World War III could start ANY DAY now, as tensions escalate around the globe

Pope Francis warns war has already begun.

I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones. -Albert Einstein

LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) -- At no time in world history except for a few tense occasions during the Cold War, has the planet been so close to global catastrophe. There are multiple hotspots around the world, and the Trump administration appears hawkish.

There are four hotspots. The first is in Syria where Bashir al Assad has used chemical weapons against civilians and in defiance of the United Nations. Next, there is an ongoing proxy war in Yemen, with the United States and Saudi Arabia fighting Iran. In the South China sea, the Philippines is sending troops to secure islands claimed by China. And in North Korea, Kim Jong Un is developing a ballistic missile that can hit the United States.

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The problem is that none of the nations involved in these myriad crises appear ready to back down or negotiate peace.
 Historically, the 20th century's two great wars were unanticipated. In both cases, nations built their arsenals amid a climate of peace. Global conflict was virtually unthinkable on the nights of June 27, 1914, and August 31, 1941. But within the space of hours, the world found itself plunged into war.

Pope Francis has warned that World War III has already started, in a piecemeal fashion. A year ago, he warned that so many people were being killed in low-intensity conflicts around the world, it was simply another form of war.

If war does erupt, it will come suddenly and with little warning. It can be sparked by a miscalculation or an accident. It could also come about by deliberate engineering as leaders seek war for their own ends. Wars tend to unify people and provide purpose. They allow leaders to consolidate power and address threats, both foreign and domestic. Even a conflict that one side is likely to lose can be worthwhile for a regime if it survives the conflict.

The weapons of war have become quite fearsome. It's not just nuclear weapons. It's cruise missiles that can skim the waves, fighters, and bombers that are invisible to radar, and even elite teams of computer hackers that can shut off water and power to entire cities, leaving millions without drinking water or sanitation. How quickly would a city like Los Angeles survive without water? Who needs bombs to destroy a city when its own desperate people can do a better job?

Make no mistake, the world is in danger, greater danger than at any time in recent history. Unless we pray and petition for peace, we could wake up to a world at war any day now.

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America and China Should Avoid Igniting World War III over Rocks and Reefs

Americans will do well to keep in mind during the next week that global summit meetings are not sporting matches. We should not judge the success or failure of the effort by the kind of apparatus employed to help the Chinese president deplane from his aircraft, nor by some pithy line delivered at a post-summit press conference like a bank shot at the buzzer. Equally troubling is the intensifying blurring of domestic political conspiracy theories with great-power politics. Such stories may titillate journalists and readers alike, but they also contribute to the current world disorder and could lead indirectly to catastrophe.

It is no exaggeration to say the weight of the world is on the shoulders of the two most important world leaders gathering at Mar-a-Lago at the end of this week. Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping must endeavor to keep the world economy on a positive track. Also, they may discuss certain (often overlooked) initiatives vital to maintaining global order, such as United Nations peacekeeping. The critical climate change issue, a major feature of recent U.S.-China summits and bilateral negotiations, is not likely to make it onto the agenda this time for obvious reasons. Major points of tension—which include the South China Sea and the fraught Taiwan issue—could easily scuttle any chance to build a genuine working relationship between the two “political strong men.”

But far and away the most important issue before the two leaders is that of North Korea, and this is as it should be, because the crisis on the peninsula has reached an exceedingly delicate point. It will be essential for the two leaders to move briskly away from the customary blame game that has characterized U.S.-China interaction on the issue for more than a decade. Washington, DC blames Beijing for not using its obvious influence to restrain Pyongyang. Meanwhile, Beijing complains that Washington’s continuous military pressure against Pyongyang is the root of the problem. Both critiques actually have considerable merit. Some ideas are presented at the conclusion of this essay for breaking that particular impasse among others.

However, the main contribution of this pre-summit edition of Dragon Eye will be to make a quick, preliminary survey of Mandarin-language assessments from among a few of China’s up and coming “America hands”[ 美国通]. For instance, The Chinese Journal of American Studies [美国研究] devoted a special issue to the theme of Donald Trump’s election victory with the lead article written by Da Wei [达巍], director of the American Studies Center at the China Institute for Contemporary International Relations [中国现代国际关系研究院]. Da’s appraisal is quite balanced: “Trump, on the one hand continuously attacks China . . .  but on the other hand has expressed a willingness to make deals with China.” After all, he is a businessman [商人] “with ample experience of negotiations and quite accustomed to using “psychological pressure” and strategically employing both “surprise” and “uncertainty.” In general, Da evaluates that Trump’s business mind will be looking for a China policy that is both “low cost and high payoff” [低成本高收益]. Da comes close to endorsing the common charge in the United States that China is insufficiently open to U.S. investment.

