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XXI : War

Updated: Nov 12, 2021

To borrow a known imagery, I will use during the first four articles of this column, the allegory of the four knights of the Apocalypse. These are more than a simple mythological image, they are the personification of four evils which have always afflicted Humanity. These are War, Famine, Pestilence (epidemics) and Death. It should be noted that the logic of this image is clear: War causes Famine which weakens the immune systems of individuals which facilitates the growth of epidemics and all these elements put together contribute to mass death.

But without wanting to go into pessimism and the macabre, it should be noted that these elements have taken place at all times. For example we can mention the First World War and the Spanish Flu or the Italian Wars and syphilis. There is therefore nothing new under the sky in this matter and it is therefore simply necessary to take stock of these themes at the start of the century.


Well the first, and somewhat encouraging piece of information, is that there has been no major war since 1945. The UN system, nuclear deterrence and trade liberalization have played a big role in this global stability. But we must not be naive… The system resulting from the Vienna Convention of 1815 was also supposed to be perpetual, and let's not speak of the Treaty of Versailles and the League of Nations. Moreover, if the so-called “conventional” wars no longer really take place, they have been replaced by proxy wars such as the wars in Vietnam, Afghanistan or even in Syria and Yemen.

Indeed, since the beginning of the 21st century we have not seen a strengthening of international peace, but its weakening. States that have sectarian violence, religious divisions or ethnic hatred are the prey of strategic struggles between various powers such as Russia, China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the Western bloc. At the core of these situations are increasing risks of the use of weapons of mass destruction such as chemical or nuclear weapons.

Terrorism and the black arms market revive the most horrible fears in the matter: the access of these groups to nuclear weapons. How to deal with nuclear terrorism? By fighting against them and by strengthening the intelligence services as well as their cooperation of course. But do we do it? How do we coordinate our efforts when we use our services to interfere in the political process of others ? When we finance and support small terrorist groups and when we have no bloc coherence (I am thinking of Kurdistan and the Turks who are both allies of the United States) how can we organize ourselves with our strategic competitors?

Added to this are the risks present at various flashpoints : North Korea, Taiwan, China Sea, Kashmir, etc. Tensions are also high when it comes to strategic issues between great powers : EU-Russia border, sharing of influence in Africa, control of the Pacific Ocean…

Where many see and celebrate a lasting peace I see the collapse of a system like a house of cards … The end of the unipolar world, the void left by the disappearance of the Soviet Union, the revival of fanaticism and nationalism … The overexploitation of natural resources and human beings … The hatred and frustrations that take hold of our spirits… The constant and persistent economic crisis. And of course, the climate crisis. Because who says climate crisis says reduction of available resources ... and the problem of their sharing. Historically, when a question of sharing has been raised, it has either been settled by agreement (commercial diplomacy) or by war. When it comes to survival, it's too tempting to push prices up when you have the resources and forcefully take them when you don't. Which brings us back to a logic of the law of the strongest.

This is how I see the future in the 21st century. If it is not a total and generalized war with the use of nuclear weapons which awaits us, what awaits us is a multiplication of conflicts, war crimes, crimes against humanity with what we can call the Climate Wars

And these wars will bring with them the plagues of civilizations : famines, epidemics, death, but also the migration movements of people who have nothing to lose. And as a reminder, such movements of people put an end to the Bronze Age, the Roman Empire, the Abbasid Caliphate, etc ...

So to avoid these consequences, it is necessary to address the importance of the first domino that may fall: Peace. To guarantee international peace it is absolutely necessary to defuse the sources of tension whatever they are and to try to prepare a mechanism of sharing of resources of the XXIst century. A rethinking of our political systems and our values ​​is also inevitable ... Otherwise, it will be a catastrophe, and it is already underway ...

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