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War Over Domination

Domination and Conflict In Our Troubled World
Can We Resolve Most Serious Issue Peacefully?

Bharat Dogra

There have been several indications of serious new conflicts emerging in our troubled world, even while earlier sources of international tensions remain unresolved. There has been much talk of a new cold war, while older issues like currency and trade reforms still remain with us. The arms race keeps getting worse with more and more destructive weapons being adding to the arsenal of the big powers and other nations.

A frequently asked question is who will dominate the coming decades? Will the US domination continue, or will it pass over to China? To what extent will Russia retain its big power status? Is there room for another big power to emerge as a dominating force?

What is clear is that there are increasing suspicions and hostilities among the big powers. Both the USA and Russia appear less inclined to persist with even the limited agreements that they had reached earlier to curb and prevent the actual use of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). The possibilities of crude WMDs reaching terrorists are increasing. So are the possibilities of actual use of such weapons including tactical nuclear weapons in a war between not only the big powers but even the lesser powers like India and Pakistan, or Israel and Iran.

The nuclear arms race has spilled over to the race for robot, AI or autonomous weapons, with grim possibilities. There is a possibility that unexpected achievements in arms technology can give unexpected, at least temporary, supremacy to a single power in armed conflict and upset the already precarious balance of power.

The hardening of suspicions and animosities in a world loaded with weapons of mass destruction is a very unstable and high risk situation which should be eased up before it results in catastrophic consequences. On December 20, 2018 Russian President Putin warned of the possibilities that our planet may be destroyed in a nuclear conflict. There are increasing possibilities that misinterpretations of adversary intentions can also result in exchange of weapons of mass destruction. Concerned experts have been warning recently that certain changes in weapons technology have unintentionally increased such risks instead of striving to reduce such extremely dangerous possibilities.

Older issues like trade and currency reform will have to be resolved as some injustices and incongruities have persisted for too long and in certain circumstances, abetted by other hostile factors, these can lead to a serious crisis situation. The way in which the trade conflict between China and the USA escalated rapidly (before de-escalating in more recent times) has been widely commented upon, but there are also more persistent and continuing injustices in the trade system which harm the majority of less resourceful countries. There have always been some serious anomalies regarding the currency of any single nation (the US dollar) functioning as international reserve currency and in certain circumstances this anomaly can lead to a crisis situation, a possibility also expressed by eminent US economist Samuelson. The possibilities of this increased after the unilateral delinking from the gold standard announced during the presidency of Richard Nixon. Such issues should not be allowed to persist for too long and need to be tackled and resolved in a peaceful manner without causing any serious disruptions.

The big question is whether the various sources of increasing tensions will be resolved in a more or less peaceful manner, or can we at least get an assurance that any catastrophic conflict will be avoided. At least this much assurance humanity needs in a world so overloaded with destructive weapons.

The main issue often raised is the quest of dominance. Who will dominate the emerging world? But the obsession with this question pushes aside the real and genuine issues of welfare of humanity and all forms of life. If serious environmental problems are allowed to persist, even the one who dominates may not be happy and prosperous. While stupid issues of dominance persist, the real need is to resolve the most urgent environmental issues some of which come with tipping points and need to be resolved very urgently before it is too late.

As analysts argue endlessly regarding who will dominate the world, the real need is for increasing international co-operation to resolve the most urgent environmental issues before it is too late. This is possible only in conditions of peace and stability with continuity. The need today is for a people's movement cutting across all narrow boundaries to change life patterns in accordance with the needs for protecting the life-nurturing conditions of our planet. In such a situation all talk of dominance by any nation is completely outdated and delinked form real needs. The sooner the world realises this the better because we don't have much time left to resolve the most important real problems. The attitude of existing world leadership has not been in accordance with real needs, and only people's resurgence cutting across all narrow borders can create the conducive conditions in which the real and most urgent tasks facing the world can be taken forward.

The writer is a freelance journalist who has been involved with several social movements and initiatives.

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Frontier
Vol. 51, No. 47, May 26 - Jun 1- 18, 2019