World’s Priorities Must Shift Rapidly from Dominance to Protection


All too often the discussion in world is dominated by who will dominate the world. Not just a lot of talk but also a lot of action moves around this. Big powers appear to be willing to fight the most dangerous wars if this is found to be necessary for ensuring their dominance of the world. Highly destructive wars for dominance have of course been fought in the past but now the possibilities of their destructiveness have increased so much that these can finish or threaten badly most life on earth.

While this is a widely recognized, well-established fact yet its implications are not being reflected in the actions and decisions of the most powerful leaders and policy-makers of world. Regardless of this, they still appear willing to be guided more by a blind quest for dominance which is very dangerous. The USA is by far the most powerful country in the world today but still it feels insecure that its position of dominance may be challenged within a few years by China. Its response has been to try to further increase its military might and tighten its grip over a number of allies so that they are even more firmly behind it in its increasingly controversial efforts to ensure its unchallenged dominance of world. Several experts believe that it is also preparing for a war with China sooner rather than later—well before China has a chance to further reduce the economic and military gap between the two countries. Towards this end, they say the USA has been planning to surround China in all sides, using various regional allies, willing or unwilling.

In this situation China needs sympathy and solidarity of other countries, but its own conduct has not inspired such support as China too has been very aggressive in its economic and military policies, not hesitating to be extremely supportive towards some of the worst tyrants while being unreasonably hostile towards more democratic neighbors. There is nothing in its record so far to reassure the world that if it does become the most dominant power the results will be less unfortunate for the greater part of the world, compared to the undoubtedly terrible consequences resulting from the dominance of the USA in recent times.

Hence from the point of view of the creation of a better and safer world, the key question is not whether the world will be dominated by the USA or China, instead the really important question is whether the world can move away from a discourse of dominance to a discourse of protection.

The most important reality of the world today is that its basic life-nurturing conditions are very seriously threatened by about a dozen environmental problems led by climate change on the one hand and by weapons of mass destruction on the other hand. A world which continues to be dominated by the entirely outdated quest for dominance in the present-day unprecedented conditions of man-made threats to life-giving conditions of earth will be hurled in suicidal ways towards the further and rapid disruption of these life-creating conditions of earth. Hence the overwhelming need is to fundamentally change the main priority of world today from dominance to protection. Instead of world’s actions being decided predominantly on the basis of a strong urge for dominance, these should be decided on the basis of the overwhelming need for protecting life-nurturing conditions. Protection of life-nurturing conditions will involve giving the highest priority to protection of environment and biodiversity on the one hand, and disarmament and peace on the other hand, within a framework of justice.

Can the USA and China or their allies change themselves in important ways to move much closer to protective objectives? After all, why should they choose a path which can prove so destructive for both countries as to make dominance itself meaningless. If both countries behave in rational ways, they will not fight a war. The only trouble with this reasoning is that big powers and in particular the USA have been engaged in non-rational foreign and security policy in the recent past. Leaving aside any noble considerations of world peace, even from the point of view of narrow self-interest what has the USA gained from being so hostile to Russia as to push it closer to China, at a time when China is perceived to be the main rival of the USA? What is ultimately most important here is that if only saner elements in both countries can assert themselves, a strong case can be made for peace between the two rivals which with other steps can help to provide the basic conditions of stability and safety for the world to do all that needs to be done to save the life-nurturing conditions of the planet before it is too late.

The allies of the USA may be quite happy regarding such a course of action, as they are holding on to the USA tail on the present day confrontationist path more out of compulsion than enthusiasm, and will be relieved to get rid of all the dangers that this path involves. Hence these allies can provide some of the important support that needs to be mobilized on the basis of urgency to move towards a path of peace and protection. We need to be very clear that the entire discourse of the USA and China fighting it out for dominance is a very destructive and essentially non-rational discourse which will doom the future of humanity and other forms of life.

Bharat Dogra is Honorary Convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now. His recent books include Planet in Peril, Protecting Earth for Children, Earth without Boundaries and A Day in 2071.

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