Humanity is confronting a global pandemic, climate change, horrendous inequality in resource allocation, pollution, an energy crisis and a massive wave of species extinction. Every alarm in the building is ringing. The clock says it’s a minute to midnight.
Sick and frightened, we look to our governments and our leaders for help and guidance. And their answer is? War. War now, war tomorrow and more war after that.
The Titanic is sinking, so let’s just fight over the deckchairs, shall we?
You could go out today and pick 50 random people from different countries around the world, sit them down in a room for a fortnight to hear presentations from experts about all the genuine problems humanity faces and then ask them to come up with a list of 10 priorities for urgent and united action.
I doubt waging wars against each other would figure anywhere on the list.
High on the list would be sharing vaccines against the pandemic viruses with every nation, because it’s obvious that leaving vast swathes of people unprotected just helps the viruses mutate and evolve, prolonging the struggle and putting every person on the planet at heightened risk.
Tackling climate change from both directions would surely be high on the list. Wasteful energy consumption has to be cut. Energy conservation has to be a major priority. Fossil fuels have to be reserved only for roles where there is no good alternative. We need an international “Manhattan Project” for renewable energy. Better ways of generating, storing and distributing energy have to be found, and quickly.
On the other side of climate change we need ways of helping people cope with the new reality of unaccustomed heatwaves and heat domes, mega-fires, super-storms, massive floods, droughts and the consequent food and water shortages.
Eliminating the production of stupid and wasteful intractable garbage that floods the environment and damages the biosphere is a priority. Protecting and rescuing vital habitats on land and in the oceans should be critical.
Getting people out of poverty and guaranteeing food and shelter to everybody who needs it surely belongs on the list too.
But to all these vital priorities our leaders pay lip-service, at best.
And now the rulers of world have decreed that, in the face of these terrible challenges, what we need is more war. We need to flood the planet with more and more weapons and we need to blow each other to pieces.
That’s their answer. That’s their priority. It should be surprising, but it isn’t.
This is what happens when greed rules the world. We get bad people making bad decisions for bad reasons.
As if enough people were not suffering and dying from all the problems listed above, many, many thousands more will suffer and die now because our leaders decided to choose war. Thousands had already paid with their lives for this deliberate choice, and many more will follow them in the days to come.
Does Russia’s Vladimir Putin care? Probably not.
Does America’s Joe Biden care? It doesn’t look that way.
Do the leaders of Europe’s NATO nations care? Not based on the evidence so far.
What they care about is preserving their status quo and serving their masters.
This war did not have to happen. Ukraine did not have to be weaponised against Russia. That was a deliberate choice made by Western military and economic strategists and the resulting war with Russia was foreseeable and foreseen.
In the same way, a war between China and the West should not be inevitable, but the West is talking as though it is, and both sides are arming themselves accordingly.
Thousands of people are already dead on both sides as a direct result of fighting in the Ukraine war.
And make no mistake, there will be significant casualties from the global food and fuel shortages the war has created. Hungry Africa will suffer badly if it can’t buy Russian and Ukrainian grain and fertilizer. Other food supplies, already pinched by floods and droughts, will be crimped for all buyers.
Europe will freeze this winter from the loss of gas and fuel from Russia. Already Europe is planning for desperate fuel shortages that will hit industry and homes, but there are serious limits on what can be done at such short notice.
Russia’s economy is hard-hit, despite the tough talk, and Putin will clamp down hard on his nation’s population before caving in to the West and giving up power.
Joe Biden has been to Saudi Arabia on a begging mission to get more oil flowing. He has been talking up the idea of all buyers of Russian fuel agreeing to a price cap – an idea aimed at preventing further spikes in fuel prices. His eyes are on his own electoral future, since high fuel prices in the USA are compounding his already low popularity. It doesn’t help that his Republican Party opponents are obsessed by the story of his son’s close links to Ukrainian fossil fuel producers. Biden may easily become a political casualty of the war.
In the midst of all this, the consequences of America’s astounding money-printing binge of the past few years are finally being felt.
In 2020 the M1 money supply of US dollars was $4trillion. Now it’s more than $20trillion. At first this mind-boggling programme of pandemic stimulus money-printing caused big spikes in asset prices, but now it is being felt in consumer prices. Add the war-effect, and the risk of runaway inflation is obvious.
Depressions happen when consumers run out of money to spend, which is happening now that central banks – following the US lead – are raising interest rates and actively working to help suppress wages and salaries. Already the defaults have begun, and so have the riots in countries with vulnerable economies.
Meanwhile the refusal of Western countries to allow the sharing of vaccine patents with poor nations has surely contributed to the constant resurgences of Covid which now threaten to make the expensive vaccines redundant after all. The pandemic has been likened to an out-of-control freight train, with hospitalizations and death-rates on the rise again everywhere thanks to the latest variant.
Every alarm in the building is ringing.
The clock says it’s a minute to midnight.
And the answer is?
War . . .