By Fayaz Ganie
Mankind has seen numerous wars on the planet earth. Some of the wars were small and others big, some localized and others spread to wider geographical regions. Some caused minor losses to life and property and others comparatively more to major losses, and to the gargantuan ones. And, the magnitude of losses in two of the wars, that human history has witnessed, was so high that words fall short to describe them.
These two wars impacted adversely all the major parts of the world and are rightly called as the world wars; the First World War (WWI) and the Second World War (WWII). The senseless losses that the world suffered because of these wars puts humanity to shame, there were literally no gains out of fighting them. It was an outright madness on part of the people who were otherwise duty bound to save the world from the scourge of wars and insecurity.
The madness ended not with the culmination of these wars but it continued thereafter as well. Amazingly, the world powers displayed madness even when they were otherwise trying to make peace. The Paris Peace Conference, after the WWI, which imposed unfair treaties on the vanquished nations, especially the treaty of Versailles, was utterly one sided and blatantly discriminatory towards the defeated nations which sowed the seeds of the WWII. The latter war was fought only 20 years after the WWI and the Treaty of Versailles was one of the main causes of that war.
After the WWII, it was the Cold War that kept the world insecure and wanting for peace. The possibilities and probabilities during the period of the Cold War pointed only towards an all-out war which could have exterminated the human race, and all other races, from the face of the earth. It is hard to believe that how this war was averted. It was more certain than the other two wars if we compare the proximate causes and actual causes of those two wars with some happenings during the Cold War days.
Anyhow, although a major war was avoided but still the repercussions have turned the world into a real insecure place where the human species is sitting and standing on heaps, hills and mountains of volatile explosives. Any spark can set a chain reaction which could extinguish each single spark of life from, or it could efface the existence of the entire earth within the wink and blink of an eye. Enough of ammunition has been accumulated by man to make that possible.
The destructive capabilities of the weapons that mankind has accumulated today is such where the damage, death and debilities caused during the First and the Second World wars could prove just a miniscule in comparison. The atom bombs which were dropped on 6th and 9th of August, 1945 on the twin cities of Japan – Hiroshima and Nagasaki respectively – set the alarm bells ringing all over the world about the uncertain fate of the human race and they immediately became obsolete against those nuclear warheads that were developed subsequently.
It was this destruction, and the higher destructive capabilities of weapons that are continuously being produced in the world, which made many world leaders to realize the need for abolition of these weapons. Disarmament according to them is the only sure guarantee for successful and sustainable existence of the human race. The lead figure to mention here was the President Wilson of the United States who in his famous Fourteen Points stressed upon absolute guarantees that national armaments will be reduced to the lowest point consistent with domestic safety.
This primarily was the reason why disarmament was introduced in the Covenant of the League of Nations where it was stated in the Article 8 that, “the Members of the League recognize that the maintenance of peace requires the reduction of national armaments to the lowest point consistent with national safety and the enforcement by common action of international obligations”.
Nevertheless, in practice the obligations were only thrust upon the vanquished countries and the victors were overtly or covertly absolved from any such responsibility. The former countries were disarmed and they were banned from acquiring any new weapons. Their army was limited alongwith the ban on conscription and voluntary recruitment.
These disarmament measures proved futile for two main reasons; first the treaty provisions were made too harsh towards the defeated nations that their people and leaders felt humiliated by this treatment which they wanted to avenge and second the victor nations failed to comply with the Covenant provisions regarding disarmament. Within twenty years after the WWI the vanquished countries acquired enough of stockpiles of armaments that they were able to fight another world war. They inflicted huge losses upon the allied countries and were at times viewed as possible winners of the war.
When Germany and Italy were displaying aggressive posturing and were acquiring warheads with electrifying pace, the two important members of the allied camp of the WWII, France and Britain, were engaged in the policy of appeasement, towards Hitler’s Germany mainly. This thereby provided the Hitler’s Germany, Mussolini’s Italy and Tojo’s Japan leverage to accumulate more and more weapons without any check from any quarter in the world.
The failure of the world powers to ensure disarmament before the WWI, during the interwar period and after the WWII has made the problem much more complicated and dangerous today. At the time of WWII there was only one nuclear power possessing country in the world, which was followed shortly by the second. But, today we have around a dozen of such countries. The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty and all the other treaties, conferences and covenants and Charters have not deterred these counties from acquiring more and more Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). Even a tiny country like North Korea which has been mostly isolated from the rest of the world in the post WWII period is now a nuclear power, daring the most powerful country in the world, the United States.
On the one hand, the United States has used the Mother of all the non-nuclear bombs in Afghanistan and on the other Russia used the Father of all such bombs in Syria. The Assad regime of Syria was blamed of using deadly chemical weapons in his country and the Saudi led coalition is using other types of weapons in Yemen. The terrorist groups and organizations are using whatever weapons fall into their hands against whomever they like. And, the story is the same with many countries and regimes of the world.
Amidst this , all the cries of the sincere world leaders, to save the human race and secure honorable life for all the future generations, seem to be falling on deaf ears. All their efforts seem ineffectual and have bore no fruits after so much energy and time. True, there may be instances where some countries might have reduced some warheads but currently some of them have abandoned that policy and are on the way back to rearmament. Overall , the situation is such where the arms race continues unabated.
Productions and export of armaments has been made integral part of the economies of many of the countries of the world. They include the United States, France, Israel, Russia, etc. In order to make their peoples’ lives happy and prosperous they are supplying all the logistics to make that of the people of the other countries, and regions, as hell. As long as they are getting huge monetary and material benefits they are content and satisfied, no matter if people with the same hot blood of the other countries are dying a despicable death.
These counties may have closed their eyes to prevent them from seeing the reality but the truth is that they are as unsafe and insecure as the rest of the world is. They have made disbarment a farce, a fruitless exercise but they cannot claim to have insulated their countries from the repercussion of armaments.
While behaving to fulfill their narrow national interests, they have ended up making many enemies in the process who might strike with whatever weapons they get at the first opportunity. The coming generations of these countries are as unsecure as the generations of any other country. They realize not but this is the reality.
Hence, disbarment of the world is a serious issue associated with the honorable survival of the human race which is not given adequate amount of thought process. The required attention is not paid to achieve the objectives which are in the best interests of the entire human race. Neither, sufficient resources consistent with the objectives are provided to safeguard the shared ideals, fundamental freedoms and human rights of all men.
Much more is expected from the countries of the world, the global organizations and the people of the world. If the spark is kept in a state of perpetual neglect, any miscalculation or accident might signal the end of the human race and all the other creations in the world. If the things are allowed to run in the current direction and at this pace the doom seems to be not too far.
So the humanity must rise in all seriousness to take corrective measures and work in unison to initiate, and accomplish, the process of disarmament. The words and deeds of the world powers, institution and people must coincide somewhere and if they do not coincide now when will they? Let’s stay optimistic!
—The author can be reached at: [email protected]