The first week of January 2020 witnessed an uncanny resemblance to two rare of the rarest events, separated by more than a century, in such a baffling manner that their culmination into the most unwanted and the deadliest episode cannot be ruled out unless foolproof pre-emptive steps are taken timely.
On 3rd January, Iran’s most revered General Qasem Soleimani was assassinated in a US airstrike near Baghdad’s International Airport, sparking unequalled rage in the Middle East. Two days later on 5th January, the First World War-themed film ‘1917’ bagged the best movie picture prize, at the Golden Globe Awards ceremony at Beverly Hilton, California; rekindling the harrowing wartime memories of horrific brutality.
General Soleimani’s killing, in the present scenario of prevailing sensitive geopolitical tensions, particularly between the US and Iran since quite some time, evokes comparison with the 1913 assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, at Sarajevo by a Serbian nationalist, which triggered a series of incidents, leading eventually to the First World War.
The warmongering phenomenon didn’t stop at that point and rather it had its own ghastly consequences. Sole blame for the war fell on Germany, which had to pay huge recompense. In fact, the reparations were so exorbitant and punitive that it made Germany feel a strong urge for revenge.
After two decades, on September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland and the Second World War broke out with Britain and France declaring war on Hitler’s Nazi forces in retaliation. The two wars accounted for more than eight crore deaths with irreparable devastation and the scars of these catastrophes have remained fresh across generations till date.
Given the historical eye-openers, modern trends too don’t look better. They hint that human survival has been so insecure and so uncertain because of the ongoing destructive use of scientific research like nuclear, chemical and biological modalities of warfare on one hand and of alarming increase in environmental degradation and pollution levels leading to frightening fall in sperm count and fertility rates on the other.
Cautions from Scientists
The situation has deteriorated to such an extent that many scientists have apprehended serious threat to life if suitable steps are not taken at the earliest. Aldous Huxley, the famous author of ‘Brave New World’ cautioned in 1946 about the possible nuclear blow-out of the planet if the ongoing excessive research in physics and chemistry did not stop.
James Lovelock, the propounder of Gaia hypothesis, predicted that 80% of humans would perish by the end of the 21st century if the continued ecological destruction is not stalled. American Physicist Louis Del Monte expected that machine intelligence would outmatch world’s combined human intelligence by 2045. Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla and Space X, had plans to colonise Mars so that the humans may escape to survival in case of global cataclysm at the hands of AI technologies.
British cosmologist Stephen Hawking already warned that a major nuclear war would be the end of civilisation and possibly the human race. As per recent reports, there are tens of thousands of nuclear weapons, and including Iran, there are ten countries having nuclear capability. Additionally, several other countries such as Egypt and Vietnam have procured nuclear missiles from countries like North Korea. As per reliable estimates, the currently available stockpiles of missiles are large enough to destroy the entire world. Any conventional war amongst these nuclear powers could descend into a holocaust.
Hence, the state of the instant international circumstances calls for urgent, multi-pronged and simultaneous remedial measures ranging from political dialogue to elimination of weapons of mass destruction to mind control behavioural modifications through ethical and humanitarian mechanisms.
The nuclear proliferation, which started with America’s Manhattan Project in 1942 that resulted subsequently in the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of the Second World War, must end. Because, weapons not only permit violence but even instigate it. It is not the finger that pulls the trigger, but it is the trigger that pulls the finger.
Two social scientists at Wisconsin University, Leonard Berkowitz and Anthony LePage, reasoned that the mere presence of weapons could lead to bellicose behaviour in humans. They conducted experiments by placing rifles and badminton rackets in the presence of their subjects and found that those who were with the rifles behaved more offensively. Exactly this was what happened when the US became more aggressive due to the fact that the bombs were ready with it in 1945.
With such lethal weapons in possession, each nuclear nation is as powerful as the other. The only requirement is the spurt of the baneful thought. Therefore, conflicts must be won over by psychological amity. Peace is not made on paper but in hearts.
Even in times of adverse situations, no nation can afford a ‘tit for tat’. History is a testimony to prove that violence begets violence and camaraderie begets camaraderie. Mahatma Gandhi exemplified that there is no way to find truth except the way of non-violence. Because violence separates people from one another but the effort for realisation of non-violence is a community enterprise in which all have to work together.
It is in this context that the spirit of internationalism assumes pivotal significance for the annihilation of wars. As nationalism sometimes takes combative posture against other nations, it is more likely to prove suicidal. The Nazi regime headed by Hitler was a glaring instance. It was aptly emphasised by former President of India Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan that the real patriotism is not nationalism but internationalism.
The ancient Indian scriptures propounded an age-old universal necessity termed as ‘vasudhaivakutumbakam’, which means that all nations constitute one single family wherein there is no room for hatred, animosity and quarrel amongst its members. And it stands out even today as the timeless mantra for preventing wars on the face of the Mother Earth.
(The author is former DG Cyber Crimes, Bhopal)