Continuing in a rather optimistic tone, Da cites numerous problems with the U.S. “rebalance,” including that the planned naval buildup will take many years. He additionally observes that Trump was widely criticized in the United States for his phone call with the Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen from early December. Da explains the hope among Chinese strategists that the Middle East will be the main focus of Trump’s strategy rather than the Asia-Pacific region. Ultimately, Da seems to expect increasing economic frictions, but suggests this could also be accompanied by a decreasing of ideological and geopolitical tensions. Still, there are major concerns articulated here, including the lack of China expertise in the senior ranks of the new administration. Da explains that policy could be “kidnapped” [绑架] by a small group of ideologues with little or no experience of policymaking in the complex Asia-Pacific context. At the conclusion of the piece, Da warns that Beijing must be ready to “retaliate” [回击], responding “action for action” [行动对行动] to any steps by the Trump administration that harm China’s interests. Still, Da ends the piece by calling for an expanded basis for U.S.-China cooperation and warning Beijing against “getting trapped in an arms race.”

Other Chinese analysts are a bit more pessimistic. Zhu Feng [朱锋] of Nanjing University, writing in an early 2017 article for Asia-Pacific Security and Maritime Affairs [亚太安全与海洋研究], characterizes Trump’s victory as a “Black Swan event” [黑天鹅事件] that has “brought to the Asia-Pacific region a new insecurity and anxiety.” Zhu predicts increasing tensions as the United States strengthens the U.S.-Japan alliance and seeks to bring greater sanctions pressure against North Korea. Even on the South China Sea, where Beijing’s hand has seemed to be strengthened of late by the policies of Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte, Zhu notes that Trump and Duterte will likely get along much better than Obama and Duterte. Adding the Taiwan issue to this above volatile mix, Zhu foresees the “trend toward U.S.-China strategic rivalry . . . will certainly deepen,” but he also says it is “most important to avoid . . . a U.S.-China confrontation.” Similarly, Wang Dong [王栋], a rising America hand at Peking University, or Bei Da, presents a rather dark appraisal, which appeared recently in Contemporary International Relations [现代国际关系]. Wang observes that scholars in China have been “excessively optimistic” [过度乐观] with regard to Trump. He briefly entertains the (mocking) theme from an American article that “China Just Won the U.S. Election,” since the new American president is less likely to interfere in China’s internal politics, or continue the “rebalance,” and has subsequently pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. However, Wang explains that this is a surficial analysis and that a more careful reading of Trump’s team members and the Republican majority in the Congress yields the conclusion that these people “are full of unfriendly attitudes toward China.” [对中国的认识是充满不友好态度的]. He explains that Trump accuses China of “cheating” and “not respecting the United States,” concluding that this new American president intends to “resort to all means of punishment, retaliation and intimidation in order to ‘tame’ China.” [用各种报复, 反击, 威吓手段来‘驯服’中国]. While he does not foreclose the business man open to bargaining interpretation, Wang concludes his analysis with the recommendation that Chinese leaders “cast aside illusions, make preparations, strive for the best [outcome], but prepare for the worst.” [抛弃幻想, 作好准备, 争取最好, 不怕最差].

Even in Wang’s rather gloomy appraisal, he nevertheless suggests that the goal of Chinese policy remains to “continue the stable development” of U.S.-China relations. Indeed, if U.S. and Chinese negotiators are creative and flexible in the coming years, a series of crucial bargains can be struck that serve the interests of both superpowers, as well as global security and the Asia-Pacific more generally. They can, for example, avoid igniting World War III over “rocks and reefs” by agreeing that Beijing must clarify and reform its U-shaped claim in the South China Sea, while Washington should simultaneously endorse the general approach of bilateral negotiations in pursuit of genuine “joint development.” Turning back to the Gordian Knot of the Korean Peninsula, the United States and China can likewise strike a bargain in which Beijing strengthens its security commitment to Pyongyang (obviating North Korea’s reliance on nuclear weapons for regime survival) and Washington agrees to scale back its pattern of exercises. The United States should seriously entertain the possibility of opening diplomatic relations with North Korea in exchange for a freeze on the nuclear program as a first step toward a larger deal that results in denuclearization. One can disagree about the specific proposals and their sequencing, of course, but the eventual cooperative steps must serve the basic interests of all parties involved (yes, including those of North Korea). Unlike in the Middle East, wherein continuous conflict and decades of killing have engendered such a level of animosity that peace agreements are nearly impossible, that is simply not the case in the Asia-Pacific region.

