Peace in the World of Today

Posted on 20th April, 2020

The 2020s promise to be a tumultuous decade.


Politics in America, a declining world-power, do not seem to be getting any less strange, or concerning. In an election year blighted by America's embarrassment at its loss of face and power, as well as by coronavirus, the re-election of Trump is very possible and perhaps even probable. This difficult, if perhaps well-meaning, personality wishes to "make America great again" not through difficult if necessary internal reforms (social, economic and political) but through confrontation and protectionism, things that can only hasten America's decline and madness.


The rest of the world faces the stagnation of Europe (and potential collapse of the EU), the continued rise of China, and the usual mixture of wars, crises and recessions of normal political fare. Of these, Europe is perhaps the most interesting and concerning. As a continent, it was, when considered as a whole, the world hegemon until after World War I, but its gradual decline in the economic, political and social spheres portend a loss of influence and power of which Brexit was a harbinger. This may yield political disturbance in one of the most hitherto stable continents, exacerbating tension when faced with the choice between China and the US as its strategic partner.


What of peace? When faced with national decline and the rise of an international rival, most incumbent powers go to war. Allison, in Destined for War, calls this The Thucydides Trap, noting that in 12/16 cases historically, general war followed. Lee Kuan Yew, the lauded late Prime Minister of Singapore, is more hopeful, pointing to the fact that China has no desire for war and that its military cannot hope to match America's for some decades (the China is also wary of spending itself into collapse, as happened with the USSR). Yet the bellicose rhetoric of recent weeks (which is historically illiterate) should urge us to caution in our hopes. America is still capable of sparking a conflict; China need not be the antagonist.


Peace requires a new approach. To seek for peace means to grow to understand the nature and place of China in the world, as well as our own country's relationship thereto. It also means resisting the temptation to well-meaning racism and notions of the Yellow Peril.


O Lord, have mercy. Ye saints, pray.

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