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June 22, 2021

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Read The World Today

Will We See A Third World War?

15 min read
World War 3

Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

Across the globe there appears to be a rising tension which threatens to break the relative peace experienced by the world power since the end of the second great war

the result of which many fear would dramatically upset the global order and topple three decades of american
prominence as the sole global superpowerworld war ii’s conclusion brought the once rivaling powers of western europe to come together in the recent state for the sake of securing themselves from the encroaching communist sphere of the soviet union geographically separated from the destruction of the war and having been on the rise for decades by the only stagnating in the hardship of the great depression the united states emerged as the most capable guardian of the west and took to adopting britain’s previously held role as global hegemon something which the british had been seemingly preparing the united states for since at least the first great war the agenda of the united states though originally considered similar to britain’s was far from identical to the old global order principles of democracy and republicanism individual liberty free trade and self-determination arose to replace previously cherished principles of authority collective identity exclusivity and colonial power all things which came to represent the rising rival of america and the west the soviet union who came to be perceived as dictatorial closed off and oppressive toward its occupied lands while the united states took great effort to represent the opposite even to its own detriment the u.s pressured the european states to decolonize only for the decolonized lands to repeatedly shift towards soviet influence or fall into instability all the while these measures immediately weakened western europe but in the long term encouraged closer cooperation between them something which had been underway since postwar reconstruction began helping forge the bonds which would eventually create the european union as we know it today soviet russia in turn would solidify its own block of allies having established satellite governments across the states of eastern europe supported the rise of the communist faction in china during their civil war and projected its influence into former european colonies most especially in the middle east africa and east asia although russia’s middle eastern allies gradually faded away in wars with the united states and its middle easter ally of israel which had also been established shortly after the second world war the war had also left east asia in disarray in a race to capture japan by the soviets and americans the korean peninsula came to be divided along a communist north and anti-communist south while japan largely came under the protection of the united states and developed into a close ally against china russia and north korea the former american colony of the philippines has remained a strong american ally in the pacific as well giving the united states an additional station from which to contain china the chinese nationalists who had been expelled from mainland china following the rise of the communists found sanctuary on what would become the island nation of taiwan a territory still claimed by communist china to this day because of the tremendous threat of a chinese invasion of taiwan and american desires to contain communism the americans and taiwanese have forged a close mutually beneficial partnership one which now completed the us encirclement of china soviet russia and communist china would eventually grow distant following ideological disputes while states within china’s fear of influence but powerful enough to stand on their own also became distant witnessing those weaker states fall deeper under chinese influence over the years china’s economy and population would rocket to massive heights alongside another rising asian country the former british colony of india with whom china would develop a regional rivalry one which would bring the chinese to develop friendly relations with another rival of india the former british colony of pakistan which had once existed in union with india together china and pakistan created a sealed border across northern india forcing it to pursue alliances oversea and in southeast asia this ever-present threat on thei northern mountainous border has siphoned away resources into india’s land army which would have been better invested into a navy capable of securing their waters and building stronger maritime partnerships the us and pakistan had also developed a friendship of sorts but it has been in decline while the close proximity of china and its clearly expressed rivalry with india makes a chinese pakistani alliance all

the more practical in recent years china has demonstrated a desire to expand its influence within its immediate neighborhood most especially as a maritime power something which places it directly at odds with the us allies of japan south korea taiwan and the philippines all of whom feel threatened by the expansion of chinese power chinese dominance of the first island chain would give the chinese a significant advantage should a naval conflict ever break out between itself and the us the fall of the first island chain would also almost certainly produce a domino effect of china now more easily advancing toward the second island chain before finally reaching the third which includes the hawaiian islands and would by that point directly threaten the united states itself given the build-up of china’s navy and its central role in global economics the threat of china pursuing the role of the world’s leading superpower is quite real and a terrifying prospect for many of its pro-western neighbors the collapse of the soviet union allowed western europe to regain ground bringing the former eastern bloc into the european union along with the baltic states which had been directly annexed by soviet russia the breakaway of several previously held territories now left the new russian federation exposed on multiple flanks most especially in the west the loss of ukraine became a significant issue for the russians as the country if it aligned with the west would leave russia’s capital heartland exposed to direct attack to compensate for this increase vulnerability the russian agenda soon became the re-acquisition of its breakaway states if not through direct annexation than through forging of stronger alliances

however ukraine has remained resistantand the baltics are fully unwilling to realign themselves with russia russian need to re-establish its central asian buffer has also brought it into closer alliance with iran who remained a powerful anti-western force in the region since the islamic regime change of years prior the two developing a mutually beneficial relationship based around common animosity toward the west was often ostracized both nations and penalized them economically for their belligerent action against neutral states and western allies russia and iran have also developed a mutual rival in the form of turkey as turkey’s position along the black sea challenges russia’s aspirations of making it into a personal lake locks the russians out of the mediterranean and presents a possible security risk given turkey’s close ties to the european union and membership in nato at the same time turkey and iran are also in competition for dominance within the middle east a rivalry which has a third and fourth player these states of saudi arabia and israel for the israelis dominance in the middle east is a matter of security being the only jewish country in a largely islamic community and one which has displaced a significant arab population through its own establishment

