Giving Peace a Chance, Rather Than Submitting to War
Big wars are an extremely bad idea, one is brewing, and horrifying though it is to consider its outcome, we must.
[Image: Aftermath of the nuclear attack on Hiroshima (Public Domain).]
Updated 2023-05-02: More sources: McGovern, Hedges, Caitlin Johnstone and John Pilger. There seems to be something in the zeitgeist.
The term for the big war in Europe from 1914 to 1918 has evolved over time. The terms or phrases "The War to End All Wars", "The Great War" and "World War I" and the "First World War" have all been used over time. None are terribly helpful. The conflict did not end wars, there was nothing "great" (in the sense of positive) about it and it was not a World War except that the European "powers" drew troops from their remote colonies to fight in it, and eventually the USA got involved. It was, yet another, nasty European War.
One of the reasons it was such a nasty war was that the latest military technologies were employed during it. Yes, powered flight, and yes chemical weapons, but they were not the dominant cause of the mass deaths. The two most lethal technologies were the machine gun and breech-loading, braked artillery. Britannica has the following to say about these technological developments:
The planning and conduct of war in 1914 were crucially influenced by the invention of new weapons and the improvement of existing types since the Franco-German War of 1870–71. The chief developments of the intervening period had been the machine gun and the rapid-fire field artillery gun. The modern machine gun, which had been developed in the 1880s and ’90s, was a reliable belt-fed gun capable of sustained rates of extremely rapid fire; it could fire 600 bullets per minute with a range of more than 1,000 yards (900 metres). In the realm of field artillery, the period leading up to the war saw the introduction of improved breech-loading mechanisms and brakes. Without a brake or recoil mechanism, a gun lurched out of position during firing and had to be re-aimed after each round. The new improvements were epitomized in the French 75-millimetre field gun; it remained motionless during firing, and it was not necessary to readjust the aim in order to bring sustained fire on a target.
World War II, which can be viewed as part 2 of the war to end all wars, was indeed a world war. The two major theatres of war involved surrounding continents. The European theatre extended out to north Africa and West Asia (Russia, the Caucasus, the Middle East) and the Pacific theatre included East and South East Asia and Australia with naval battles extending over halfway around the world's largest ocean to Hawaii. There were also battles on and around the Aleutian Islands in the Bering Strait . The three continents to escape any extensive fighting on their lands were North and South America and Antarctica.
Again we see the latest military technology involved including radar, rocketry and at the end nuclear weapons. Thankfully they were only used twice and no response was possible as only one nation possessed them at the time (the USA).
I don't like to be alarmist, but I am going to sound an alarm.
I contend that which I hope is non-controversial, namely that we are in a period when tensions between world powers are increasing, and that this is being done deliberately. Should a big war brake out, I content that the latest military technology will again be employed, as it was in both WWI and WWII, and that this time that will cause a disaster of cataclysmic proportion.
Lets briefly consider the two challenges which are considered the most pressing for human survival. One is anthropocentric influence on the world's weather systems (Climate Change) which is rather nasty because it involves positive feedback loops. Those loops include things like melting glaciers reducing ice coverage and ice is highly reflective reducing the solar energy absorbed by solar radiation, thus the reduction increases energy absorption. Increased temperature melt permafrost which increases the release of methane which is one of the most power greenhouse gases.
The second challenge is a major nuclear conflict. The major danger of this is not nuclear radiation. If exchanges of nuclear powered weapons happen in a relatively small collection of major cities then the fires that they light will lift soot into the upper atmosphere which will cause sufficient blocking of solar energy that food production will drop massively and billions of people will starve, not to mention be killed by other humans desperate for the food that some humans will hoard.
Both challenges require serious attention, and neither are receiving that attention. I view the effect of a significant nuclear exchange as extremely dramatic and rapid. Should that occur and the "nuclear winter" ensue then climate scientists are going to have trouble incorporating that into their models because they'll be dominated by the need to feed themselves, as will the rest of us. Accordingly, I place the avoidance of a nuclear exchange just a tad higher on the "we done fucked up" scale.
Climate activists are also advocating peace.
Summary to this point:
history teaches us that for each major war the latest technology is employed
that technology now includes weaponry which make the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings look like toasting marshmallows around a fire
the use of these weapons will amount to more human deaths than all previous wars combined, by a long way
Rest assured that life on earth will not be extinguished. But, should this cataclysm come to pass it will amount to one of the largest mass die-offs and probably mass extinction events since the meteor impact which wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.
