Globalization has led to political conflicts and wars on a global scale. Notably, the historical conflicts between Pakistan and India have escalated into actual warfare, with three wars serving as prominent examples. Additionally, political warfare has resulted in the separation of East Pakistan, leading to the formation of Bangladesh.
In this era of global politics, alliances and enmities undergo transformations. The recent shift in Saudi Arabia and Iran’s relationship is not unprecedented as similar instances have occurred in the past. However, political wars have the potential to transform friendships into hostilities when opposition becomes strong enough to compel states to resort to armed conflict. Consequently, wars persist through the levying of taxes on citizens and expenditure on nuclear weapons, bombs, drones, and tanks. The casualties of such wars are predominantly ordinary soldiers and civilians.
The root cause of these conflicts is political warfare, a challenge that organizations like the United Nations exist to address, yet their effectiveness appears limited. For instance, ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia has not ended, with the United Nations and the European Union primarily resorting to imposing sanctions on Russia rather than actively seeking a lasting ceasefire. A similar situation can be observed in the affairs between China and Taiwan.
The lack of political stability globally has led to an increase in the likelihood of warfare, burdening ordinary people with its consequences. On one hand, major global powers engage in a race to enhance their influence, employing proxy wars, leaving smaller states perplexed about aligning themselves with particular blocs. If they side with Russia’s bloc, they face American anger and subsequent sanctions. Conversely, siding with America invites Russian displeasure, impacting trade relations.
Leaders of smaller states face dilemmas, caught between the government and the opposition. The populace is troubled by political warfare, as it hampers political stability, economic progress, and citizen welfare. Ordinary citizens face the dilemma of navigating this complex situation.
World powers and international institutions should prioritize conflict resolution and the development of relief plans for affected populations. It is crucial for political leaders to avoid engaging in inflammatory rhetoric, as failure to do so can escalate tensions and result in actual warfare, thereby imposing further suffering on impoverished communities. The continued dedication of international organizations in promoting peace is commendable and must be sustained.
Since the conclusion of World War II, the United Nations Charter, specifically Article 2, has limited the use of military force. The Charter permits military measures only through UN Security Council resolutions or in the exercise of self-defense against armed attacks. Within the current UN system, armed conflict is triggered solely through the enforcement of military measures under UN Security Council resolutions or the exercise of self-defense rights in response to illegal armed attacks. Hence, in instances where the application of military force becomes necessary, it is referred to as an “international armed conflict” rather than a “war.”
This avoidance of the term “war” within the current framework of international law also prevents the formal conclusion of a peace treaty based on the existence of war. Notably, a peace treaty was not signed following the culmination of the Iraq War in 2003, with only the enactment of UN Security Council Resolution 1483 on May 22, 2003, establishing post-war arrangements for the stability and security of Iraq.
Remarkable historical examples of peace treaties include the Treaty of Paris (1815), which was signed subsequent to Napoleon’s defeat at the Battle of Waterloo, and the Treaty of Versailles, which officially marked the end of the First World War between Germany and the Allies. Contrary to popular belief, the war did not entirely cease until the Allies concluded peace with the Ottoman Empire in 1919 through the Treaty of Sevres.
The Treaty of Versailles and the Kellogg-Briand Pact are among the most infamous peace treaties, with many historians attributing them to the rise of Nazism in Germany and the subsequent outbreak of the Second World War in 1939. The Treaty of Versailles imposed significant reparations on Germany, held Germany solely responsible for initiating the war, and imposed stringent limitations on German rearmament.
These terms elicited widespread resentment within Germany. The extent to which the treaty can be held accountable for sparking another war highlights the inherent challenges in achieving lasting peace. However, the more punitive settlement with the Ottoman Empire did not result in a similar conflict.
Another notable example is the series of peace treaties known as the Peace of Westphalia, which marked the emergence of modern diplomacy and the establishment of the modern nation-state system. Following these treaties, wars ceased to be predominantly religious in nature and instead revolved around matters of state, leading to significant realignments as Catholic and Protestant powers formed alliances.
The Korean War serves as an illustration of a conflict concluded through an armistice, specifically the Korean Armistice Agreement. However, the war has not technically ended due to the absence of a final peace treaty or settlement. Similarly, the 1973 Paris Peace Accords aimed to bring an end to the Vietnam War. Nevertheless, in the contemporary and fast-paced global landscape, these efforts alone prove insufficient.
It becomes imperative to seek resolution through dialogue, employing a targeted strategy that convenes political leaders from across the world. Interestingly, the countries adhering to the theory of realism, which emphasizes power dynamics, frequently espouse liberal principles, championing freedom, human rights, and international institutions. However, Hans Morgenthau’s theory underscores their focus on power development.
In the era of globalization, every state experiences both advantages and drawbacks from this interconnected process. The current situations in Ukraine and Taiwan exemplify the widespread repercussions that the entire world must bear. Hence, it is incumbent upon all actors to contribute to averting real warfare by ending political conflicts
*The author is a student of International Relations from Karachi, Pakistan
**The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Diplomatic Insight. The organization neither endorses nor assumes any responsibility for the content of this article