Peace and War

The more world leaders talk about peace, the more they prepare for war. The more the number of global summits held to promote international cooperation and foster trade, the greater the number of countries asserting their national sovereignty and increasing their defence budgets, while erecting protectionist barriers for the weak and under-developed nations.

Till a few years ago, there was a lot of hype about the benefits of Globalisation. Now almost every President and Prime Minister is selling up protectionist walls and adopting nationalist positions : America first, China First, Russia First, Britain First.

Xi of China has declared his intention to "Walk Like A Tall Leader". Trump’s motto is to "Make America Great Again".

Trump's recent 12-day visit to Asia was about war, not peace.

The White House communique candidly said President Trump would address strategic issues with leaders of China, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and the Philippines. For Trump the number one strategic issue today is—how to deal with North Korea's nuclear ambitions.

Or, to put it bluntly, Trump's agenda is to ascertain how to crush a 33-year-old ruler of a country of just 25 million people from developing a full-fledged nuclear arsenal.

Kim Jong-un, the Supreme Leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, has been portrayed as the "the world's most dangerous man". In the last ten months alone, the country has fired 22 missiles through 15 tests in a bid to perfect its nuclear technology.

From Kim's point of view, he is doing what other countries are doing—protecting itself militarily. Korea has endured foreign occupation, bifurcation and bitter wars in the last century—Japanese occupation (1910-1945), Division into two parts and occupation by America and USSR (1945-1950), and then the Korean War (1950-1953).

Now under the rule of the Kim dynasty, a unique socialist, self-reliant and isolationist regime is in place, about which the rest of the world knows very little.

The US has labeled it a "rogue State", but China and Russia apparently regard North Korea with far less suspicious and antagonistic eyes. The recent spurt of nuclear tests, however, may have aroused a few misgivings in Beijing and Moscow too, but again very little is known about that either.

The outcome of Donald Trump's effort to forge a regional and wider global agreement to bring Kim Jong-un to his knees depends on his success in persuading President Xi to take action—through economic sanctions or military intervention—against the "rogue regime".

But the irony is that the most powerful countries in the world today justify their own defence spending and nuclear arms development programmes. The United States spends 2.2 percent of its GDP (600 billion dollars) on defence, China spends 2 percent, Russia 5.5 percent, Saudi Arabia 10 percent, France 2.3 percent, South Korea 2.5 percent, Israel 5.8 percent and even India, which probably now has the fourth largest military budget spends 2.5 percent of GDP.


Vol. 50, No.25, Dec 24 - 30, 2017