The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists announced on Thursday of this week that the Doomsday Clock now stands at two-and-a-half minutes to midnight. This spine-tingling announcement suggests that existential threats now pose a greater threat to humanity than they have at any time since the height of the Cold War.
“This is the closest to midnight the Doomsday Clock has ever been in the lifetime of almost everyone in this room. It’s been 64 years since it was closer,” said Lawrence Krauss, a theoretical physicist at Arizona State University and the chair of the Bulletin’s board of sponsors.
Now is the time to panic — or not, depending on your level of resolve (or apathy).
Mikhail Gorbachev, former president of the Soviet Union and author of The New Russia, wrote an article published in TIME Magazine entitled “It All Looks as if the World Is Preparing For War.” In the article, Gorbachev notes:
“Today, however, the nuclear threat once again seems real. Relations between the great powers have been going from bad to worse for several years now. The advocates for arms build-up and the military-industrial complex are rubbing their hands.”
Gorbachev is not overstating the threat of global warfare. In an interview with Prism magazine, retired Army General Stanley McChrystal issued two warnings that, as noted by Foreign Policy magazine, are “hair-raising” to say the least.
“A European war is not unthinkable,” McChrystal explained. “People who want to believe that a war in Europe is not possible might be in for a surprise. We have to acknowledge great power politics; we can’t pretend that they are gone.”
McChrystal admits the U.S. made vital mistakes in speedily invading Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as “paying a high price” in Syria. As he has observed:
“In the case of Afghanistan, immediately after 9/11, in terms of military action we should have done nothing initially. I now believe we should have taken the first year after 9/11 and sent 10,000 young Americans—military, civilians, diplomats—to language school; Pashtu, Dari, Arabic. We should have started to build up the capacity we didn’t have. I would have spent that year with diplomats traveling the world as the aggrieved party,” McChrystal stated.
Now that the world is headed down the path toward a possible world war, McChrystal acknowledges the unthinkable is to follow: the erosion of our civil liberties, which will directly impact on ordinary civilians.
“We are beginning an era in which our ability to leverage technology to track people and control populations is going to create a lot of tension; I think we are going to see a lot more population control measures. We are going to have to give up a lot more of our precious civil rights than most of us imagine because we want security,” McChrystal added.
Speaking to Republican policymakers in Philadelphia, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May stated that Britain and the U.S. will no longer invade sovereign foreign nations “in an attempt to make the world in their own image.” Such an ambiguous statement makes it unclear whether this means Britain and the U.S. will still invade sovereign nations for other reasons, especially in light of May’s statement that “nor can we afford to stand idly by when the threat is real and when it is in our own interests to intervene.”
What May’s address really symbolizes is that the U.K. will still continue to follow the U.S. hand-in-hand, as has been the case for decades. This can be seen most clearly in the events following Donald Trump’s calls to focus more on ISIS as opposed to Assad in Syria. Britain’s answer to Donald Trump in the form of Foreign Minister Boris Johnson followed suit, stating it is “better sometimes to have a tyrant than not to have a ruler at all.”
Not surprisingly, as a result of her comments and commitment to the U.S.-U.K alliance, May just secured “100% support” for NATO from President Trump.
Instead of focusing on Assad in Syria, as Obama and former prime minister, David Cameron did, May made it clear the U.K. and U.S.’ renewed focus is on this recently adopted approach to foreign policy: Iran. May stated that pushing back on “Iran’s aggressive efforts” to increase its “arc of influence from Tehran through to the Mediterranean” was a “priority.”
Essentially, despite May’s rhetoric, nothing will actually change in practice. War is still a reality; it just might take place in a different theater.
As a result, it is no surprise that the U.K. and the U.S. have been the most staunch backers of the Saudi-led brutal assault on Yemen, as it is argued a Houthi-led government in Yemen could align itself with Iran, creating an Iranian-influenced adversary on Riyadh’s doorstep.
It should also be noted that Iran is bound to Syria by a mutual defense agreement. Russia and China have made it abundantly clear they will not tolerate any attack on Syria or Iran, as evidenced by Russia’s decision to overtly intervene in the Syrian war in 2015. Further, Iran may eventually join the Eurasian security bloc, placing the Islamic Republic into a direct alliance with nuclear powers Russia and China.
In turn, the U.K. and the U.S. are surrounding Russia with troops, missiles, tanks, and everything in between.
Does this sound like the actions of two countries that will no longer invade sovereign nations to shape the world in their image?
There is no way around this delicate issue other than to completely dismantle the world’s current system of war. As noted by Forbes:
“However, there is more to averting nuclear holocaust than having a robust strategic force. The U.S. needs to avoid getting into non-nuclear conflicts and crises that could escalate to the nuclear level. Eastern Europe is the place where such a scenario is most likely to unfold, because since the Cold War ended, the U.S. has extended security guarantees to former Soviet republics and satellites that lie close to the Russian heartland.”
Gorbachev himself has acknowledged this chilling fact and offered his vast experience in this area. The whole world should heed his words:
“In modern world, wars must be outlawed, because none of the global problems we are facing can be resolved by war — not poverty, nor the environment, migration, population growth, or shortages of resources.” [emphasis added]