The war in Ukraine has unleashed the buried but smoldering fears of Europe in particular and the world in general. The war exposed the soft belly of humanity. It showed the fragility of world peace. The third world war is just a blunder away. A wrong move by the Russia or West and the fear of humanity getting perished will become a reality. Looking at world wars history, one wonders and suspects the sanity of the decision-makers of the time. It is intriguing to observe how one event led to another during world wars that engulfed humanity into flames of war. In the presence of nuclear weapons, we are not that far away from annihilation.
The wars at the global scale are a product of modernity. Modern technology and socio-political thought facilitated colonial powers to subjugate the world and fight among themselves. It seems Europe has made a habit of war at the dawn of every new century during the last five hundred years. From thirty years war in 17th century to Spanish Succession war in 18th to Napoleonic war in 19th and then World wars in 20th century is a persistent phenomenon. One can see a direct relationship between the rise of nationalism in Europe and periodic world wars. The single most underlying constant factor is the growth of nationalism.
The global political structure was founded on the bedrock of the state system and nationalism. The current war in Ukraine is a direct manifestation of Ukrainian, Russian, and US nationalism. The overblown nationalism of these three countries is endangering world peace. Exactly the way French and German nationalism inflamed the two world wars. The ideas of sovereignty, self-rule, and independence in foreign policy are the backbone of the current global state system. However, in reality, the powerful and big nations dominate the affairs of small nations. The theory of ‘sphere of influence’ is as old as the empires and nation-state system.
The claims for sovereignty or independence of small states are in contradiction with the hegemonic privileges of the large states. The source of both sovereignty claims and hegemonic privilege is in the nationalist feelings and aspirations. After living under the Russian ambarella for hundreds of years, Ukraine has discovered its newly found nationalism. Russia is securing its so-called national interests and the US is concerned about its being the number one nation in the world.
The contemporary global economic dispensations can’t afford a global nationalistic state system. The war in any part of the world affects the global economy significantly. Each war brings its losers and gainers but unlike the past because of the interconnectivity of the globe, humanity loses and suffers in general. Economy and culture flourish in predictability. War is uncertain and brings unnecessary cost escalation to cover the risk. The cost of war is too much even for those who benefit from war.
The current state-based security system is not in sync with the global security requirement. The security council is incapable of resolving security dilemmas because of the inherent nationalistic agendas of each power. NATO is a western force. There is no global security body and force to assure global peace. We are just a step away from annihilation. An annihilation that looks as unlikely as the Russian invasion of Ukraine looked a few days back. Even if we survive Ukraine, hopefully we will do, the chances of another Ukraine are in built in the state-based security arrangements.