israel has a fair deal of enemies however has solidified itself through both military action and diplomacy forging friendly relations with the turks and saudis while opposing iran is a shared enemy for turkey and saudi arabia the debate comes down to whether or not the future of the middle east will be secular or firmly islamic the more secular turks claiming historical right to lead the middle east based on their past empire while the saudis believe themselves to be more in touch with the islamic and arab character of the middle east despite the disagreements between the western three they generally stand united against iran whom they recognize as too radical to foreign and to aggressive britain finding its personal ambitions and economic goals at odds with those of the european union would later break away from the eu the proposed kanzuk union of canada australia new zealand and the uk has gained significant traction as the alternative to dependency upon europe and the united states and appears to be drifting closer to reality by the day this partnership however is deeply tied to the united states in matters of defense planning trade organization intelligence sharing and more to the point of appearing near inseparable from one another at least for the time being what that means is that for the next several years the foreign policy interests of the united states and those of the emerging kansas union are essentially in step with one another with much focus being directed toward the pacific and the rising threat of china the eu on the other hand appears to be diverging from the american agenda to focus on more local matters chiefly the threats posed by russia and iran today there exists several potential powde keg which might reignite conflict between the major powers some of which risk the exchange of nuclear weapons betwe the europeans and russians there exists two major hotspots the ukraine and baltics as well as the lesser hotspot of the caucuses where russia is attempting to regain a lost buffer while politically a shift toward europe is occurring the eu investing heavily into oil pipelines in the region which would more closely integrate europe with the caucuses at expense to russia

now a russian intervention in ukraine would surely upset europe but isn’t guaranteed to draw in outside players which might turn the conflict into a global war unless the ukraine was given a promise of protection possibly through membership in nato the baltics on the other hand are presently nato members and any aggression upon them by russia would be likely to trigger a more widespread conflict though the question of asian intervention is still up in the air these conflicts are highly unlikely to go nuclear as the russian nuclear arsenal far surpasses that of the combined european powers and might only be used to prevent an overwhelming direct invasion of russia properthe risk of which is also quite low the middle east and southern asia appear to be loaded with potential hotspots as well and while the potential for thi region to ignite a large-scale globa conflict does exist it would not be easy to do given the more regional nature of hostilities there most probably the political integrity of iran would need to be at risk as both russia and china recognize iran as a powerful buffer against further western encroachment upon their eastern territory the fall of iran would likely see the later collapse of russia and china’s central asian buffers exposing them to direct western attack and as such it should be expected that both would intervene in defense of iran allowing the conflict to spill over into the caucasus ukraine the baltics pakistan india and east asia this particular scenario risks nuclear exchange between the similar arsenals of rival india and pakistan india and china north korea against invading forces russia against invading forces and israel also against invading forces china would not risk using its smaller arsenal against the u.s thus triggering a much larger retaliation nor would europe do so against russia for much of the same reason russia and the united states would not dare risk the launching of the others massive arsenal and are too geographically separated to threaten the other’s capital by means of invasion thus ruling out an exchange launched in self-defense far east asia is also loaded with potential hotspots the three most prominent being taiwan korea and the south china sea north korea briefly appeared to be on the cusp of a political reorientation during the american presidency of donald trump opening up discussions for north korean denuclearization reunification of the peninsula and more

however since the change of administration north korea has regressed to its old ways and is once again flexing its nuclear might over south korea and japan which would of course draw in the united states and china if this escalated to the point of actual war the south china sea aside from its value as a passageway for roughly one-third of global overseas trade is a region rich in oil reserves which happen to be partially claimed by vietnam malaysia brunei indonesia the philippines and taiwan while china asserts claim to the entire sea japan australia and india are also impacted by these claims which would severely impact their dependency upon china for necessary trade china’s attempts to solidify it influence in the region have beendiscouraged however if it were to reassert itself and in the process cause a naval incident between itself and any of the other powers involved the result might be an aggressive response from india australia japan and the united states as per the quadrilateral security dialogue meant to curtail chinese infringement upon the policy of a quote free and open in the pacific finally comes taiwan a territory for which china has made very clear its intention to invade restrained only by its prior naval limitations and taiwan’s friendship with the powerful united states however this seems to be changing recently china has taken to improving its navy and now stands as the world’s largest by number although in terms of tonnage china’s navy isn’t even a third the size of the american navy which far surpasses china in its number of heavy ships such as aircraft carriers helicopter carriers and destroyers while china’s naval strength appears to be concentrated on coastal patrol vessels and submarines china’s allies of russia and north korea have also done much the same to inflate

