The Indian subcontinent is moving toward becoming an arena for a Third World War. The changing world situation, sharpening contradictions, and the shifting balance of power are making it likely that the Indian subcontinent will become an arena for a Third World War. The major factors which are likely to push the subcontinent in this direction are: the decline of the American and western powers, the re-emergence of Russia as a world power, the widening gap between Europe and America, the re-emergence of Japan as a military power, the rise of secular forces in the Maghreb (Arab countries), and the growing differences between America and the South American countries.
Overall, instead of a dual conflict between the western civilization and the Islamic civilization, it is becoming a triangular contest. During the Cold War, the confrontation was between America and the western countries on one side, and the Soviet Union and the Eastern European countries on the other side. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the bipolar world became a unipolar world. America became the only superpower of the world. It also became the undeclared leader of the present globalization, which in reality is the highest stage of western capitalism, and it also became the self-appointed Policeman of the world. No country had the power to challenge American hegemony.
The rise of Islam posed a serious challenge to American hegemony and western domination. Scholars such as Samuel Huntington started seeing the clash between the western and Islamic civilizations as the major conflict in the world. Now a third force has risen. The alliance of Russia and China has become a rallying point for this emerging third force. This force includes secular forces, leftist forces such as the Latin American countries, and patriotic forces such as Iran.
In this new scenario, America is changing its attitude toward Islamic and other religious fundamentalism. To a degree, it is seeing fundamentalists as potential allies against the third force. America is seeing a Third World War as the last and only chance to maintain American hegemony and western domination. For this purpose, America sees the Indian subcontinent as the best region where such religious fundamentalism can lead to a Third World War. America is faithfully following the “Divide and Rule” policy of British Imperialism.
The British imperialists brought unparalleled suffering to the Indian subcontinent by dividing it along religious lines. However, America wants to push the subcontinent to a most destructive Third World War. America is trying to convince the people of India that it is their best friend and that both countries face a big threat from the rising China. To contain China, it is necessary to start an all-out war and defeat it. For this purpose, India should start a war with Pakistan, who is China’s ally. China will then be drawn into this war. With India and America on one side and Pakistan and China on the other, America will easily defeat China. However, to start the war it is important to incite Hindu fundamentalism in India and Islamic fundamentalism in Pakistan.
This over-simplistic American victory theory has several fault lines. The first: America and India cannot be true friends because such friendship only exists between equals. The America-India relation is just like the British Empire-India relationship: a master (British) and slave (India), rather than a friendly relation. This means that the relationship will primarily cater to American interests rather than Indian interests. There are several other fault lines in this easy victory theory. This war is not going to be limited to India, Pakistan, China, and America. Countries like Russia, Iran, and North Korea can also be drawn into this war. In the easy victory American theory, Japan has a role to play. America is militarizing Japan, which can act as a pincer to contain China from the North and East, while India and America will contain China from the South and West. However, if Russia and North Korea neutralize Japan, then the strategy to contain China is defeated. Similarly, if Iran joins the war, then it can make a big impact just like it has made in Syria.
America had two big proxy defeats in the last few years. When Russia attacked Georgia and America became a silent observer, then it was established that Russia is the leading force in Europe. The results of the Orange Revolution in Ukraine have been reversed, and the other East European countries have become cautious about leaning toward the West. As the rebels in Syria (supported by America and the western powers) are being defeated in Syria, this establishes Russia as an important player in world affairs. In the latest wars, Iran has played a very significant role. If Iran decides to disrupt the shipping lanes in the Persian Gulf, then this can have a disastrous impact on the western countries as well as it can have a big impact on India. If the present crisis in Egypt deepens to a civil war, then that can lead to the weakening of the leading Arab country and a very important American ally. Eventually, Egypt can move toward the third force and further weaken American influence in the Middle East. We can conclude that an easy victory is very unlikely and a prolonged war is more likely, and the possibility of defeat cannot be ruled out.
Another scary truth is that both India and Pakistan have nuclear capability. Therefore, a nuclear war cannot be ruled out. Pakistan is more likely to use the nuclear option first. No matter which country uses the nuclear option first, the end result can be the worst destruction of the subcontinent.
One of the big dangers of the rising religious fundamentalism is the rising passions which make balanced thinking and a measured response more difficult. What is needed is a very sincere, serious, deep and balanced dialogue before we plunge the subcontinent into an armed conflict. We should first exhaust all diplomatic channels and peaceful options. We should follow a policy which serves the fundamental interests of the people of the subcontinent rather than a policy which helps maintain American hegemony.
The fundamental interest of not only the people of the Indian subcontinent, but all people of the world, including American people, is to avoid the most destructive Third World War. This can only be achieved if America and the western countries agree for a peaceful transition from a unipolar world to a multipolar world. They should realize that the era of western domination and American hegemony is over, and the world can survive and flourish if we follow principles of equality, fairness, justice, and mutual respect.
Dr. Sawraj Singh, MD F.I.C.S. is the Chairman of the Washington State Network for Human Rights and Chairman of the Central Washington Coalition for Social Justice. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.