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The major threats to world peace today

By Uchenna Nwankwo
20 October 2022   |   3:12 am
No doubt, the ongoing Russia-Ukraine faceoff and the China-Taiwan imbroglio stand out as the most challenging problems and threats to world peace today.

Ukrainian citizens are seen arriving at the Medyka pedestrian border crossing in eastern Poland on February 25, 2022, fleeing the conflict in their country, one day after Russia launched a military attack on its neighbour Ukraine. (Photo by Wojtek RADWANSKI / AFP)

No doubt, the ongoing Russia-Ukraine faceoff and the China-Taiwan imbroglio stand out as the most challenging problems and threats to world peace today.

These are problems that test international diplomacy today, especially given the fact that they constitute major sources of international tensions involving the major blocks in world affairs.

As Henry Kissinger (99), the erstwhile famous international diplomat and secretary of state in the President Nixon administration in the US is quoted to have observed:

We (USA) are at the edge of war with Russia and China on issues which we partly created, without any concept of how this is going to end or what it’s supposed to lead to.

The Russia-Ukraine War 
On the ongoing Russia-Ukraine War, Kissinger insists that the West should have taken Russian President Vladimir Putin’s security demands seriously and made it clear that Ukraine would not be accepted into the NATO alliance. But to be fair, even here in Lagos, Nigeria where I live, it was awash in social media that most major operatives in NATO had long resolved not to admit Ukraine into its fold in apparent and open deference to Russia.

I, therefore, think that the massing of Russian troops on its border with Ukraine as a way to force through Moscow’s insistence that it would not accept Ukraine becoming a part of NATO spoilt the entire diplomatic effort at achieving negotiated settlement in the crisis.

With Russia baring its teeth in the blatant way it did, publicly accepting or restating its position at that point that it would not admit Ukraine into NATO would definitely have made the organization appear cowardly. It would have looked as if Russia had militarily intimidated the West or NATO into succumbing to Moscow’s threats.

In other words, the movement and massing of its troops on the border with Ukraine backfired and destroyed the possibility of amicable resolution of the emergent differences between Russia and the West, on the one hand, and Ukraine, on the other.

Hence, the resultant reticence of the West, to the chagrin and embarrassment of Moscow, became a dire source of frustration for President Putin. And being thus ‘humiliated’, Putin blundered into a face-saving war he probably did not anticipate to result from his militarism or gunboat diplomacy. This underscores the limits of militarism in conflict resolution!

But what could this ongoing Ukraine war achieve for Russia? Nothing much or reliable! Even if Russia succeeds in over-running entire Ukraine, that will not assure her the security it desires. The Russian Army will probably get deployed face-to-face with NATO forces across the Ukraine/Polish border.

But to what end? I think Moscow should stop this hopeless war and carnage now so that Ukraine will remain its buffer zone with NATO forces. And Russia needs to use soft power to rekindle and win back the goodwill and cooperation of the Ukrainians! Constant reliance, use or showoff of military might cannot guarantee good neighbourliness or the love and cooperation of one’s neighbours.

Indeed, there has been too much show of force and militarism by Russia to its neighbours in recent times!! And this is the reason why he has lost the love and friendship of most of them, including many of its former allies in the Warsaw Pact!!!

I agree with Kissinger that Ukraine should grant autonomy to the Donetsk and Luhansk Peoples in a peace deal with Russia. Russia has a responsibility to call off the fighting so as to make way for the negotiations that should formalize these and other expected resolutions.

The China-Taiwan Imbroglio
This problem, like the differences between North Korea and South Korea, is a direct fallout from the clash of the capitalist and communist ideologies in China starting about a hundred years ago.

Chiang Kai-shek was then the elected president of China. He was challenged to a military duel by the Maoist communist insurrection which desired to uproot the capitalist system and foist a communist haven.

To cut a long story short, a civil war broke out between the two contending forces. And when the communists got the upper hand in the fighting in 1949, Chiang and some of his supporters or followers abandoned Mainland China to the communists and withdrew to the desolate Island of Taiwan some 100 miles out into the open sea.

Initially, Chiang had the idea of fortifying his forces and of launching an attack on Mainland China from this Island and retaking it from the communists. But following good advice from the United States against the plan and the sobering impact of time that eventually mellowed his outlook, Chiang ultimately abandoned that quest and instead turned attention to developing the Island.

