Su­per­pow­ers gear up for WWIII

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPEAK UP -

FIFTY-FOUR YEARS ago, be­tween Oct 14 and 28, 1962, the Cuban Mis­sile Cri­sis brought the world to the brink of a nu­clear war. But san­ity and the wis­dom of US Pres­i­dent John F. Kennedy and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev pre­vailed and the world was saved from an­ni­hi­la­tion.

With the ad­vance­ment of tech­nol­ogy and cy­ber war­fare, a ma­jor con­cern to­day is on how ter­ror­ists and lu­natics may be able to hack into the ICT se­cu­rity grid of nu­clear weapons launch sys­tems to trig­ger a mas­sive mis­sile launch on host coun­try and the rest of the world.

There were two re­cent news re­ports which may have es­caped the at­ten­tion of many peo­ple and are likely to have an im­pact on world peace.

One was a BBC story on Nov 4 about a mys­te­ri­ous ping­ing noise over the last few months in the Arc­tic at a place called the Fury and He­cla Strait, which is a nar­row channel of wa­ter in Nu­navut, the new­est, largest and least pop­u­lous ter­ri­tory of Canada, next to Green­land. Peo­ple liv­ing in the re­gion re­ported that the noise had fright­ened away an­i­mals.

It must be a mas­sive ac­tiv­ity for the ping­ing sound to be driv­ing away wildlife in the area of open wa­ter sur­rounded by ice that’s abun­dant with sea mam­mals. The area is nor­mally a mi­gra­tory route for bow­head whales and var­i­ous kinds of seals. But this sum­mer, they were miss­ing.

The Cana­dian mil­i­tary has al­ready in­ves­ti­gated us­ing sonar searches and for pos­si­ble causes such as sonar sur­vey by a min­ing com­pany and mil­i­tary sub­marines but to date it has not been able to ex­plain the cause of the “acous­tic anom­alies”.

This phe­nom­e­non may be a se­cret mil­i­tary pro­ject on a mega scale by a su­per­power, which if true, does not bode well for this world.

The other story, which may or may not be re­lated to the above story, is from the CNN web­site on Nov 3 en­ti­tled “Could World War III start here?” and was writ­ten by David An­del­man, ed­i­tor emer­i­tus of World Pol­icy Jour­nal and au­thor of A Shat­tered Peace: Ver­sailles 1919 and the Price We Pay To­day.

An­del­man be­lieved that the most vul­ner­a­ble spot of the North At­lantic Treaty Or­gan­i­sa­tion’s (Nato) en­tire perime­ter is the Suwalki Gap (re­mem­ber this name), a 60-mile stretch of ter­ri­tory and a crit­i­cal rail line sep­a­rat­ing Poland (mem­ber of EU and Nato) from Lithua­nia (also a mem­ber of EU and Nato), and link­ing Rus­sian Kalin­ingrad with its ally Be­larus. Ac­cord­ing to An­del­man, it is here that any shootout be­tween Nato and Rus­sia could start a World War III.

So crit­i­cal and tense is the re­gion that US Vice-Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den paid an ur­gent trip to neigh­bour­ing Latvia in Au­gust 2016 to meet the pres­i­dents of all three Baltic states (Es­to­nia, Latvia and Lithua­nia) to as­sure them that “we pledged our sa­cred honour … to the Nato treaty and Ar­ti­cle 5”, which says that an at­tack on one Nato ally is an at­tack on all.

Rus­sia, un­der Vladimir Putin, has been try­ing to flex its mil­i­tary mus­cles and re-as­sert it­self as a for­mi­da­ble su­per­power since the end of the Cold War and the break-up of the Soviet Union.

It has taken back con­trol of its old ter­ri­to­ries such as Crimea and part of Ukraine, rais­ing ten­sion with the West, which is im­pos­ing sanc­tions on it.

While the ten­sion in an­other volatile re­gion of the world, the South China Sea, over dis­puted is­lands and ter­ri­to­ries, has cooled some­what with a prag­matic new pres­i­dent of the Philip­pines us­ing a more “busi­ness-like” ap­proach with the main player there, China, it is the rise of what many see as an “im­pe­ri­al­is­tic” Rus­sia that may be a se­ri­ous cause of con­cern for world peace.

Rus­sia’s most dan­ger­ous re­cent en­deav­our has been in the Mid­dle East, where it made a pact with the As­sad regime of Syria about a year ago to pro­vide mil­i­tary sup­port, arms and train­ing to fight both the pro­gres­sive rebels (in Aleppo) and the ex­trem­ists (mostly IS) in other parts, es­pe­cially Raqqa.

Syria had be­come Moscow’s last toe-hold of in­flu­ence in the re­gion. As­sad’s for­tunes have been turned around by Rus­sia’s in­ter­ven­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to Michael Kof­man of the Wil­son Cen­ter’s Ken­nan In­sti­tute, “Moscow had sought to steadily de­stroy the mod­er­ate Syr­ian op­po­si­tion on the bat­tle­field, leav­ing only ji­hadist forces in play, and lock the US into a po­lit­i­cal frame­work of ne­go­ti­a­tions that would serve beyond the shelf-life of this ad­min­is­tra­tion … leav­ing no vi­able al­ter­na­tives for the West in this con­flict come 2017.”

Ac­cord­ing to an­other an­a­lyst Roger McDer­mott, se­nior fel­low in Eurasian stud­ies at the Jamestown Foun­da­tion, the Rus­sian Gen­eral Staff also see the Syr­ian con­flict as an op­por­tu­nity to test new or mod­ern weapon sys­tems, ex­per­i­ment with net­work-cen­tric war­fare ca­pa­bil­ity and to present the suc­cess of mil­i­tary tech­nol­ogy.

And ac­cord­ing to BBC diplo­matic cor­re­spon­dent Jonathan Marcus, Rus­sia’s ac­tive mil­i­tary role in the re­gion has re­shaped the re­la­tion­ship to its ad­van­tage with the key play­ers – Is­rael, Iran and Turkey.

But it is the US-Rus­sia re­la­tions that have been most pro­foundly in­flu­enced by Moscow’s in­ter­ven­tion in Syria. This has forced Wash­ing­ton, dis­tracted presently over its pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, to re-as­sess its own ap­proach and has taken a more de­fen­sive po­si­tion to de­velop some kind of part­ner­ship with Rus­sia to seek a so­lu­tion for Syria. A new US pres­i­dent may take a more hard­line po­si­tion.

The in­dis­crim­i­nate na­ture of Rus­sian air bom­bard­ments in Syria has led to ac­cu­sa­tions by hu­man rights groups and sev­eral govern­ments on its bar­bar­ity and po­ten­tially com­mit­ting war crimes. Al­most 4,000 civil­ians have been killed in one year of Rus­sian strikes.

With the US and most of the civilised world in­sist­ing that As­sad must go and Rus­sia to­tally against it, it would be dif­fi­cult to find a sus­tain­able res­o­lu­tion to the con­flict.

Hu­man ca­su­al­ties in­side Syria are on a scale never seen in mod­ern times. The nearly 5 mil­lion war refugees from Syria has also put tremen­dous so­cial and fi­nan­cial strain on Ger­many and the rest of Eu­rope

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