On Friday, Jan. 27, 2017, President Trump signed executive orders that placed a temporary ban on refugees. This was an indefinite ban on refugees from war-torn Syria. Mikhail Gorbachev warned that “it looks as if the world is preparing for war.”
The Nobel Peace Prize winner, Gorbachev, cited an increase of armored tanks, personnel carriers, and troops being deployed to Europe as a cause for concern. In the last few weeks, deployment of thousands of troops from the U.S. to the eastern border of Europe is the largest since the Cold War.
In an opinion piece for Time magazine, Gorbachev said:
NATO and Russian forces and weapons that used to be deployed at a distance are now placed closer to each other as if to shoot point-blank.
He also opined his perceptions of the hostile and defensive doctrine that military and political leaders are perpetuating. These are being amplified by the media and personalities who have a large platform.
Gorbachev is not alone in this opinion, Thursday, Jan. 26, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist made an announcement that the Doomsday Clock has now been moved from three minutes of midnight to two and a half minutes to midnight. This is the closest it has been to the symbolic apocalyptic danger to humanity since the Cold War.
The clock has been updated yearly since 1947. The scientists and security experts, who are responsible for the clock, also look at other events that are a danger to humanity. Concerns about Russian cyber-attacks during the U.S. elections, which exhibit that a cyber-war is a potential threat that could shake global stability helped increase the time. Other issues such as fake news, a rise in nationalism, and the rhetoric from President Trump also had an impact. Fears surrounding climate change also affect their decision.
Trump’s denial of science when it comes to climate change and those he has appointed to key agencies who have an impact on policy also caused concern. His appointees to head the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy dispute the very basics of climate science.
Concerns about the potential for nuclear war have increased. Trump has broken with long held precedent and has discussed increasing the U.S. nuclear arsenal. Whereas, for decades, the country along with others has been working towards disarmament.
North Korea’s continued development of nuclear weapons and Kim Jong-un’s 2017 New Year’s Day address, in which he stated that he would soon be testing a missile with intercontinental ability. This does nothing to dampen the perception for many, that world war is coming.
The relationship between armed-nuclear Pakistan and India’s is strained, and both countries continue to expand their nuclear arsenal. Pakistan is receiving helping from China to build new submarine platforms.
The tension between the U.S. and Russia are at their highest since the Cold War. Russia is developing a new class of nuclear ballistic missiles submarines, building new silo-based projectiles, and is overhauling other intercontinental ballistic rockets. The U.S. continues to update submarines that carry weapons, bombers, land-based missiles and is increasing the range of their cruise missiles. The increase of weaponry for the two super powers raises the fear a world war may be coming.
Years of progress to reduce the threat of nuclear war is at a stand still, and in fact, seems to be moving backward. Moreover, this is something that is a grave concern for all civilizations on this planet, it only makes the threat of war on a worldwide scale loom larger. One miscommunication between countries could bring about the unthinkable.
The dangerous international security situation has not improved with the new U.S. president. His temperament, and willingness to believe in conspiracy theories are dangerous. His overwhelming lack of respect for a free press increases the mistrust citizens have of the media.
President Trump’s executive order, which bans refugees from seven countries may embolden ISIS and increase their sympathizers making the world an even more dangerous place. This brings the dangers of world war closer to reality.
While world leaders seem to be preparing for world war and increasing funds to that end, citizens of countries everywhere are not having their basic needs met. Resources and monies that could be used to benefit society, and protect the environment are instead being diverted to things that almost guarantee its destruction.
By Jessica Hamel
Edited by Cathy Milne
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist: 2017 Doomsday Clock Statement
NBC News: Ex-Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachez: “World Is Preparing for War”
The Atlantic: The Doomsday Clock’s Most Dire Warning Since the Cold War
Image Courtesy of Andy Armstong’s Flickr Page- Creative Commons License