By Afe Babalola
“It appears that the members of the United nations have forgotten so soon the calamitous effects of the Two World wars fought in the last century at the cost of hundreds of millions of precious lives”.
Without a doubt, as far as the prospects of lasting world peace are concerned, these are trying times. On the 19th September 2017, the President of the United States, Donald Trump gave a speech at the United nations described by the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu as the boldest and most courageous he had heard in his 30 years of dealing with the United Nations. In the speech which lasted 41 minutes, President Trump, vowed to “totally destroy North Korea” if the US and its allies were forced to defend themselves. Referring to the leader of North Korea, Kim Jung Un, as the “Rocket man” President Trump declared that:
“The United States is ready, willing and able, but hopefully this will not be necessary. That’s what the United Nations is all about; that’s what the United Nations is for. Let’s see how they do.”
Prior to the speech, the United States of America had over the course of several months, significantly toughened its opposition to further missile tests by North Korea so much so that at a point, it announced the full deployment a Missile Defence Systems in neighbouring South Korea. In reaction, China called for a halt to further deployments in the region. In addition, the United States had also dispatched one of its largest aircraft carriers to the region. A couple of weeks before that, about 80 civilians were reportedly killed as a result of the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian conflict. While the parties to that conflict continued to trade blame as to who was actually responsible for such an outrageous conduct, the rest of the world watched in trepidation as fears of the outbreak of world war three increased. Firstly, the United States acting on intelligence which according to it identified the Syrian government as being responsible for the attack, launched missiles at a Syrian airforce base. Shocked at this challenge to its interests in the region, owing to its relations with the Syrian regime, Russia issued a statement warning against further attacks. If it was felt that a hurriedly arranged meeting between the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the Russian Foreign Secretary, Sergey Lavrov on the one hand, and between Mr Tillerson and Russian President Vladimir Putin, on the other hand, would help ease the tension, such hopes evaporated into thin air when after the second meeting Mr Tillerson addressed the Press and stated amongst other as follows:
“There is a low level of trust between our countries,…The world’s two foremost nuclear powers cannot have this kind of relationship,”
Since the above stated events, the world has moved more towards the prospects of another global conflict. The speech of President Trump has helped a great deal to bring that point home. Indeed there should be cause for worry. By proceeding with its nuclear test missiles, the North Korean government has demonstrated its unwillingness to be guided either by reason or the need to protect the human race from another major conflagration. The regime has failed to listen to warnings even from countries hitherto thought to be able to wield some level of influence over it. As was expected, rather than circumspection, North Korea reacted to the speech of President Trump by directing personal insults at President Trump and making more threats to global peace including a plan to test a hydrogen bomb. Analysing the entire situation, Aljazeera stated that:
“It is a war of words with a very dangerous edge,
“We are talking about two potentially nuclear powers coming into a confrontation being edged on by a level rhetoric seldom seen and certainly not heard within the confines of the UN General Assembly,”
Yet the most worrying is the fact that these events are occurring 72 years since the establishment of the United Nations, an intergovernmental organization set up to promote international co-operation and to create and maintain international order. A replacement for the ineffective League of Nations, the organization was established on 24 October 1945 after World War II in order to prevent another such conflict. With a membership of 193 its objectives include maintaining international peace and security, promoting human rights, fostering social and economic development, protecting the environment, and providing humanitarian aid in cases of famine, natural disaster, and armed conflict. However there is a widespread belief that the United Nations has failed in its mandate. Before the current events, critics had pointed to the failure of the United Nations to prevent conflict in several parts of the world and particularly its failure to intervene in the genocide in Rwanda as indicative of its inability to meet with demands of an ever changing world. It appears that the members of the United nations have forgotten so soon the calamitous effects of the Two World wars fought in the last century at the cost of hundreds of millions of precious lives.
WORLD WAR ONE
The trigger for the first world war was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, by Yugoslav nationalist Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914. This set off a diplomatic crisis when Austria-Hungary delivered an ultimatum to the Kingdom of Serbia,and entangled international alliances formed over the previous decades were invoked. Within weeks, the major powers were at war and the conflict soon spread around the world. The war lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. More than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, were mobilised in one of the largest wars in history. Over nine million combatants and seven million civiliansdied as a result of the war (including the victims of a number of genocides). It was one of the deadliest conflicts in history, and paved the way for major political changes, including revolutions in many of the nations involved. Unresolved rivalries still extant at the end of the conflict contributed to the start of the Second World War only twenty-one years later.
The war drew in all the world’s economic great powers,assembled in two opposing alliances: the Allies (based on the Triple Entente of the Russian Empire, the French Third Republic, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland) versus the Central Powers of Germany and Austria-Hungary. Although Italy was a member of the Triple Alliance alongside Germany and Austria-Hungary, it did not join the Central Powers, as Austria-Hungary had taken the offensive against the terms of the alliance. These alliances were reorganised and expanded as more nations entered the war: Italy, Japan and the United States joined the Allies, while the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria joined the Central Powers.
To be continued.