Joe Biden warned last week that the world is the closest it’s been to nuclear war in the last 60 years. The US president made these remarks in relation to Russian head of state Vladimir Putin having repeatedly made threats to use such weapons since his nation invaded Ukraine on 23 February.
Biden further asserted that if Putin attempted tactical use of a nuclear weapon, it would likely end in “Armageddon”.
White House officials have since hurried to smooth over the implications of the US president’s comments, stating that these aren’t based on any new intelligence.
Indeed, the war in Ukraine, whilst commenced by a criminal act on the part of Putin, has since developed into a NATO versus Moscow conflict, with Russia providing its own citizens as cannon fodder, whilst Ukrainians are providing the expendable bodies for the US-led opposition.
Biden’s latest warnings have clear echoes of the sentiment he was spouting right before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, when he continually gave commentary on Moscow’s build up along its border, to the point that, at times, it seemed the US president was goading his Russian counterpart.
Tensions in the Pacific
Then there’s the similar situation over a contested territory in the Pacific: that being Taiwan.
Beijing and Washington are increasingly at loggerheads over the issue of the self-governing island, and the one constant in this flashpoint and that in Eastern Europe, of course, is Biden.
The US leader has repeatedly made statements that if Chinese president Xi Jinping attempts to invade Taiwan, his nation will retaliate. And every time he makes them, White House aides rush to counter these remarks as well, stating that their leader is straying from the script.
In an extreme act of provocation, US House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi paid a visit to Taiwan in August, which provoked Beijing into conducting close to a week of wargames in and around Taipei’s waters and airspace.
And our nation is right in the thick of it. When former PM Scott Morrison announced the AUKUS pact with the US and the UK last September, which involves us acquiring nuclear-powered submarines that could strike China’s mainland, this resulted in Moscow and Beijing entering into a “no limits” relationship.
End of times
Last month, Russia conducted massive wargames in the far east of its territory. Known as Vostok 2022, the military manoeuvres involved China, India, Laos, Mongolia, Nicaragua and Syria, as well as several ex-Soviet Bloc nations.
In terms of the other side of the global war, the US and NATO conducted the July RIMPAC naval exercises in the Pacific, right on China’s doorstep. These wargames included nations, like Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea, along with India, which seems to be playing both sides.
So, with a full-blown war in Ukraine now entering its eighth month, nuclear threats liberally being tossed around, mounting tensions in the Pacific, and two groups of nations clearly lined up against each other, it’s very likely World War III has already begun.