It might well be a puerile exercise to spend too much time on the cause-and-effect equation that almost stoked the conflict between the United States and North Korea into a possible World War III. In fact, it may even be a trifle early to conclude that the worst is over and that the world has seen through the hollowness of the hyperbolic North Korean threats of exploding hydrogen bombs and turning the United States of America into rubble. However, in a remarkable volte-face, President Kim Jong Un of North Korea said on Thursday that he preferred peace for his country. The United States too has indicated its willingness for negotiations. So the sabre-rattling seems to have come to an end, and there are reasons to expect that the present détente will be a durable one and that both adversaries will shun even passing thoughts of creating conditions for a World War III.
Even schoolchildren are beginning to be aware of what happens when there is a war of any magnitude in the 21st century. Their elders learnt their lessons from Hiroshima and gasaki. Many have passed on the lessons learnt to their progeny. The most important lesson learnt is that in a war waged in the 21st century, there are no winners. There are only losers. True, one could shut one’s eyes to the massive losses and talk about territory gained, or the devastation inflicted on the enemy. One could talk about the millions killed on both sides, but one would do this without even a trace of enthusiasm. After all, the world is yet to get over the horror of the six million deaths caused by the Germans alone during World War II. Something else that schoolchildren have learnt is that people do not want wars. They have to suffer wars because political leaders and armament manufacturers want wars—the first lot to demonstrate their power and the second lot to have yet another opportunity to sell what they alone manufacture at great profit. To both species, the large-scale deaths of human beings are a matter of no consequence at all, though there may be just the required touch of pretence for the sake of appearances. This is the pattern that history reveals. All rulers, all conquerors have been insensitive to large-scale loss of human lives as long as this can ensure their conquests and victories and enhancement of territory. But since the land available on our planet is limited, there will have to be a limit on the territorial ambitions of rulers and conquerors. But what is far more important today is that the earlier freedom to conquer territory does not exist any longer. The emergence of responsible governments all over the world has brought to an end the conqueror’s freedom to lay claims on the territory of others. After all, there are organizations like the UNO that are unlikely to remain quiet over the wrongful possession of territories of countries by ambitious rulers or conquerors. As such, the very idea of conquering territory to expand a country’s domain must be abandoned in favour of the conquest of ideas and minds. The conquest of land is already an outdated concept even where wars are fought and won.