A Rational Response
The standard argument for how to respond to dangerous risks goes as follows:
take the potential outcome and assess how dangerous it is
consider the likelihood of this outcome
estimate the amount of effort to avert the risk which leads to the outcome
balance the amount of effort with the product of the danger and likelihood
One thus has a measured cost/benefit or risk/reward response. Make your own responses to these four questions. Mine are:
seriously bad, like the worst screw up in human history
given that major conflicts have happened twice in the last 150 years, the risk is real. Secondly, we have been saved from this eventuality many times already by bravery (Arkhipov), caution, rapid communications to diffuse tensions, and/or effective diplomacy (Kennedy, Khrushchev). Some may claim we've also been saved by the odd bit of blind luck. Whatever the case, the probability is more than tiny.
Effort to avert this outcome varies from pretty large (e.g establishment of a network of bilateral nuclear arms control treaties between the largest of the 9 nations which possess nuclear weapons) to not so much (maintaining effective diplomatic and military contact between all of these nations).
I propose that it is suicidal to not take the latter smaller effort (maintenance of diplomatic relations and military deconfliction 'hot-lines') and that any effort to establish more and more bilateral nuclear arms limitation treaties is well worth it. Note that the second is dependent on the first.
When should these efforts be applied? One would hope that the diplomatic and military contacts would be maintained as normal behaviour for civilized nations and/or military blocks. For these are the mechanisms to de-escalate tensions. One would hope that efforts on treaties would be an ongoing activity.
Do you think we need these efforts now?
I, like most persons, would view the news section of the Antiwar website (news.antiwar.com) as a useful source of information to stay in touch with developments related to potential or actual conflicts happening around the world. It, however, also serves as a database.
The site designers and persons who work at Antiwar have made a collection of excellent decisions which turn the news site into this database. Firstly, the news section has its own sub-domain (news.antiwar.com) which means one can search it and exclude other publication sections like opinion.antiwar.com. Secondly, the format of the pages in the news section is fixed. Each page has as header and menu bar followed by the key metadata of Title, Subtitle, Author, Date of publication, Section (News) and Regions (places mentioned), followed by the article.
Before continuing, I wish to offer very high praise to Dave DeCamp who has dedicated years of his life to publishing the news section. In so doing he has created a dispassionate, accurate, referenced archive and database of events which describe military and diplomatic tensions and actions, which is exactly what one needs when considering the above rational approach. (It should be noted that others also contribute to the News section, but Dave completely dominates it for at least the last 5 years. I would be astonished if he has not authored at least 95% of the articles.)
So, being the idiot I am, I ran a web search query using the duckduckgo.com search engine at around 2023-05-01 08:00 UTC+1 with the search string "US Taiwan site:news.antiwar.com". Below is a date sorted (chronological) set of most of the results. The author is Dave DeCamp for all. There are 29 articles. The list is not exhaustive. The date range is September 2020 to April 2023, which is 32 months. Thus, the USA has been provoking China on average at least once every 1.1 months for more than 2 and a half years.
2020-10-13: White House Advancing More Arms Sales to Taiwan
2020-10-15: US Steams Warship Through Taiwan Strait
2023-04-24: US Rehearses War With China on Philippine Island South of Taiwan, Dave DeCamp, Antiwar.
2023-04-26: Biden to Send Nukes to South Korea,
If one was to ask if the USA is provoking China over its province of Taiwan one may get differing answers from different people. I hope the data above provides us with a fairly conclusive answer.
Conflict in Europe
Both of the previous "world wars" were begun in Europe. We currently have a conflict in Europe, in Ukraine. Anyone who has done any basic research on the history of this will know that USA/NATO declared its intention to include both Ukraine and Georgina in NATO in 2008 in the Bucharest declaration on 2008-04-03. Tensions soared between Georgia and two of its dominantly Russia ethnic and speaking provinces from when this declaration was made onwards until hostilities broke out in August in 2008.
