I am writing out of grave concern for the future of our planet. At this time – October 28, 2016 – tensions between the USA and Russia are at their highest point since the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, prompting CNN.com to proclaim in a headline, “Russia, US move past Cold War to unpredictable conflict.” Meanwhile, China has claimed the entire South China Sea as its own territorial waters, building military bases on rock outcroppings to cement its claim. Nationalistic fervor seems to keep rising, both in China – where China’s new assertiveness seems to enjoy popular support – and in Russia, whose President Vladimir Putin enjoys high approval ratings with his annexation of Crimea and his increasingly defiant and belligerent attitude towards the West.
Meanwhile, on the campaign trail in the USA, Hillary Clinton has promised to establish a no-fly zone in Syria, and U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter recently announced plans to begin an assault on Raqqa, the capital city of the so-called Islamic State, which happens to be in – Syria! This seems to me kind of crazy, on two levels. First, strategically, don’t military operations benefit from some element of surprise? Second – and more importantly – isn’t Syria an ally of Russia, and isn’t it kind of unwise for U.S. and its allies to be invading Syrian territory, or establishing no-fly zones there? Especially with a Russian fleet off the Syrian coast and Russian aircraft bombing Syrian targets with monotonous frequency?
How many major wars have started with relatively minor incursions or incidents? And as everyone knows — with nuclear and biological weapons in the mix — our next major war could be our last.
I pray that all world leaders, especially those of Russia, China, and the USA — will take a step back from the abyss, breathe deeply, and think clearly. Do you want to be responsible for provoking a global conflict that could very well be the end of civilization as we know it?
Nationalistic fervor – often known as jingoism – is fairly easy to arouse, given humans’ propensity to “root for the home team;” but in our current world, the “home team” happens to be planet Earth. With the Internet, with international trade, travel and migration, and with weapons of mass destruction that wreak havoc to the entire world, nationalistic concerns have become increasingly irrelevant, and the survival and well-being of our planet, and of the human race as a whole, must be of paramount concern. World leaders must understand that the “national interests” of every country must include the global interests of planet Earth – its ecosystem, and all its people.
In this time of heated tensions between the world’s superpowers, let us pray that cooler heads will prevail. Rather than being hot-headed and cold-hearted, may our leaders – and all of us – be cool-headed and warm-hearted.
Our survival, and our children’s future, depends on it.