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Is World War III imminent?

Syed Fattahul Alim | June 11, 2024 00:00:00

After witnessing the destructive power of nuclear bombs that the USA dropped on Japanese cities of Hiroshima (August 6, 1945) and Nagasaki (August 9, 1945) at the end of the World War II, the world came up with a deadly truth. It is that any future war among countries possessing nuclear weapons might spell doom for humanity. Albert Einstein is often quoted to have said this about the future scenario of war among big powers: 'I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones'. After the then-Soviet Russia tested its own nuclear device at Semiplatinisk-2 in Kazakhstan four years after the WWII on August 29, 1949, the era of the so-called Cold War started. Since any hot war between these two big nuclear powers meant Armageddon, the state of Cold War followed between the two superpowers till the collapse of the Soviet Russia in late December, 1991.

And what remained of that once (Soviet) superpower is a much diminished Russian Federation of today. Obviously, the new Russia, though it has inherited the Soviet era nuclear arsenal, cannot any more draw the same kind of fear and respect as it could in the past from its Western adversaries. Worse, they are forever finding fault with the present Russian leadership, particularly, the country's President Vladimir Putin. The main criticism leveled against him by the West is that his government is an authoritarian, undemocratic one. So, the Western countries from their perception that they represent a superior culture and value system born of their system of government-- the so-called elected democracy, they take a moral high ground when dealing the with countries they consider not their equal. Putin and his Russia, too, is no exception.

And their hostility towards Russia has further increased following the latter's invasion of neighbouring Ukraine, which since the time of tsars until 1991's implosion (of Soviet Unon), was part of Russia, in February, 2022. The West, under the leadership of the USA, is supporting Ukraine's current government in its war against Russia using the argument that they are doing it on an ideological ground. And that is about protecting freedom and democracy of an independent country against an aggressor, who is authoritarian and so on. In other words, Ukraine's war is their war and, actually, by supplying weapons and the knowhow to operate those to Ukraine, the West is in practice engaged in a proxy war with Russia.

So, as it was in the Soviet era, it is again the same old ideological war between the good, democratic West and the evil East (the Cold War era narrative of West versus East, since Soviet Union was on the eastern border of the Western Europe). But there is one exception. In the Cold War era, at least diplomacy could play its role through talks between the two great powers to avert a confrontation between them that might lead to nuclear war. But now, diplomacy, to all appearances, is on the back foot. Perhaps, there is a general perception in West that an economically weaker Russia under an unpopular (in the West's view) autocrat could finally be brought down by just pushing the limit on the battlefront. Which is why the European leaders, who also represent the North Atlantic military alliance (NATO), have recently been talking about sending their troops including long-range missiles to Ukraine to fight the war against Russia. Meanwhile, the United States is also learnt to have given Ukraine the green light to strike (with long range missiles) deeper inside Russia. The problem is Ukrainian military lacks the knowhow to operate the Western weapons system, especially the deep penetration missiles. And Russia also knows who are actually in charge of those weapons systems.

Here lies the real danger. Putin has already issued stern warnings against using those long-range missiles targeting Russian heartland. But, beware!

Any mistake from either side can put an end to this world.

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