Washington and Beijing both have hawks aplenty. The latter are more vocal than ever and seem to have plenty of material to feast on, while the former can be counted upon to oppose any such practical diplomatic bargaining, wielding as is their wont the well-worn Munich trope. More than a few of these jingoists in both capitals (and their institutional backers) actually gain significant material benefits from continuing and further escalating strategic competition, it is sad to say. Of late, the atmosphere of intensifying U.S.-China rivalry has become so entrenched that it has even become fashionable around Washington to smirk sarcastically at the mere suggestion of a “win-win” compromise (once a core plank of liberal thinking) since this phrase is now apparently derided as “so much Chinese propaganda.” However, those entertaining this point of view might briefly reflect on just what the opposite of that clichéd aphorism actually entails: namely “lose-lose.” In that dark scenario—almost too dark to contemplate—massive wealth will be squandered and it’s likely that innumerable innocents (including far too many young Americans) will be slain as well.

With that sobering thought in mind, we should be happy if these two world leaders emerge from the Mar-a-Lago talks without any diplomatic fists thrown [打了一拳] and a renewed determination to cooperate across a plethora of domains in order to solve pressing world problems.

WORLD WAR III FEARS Kim Jong-un declares he’s on ‘the brink of a war’ with US as Donald Trump is urged to assassinate North Korean despot

North Korea warned it is ready to deliver the "most ruthless blow", as a major US naval exercise ramps up tensions in the region

KIM Jong-un has placed his country on the “brink of war” as a high-profile defector urged US President Donald Trump to assassinate the despot North Korean leader before he fires his nuclear weapons at America and the UK.

Yesterday Trump pledged to ramp up defences against Pyongyang as he met China’s president Xi Jinping for crunch talks in Florida.

Trump's warning comes as a massive joint naval exercise involving Japan, South Korea and the US was being held this week aimed at countering the threat from North Korean submarines - ramping up the tense situation in the region.

This training was branded "reckless" by North Korea's foreign ministry who said it was driving the Korean peninsula to the "brink of war".

Kym Hyong-Jun, North Korea's ambassador to Moscow, has told Trump that it was ready to ready to respond if these operations challenged their country.

"Our army has already said that if there will be even the smallest provocation from the United States during exercises, we are ready to deliver the most ruthless blow," said Mr Hyong-Jun.

"We have the readiness and ability to counter any challenge from the US."

The prospect of World War Three has already moved terrifyingly closer this week not just because of the tense situation on the Korean peninsula, but after Trump's missile attack on the Syrian regime, following its alleged chemical weapons massacre which killed 100 people.

Outraged Trump ordered the missile strikes just a day after he pointed the finger at Assad for this week’s chemical attack.

A high-profile defector predicted Kim Jong-un WILL use nuclear weapons against the US and UK - unless they "eliminate him" first.

Thae Yong Ho fears the world should be prepared because Kim is "desperate in maintaining his rule by relying on his [development of] nuclear weapons and ICBM".

ICBM are intercontinental ballistic missiles - deadly rockets which could in theory be capable of hitting the US.

Thae, a former deputy ambassador in London, told NBC News: "Once he sees that there is any kind of sign of a tank or an imminent threat from America, then he would use his nuclear weapons with ICBM.

"If Kim Jong-un has nuclear weapons and ICBMs, he can do anything.

"So, I think the world should be ready to deal with this kind of person."

He continued: "Kim Jong-un is a man who can do anything beyond the normal imagination."

He added that the only "real solution to the North Korean nuclear issue is to eliminate Kim Jong-un from the post".

North Korea is estimated to have more than eight nuclear weapons but has not yet been able to show that it can attach them to a rocket capable of hitting the US.

Thae was living in London and serving as North Korea's deputy ambassador to the UK when he and his family defected to South Korea last year, so has a rare insight into the secretive country.

He believes the regime wants to kill him, making him a "marked man".

Although Thae is not directly involved in North Korea's weapons program he believes the country is aiming to complete its nuclear development program by the end of this year and will stop at nothing until it is finished.

He claimed Kim would even turn down trillions of dollars if he was offered a pay-off to ditch the programme.

The USA military said on Tuesday that nuclear-armed North Korea had fired a ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan but that it did not represent a threat to North America.

In February, North Korea launched four ballistic missiles from its eastern coast which fell close to Japan - in what it claimed was a drill for an attack on US bases.

Pyongyang is on a quest to develop a long-range missile capable of hitting the US mainland with a nuclear warhead, and has so far staged five nuclear tests, two of them last year.

Trump had piled on the pressure ahead of his first high-stakes meeting with President Jinping by saying he would take action against Kim Jong-un if China failed to step up.

Speaking to reporters on Air Force One, Trump said he would "certainly be prepared to act alone against North Korea".

He added: "But I think China will want to be stepping up."

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