09 March 2007

Is it official? Is the cold war hot again?

Well, we blew it folks. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, we had the best chance since WWII to achieve global peace, at least among the major powers. But it didn't happen. Now it looks like the cold war is heating up again.

Russia's security council has declared that global terrorism is no longer the country's biggest threat. The Western powers are, particularly in the form of NATO. The new policy coincides with Russian fury at
American plans to place missile interceptor and radar bases in Poland and the Czech Republic. Senior Russian military officials are reportedly infuriated by NATO's "relentless expansion" into "post-Soviet space." We can assume that Russia, flush with massive oil and gas revenues, will expand its armaments accordingly.

China has been expanding its military budget with percentage increases in the double digits for some time, by 18 % this year alone, and recently sent a shiver up a few backbones when it shot a satellite out of the sky with a ground-based missile. It now spends over $50-billion officially on defence, probably much more unofficially. All this has caused U.S. Vice-president Dick Cheney to fret about China's military build-up as "not consistent with Beijing's stated goal of a peaceful rise."

And that hypocritical statement gets at the probable core of the matter -- the massive expansion of the U.S. military. While China's defence spending has risen from 1.32% of GDP in 2000 to 1.35% in 2006, American spending has increased from 3.07% to 4.23% of GDP in the same period. The U.S. now accounts for almost half of the world's expenditures on arms. And of course the Americans, along with the other nuclear powers, continue to enhance their missile and nuclear weapons capabilities.

The United States, as the only remaining great power,
had a responsibility to lead the world toward meaningful disarmament. It declined. Now Russia appears eager to regain its status as a great power and China, too, is muscling up. Not surprisingly, smaller nations that want a say in their region's affairs, Iran being a prime example, follow the example set by their big brothers -- might is right.

Perhaps the perceived threat of Iran obtaining nuclear weapons isn't a bad thing after all. Maybe it will make the world, particularly the nuclear powers, wake up to the insanity of endless military expansion. And maybe pigs will fly.

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