Some rulers understand the terrible cost of war better than others.
War has been humanity’s constant companion since the humble hand ax of the Stone Age became the first fire-forged metal weapons of the Iron Age.
The arms race lasting 10,000+ years has wrought such terrifying weapons, in the modern age, many of us had begun to hope the days of global conflicts and mass war casualties are far in the past.
The Industrial Age, the internal combustion engine, the printing press, the pentium processor; with every leap forward, society has brought with it the plague of war.
Of all the imaginative and horrifying ways human beings have come up with to kill one another- and there have been some standouts over the millennia in terms of scale, scope and merciless ingenuity- nuclear weapons were hoped to be the worst.
What could be worse than global thermonuclear war?
The threat of nuclear war on a global scale heretofore has kept world leaders from indulging in their martial and warmongering tendencies, for the most part.
When U.S. President Harry S. Truman made the fateful decision to unleash two of the catastrophic bombs created by Oppenheimer and company to be the destroyer of worlds, it plunged humanity- and the arms race- into a new age of warfare.
There is no more war.
There is only nuclear war, now.
More countries have The Bomb than sensible world leaders know what to do with. Other people want The Bomb, too; bad people. Dictators who want to consign their nearest neighbors to conquest, despots without conscience threatening to unleash unimaginable suffering on the world if their demands are not met, cruel rulers looking for novel new ways to terrorize their populace and region.
Terrorists want The Bomb, too. Rogue nations want it; some are on-track to get it.
With Russia invading Ukraine, and China threatening to do the same in Taiwan, things are looking worse on the war front than they have in decades. Anyone with five minutes and Google can see the world plunged into World War III in four moves.
It isn’t a comfortable feeling and the younger generations- the ones lucky enough not to spend their childhood cowering in nuclear fallout shelters during drills- aren’t used to it.
It recent years, the prospects of war have grown even more terrifying. Today, we are facing much more than nuclear weapons in the modern age; thanks to the arms race, we now have chemical, biological and even energy weapons to contend with.
We also live in a world surveilled to within an inch of its sanity.
The tools world governments have to wage war on a massive scale, foreign or domestic, are the stuff of nightmares.
With the world confronting the dark prospect of global war for the first time in 70 years, it is nice to know not every ruler is considering using this time to bolster his own military accomplishments.
In a very positive sign, Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman had some soothing words recently to impart about his own volatile corner of the world.
“We do not view Israel as an enemy, but rather as a potential ally in the many interests that we can pursue together, but some issues must be resolved before we can reach that,” the Saudi Prince reportedly said in a recent interview with the Atlantic.
Prince bin Salmaan also had some comforting words to say about the rogue nation next door.
“We have had discussions, and we have heard many statements from Iranian leaders that are very welcome in Saudi Arabia,” bin Salmaan said. “I hope we can reach a position that is good for both countries, and a bright future for Saudi Arabia and Iran.”
He then brought home the most salient, unassailable point of all: “Iran is a neighbor forever, we cannot get rid of them and they cannot get rid of us.”
Between the lines, the message is even more encouraging. Far from signaling a softening towards Iran, the Prince’s response signaled a strong commitment to peace. As the invasion of the Ukraine shows, neighbor nations can’t afford much enmity. There is, as he correctly remarked, no escape.
Compromise and cooperation are the keys to peace in the Middle East and everywhere else on earth. Globalism, the global economy, and even coronavirus have thrust the world into a new age of collectivism and there doesn’t appear to be any going back, short of an EMP attack strong enough to knock us all back to the Triassic.
We are, as the Prince remarked, stuck with each other; global neighbors in a world more connected by technology and trade than at any other point in human history.
It is an opportunity and a challenge; it is an appropriate time to make peace with our neighbors, strengthen our global friendships and partner together to accomplish our collective goals.
Our most important global aspirations transcend borders, history, language and geography. Humanity’s most pressing problems- poverty, illness, hunger, inequality, the devastation of vital habitats worldwide- will take a massive, cooperative effort to solve.
None of these problems have easy answers. The future is uncertain, but full of potential. The only way we get there, is together.
(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)