Is the World on the Brink of a Third World War?

Nuclear Deterrence seems to be eroding between the US and North Korea

With rumors of an impending Third World War, one is bound to imagine what would happen if a third global war breaks out. The world has witnessed two great world wars which caused the devastation of hundreds of people, millions of deaths and millions left homeless. It is obvious that a Third World War would be nuclear with zillion of deaths, unimaginable destruction and diseases related to radiation which would follow future generations for years.  Albert Einstein once said “that it is dreadfully obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity” which seems relevant to the recent North Korean situation. There is no denying the fact that a nuclear war would take the world back to the stone ages with major metropolitans in ruins and ashes everywhere. It is believed that nuclear weapons promote peace as states having nuclear weapons often want to avoid wars fearing that it may lead to a nuclear strike. A lot of International observers contend that nuclear deterrence seems to be eroding in case of the North Korean situation.  President Trump and some U.S officials have considered the idea of carrying out preemptive strikes against North Korean missile sites as an effort to deter North Korea. However U.S preemptive military strikes might cause Pyongyang to retaliate with its nuclear missiles such an unfortunate situation would bring an end to the moral Nuclear Taboo. The concept of Nuclear Taboo suggests that states owing to the destructive nature of nuclear weapons do not resort to the use of nuclear weapons.  Tannenwald has referred to Nuclear Taboo as “a de facto prohibition against the first use of nuclear weapons.” However in case of North Korea it seems that Kim Jong-un is completely unaware of his responsibility as being a leader of a Nuclear power.

Once a nuclear strike between North Korea and the United States is carried out it would raise the risk of nuclear wars in other parts of the world.  In reality United States seems to be trapped in a difficult situation as the UN has “exhausted all options” and now the pentagon may have to deal with this issue. U.S from time to time has asserted that it does not want a war however U.S officials believe that Pyongyang is begging for a war. On one hand U.S has to protect its allies South Korea and Japan while on the other hand it has to defend the main land U.S from any possible nuclear strikes. Pyongyang has at several occasions threatened to afflict terrible damage to the U.S with its nuclear might. War on the Korean peninsula would result in a tremendous loss of lives hence the U.S allies Japan and South Korea does not want a war in the peninsula.

Many countries of the world including China had previously suggested that a peaceful resolution on North Korea peninsula is the only way out. However the rapid changing situation in case of North Korea suggests that diplomatic pressure alone would not be sufficient to deter Supreme leader Kim Jong-un. The recent joint naval drills by China and Russia and military exercises by the United States, Japan and South Korea indicate that military options might have to be considered in case of North Korea. However the U.S is between the devil and the deep blue sea as an attack on North Korea would result in millions of deaths in the region and the mainland US as Pyongyang has a hydrogen bomb to its arsenal. The North Korean threat is obviously one of the biggest challenges faced by the international diplomacy. Many International observers contend that allowing North Korea’s nuclear program to proceed would be a historic error. The North Korean situation has further raised the risks of horizontal proliferation as the rouge state might sell or transfer technology to states or even non- state actors.

Kim Jong-un considers NK nuclear program as a shield against being ousted out by the U.S like Saddam Hussein and Maummar Gaddafi. It is true that it is impossible to denuclearize a nuclear state but there are always chances to de-escalate a nuclear weapons state. The world therefore has to accept the reality of a nuclear North Korea considering that sanctions in case of NK have not worked for the past ten years. It is believed that carrying a dialogue with North Korea without freezing their nuclear program would not be useful. The United States does not have any diplomatic relations with the isolated North Korean State hence China can play a role in bringing North Korea to the negotiating table. However there is no assurance of having a successful and conclusive dialogue with irrational North Korea.  International observers believe that is important to stop North Korea from reaching the mass production of its Nuclear Weapons carries ICBM’s. North Korea despite having claimed to have the technology and materials has not yet moved to mass production and battle field deployment. Gen. James Gavin a proponent of the development of tactical nuclear weapons asserted that Nuclear weapons would become conventional owing to their “cost, effectiveness against the enemy and ease of handling.”  The North Korean situation can encourage other states such as Iran and especially Ukraine who have scaled back their nuclear capabilities. The North Korean nuclear situation has certainly emerged as a global threat leading to the possibility of a Third World War putting the Trump administration in a completely difficult situation. A Nuclear war would result in global catastrophe wiping out the existence of half of the world’s population.  Such an unimaginable situation would force the world economy to start from the scratch hence such a situation must be avoided.



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