While the world watches US President Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden wrestle in a muddy ring round after round, former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger raised the alarm about an upcoming global conflict between the US and China.
This is not the first time the veteran political theorist brings this to our attention. He has been repeating this warning for the longest time, and today, we see the now 97-year-old Kissinger giving what may well be the last warning.
According to Kissinger, we are headed toward World War III unless the leaders of the two superpowers establish new rules to save us from this inevitable outcome. He also added that we are living in a situation similar to that which preceded World War I.
Discourse on new world wars has turned into a lucrative commodity and recurrent false prophesies, rendering it unbelievable by most.
The last world war ended more than 75 years ago, and humanity moved on to live the longest period of peace without witnessing terrifying wars that cost millions of lives, as was the case in the two world wars which took the lives of over 90 million people.
World wars are over, not because humans lost their willingness to kill each other or because the world lacks megalomaniac leaders, but because there is a military superpower that dominated the scene and established a new world order that it sustained and protected, and left no room for such reckless attempts to take place since the end result would be predetermined.
The mad leaders of the past seven decades have resorted to conspiracies, shooting down aircraft, and financing terrorist groups, rather than going for large-scale wars that they know will soon end with them hanging from the gallows.
It is in light of this that we understand why Kissinger can't sleep at night when he remembers the period leading up to World War I. In that period, the world saw the collapse of the British Empire and the withdrawal of its military forces, which opened the door for the aspiring European powers to enter in devastating wars for territorial gains and influence. Within no more than 20 years after World War I, humanity suffered from World War II, and for the same reason.
The reason was the absence of a military power capable of deterring the likes of Hitler whose ambition was to bring the whole world under Nazi rule (let us not forget the war-stricken period between 1850 and 1945, which witnessed the three Franco-German wars that took place in 1870, 1914, and 1940, the two devastating wars between Russia and Germany, and the war that Britain and France fought against Germany). The Europeans learnt a hard lesson and moved on to become democratic countries since democracies are not in the habit of going to war.
However, the danger lies elsewhere according to Kissinger. It lies in a distant and ambitious country that is increasingly gaining military, political, and economic momentum to the point that it would soon challenge the existing order, sparking off conflict.
Kissinger is calling on the world's superpowers to find grounds for understanding to avoid the catastrophic outcome of a third world war that could be worse than WWI and WWII. Kissinger's words betrayed the despair in his heart as he pointed out that despite everything, there is no hope. The ideal answer does not lie with Kissinger, it lies with one of the two men who are currently busy wrestling in the mud, but this shall wait until the third of November.
This piece was originally published in Asharq Al-Awsat.