Over 300 were killed in Northern Sinai, Egypt, during an Islamic-State-style terrorist attack at a Sufi mosque; scores more were wounded. Syria and Iraq continue to experience deadly encounters between rebels and armies, with third countries fighting proxy wars—Russia, Iran and the United States. There is also a coalition of free-world countries quite involved. Afghanistan remains a hotspot. The United States maintains its fighting presence in this war-torn country.
Myanmar is confronted by its Rohingya crisis in the Rakhine State. Violence (identified as led by Buddhist monks, the nationalist group) has been brought upon the minority Muslim population in the area, resulting in the flight of over 600,000 to Bangladesh. Over 1,000 have been killed, and the rape of women and killing of children have been reported.
The Middle East turmoil shows no letup. Ironically, the Palestinian issue is bringing together erstwhile adversaries Israel and Saudi Arabia in an effort to neutralize Iran’s influence in the region. Iran and Saudi Arabia continue with their proxy war in Yemen, with the United States participating. There are a number of hotspots in Africa: Nigeria, Somalia, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, and the youngest nation-state, South Sudan.
Turkey, Ukraine and Mexico have their domestic instabilities where external pressures are made to bear as well. In South America, countries in the watch list are Bolivia, Argentina, Venezuela and Columbia. Europe is not spared periodic terrorist attacks in Paris, Brussels, and London, where many have been killed. And in the United States, terror attacks, like the recent New York City killings by a rented truck, are not the only mass violence encountered. There was also the Las Vegas massacre of concert watchers, now the worst mass shooting in America.
What about the word war between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un? Their name-calling—“dotard, madman” versus “rocket man, short and fat”—is set against the backdrop of nuclear arsenal getting unleashed, possibly by some unfortunate accident. It may be worthwhile to recall that only one country, the United States, has ever used nuclear bombs against humanity, in Nagasaki and Hiroshima in 1945. With the nuclear threat from North Korea, Japan’s Shinzo Abe has reconsidered his country’s constitutional restrictions on militarization. China and Russia are also active players in the geopolitical dynamics in different regions where they work to increase their influence. Simply, tensions are continuing to build up.
Drugs and human trafficking are manifestations of war, too. They are experienced in many countries, rich and poor, worldwide. They kill, and authorities are given reasons to kill as well. The world is at war on many fronts. The world is in such a mess.
What is the root of all the conflicts? Since time immemorial, power, greed and the dominance of the military establishment in its full supply chain provide the fodder for all conflicts. Wars have always been joined, varying only in size and site. But interspersed throughout history, peace advocates emerge and provide rays of hope that all is not lost in the world. People still do cry: Give peace a chance!
The Treaty of Versailles established the League of Nations in 1920, at the end of World War I, to work for global peace. From then, it took only 22 years for World War II to break out. The League lasted for 26 years. It was replaced by the United Nations after the end of WWII in 1945. And conflicts have been spreading in different parts of the world over the last 65 years.
But the world today is a global village, making armed conflict in one area very quickly felt in another. The thread linking humanity together has become very real in cyberspace in this age of information technology. Leaders are called upon to delicately weave the humanity thread rather than irresponsibly break it.
Despite the threats to the United Nations from leaders who talk war, not peace, undermining its role to keep world peace, it must persist. Otherwise, virtual World War III will become real.
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Danilo S. Venida (danilosvenida@gmail. com) is a former president of the Philippine Daily Inquirer and now a business consultant.