There are at the present time – 24 March 2001 – a number of ‘trigger points’ around the world which could change the course of history were any one of them to erupt and start off a war. I started to try and identify these locations and to quantify the percentage of danger that any change to the status quo would have on world peace. I estimated that there were six major danger spots and, starting from East to West, the first one is Taiwan. Here the USA supports a breakaway island state that is claimed by China, The Americans obviously consider  Taiwan as a pawn to hold against Chinese growth and expansion in Asia and the World after they themselves failed to consolidate their expansion into Asia when they were beaten off in the Vietnam War.  China will never accept the permanent succession of  Taiwan and I consider the degree of danger this situation has on World peace to be 8 out of 10.

The second danger point in the region is North Korea. This country refused to accept the American hegenomy after the Second World War and is pursuing a policy of independently developing nuclear weapons. South Korea is a virtual Protectorate of the USA snd is afraid of North Korea while, at the same time desirous of being re-united with her and become one country again. China sits on the side-lines and plays an unscrutable game, possibly considering North Korea, over which country she has a degree of influence as her future pawn against a possible future confrontation with the USA. The danger to World peace is estimated as 4 in 10.

The third danger point is Iraq. Saddam Hussein is one more Arab State leader attempting to free the region’s Muslim States from the Western, mainly American, yoke. The Near East region has been kept under foreign domination ever since the break up of the Ottoman Empire in 1918 when Britain and France seized control of most of the area. Later, at the end of the Second World War these two Colonial Powers were obliged to gradually cede influence over the Near East to the newly resurgent USA. The key is oil and there will always be tension there and on my scale the danger is 7 out of 10.

The fourth ‘trigger point’ is the Palestine/Israeli dispute. Parallel , but not the same, as number three.  The USA uses Israel as an ally and policeman in the Near East Region while, at the same time, is forced to support the Oil-rich feudal Arab States. The alternative would be old-style Colonial occupation which is impossible in the light of todays conditions. There is no common ground between the dis-possessed Palestinians and the State of Israel imposed on their lands by the victorious Western Powers. This is also 7 out of 10 on the ‘trigger point. of danger.

I’ve skipped over the fifth danger, from an East to West survey, and need to go back to the Indian/Pakistan dispute over the province of Kashmir. This area was low risk until the two counties developed nuclear weapons and I would say that while the danger of local war is always high, the danger of World conflagration  is, at present, only 3 out of 10. There would be an escalation were dangers 3 or 4 to develop or were the West to continue to get more involved in  Muslim countries outside the accepted definition of Near East.

The sixth and final ‘trigger point. is Central Europe. here there is a meeting point of so many interests that the degree of complexity is great. There is the Euro/American thrust eastwards towards Russia, greatly weakened after the collapse of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and the growing Russian resistence to this. There is the Muslim toe-hold in South-eastern Europe. The long running tension between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church and the countries where they have influence. And there is the growing Western European attempt to build up a cohesive Union strong enough to act independently of the USA upon which it is at present reliant for its defence, as it sees America increasingly moving towards switching its power interests from Europe to the Far East. It is the most complex danger Region to call but in view of all the factors I would give it a danger rating of 6 out of 10.

It should be remembered that the danger points are not permanent; they may vary as some surface and are temporarily defused while other major danger points may develop. Just as the status quo was shattered after the 1939/1945 war when power passed from the European Colonial Poowers to the USA, today world power is being sought by a resurgent China and Russia is seeking to re-gain some of its lost power while Europe is attempting to do the same through Union rather than a disparate collection of Sovereign States. The USA will not relinquish its present World domination easily.

So there will always be a jockeying between countries to either retain existing power or to re-gain power lost or to have a go at the power game for the first time. Such is the human condition.

24 MARCH 2001