Friday, July 24, 2020

So Much Trouble In The World...,


strategic-culture |  As the Covid-19 pandemic continues its deadly march around the world, a number of relatively dormant conflicts, as well as several well-known flash points, stand ready to place the world on the edge of a major armed conflict. History shows us that during times of stress – economic depression, religious strife, vacuums of political leadership, and public health crises like that which is now plaguing the world – the chances for war increase commensurately.

India and China, which fought a border war in 1962, are against faced off at several key border locations stretching from Ladakh in the western Himalayas to Arunachal Pradesh in the eastern sector of the mountain range. The resurgent border conflict between the world’s most populous and second-most populous nations is exacerbated by the Covid-19 virus that has taken a toll on what had been the burgeoning economies of both nuclear-armed countries. Deaths and injuries among Indian and Chinese border troops have resulted from fights, with sticks and rocks being used as weapons. A wider and deadlier conflict may result if the weapons used are India’s T-90S tanks and Apache helicopters – now engaged in exercises along the border – and armed Chinese troops that have penetrated some 8 kilometers beyond the 1962 truce line, which is officially called the Line of Actual Control (LAC), in eastern Ladakh. Meanwhile, the number of Covid cases in India has climbed about one million.

In Barbara Tuchman’s widely-acclaimed book on the factors that resulted in the First World War, “The Guns of August,” she wrote, “Human beings, like plans, prove fallible in the presence of those ingredients that are missing in maneuvers – danger, death, and live ammunition.” All the plans of nations large and small to prevent a repeat of the so-called Spanish flu of 1918, which ravaged the battlefield trenches of France, have largely proven ineffective. The world is now being subjected to Tuchman’s danger and death – the danger of the uncontrolled pandemic and the mounting death toll arising from it. The current missing ingredient of live ammunition may, if cooler heads do not prevail, result in a modern-day “guns of August.” Continued economic dislocation and a deepening global recession is all that is needed as a catalyst for military standoffs from the Himalayas and South China Sea to the Caribbean waters off Venezuela and the 38th parallel of Korea to turn into hot war zones purposely or by accident.

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