Editorial: Society has become too complacent about its own extinction

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Affluence tends to create a sense of entitlement, and nothing more so than generational affluence. So it is perhaps a consequence of the relative wealth of Western society that has led to the apparent complacency greeting the current brinkmanship underway under the guise of diplomacy.

There was a time, back in the heady days of the British Raj when much of the world was coloured in the pink bits of the British Empire, when gunboat diplomacy and the threat of the big stick was an effective way to flex the muscles of empire. Those days should have ended when the fiery hell of the nuclear age descended upon Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

If that could be considered to have not been enough to bring humanity to its senses then perhaps the debacles of Algeria, Vietnam or Korea might have given the world notice that we would have to find a better way. Not so, it appears.

As the influence and prestige of the American Age begins a descent into the same inevitable decline met by those empires that came before, we must understand that there is a more than subtle difference facing civilization today. America, and the west, must come to face that fact the stick has become a double-edged sword—one that threatens the very existence of humanity.

Brinkmanship can play a valuable role in the cut and thrust of global commerce where pirate corporations have long considered themselves above the laws of any nation, perhaps, but when the fate of humanity hangs by a thread, putting all of our collective eggs in a basket being carried by an erratic and demonstrable sociopath takes mob insanity to a whole new level.

It has been 75 years since the world was last caught up in a global conflict that consumed, quite literally, tens of millions of lives. The last of the brave Allied soldiers who stormed ashore on the beaches of Normandy despite the impossible hail of steel and lead being hurled at them are being laid to rest and the phrase “never again” is fast fading into the twilight.

Global war has happened before and, despite the zero-gain odds of nuclear annihilation facing us today, it can, and quite likely will (if we don’t smarten up), happen again.

In previous world wars North America was largely separated from the destruction of war as huge oceans separated us from the belligerents. But for the procession of the telegraph messenger coming up the walk or the deprivations of the ration book, Canada, and later the US, were mostly held inviolate from the ravages of modern warfare. That will not be so in the age of the global village.

Afghanistan, Iraq, Vietnam and Korea, these were all wars that were happening a world away in countries barely capable of mounting a Second World War offensive against the West. The game has changed, the old rules are fast becoming obsolete and unless the ruling classes come to accept that reality, the future looks grim.

Should global war erupt again, the consequences will be the raining of death and destruction upon our continent in ways that have not been seen here since the arrival of the Europeans—likely significantly more. In a global nuclear war all of humanity will find itself on the endangered list and wealth and privilege will prove to be little shield.

Brinksmanship in global diplomacy must end—or we all will.