In 2014, the USA supported and coordinated a "colour revolution" and eventual coup in Kiev via the Maidan protests. Following the installation of a government of its choosing, the USA did not restrain the Ukrainians in beginning a civil war under the banner of an "Anti-Terrorist Operation" between successive governments and the Russian ethnic and speaking peoples of the Donbas. We have learned that the Minsk II Accords universally voted for at the U.N. Security council were a ruse to arm and train Ukraine's military. Eight years later the Russian Federation recognized the two self-declared republics in the Donbas and sent aid, including elements of its national military. Russia also invaded other parts of Ukraine making the action internationally illegal. It was, however, thoroughly provoked, including the huge increase in shelling on the Donbas in the week preceding the Russian invasion, which could and Russia believed would, lead to a genocide in the Donbas.
The conflict continues to this day. The USA via allies like the UK have undermined all political proposals to end the conflict, and the USA has declared via its Secretary of Defence and President that the purpose of the conflict is to "weaken Russia" and effect regime change in Russia. NATO nations have been pouring into Ukraine financial and military support and using their media arms to run one of the most outrageous propaganda campaigns seen since Iraq War 2.0 in 2003. Russia is, of course, also running propaganda which is a natural component of any national response to the military being involved in a hot conflict.
Two Front War Means World War
Recall, I claim that the 1914 to 1918 conflict was not a world war, but a huge European War into which various Imperia dragged soldiers from their colonies. Yes, the continents of North America and Australia sent troops as did countries from Asia, like India. Russian troops (fighting for the allies, as they again did in WWII) also committed troops from its center and east, being a part of Asia. But little to no fighting occurred on these continents. The fighting was in Europe.
The 1939 to 1945 conflict was a world war because of the dual theatres in Europe/North Africa/West Asia and East/Southeast Asia/Australia.
The continued provocation of China over Taiwan and the continued existence of the Ukraine conflict creates the basis for another World War. Should the second of these two locations erupt we are in serious trouble. A hot war with China will drag in Japan, South Korea and the Philippines on one side. Australia is lining itself up to join that side too. Russia will support China and North Korea is likely to be an ally, as are many central Asian nations like Kazakhstan. I've no idea what Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia or Thailand will do. The responses from the middle east are also beyond my ability to predict.
But, it doesn't bloody matter. If this starts, we are in serious, serious trouble. The likelihood of a nuclear exchange goes through the roof. The USA's Department of Defence has run many simulations of conflict with China in and around the South China Sea and Taiwan. The war games get shutdown because they devolve into the use of nuclear arms.
One does not need to be a military expert to see this. What happens when the USA loses two aircraft carriers and most of their supporting surface ships due to hypersonic missiles launched from China by land, from naval vessels and/or aircraft and Russian surface ships and submarines?
The current situation is that politicians and members of the foreign policy branch of the USA government are doing more than just saber rattling. They have been, and are, running consistent provocations. Some elements of the US military have been supporting this insanity too. The more sober minded understand where this will lead and are almost the only "adults in the room" in the Executive and Legislative branches of the USA government.
To repeat myself, we have a war in Europe and the USA is provoking one in East Asia. Should that turn hot, we will have a two theatre world war and the use of nuclear weapons becomes ridiculously high. And if that happens its nighty-night, both literally and figuratively.
The fact that the USA's Anti-War (or pro-peace, if you like) movements all went to sleep and then largely disbanded during the Obama presidency while he expanded the nation’s foreign conflicts is a tragedy. Oh, do we need them now.
Whistle-blowers, Movements and Personal Action
In recent articles this newsletter has highlighted the efficacy of some whistle-blowers (or leakers) in changing USA foreign policy. Scott Ritter has been repeating a classic Daniel Ellsberg line. When asked why he had done what he had done, on his way into a court which may have ruled his extended incarceration, he responded:
"Wouldn't you go to jail to stop a war?"
Why the hell are we relying on a few determined whistle-blowers to save us? This seems a very precarious strategy. What we need is public action.
We need the resuscitation of the Anti-War movements, globally. USA, Europe, Canada, Australia, South and East Asia, Africa, South America. EVERYWHERE.
Here again we rely on the dedication of a few, the organizers. All praise to them, but again, why rely on them only?
Each person can take action, small or large, to add their voice to warn against this potential cataclysmic calamity. Yes, help the organisers to rebuild mass protests. It helps, big time, because the media can't ignore them.
