West not ready for third world war

Henry

The former US president and current candidate in the run-up to this year’s election on November 5, Donald Trump, last weekend in South Carolina accused his opponent and current US president, Joe Biden, of sending America into a third world war. Trump’s exaggerated comment could easily be dismissed as election hyperbole, but the reality is that it is largely consistent with warnings from almost every Western and pro-Western country in the past few months.

The criticism of Trump and numerous Republicans in the US Congress stems from the increasing aggression of groups in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen that have carried out attacks on US and other Western targets in recent weeks. All these groups act as proxies for Iran and it is clear that Iran is on the front foot in its fight against Western influence in the Middle East.

In Ukraine, Russia currently has the momentum in its two-year war, and with divisions in the West over how to end the conflict, things look increasingly bad for Ukraine’s chances of regaining lost territory. In recent weeks, there has even been talk about what Russia’s next mission could be after its takeover of the Crimean peninsula and the Donbas.

The German Minister of Defence, Boris Pistorius, argued last week that Russia could attack a NATO member state within five to eight years. According to Pistorius, Germany currently does not have the ability to protect itself against a Russian attack. Pistorius is even skeptical about whether NATO will be able to repel an attack by Russia on one of its member states.

The chairman of NATO’s military committee, Admiral Rob Bauer, appealed to NATO member states to prepare for warfare with greater seriousness. The British Minister of Defence, Grant Shapps, recently warned that Russia, China, North Korea and Iran pose a significant military threat to the West.

The well-known author Niall Ferguson rightly asked last week whether the West had not learned any lessons from the mistakes made in the period between the First and Second World Wars. It is clear that China, Russia, Iran and North Korea are increasingly cooperating militarily to fight Western global influence.

During the Cold War there were leaders such as Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Helmut Kohl and Francois Mitterand who understood very well that the next major military confrontation can only be avoided by being better prepared for war than your opponent.

Since the end of the Cold War, almost every European country has cut military spending to such an extent that Europe is now completely dependent on the US for its defense. Europe can only play a very limited role in stopping aggression elsewhere, as the war in Ukraine proved. While the US military is still the strongest in the world, valid questions are being asked about its readiness for war.

The lesson that the West learned during the twentieth century is that you have to speak loudly and carry a big stick with you. If you only talk loudly but have no punching power, your opponent will at some point exploit your weaknesses. In the current environment with weak Western leadership, this means a substantial chance for huge conflict. We must all hope that this can still be prevented.