Chess instead of war

Two world wars and countless regional conflicts have not taught humanity anything over the past hundred years. The world is on the verge of a global slaughter again. As an instrument of cooperation and harmony, chess could be an alternative to power solutions of short-sighted and irresponsible politicians.

In mid-October, two leading US broadcasters asked the US citizens of a possibility of Third World War. According to the CBS poll, one-third of Americans are firmly convinced that the war is coming. Almost half of them think that it is very likely.

NBC News was not so specific. It simply asked what most worried Americans. 72 per cent are worried that the United States under President Donald Trump will become engaged in a major war. At the same time, 54 per cent of respondents see the main enemy in North Korea, and 14 per cent in Russia.

A similar survey was conducted in the Russian Federation a year ago. According to Levada Center experts, 48 per cent of Russians were afraid of the Third World War at that time.

Polls in every country of the world give similar results. This is understandable: people want to live peacefully and happily everywhere and any war, even more so the World War covering entire continents is the most terrible misfortune that can be imagined. Of course, one should exclude natural disasters such as an asteroid hitting the Earth or a worldwide flood. However, nothing like this happened to mankind for a long time, but the memory of the nightmare atrocities of 1939-1945.is still fresh.

Of course, both the end of the last century and the beginning of the current one were accompanied by cannonade and gunfire in Europe, Asia and Africa. Relying on so-called "Might makes right" credo, certain Western countries dismembered Yugoslavia, destroyed Libya and Iraq, and wars are fought in Afghanistan, Syria and Ukraine with their participation and support.

Yet, while previously philistines considered a war even in a neighbouring country something that was happening far away and did not concern them, today, with the development of communication technologies; it is much easier to see war hardships and consequences. Looking at the ruins of Raqqa, killed children on the streets of Gorlovka, an average French, German and Russian citizen asks: "What if the same will happen in my street tomorrow?"

In addition, the echo of the war brings millions of refugees with it. While this is not the most urgent problem for Russia or the US, the countries of Old Europe are overwhelmed by this problem. The issue of attitudes towards forced migrants has become a determining factor in the domestic policies of most European countries.

The anxiety of ordinary people is easy to understand. And it is equally easy to assume that in such a situation, politicians from all over the world should make every effort to minimize tension and anxiety. But in reality, with the exception of Vladimir Putin and politicians from Russia and some other countries, all the others behave exactly the opposite.

This is especially obvious in relations between the United States and North Korea. Both sides taunt each other in very strong terms and make a show of strength: while some send powerful Navy ships to the enemy's shore, others launch ballistic missiles that possibly can carry nuclear warheads.

The epidemic of hatred is supported and stimulated by the media with the help of some NGOs. Thus, a non-profit RAND Corporation -- a freelance think tank of US intelligence --issued a report, which said that Russia would long ago have seized the Baltic countries (incidentally, it is not clear to what purpose), were they not protected by NATO.

At the same time, the American journalism company Politico published a report on the results of an investigation in one of the most combat-ready US forces based in Europe. It follows that neither the US Army nor especially the NATO is ready for a war with Russia. Conclusion: we need to spend more on armament, because Russia is just waiting for a convenient moment to tear the unfortunate Europe.

After such an escapade, it's hardly surprising that every seventh American is afraid of war with the Russian Federation. What is surprising is that this number is so small.

The trouble is that the expectation of war is as debilitating as the war itself. Mutual distrust generates a general nervousness, which is not the best background for building relationships. A striking example is the sanctions used by Western partners in order to "set Russia on the right track". If it is not a moral and economic war, what is it?

The 14th Dalai Lama said: "If a military approach could solve the problems, all of them would have been resolved a long time ago." Nevertheless, demonstration of power and sabre-rattling is still considered an acceptable way to achieve goals. But, when the demonstration of power turns into reality it brings more grief, destruction and eventually it costs more.

I was in Libya before and during the Civil War and airstrikes of the Western coalition. I was in Syria in the midst of fighting with radical oppositionists, so I'm talking about what I saw myself.

When I met Gaddafi in Libya, I asked him to play chess, so that the world would understand that he was a sensible, sane politician with whom one can conduct a dialogue. When I visited Syria -- a member country of the United Nations, IOC and FIDE -- I gave chess sets and textbooks for children so that they could learn how to peacefully communicate with opponents at a chessboard without holding them at gunpoint.

Strangely, this visit served as a pretext for the US to impose sanctions against me that contradict elementary logic, cast doubt on the basic human right - the presumption of innocence and are contrary to American laws. Here is another example of violation of law under the pretext of made up hostility.

It's time to stop the crazy universal race of hatred. It is necessary to unite all sensible people, and seriously demand that politicians shall find a way to communicate between countries without threats, sanctions and direct clashes.

I think I know a good alternative, which is chess. There is an ancient Indian legend about how two neighbouring rajas went to war against each other but advisers persuaded them to play chess before the battle. Opponents were equal and the game dragged on, so much so that their troops got tired of waiting and went home. Their people remained alive and two kingdoms survived. Is this not enough?

I have an idea that will significantly reduce the tension on the Korean peninsula and throughout East Asia. This is a holding of a children's chess championship on the 38th parallel dividing North and South Korea. Teams from two divided countries and the United States, Russia and China will take part in it.

I would suggest that Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un lead their teams and meet at a chessboard in the first match. According to FIDE regulations, a game should start after players exchange handshakes. If Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un exchange a handshake in front of TV cameras, it would significantly reduce the likelihood of war in the region. And then, who knows, maybe they would be able to come to some kind of agreement while playing chess? But even if they agree to a draw, the most part of the problem would be solved.

FIDE being one of the largest sports organizations that unites188 countries can and should become a conductor of peacekeeping ideas. Every chess player, especially a titled one, has a recognized authority and the right to be heard and can expect that his arguments will be taken into consideration. Therefore, I am absolutely convinced that with joint efforts we can achieve success.

Many chess players try to stay away from politics. However, such attitude is too expensive today. As German chancellor Otto von Bismarck said paraphrasing the Athenian orator and Commander Pericles: "Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you."

It's time to remember that FIDE motto "Gens una sumus - we are a family" applies not only to players but to all the people of the earth. We must tell politicians: "the world needs chess instead of war, consent instead of ambition and sober analysis instead of hatred."