WE are in interesting times globally and for many of us who are too focused on domestic concerns, it pays to also look beyond our shores. More so because we are in an age where weapons of mass destruction have proliferated. Another world war could also mean the destruction of human civilization.
We start with something that could be partially positive even if it could also ramp up regional tensions. China’s attempt to control the South China Sea has caught the ire of a leader who could not be bullied militarily. Indonesia’s Joko Widodo recently did what our very own President Duterte could only promise: personally challenge China’s aggressiveness in the South China Sea. He visited their territory that China attempted to control, flexing military muscle to do so.
The tension erupted when China did what it has been doing lately, which is to send its Coast Guard to what has long been recognized as Indonesian territory and in the process allow its fisherfolk to fish in Indonesian waters. China claims “historic rights” to the area because it is within its so-called nine-dash line, which supposedly marks its territorial claims to a large swathe of the South China Sea.
In response, Widodo went to the disputed territory and strengthened the integrity of his country’s maritime border and was escorted by military ships and planes there. The Chinese Coast Guard backed off. Didn’t President Duterte during the 2016 presidential elections promise to ride a jet ski in the Spratlys, a part of which is a Philippine territory that China claims as its own?
The incident marked the further escalation of tension in resource-rich areas that China is attempting to grab in the South China Sea, testing the resolve of leaders of other Southeast Asian countries to defend their territories. Interestingly, the US is eagerly observing this development considering its economic interest in the region.
As for the US, that country now has a leader that has jettisoned liberal democratic tenets in favor of strongman tactics. For the first time, the US embarked on a state-sponsored killing unprecedented in its openness. We know that historically the US government sponsors assassinations covertly but Trump has no qualms claiming that he ordered the killing of an Iranian official he said was behind some terrorist acts in the Middle East.
Iran responded by targeting US interests in the Middle East, which could also invite another military response from the US, further escalating tensions. After the Cold War and the demise of the Soviet Union, we thought threats to global peace have lessened. It looks like we are wrong again. Nuclear confrontation is real considering the weapons the protagonists and their allies possess.
We are in a period where the hawks are again dominant worldwide, easing out the doves. Which means we are again in challenging times. In times like this, prayer is the one we the helpless people can resort to. Let us pray that peace will prevail everywhere.