the appearance of their naval might when in reality their abilities are largely defensive one geographic size is taken into account returning to the changing dynamic between china and taiwan the chinese are growing increasingly bold and no longer believe the united states will rise up to defend its allies militarily further it’s becoming increasingly clear to american rivals that the united states is suffering from great internal disunion low morale financial difficulty industrial stagnation and domestic turmoil all of which will hinder its ability to aid allied countries if even it’s willing to do so this is part of the motivating force behind russia and china’s increasing boldness in the past decade testing how far they can push without inciting american action in the case of taiwan the us likely would intervene if only to facilitate the continued containment of china and prevent it from becoming a larger more direct threat in the future such a conflict could be expected to draw in japanese south korean and philippine support with indian and australian support possible if the quad alliance were to be fortified as you can see there are several interests and relationships which could make for a handful of major wars however there doesn’t yet appear to be anything which could definitively bind these powers into a pair of factions capable of waging a war on a global scale

let’s take for example russia and china the leading powers of what we could call the anti-western coalition while some of their interests overlap and are worthy of lending some support too neither share any interest worthy of lending full military intervention to save for possibly iran but outside of this china will not throw its weight behind russia to annex thebaltics where the ukraine nor will russia do so for china in order to annex taiwan or expand its influence into the south china sea the active conquest of either of these territorial ambitions also doesn’t do anything to divert resources away from the enemy of the other meaning if russia invades ukraine and occupies europe in a war that doesn’t make annexing taiwan much easier for china who would still need to contend with the pacific alliance of the united states they may hold a shared animosity toward

the west but clearly russia’s adversary is europe while china’s adversary is the us an exception could be made for the baltics since it technically would call upon the action of nato and not europe specifically thus demanding action from the united states however there’s no denying that the europeans would be tasked with a bulk of responsibility in liberating the baltics if china were to take advantage of the situation and invade taiwan at the same time but once again this defeats the whole point of preoccupying one front to open up another since the result would still be a russo-european war and a sino-american war not a world war further russia and china once again remain on good terms thanks to their anti-western world view but in reality they have very different enemies and agendas which in any other circumstance would make them staunch regional rivals once again russia’s main adversary is the european union which they recognize as encroaching upon their historic eastern european domain china’s main adversary is the united states who has become the leading power in the pacific and through the use of its island allies has constrained china from rising to challenge that status on the asian continent however russia and china stand in debate over

who should dominate central asia and china is quickly demonstrating its willingness to encroach upon that region through its belt and road system not to mention its rising financial influence in central asia and direct territorial claims on the matter of territorial claims russia also holds in the far east lands which once belonged to china and which the chinese certainly still hold interest in now pound for pound russia recognizes that it’s racing against the clock to achieve self-sufficiency and secure its domain china is rising at a rate that russia cannot match and the chinese will certainly surpass them to the point of viewing russia as disposable if the russians don’t make significant gains of their own even if russia manages to make significant territorial gains in eastern europe and secure the loyalty of the central asian caucus states it will still exist caught between the european titan and the west and the chinese titan in the east both of whom desire lands which russia either currently possesses or aims to possess by that point russia will only have one currently existing power that it can turn to a country with whom they’ve sought friendship in the past when placed in much the same circumstance by an expansion as britain and an

unfriendly europe a country so distant that their ambitions will not interfere with one another but who is powerful enough to make a difference militarily that country is the united states and given russian relations with the u.s this long-term plan seems to make perfect sense today the u.s and russia are still opposed but largely only on account of their allies russia has played hardball with the us when it comes to local interests of great significance to russia however has also demonstrated a strong willingness to begin building a strong russia-american partnership take for instance russian support of the western invasion of afghanistan following the september 11 attacks the initially strong relations during the early obama administration and attempts to rekindle that relationship during the start of the trump administration during which russian president vladimir putin stated it is important to normalize and begin developing bilateral relations on an equal and mutually beneficial basis and that quote mutual efforts by russia and the united states in solving global and regional problems are in the interest of the entire world presently it appears russia american relations are declining however unless significant action is taken by the us directly against russia the latter will likely continue to pursue a diplomatic reset between itself and the u.s for that reason russia is once again unlikely to fall upon its sword for the sake of helping china who russia again expects to become a rival in the future while the us may still hold the possibility of becoming an ally the west has a similar issue where nato is the primary military alliance binding them together however outside of a possible threat to the baltics by russia or a threat to turkey by iran or russia none of nato’s members are in the direct line of fire a new nato-style alliance in the pacific might be sufficient enough to bring the west together against a shared enemy and appears increasingly necessary given chinese aggression but this plainly doesn’t exist yet in short the likelihood of world war 3 happening is very minor although various other localized conflicts between major powers are much more likely and this does seem like a much more realistic way by which the global peace is broken through the revival of regular great power warfare rather than a global great war that utterly reshapes everything

 

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