There are smaller things you can do. Speak with your friends and colleagues. Host a small event, a BBQ for peace, a dinner for sanity, a walk in the park for being able to walk in parks. Sign up with an Anti-War group. I repeat that which I have said before, the most powerful anti-war voices are military veterans. If you're going to sign up for only one group, I suggest bolstering their voices. You do you.
I wish to repeat the warning offered to the ruptured "Rage Against the War Machine" rally. There is only one issue, to avoid a new world war which will kill most of us and our children and wreak havoc upon our beautiful planet.
I don't care if you're a rabid racist, an antifa black-blocker, a religious extremist, or a peace loving progressive or conservative. Join with others for your own benefit to resist the provocations and stupidity which are driving us towards chaos and death. Those BBQs or dinners or walks count as "joining with others". Hell, wear an anti-war T-shirt, whistle an anti-war tune or fly a peace flag.
This little rant is another of my small efforts to give peace a chance. To continue to quote the great man, I hope some day you will join us. We need you now.
World War I, Britannica
Russo-Georgian War, Wikipedia
Bucharest Summit Declaration, NATO, 2008-04-03
The Underwater Cuban Missile Crisis at 60, National Security Archive (USA), 2022-10-03
Climate Groups to Biden: Back Ukraine Peace Talks, Julia Conley, Consortium News (originally published at Common Dreams), 2023-04-30
Global food insecurity and famine from reduced crop, marine fishery and livestock production due to climate disruption from nuclear war soot injection, Lili Xia and 9 other authors, Nature Food, 2022-08-15
Note that Nature is one of the most prestigious academic Science journals on the planet. This article is published under the growing Open Access approach and you can download the PDF of the article to read in a proper document viewer at your leisure. This is also the most significant recent work on “nuclear winter”.
If you find academic articles difficult to read, here’s the punchline from the article:
In conclusion, the reduced light, global cooling and likely trade restrictions after nuclear wars would be a global catastrophe for food security. The negative impact of climate perturbations on the total crop production can generally not be offset by livestock and aquatic food (Fig. 5a). More than 2 billion people could die from a nuclear war between India and Pakistan, and more than 5 billion could die from a war between the United States and Russia (Table 1). The results here provide further support to the 1985 statement by US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev and restated by US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2021 that ‘a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought’.
No Sunny Days For A Decade, Extreme Cold And Starvation: ‘Nuclear Winter’ And The Urgent Need For Public Education, Jamie Carter, Forbes, 2023-02-13
Parallel statements from some of the best English language journalists and writers
John Pilger: The Coming War — Time to Speak Up, John Pilger, Consortium News, 2023-05-01
Chris Hedges: The Enemy From Within, Chris Hedges, ScheerPost, 2023-04-30
The Single Dumbest Thing The Empire Asks Us To Believe, Caitlin Johnston, her newsletter, 2023-05-01
Recent Provocations and Responses
US Spy Plane Flies Over Taiwan Strait, Dave DeCamp, Antiwar. 2023-04-30
Russia Vows ‘Harsh’ Response to Poland Seizing Embassy School in Warsaw, Dave DeCamp, Antiwar. 2023-04-30
Iran’s Tanker Seizure Came After the US Stole a Shipment of Iranian Oil, Dave DeCamp, Antiwar. 2023-04-30
Report: Ukraine Postponed Attacks Inside Russia Due to US Pressure, Dave DeCamp, Antiwar. 2023-04-24
EU’s Borrell Tells European Governments to Send Ships to Taiwan Strait, Dave DeCamp, Antiwar. 2023-04-23
Brazil’s Lula Reaffirms Ukraine Position After US Criticism, Dave DeCamp, Antiwar. 2023-04-23
Is the US narrative on Ukraine War changing? Ray McGovern, Napolitano interviews McGovern, Judging Freedom, 2023-05-01
New World Order - with U.S. Ambassador Chas Freeman, Alexander Mercouris and Glenn Diesen, Diesen interviews Freeman and Mercouris, Prof. Diesen's youtube channel, 2023-05-01
Lady Gaga - Imagine (Live at Baku 2015 European Games Opening Ceremony), Lady Gaga ("Imagine" written by John Lennon), Lady Gaga (youtube channel), uploaded 2015-06-15
Listen to the crowd response when they recognise the choice of song!
Copyright: None. Go nuts.
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