Ukraine has claimed responsibility for a missile attack on a temporary military barracks in the Russian-occupied region of Donetsk that killed scores of Russian soldiers. The Russian defense ministry blamed the use of mobile phones by its soldiers, stating that this allowed Ukraine to track the soldiers’ location.
Pro-war Russians are increasingly blaming Moscow for its demonstrated military failings in the conflict. The pressure on Vladimir Putin to win the war by any means is steadily increasing. For example, Ukraine is warning that Russia is likely to respond to its latest setback by stepping up the use of Iranian-made exploding drones. Some experts are concerned that if Russia continues to lose, Putin may launch a nuclear strike on Kyiv to affect regime change by killing the Ukrainian government.
Against this escalating backdrop, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping met recently to strengthen their partnership. China has repeatedly refused to condemn Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, consistently blaming the conflict on NATO and the United States instead. Putin said of their relationship, “We share the same views on the causes, course, and logic of the ongoing transformation of the global geopolitical landscape.” Xi said that the two countries should “strengthen strategic coordination” to oppose “bullying” by other nations.
This growing partnership is of obvious concern to the US and the West. However, it should especially alarm all Americans for two less than obvious reasons.
“The equivalent of tactical nuclear weapons”
Niall Ferguson has been called “the most brilliant British historian of his generation.” A Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and a senior faculty fellow at Harvard, he is the author of an illuminating and frightening new essay published by Bloomberg. In it, he warns that “Cold War II could become World War III in 2023.”
And he explains why the US is in a precarious position to fight such a war.
Ferguson notes that war is “about the mobilization of real resources” needed by combatants to sustain the conflict while providing for their populations and powering their industries. In World War I, these resources were “coal, iron, and the manufacturing capacity to mass-produce artillery and shells, as well as steamships.” In World War II, they were “oil, steel, aluminum, and the manufacturing capacity to mass-produce artillery, ships, submarines, planes, and tanks.” After World War II, “it was all of the above, plus the scientific and technical capacity to produce nuclear weapons.”
Today, he notes, “the vital inputs are the capacity to mass-produce high-performance semiconductors, satellites, and the algorithmic warfare systems that depend on them.” Such systems are “the equivalent of tactical nuclear weapons” in their devastating capacities.
We depend on 61,000 ships
Ferguson explains that this is a major problem for the US, for two reasons.
One: Russia clearly lacks the algorithmic warfare systems that the US and our allies have been supplying to Ukraine, which means that Vladimir Putin may eventually be driven to use actual nuclear weapons to avoid losing the war he started. Such a scenario could lead to nuclear escalation that could threaten the US and the world.
Two: Ferguson notes that China “is dominant in the processing of minerals that are vital to the modern economy, including copper, nickel, cobalt and lithium. In particular, China controls over 70 percent of rare earth production both in terms of extraction and processing. These are seventeen minerals used to make components in devices such as smartphones, electric vehicles, solar panels, and semiconductors.”
In addition, “the US long ago ceased to be a manufacturing economy,” now importing much of what we need from the rest of the world. Most of these internationally traded goods are imported in six million containers transported in approximately sixty-one thousand ships. And China’s Shanghai Westwell Lab Information Technology Co. “is rapidly becoming the leading vendor of the most advanced port-operating systems.”
As a result, a conventional war with China could severely cripple our ability to produce the technological devices our military needs and import the goods our people require.
Dr. King’s definition of “true peace”
Ferguson’s article is further illustration of the fact that peace has been elusive for humans since Cain murdered Abel at the dawn of history. This is because we pursue peace as an object, a goal, when it is actually a consequence of prior priorities.
As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. observed, “True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.”
King David knew much about war and peace. He noted, “Truth shall spring out of the earth, and righteousness shall look down from heaven” (Psalm 85:11 NKJV). With this result: “Righteousness shall go before [the Lord], and peace shall be a pathway for his feet” (v. 13, BCP).
Here we see that peace comes from righteousness (the Hebrew word means to do what is right and honest), which comes from knowing and doing the truth. And, as Jesus made clear, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31–32).
“No God, no peace”
Imagine a world in which everyone lived by the truth of God’s word. Imagine the personal and corporate righteousness that would result.
Now imagine the consequences for a world in which each person and nation loved their neighbor as themselves (Matthew 22:39) and treated others only as they wished to be treated (Matthew 7:12), to cite just two biblical truths. How would this change the war in Ukraine? China’s threats against Taiwan? Crime in your city? Conflict in your home?
Peace does indeed come from righteousness, which comes from knowing and obeying the truth.
Where do you most need peace with God, others, and yourself?
The old truism is still true: No God, no peace. Know God, know peace.
How will you choose the latter today?
NOTE: For practical ways to experience peace with God throughout your day, please see my latest blog, “‘Unlimited willpower’ and the power of intimacy with God.”