Mikhail Gorbachev’s perestroika of a decent standard of living for all Soviet People was misunderstood. This is the man who pulled the world several steps back from the Nuclear War brink and lifted a crashing fear from his countrymen and people around the globe. He ended bloody Afghan adventure and Liberated Eastern Europe.
After the Berlin Wall crumbled in 1989, it was in the post-unification period that in new Russia and Eastern Europe a proverb was born: “Everything the communist said about communism was a lie, but everything they said about capitalism turned out to be the truth.”
In first cold war period basic problem was that Americans had great difficulty in believing that USSR mean well. The early American involvement in Vietnam can be marked by two things in particular: (1) Helping the France imperialist in their fight against the forces led by Ho Chi Minh of North Vietnam and (2) The cancellation of the elections that would have United North & South Vietnam as one nation because the USA and its South Vietnam allies knew that HO Chi Minh would win. It was that simple. America lost 58,000 soldiers in Vietnam and they died defending freedom. No freedom was defended. Freedom was destroyed. A peasant country was invaded and millions of its people were killed, maimed, dispossessed, poisoned, 60,000 of the invaders took their own lives.
Nothing is of good faith or decency in that scenario. No misunderstanding. Ho Chi Minh was a great admirer of America and its declaration of Independence.
His own actual declaration of 1945 begins with the familiar “All men are created equal. They are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. But Ho Chi Ming was what was called a ‘Communist‘. It was that simple, which was one of the causes of the first Cold War Era.“
Present cold war era will end by Nuclear War. We have all got to die one day, some sooner and some later. The trouble always has been that we are never ready, because we don’t know when it is coming. Well, now we know nothing to be done about it.
If there is a nuclear war it will end in a month. The United States, Russia & China will be the protagonist. It is not clear if it will start by accident or mistake. There will be no victor. The northern hemisphere is contaminated and lifeless now.
‘This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.’
The lines form T. S. Eliot’s poem published in 1957 at the height of the cold war when too many writers were silent or cowed, it is a masterpiece.
As the US Congress passed a law to wage economic war on Russia, the world’s most lethal nuclear power, there was no justification for this insane vote, except the promise of plunder. The sanctions are aimed at Europe too, mainly Germany, which depends on Russian natural gas and on European companies that do legitimate business with Russia. The main aim seems to be war - real war. No provocation as extreme can suggest anything else. They seem to crave it, even though Americans have little idea what war is. The civil war of 1861-5 was the last on their mainland. War is what the United States does to others. America is the only nation to have used nuclear weapons against human beings. They have since destroyed scores of governments many of them democracies and laid to waste whole society - the million deaths in Iraq, Libya were a faction of carnage in Japan and Indo-China etc.
They have encircled Russia & China with missiles and nuclear arsenal. They have used neo-Nazis to install an unstable aggressive regime on Russians borderland- the way through which Hitler invaded, causing the death of 27 million people. Their goal is to dismember the modern Russia Federation. The threat is simultaneous; Russia is first, China the next.
The whole world is volatile, we don’t know whether the era of crusade will come again or the plague of nationalism will develop, like the people of Catalonia, who are seeking independence from Spain. There are many other restive independence movements in the world, like the Kurds in Iraq & Turkey, in Scotland, Belgium, Italy and California.
After the fall of Saddam Husain in Iraq on the plea of weapons of mass destruction: There was a country called Libya, it had the highest standard of living in all of Africa, its people had not only free education & health care but all kinds of other benefits, other African countries could only dream about. It was a secular state, a quality to be cherished in Africa & Middle East. But Moammar Gaddafi of Libya was a properly obedient client of Washington. Amongst other short coming, the man threatened to replace the US dollar with gold for payments of oil transaction, created a common African currency and stray supporter of the Palestinian and foe of Israel. In 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was the Prime moving force behind the United States & NATO turning Libya into a failed state, where it remain today.
Experts say the present world is in the grip of ‘Carnival of bellicosity’- but on that could easily lead to disaster. Almost every week now seems to see new provocations between Donald Trump & Kim Jong-UN. But what do they actually mean? In recent weeks, Mr. Trump has called for “fire and fury like the world has never seen” to be unleashed on North Korea, that have enraged the North Koreans.
Is the world really on the brink of a Third World War? Experts says probably not, a general conscience is that the US President’s statements all just bluster, although many emphasise the fact that bluster has an unfortunate history of leading to war. How we can stop it is a million dollar question.
The writer is the Director General, Bangladesh Foundation For Development Research.