Give Peace a Chance

Last week the world marked the unhappy anniversary of the first nuclear bombings.  70 years ago, the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki became the victims of nuclear strikes.  The past decades have not erased this horror from the memory of humankind nor the fear of nuclear power, if anything it has grown, even if used in a non-violent manner.
Military and historical circles still dispute the suitability of using this weapon on the Japanese cities. As if the ‘positive outcome’ could somehow alleviate the suffering of the bomb’s survivors, return the dead to their relatives or extract the unlived lives from nothingness.

People, and I'm talking specifically about politicians, are all too willing to use extreme measures, the consequences of which are very difficult to fix.
One such tragic mistake was the separation of the former united Korea.  Judging by the economic success of South Korea, it is obvious that if the country had remained united, it would have become one of the pillars of the world’s economy.  Instead, Korea has to spend a lot of money on its army, under the pretext that its northern neighbour is hostile.
Relations between the two Koreas are far from ideal.  This is another bitter result caused by the division of a single nation.  Therefore, I believe that every effort should be made to return a unified Korea to the world’s map.
From any point of view, it is beneficial to humankind and to our civilization. Firstly, we will rid ourselves of a tension hot spot.   Secondly, we will get a powerful state with a population of approximately 75 million, which is especially important in times of economic crisis.  Therefore, as soon as I had the opportunity to contribute to the establishment of mutual understanding between the two countries, I immediately flew to North Korea.
North Korea is renowned for voluntarily and deliberately choosing a path of self-isolation.  Until recently, the country was not even a member FIDE.  I used to visit Seoul around five times a year.  My first trip was 25 years ago as part of an official delegation from the Republic of Kalmykia. However, this was my first time in Pyongyang. 
The policy of closure from the outside world greatly hinders any development in the country. I spoke openly about this to the DPRK Ambassador to Russia and to the officials in Pyongyang.  In fact, what does the average person know about North Korea? Supposedly, crowds of hungry people march under portraits of ‘Dear Leader’ from morning till night and guilty generals are shot by mortars and anti-aircraft guns!
It reminds me of some comical incidents during my trip to Lviv.  I was strongly advised to use professional bodyguards (they told me that Lviv was heavily under ‘Western influence’ and that ‘Bandera supporters’ and ‘Moskals’ (a derogatory name for Russians-Ed.) may be dragged straight from the airport and hung from a tree!).  My mother was worried that I did not take a suitcase of canned food with me before going to North Korea. What if there would be nothing to eat?
All these fears, of course, were groundless.  However, once again, I marvelled at the avid sensationalism and the pernicious influence that the mass media has on people’s minds, the notorious ‘fourth power’.  When depicting the North Koreans as bloodthirsty zombies, the press promotes the dehumanization of an entire nation.  This happens time and time again in history and nothing good ever comes of it in the end.
Even if such a short-sighted policy is directed towards the rulers of a state, not necessarily to the state as such, it will eventually lead to disaster.  Remember how they made a monster out of Muammar Gaddafi?  He allegedly built concentration camps, did dreadful things, the Libyans had to be saved ... Although, in reality, this was a man who cared about his country, a fan of chess, a dreamer and a poet.
However, people did not know about that!  Otherwise, it is unlikely that the peoples of the West would have allowed their leaders to bomb Libya on the pretext of ‘saving the people from dictatorship’.  As a result, the country was completely destroyed and Gaddafi murdered. Did it lead to a better and easier life?  By the way, no concentration camps in Libya have ever been found ...
Today, the world knows more about Libya than it does about North Korea. My aim, by going there, was to open it out to the world. I was pursuing several goals at once.  Firstly, I had to convince the North Koreans to join FIDE and become the World Chess Federation’s 187th country.
The application is now filed and will be considered by the delegates during the next session of FIDE’s General Assembly, beginning second of September.
In addition, I was able to arrange the Match of Peace between the children of North and South Korea, to be held on the demarcation line, which is set at the 38th parallel.