Similarly, Mao and his communist forces seemed also content with having the Mainland, leaving the Island of Taiwan to the capitalist forces, as well as concentrating energy on entrenching communism on the Mainland and developing the place.

Hence although these developments and positions were never formally articulated and adopted as binding articles of faith between the two sides nor did Chiang formally surrender to the Maoist forces, the two groups seemed content with this ‘Live and Let Live’ policy or attitude. It was like a gentleman’s agreement!

Each side has developed exceedingly over the years; the Taiwanese have stuck to their capitalist/democratic aesthetics while the mainland Chinese have had to moderate their communist creed and imbibe a good dose of the capitalist economic system in order to blossom its economy but under a totalitarian communist political system.

Truly, the two Chinas have lived with some dignity. All these decades since the parting of ways between the two Chinas in 1949, there hasn’t been really much of a problem between Mainland China and Taiwan.

It has to be added however that the US (or the West) accepted Beijing’s ambiguous so-called ‘One China Policy’ during its rapprochement with China under the President Nixon administration in the early 1970s – a move aimed at prying Beijing away from America’s Cold War foe, the USSR and shifting the balance of power in the world away from the communist East.

However, as People’s China gets richer and richer and therefore more and more powerful, we are beginning to witness the emergence of new traits and surprising grave changes in attitudes from her. Conversely, the US is reassessing its own responses.

Under President Joe Biden, the US seems to have abandoned the Kissinger-engineered ambiguity on Taiwan’s independence. And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei, the Taiwanese capital on August 2, 2022, has brought the issue of Taiwan’s independence to the front burner, with a surge of military activity in the Taiwan Strait. And why not!

The ambiguous ‘One China Policy’ should not be taken as a monistic concept that gives Mainland China a claim over Taiwan and avails nothing for the latter.

Given the circumstance of the emergence of the subsisting status quo, the parting of ways by the two Chinas in 1949, Taiwan equally has a claim of Mainland China being part of its territory, the primitive jungle justice of equating might to right notwithstanding.

In any case, we all know that the strength of a nation extends to or encompasses what it can do or muster in conjunction with its friends and allies. Therefore, Beijing claims that it has the right to determine who can visit Taiwan and who cannot hold any water unless of course, it concedes that Taiwan equally holds the same leverage over mainland China.

By the way, apart from Pelosi, do other visitors to Taiwan – the army of traders, investors, sightseers, etc. – that troop to Taiwan every day require China’s permission or visa to get into Taiwan? If not, why should Pelosi’s visit to Taipei be deemed subject to Beijing’s approval or permission? If Beijing does not have any cogent answer to this question then it should concede that her attempt to stop Pelosi from visiting Taipei amounts to cheap, weird, nauseating and dishonest arm-twisting and plain trouble-making! It is downright condemnable, for we expect better from People’s China.

It is however appropriate and commendable that China is discerning enough to remain steadfast and resolute to its long-proclaimed commitment to the doctrine that it will never try to use force to compel a reintegration of the two Chinese communities in Mainland China and Taiwan, for it will be quite absurd for any of the two Chinas to re-ignite the flames of a war that ended some 73 years ago or to want to forcefully shift ‘boundaries’ long established and respected by their wise forebears!

Indeed, outside the declaration of a de-militarized zone (DMZ) between the two Koreas, the circumstances of the emergence of the two Chinas are in many ways equivalent to the way the two Koreas (North Korea & South Korea) emerged and should therefore be treated in the same manner in every respect.

In this regard, the two Chinas, like the two Koreas, should be admissible into the United Nations. It is patently wrong to treat Taiwan, a visible and thriving human community of about 24 million people that occupies the 21st position in the World Economic Order, as an outcast. Where is the equity in this decision? And what profit or dividend do we derive from the action apart from the sadistic satisfaction of some groups or individuals?

The United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2758 of 25th October 1971 that expelled Taiwan or the Republic of China (ROC) from the UN in preference or deference to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) was based solely on perceived strength and should be revisited! We contend that Taiwan should be admitted into the United Nations for now. If and when the two Chinas, China and Taiwan amicably agree to merge into a single country then they can do so. We expect that this matter should be speedily thrashed out at the proposed World Legislature, in the next foreseeable future, to diminish some of the world’s unnecessary sources of tension.