Op-ed: Is the Next Great War Avoidable?

This op-ed is a contribution by the Social Democrats’ Foreign Affairs spokesperson Kenneth G Forslund, and does not necessarily reflect the views of UPF Lund and The Perspective.

More and more often I meet American analysts and policy advisers in the United States of America that claim that the next great war, World War III, will be between the US and China and that it is unavoidable.

After decades of economic growth, or rather, recovery, China today is also seeking a new and more active role in global security policy. That, combined with a significant military armament, exceptional technological research and development in the Artificial Intelligence field, prepares the ground for China to establish itself as a new authoritarian military superpower. At a first glance it may appear to be a replacement of the Soviet Union and a return of a bipolar security hegemony. But this will be a totally new situation, China is in possession of something that the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact never achieved, wealth and economic strength.

More and more of the foreign policy and security discussion is focusing on the Chinese development.
The United States are shifting their military attention from Western Europe to Asia. Often this is something pictured in Sweden and Europe as a result of Donald J. Trump being the President and Commander in Chief. But this development would have taken place also with Hillary R. Clinton as President, most likely with kinder and more polite wordings, but still the policy would essentially have been the same. The outcome of the American election this fall will not change that either.

With the prospect of an unavoidable war a growing number of analysts and policy advisers in the US that I meet are contemplating the possibility of initiating the war sooner rather than later. Their basic thinking is that there will be a war and that it is better to have it while the United States still has the greater military capacity, which it probably will not have for much longer.

A third great war or even a third world war is indeed a terrifying prospect. This must be avoided and the best way to do that is to support and strengthen democracy globally. During the course of numerous years of populism, mostly but not always right-wing, beliefs in strong leaders and reductions of democracy and rule of law has been growing and spreading all over the world. Now it is time for democratic countries end movements to join forces and cooperate in a global strengthening of democracy, free speech and rule of law.

To me as a social democrat and a progressive it is vital to connect democratic countries, and developing countries with an ambition to become full-fledged democracies, to each other. We should seek to prioritise more trade with each other, have more exchange among ourselves in higher education and research, jointly act internationally in multilateral organisations to stand up for and strengthen democracy in the world and in numerous other ways join forces to strengthen each other and democratic values.

My vision for the coming ten years in foreign and security policy is a battle to strengthen democracy and by that create the foundation of a free, prosperous and peaceful world. A world that chooses not to have a next great war now or later, but to never have it.


Kenneth G Forslund,
Chairman of the Parliament Foreign Affairs committee

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