Can Humankind finish off war, before it finishes off all of us?

This is a large question but is no longer alarmist in the short-term as if it ever was through much of post-World War II history since some years following when Russia in 1949 got the atomic bomb. But now, with major wars in the Middle East and Europe simultaneously, and China increasingly looking more pointedly […]

This is a large question but is no longer alarmist in the short-term as if it ever was through much of post-World War II history since some years following when Russia in 1949 got the atomic bomb. But now, with major wars in the Middle East and Europe simultaneously, and China increasingly looking more pointedly at expansion and fully taking over Taiwan.

Though, not to forget the 1998-99 conflict in the Balkans, mainly in Kosovo and Serbia where both major nuclear weapon-ed Russia and NATO almost already clashed head-on. If they had, they would have put the whole world on edge in worrying about extinction. Such concerns are indeed much more heightened seriously these days.

So does it look like humankind just cannot shake war off, which is evermore getting massively technologically destructive where even the words “major war” mean a real possible global catastrophe even swallowing Indians, no matter where such wars begin and first play out. Kosovo, Russia Ukraine, Israel, and Palestine when it comes to modern intense war, might as well be seen as if they are on the borders of India, as Pakistan, and China truly already are. The impact of these wars as seen with the Ukraine one, often goes global economically, by sanctions, in terms of refugees, radicalising individuals and alliances and furthering polarisation even domestically.

Somebody else’s war can become your war very quickly and devastatingly so, with modern weapons of the new generation and cyber and information wars.
With the war in Ukraine with that country backed heavily by the nuclear-armed United States which essentially is as close to war with Russia, itself with even more deadly warheads, worry. It might be a toss-up which war on the ugly feeling, potentially scores the highest on the globally explosive “meter”.

For Moscow, like Israel and Palestine, they all feel they are in an existential crisis. Those who are in corners feeling traumatised by the Holocaust (Israel), the war against the Nazis (Russia losing tens of millions due to World War II), NATO creep, and the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Palestinians losing their homeland in the Nakba have a lot of paranoia and frustration pent up for rage and grievance. And not to forget, Ukraine which had its independence extinguished by Russia and much of the population starved during Stalin’s reign of terror. (Why anyone would want to show praise to Stalin, someone even Russian President Vladimir Putin recognised went way overboard, is beyond me.)

Russia is still nervous about neo-Nazis having real power in Ukraine. And Moscow in its mind has to still fight what they sacrificed hugely to defeat in 1945 in Germany. That history is in the blood of most Russians and should not be underestimated in motivating them to enter another huge war in Europe if such extreme, anti-Russian groups were to become seriously powerful again as too many remain so in Ukraine. One that its president seems to have no way of “putting them in place” enough, currently and historically.

But combine this European powder keg with Israelis’ current reality, feeling that their Jewish homeland is under serious existential threat more than ever since the 1973 Yom Kippur war launched against it by neighboring Arab states. But this time about the one launched by Hamas in October, by acts of horrendous terror that resulted in the largest loss of Jewish Israeli civilian life since the genocidal Holocaust in Europe. There is a cross of events that says if a global war is avoided that might decimate many Indians, it would have been said that a Houdini diplomatic act would have been pulled off. For this, India with its formidable team of Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with his foreign policy team led by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, is best positioned to do so with a few other countries. But if the belligerents are too headstrong to prevent their wars engulfing all of us, God help us all.

For the Middle East, the calculus has changed since nuclear proliferation, starting in the 1960s. The Jewish state of Israel is said to have 90 nuclear warheads according to the Center for Disarmament and non-proliferation. On the Islamic side, Iran is not so far away from having a nuclear bomb. Will Tehran having the bomb be made more possible, especially in the wake of the Israeli-Hamas war? Let us remember, though that Pakistan has already 170 nuclear warheads (Economic Times).

So, think this, if tensions extremely blew up in the Middle East, would Islamabad extend a nuclear umbrella over many Arab countries, Iran and Turkey? That is if Israel felt so desperate that it looked like it might launch a warhead or have done so. (In the Yom Kippur War the head of Israel was ready to launch them onto Egypt.) But would Pakistan really want to trigger such a horrible attack that might expose it to a nuclear counterattack? One thing we do know is that elements in Pakistan can launch some of the most inhumane attacks as Indians have witnessed too often and firsthand.

On a more philosophical level is there something deep inside humanity that means the darkness of war will continue well into the future? A controversial study reported on in the main journal, Science says, “…human bloodlust—from war to murder—traces back millions of years to our primate ancestors.”

Several studies say that 3% of humans are psychopaths, but this rises as high as 20% with chief executives demonstrating psychopathic tendencies (CNBC USA). One researcher has identified psychopaths as super salespeople because such people with this disorder are good at identifying weaknesses, exploiting them to the highest degree with no feelings or remorse. Are some cultures more supportive of such disorders? Are hegemony, colonialism and neocolonialism more demonstrative of countries with more permissiveness of such behaviour and/or more gullible to being manipulated by it? What about Canada regarding Khalistan extremism and terrorism? I only pose it as a specific example.

The good news is cultures like India, more steeped in non-violence and other thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi are oriented to peace and the truth of fairness, not exploitation. Opposite to it is psychopathy which harms and keeps on taking to the detriment of victims. Be it at an individual, cultural or subcultural geopolitical level at least in tendencies, the world and nations must guard against a psychopathic world order emerging more. Clearly, it must ensure that psychopaths or those with too many tendencies to such who can start global war never get their hands on the triggers of mass weapons of destruction and mass hateful propaganda. Yes, indeed the Indias have a massive task all now exacerbated by artificial intelligence added to the dangerous way the planet is in, including the climate crisis.

Can the world survive? Can India survive? Yes, but not by voting in psychopaths and weak leaders For India that means it is safer to keep the same Modi government in power. As the late Samuel Huntington, an important Harvard scholar stated, Culture Matters. As a priority in keeping with that thought, we need to spend more time educating against war and supporting less primitive and macho instincts trying to make war financially, culturally and spiritually, too easily acceptable.

Peter Dash writes on geopolitics and researched collective psychology and word disorder at Harvard.