Two deeply unpleasant men are facing off over North Korea’s nuclear weapons. The world feels closer to the possibility of nuclear war than at any time for half a century.
The fact that Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un have their fingers on the nuclear button is frightening enough.
But what’s worse still is that neither stands alone.
The US, like European empires before it, has always sought to dominate the world partly through alliances and proxy regimes.
Nowhere is this truer than in Asia. The US conducts joint military exercises with South Korea. It has 23 military bases and 54,000 troops in Japan.
Fear of a more assertive China binds both countries’ rulers to the US. North Korea is far more isolated, with no dependable allies. But both Russia and China have opposed moves to impose sanctions.
A US-led blockade on North Korea would mean a huge build-up of US forces within a few dozen miles of China’s coast and border. And as Syrians and Ukrainians have learned, Russia knows how to use a crisis to expand its influence.
Britain is no bit player. Its decline has weakened its rulers’ “special relationship” with the US. But when Trump was friendless, he turned to Theresa May to hold his hand.
Britain’s seat on the United Nations security council is one major asset for the US. Britain’s Trident nuclear weapons—made and controlled by the US—are another.
Britain has sent a warship to sail through waters claimed by China.
International diplomacy and deal-making doesn’t keep the peace. The leaders of big power blocs pound smaller countries with impunity, from US-led coalitions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria to the Saudi-led war on Yemen.
The states frozen out of such blocs resort to desperate measures to maintain their influence alone.
In the early twentieth century European states were split into two great alliances.
This kept a lid on tensions between them—for a while. But once those tensions exploded, the alliance system meant they rapidly spread. An assassination in Bosnia triggered a world war.
To stop a repeat, working class people across the world need to pursue their shared interest and rise up against their feuding rulers.
In Britain that means building on the success of mass protests against Trump, who had planned a state visit.And we need to link the struggle against war to the fight against austerity and racism.
It means taking on the government-backed arms tycoons. It means fighting to scrap Trident and pull out of the Middle East.
The only way to bring world peace is to wreck the system that produces war.