Chess is very popular in North Korea.  The game was introduced by those who had previously studied in the Soviet Union.  However, 70-80% of North Korean players prefer the national version of the game, Janngi. It is somewhat different from the chess we know (there is no queen).  We will play classical chess and Janngi at the Match of Peace competitions.
I sincerely hope that by holding the Match of Peace and by joining FIDE, it will make North Korea closer and more transparent to the world.  By doing so, we, even by a small amount, will hasten the reunification of the two Koreas.  One important advantage for Russia is the possibility of building the Trans-Asian Corridor - a strategic railway.  Do I need to explain how profitable it would be?
The main thing is to reduce the risk of nuclear conflict.  North Korea, let me remind you, has nuclear weapons.  Tied by the US alliance, South Korea denies any such weapons on their territory. Who could predict how events would unfold if nuclear missiles flew to Seoul from the North?  The world is balancing on a knife-edge, so why take the risk?
Unfortunately, while politicians and men of good will are working on the unification of Korea, the opposite is happening on the other side of the world.  I am talking about Ukraine and the near separation of DPR and LPR.  Again, political ambitions cut deep into those once united by cultural and historical ties.  And this process is unlikely to cease.
Ukraine refused nuclear weapons as far back as the 90’s, but the possibilities for its retrieval are still preserved in the country.  Some Kiev ‘hotheads’ are already calling for a return to the nuclear club as soon as possible.  This is understandable, who would want to see their country falling apart?  The problem is, as Anton Chekhov said, “if in the first chapter there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third it absolutely must go off.” However, it is not a rifle, but a whole arsenal threatening to ignite the nuclear flame.
Far better to avoid it altogether.  Pope Francis, in his Sunday sermon, recently called for the abandonment of all weapons of mass destruction.  As did the nuclear physicists who released this genie out of the bottle, from the moment of their manufacture.  The name of this column I have borrowed from the John Lennon song, which was strongly influential in his time.  It was against the Vietnam War, but the essence remains the same.
Pope Francis will remain a voice crying in the wilderness because too many people are against this ideal.  Many of us still live by Stone Age rules: "If a neighbour has an axe, so should I.  Does it matter if he chops wood for the fire today, if tomorrow he stoves in my skull?”
The argument, admittedly, has its merits and the right to exist, if the best way to settle a dispute is a stone axe, as some would believe.  Until the mid-80's, the Western world had policies that explained the need for weapons of mass destruction because of the USSR threat, and not without reason, (remember the Bolshevik slogan, ‘We will set the world alight to destroy all bourgeoisie’? It was a nightmare for many people).  However, they missed their chance thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev.
The policy of disarmament, launched by Gorbachev, gave the world an opportunity to get rid of ‘Sword of Damocles’ nuclear weapons and instead release large amounts of money to solve some urgent problems, like the eradication of deadly diseases, the prolongation of life, elimination of starvation and so on. However, on the University of Chicago’s clock, it is approaching midnight just before the Judgment Day and nuclear Armageddon.
We can only rid get rid of weapons of mass destruction by eradicating the rules of the Stone Age.  There is only one way to achieve this- by restructuring human consciousness and by training the mind.  Hundreds of thousands of years of evolution has not lead us to the conclusion that we are only different from animals because we do not use claws, fangs, horns and hooves to struggle for territory, females or lifestyle.
Eventually, we will have reach an understanding because there is no alternative.  I have already written that, according to Buddhist canons, the world is approaching the era of Buddha Maitreya, the Buddha of Love.  In this era, we will be have a choice: either learn to live in harmony with ourselves and with the world in all its glory, or our species will disappear forever. 
I sincerely hope that we will choose the first option.  It doesn’t matter if you are Buddhist or not. Would you live more happily knowing that the threat of nuclear war no longer exists?  So let us give peace a chance.  If we waste this opportunity, we may not have another.