by Vladimir Putin, we would have heard more about that particular failing by the Obama administration in the presidential campaign.


.


Related:
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~  ~ ~ ~  ~
Humanity, ReligionCultureSciencePeace

Popular posts from this blog

A historic moment in the Arab world

لحظة تاريخية في العالم العربي
As a democratic revolution led by tech-empowered young people sweeps the Arab world, Wadah Khanfar, Al Jazeera's director-general, shares a profoundly optimistic view of what's happening in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and beyond. In the first talk posted online from the TED 2011 conference in California, Khanfar describes the powerful moment when people realised they could step out of their homes and ask for change. "كما ثورة ديمقراطية بقيادة الشباب التكنولوجيا ذات صلاحيات تجتاح العالم العربي ، وضاح خنفر ، الجزيرة المدير العام والأسهم وجهة نظر متفائلة بشكل كبير ما يحدث في مصر وتونس وليبيا وخارجها. وفي اول حديث له نشر على الانترنت من مؤتمر تيد 2011 في ولاية كاليفورنيا ، خنفر يصف لحظة قوية عند الناس أدركت أنها لا يمكن الخروج من منازلهم ونطلب من أجل التغيير."
http://www.ted.com/talks/wadah_khanfar_a_historic_moment_in_the_arab_world.html This talk was given on March 1, 2011 in Long Beach, California. TED 2011 is taking place between March 1 and Mar…

Our Captured, Wounded Hearts: Arundhati Roy On Balakot, Kashmir And India

With his reckless “pre-emptive” airstrike on Balakot in Pakistan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has inadvertently undone what previous Indian governments almost miraculously, succeeded in doing for decades. Since 1947 the Indian Government has bristled at any suggestion that the conflict in Kashmir could be resolved by international arbitration, insisting that it is an “internal matter.” By goading Pakistan into a counter-strike, and so making India and Pakistan the only two nuclear powers in history to have bombed each other, Modi has internationalised the Kashmir dispute. He has demonstrated to the world that Kashmir is potentially the most dangerous place on earth, the flash-point for nuclear war. Every person, country, and organisation that worries about the prospect of nuclear war has the right to intervene and do everything in its power to prevent it.  Keep reading  >>>>


India has built around itself an aura of a global power whose time has come. For at least the last t…

Kashmir Jihad - Analysis & Options

PDF: http://bit.ly/2k0Vqpm

Kashmir is an incomplete agenda of partition of India. Since 1947, India and Pakistan have fought three wars on this issue. According to UN resolutions, Kashmiris have to decide their accession to Pakistan or India through impartial plebiscite, which could not take place due to Indian reluctance. Recently, India revoked Article 370 of the Constitution, which granted special autonomous status to Kashmir, it was done to unilaterally integrate occupied Kashmir. This is a violation of the UN resolutions and the Simla bilateral agreement, which demands to maintain status quo until the final settlement. The US and world powers are emphasizing that Kashmir should be resolved bilaterally, though India has refused to hold talks with Pakistan. In the present scenario, while India has turned Kashmir into the largest prison of 9 million people, denying basic human rights and oppressing the Kashmiris' who want freedom from India, Pakistan cannot watch as a silent spec…