With the United States dropping the biggest ever 21,600-pound non-nuclear bomb in Afghanistan a week after 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles were fired at a Syrian Air Force base, the world appears to be on the brink of an Apocalypse with nuclear war drums also beating in the Korean peninsula.
Most world news analysts believe that with the unpredictable President Donald Trump taking confusing, contradictory if not arbitrary or reckless decisions in the United States and North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong-un also being dangerously unpredictable, what might happen in the coming weeks or months is also unpredictable. The so-called ‘Mother Of All Bombs’ (MOAB) dropped on a suspected ISIS stronghold on Holy Thursday, April 13th, was built at a cost of about US $ 16 billion.
These bombs had been ready since 2003, but the hawkish US President George W. Bush did not use them though he sent hundreds of thousands of US troops for devastating and yet on-going wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. His successor the relatively peaceful Barrack Obama may not have even considered the use of this Mother Of All Bombs, but President Trump – who has pledged to allocate as much as US $ 54 billion to build up the US military strength, used the deadliest of all bombs within the first 100 days of his administration.
President Trump has little or no foreign policy experience and most analysts believe his inconsistent if not chaotic strategy could pose a major threat to world peace unless the US Congress or experienced advisors could put him on a more restrained or predictable path. Even Russia’s President Vladimir Putin-widely known as a shrewd strategist who wants to restore the glory of the dismantled Soviet Union-is known to be finding it difficult to read or predict the moves of President Trump. Strangely the maverick US leader who had bitterly lashed out at China during the election campaign is now describing China’s President Xi Jin ping as a good and reliable friend. Mr. Trump has expressed confidence that China would be able to bring North Korea under control, but the Chinese leadership is calling for restraint on both sides because the US also has sent a huge nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to the area near Korea.
While short-term or surface measures provide a transient peace, we also need to look at the root causes of war or violence and the long-term solution. For instance, Pope Francis, in his Good Friday message, asked forgiveness for humanity being insensitive to daily scenes of bombed cities and drowning migrants. The Pope spoke of the shame that should be felt over the daily spilling of the innocent blood of women, of children, of immigrants and for the fate of those who are persecuted because of their race, social status or religious beliefs. He spoke of shame for all the scenes of devastation, destruction and drownings that have become ordinary in our lives. The Pope expressed the hope that goodwill triumph despite its apparent defeat. On Palm Sunday April 9, the Pope prayed for the conversion of the hearts of the people who sowed terror, violence and death and even the hearts of those who produce and traffic in weapons.
Addressing the US Congress last year, the Pope said that if we wish to have lasting peace and goodwill, the arms industry needed to be gradually dismantled. This is in line with the core teaching of all major religions-the reality that violence does not cease by violence, but by love, goodwill and dialogue. Yet will the world’s super-powers listen? Economic analysts say almost half of the revenue of most super power countries comes from the arms industry and factories that produce their ancillary equipment. So, when will they ever learn, how many years will it take till they know that too many people have died in war?
The Pope has also called not only for nuclear non-proliferation but also for the dismantling of thousands of nuclear weapons, which at least nine countries possess. These include our neighbours India and Pakistan. The US and Russia, for instance are known to possess at least 5,000 nuclear weapons, each of which is about 5,000 times as powerful as the atom bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.
The world’s leaders cannot preach peace while they possess nuclear weapons that could destroy the world within seconds. A prophetic voice has been sounded and if they do not listen, all the marvels of modern technology will only be like the writing on the wall – those who manufacture multi-million dollar weapons will also manufacture conflicts or the markets.