Sunday, 10 August 2014

World War I Began One Hundred Years Ago This Month. How Likely is Another World War? Unfortunately, Very Likely

People all over the world have been marking the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I, which began one hundred years ago this month.  As we mark this pivotal point in world history, some find themselves asking if another world war could take place.  I hate to be the harbinger of doom, but unfortunately, I believe the outbreak of a third world war is very likely.  And even more unfortunately, I think it will happen soon.

The Prelude to War

Today, I believe that the world is sewing the seeds for another world war.  One aspect of this is a re-assertive Russia.  Indeed, the behaviour of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin is very reminiscent of Hitler's behaviour leading up to WWII.  The former's seizure of Crimea and his attempt to take over eastern Ukraine is very much like Hitler's takeover of Austria and his subsequent annexation of Czechoslovakia's Sudetenland.   In the same manner exercised by Hitler, Putin is simply testing the waters and seeing how far he can go before having to take on the West militarily, which he is not yet ready to do, nor was Hitler when he made his first conquests.  Unfortunately, the West did not threaten Hitler with force for taking over Austria and the Sudetenland, nor have they threatened Russia with force for taking over Crimea and trying to conquer eastern Ukraine, so it appears that history will repeat itself and Putin will be allowed to grow stronger, just as Hitler was.

An increasingly assertive China is another factor that I think will eventually lead to war.  China is already the world's second largest economy and is on pace to eclipse the current 1st place economy, the U.S., before the end of this decade.  The Chinese military is expanding rapidly as is the country's sphere of influence.  China is now the leading investor in Africa, which will give it allies in the upcoming global conflict.  And in the last few years, China has begun to rattle its sabers, attempting to assert control over islands in the adjacent seas that are also claimed by other countries in the region.  Actually, China is claiming entire seas rather than just a few islands in them.

Another development that will characterize WWIII is the increasingly violent feud between Sunni and Shiite Muslims.  The recent emergence of the Islamic State and its growing list of atrocities is just one example of this feud, and I strongly believe that the Sunni-Shiite feud will become part of a wider global conflict.

The last thing I would like to mention is the growth of anti-Western regimes in Latin America.  These regimes currently control several countries in the region.  They will inevitably grow closer to the West's main opponents, Russia and China, and may even be launching pads for invasion of the U.S. itself in a future world war.

As what I have mentioned above comes to fruition, the world will edge itself closer and closer to the greatest conflict that humankind has ever seen.  I believe that we have around ten to twenty years before WWIII begins.  I base this timeline on the fact that two of the main players in the upcoming conflict, Russia and China, do not yet have the military strength to challenge the West directly, but I believe they will have it within the next decade or two.

The Competing Blocs:

As with the first two world wars, I contend that WWIII will be a competition between two alliances or blocs of states.  The first of these alliances will be NATO, overlapping with the European Union.  They will be joined by other non-Western countries, most notably Israel, Japan and the Sunni Arab states.  This alliance will be opposed by one led mainly by Russia and China, whose allies will include the Shiite-led states of Iran, Iraq and Syria, as well as other countries in Latin America and Africa.

What Sparks the Conflict?

My feeling is that WWIII will begin in very much the same way as the first two world wars; with one event starting a chain reaction that leads to country after country hopping onto the warhorse.  And I believe that it will be one of the countries in the alliance led by Russia and China that will initiate hostilities.  My sense is that one of these countries, perhaps Russia itself, will attack a country allied to the West over a dispute involving natural resources.  One possible scenario that comes to mind is Russia attacking Israel over the latter's plan to export gas to Europe, thus reducing or even eliminating the continent's dependence on Russian gas and thereby endangering the Russians' ability to influence European affairs.  By this time, of course, there will likely already be a lot of tension between the two blocs of countries that I mentioned above.  In any event, such an attack would immediately cause NATO to come to Israel's defense and declare war on Russia, leading the Russians to call on its own allies to join them in the fight against the Western-led alliance.  From there on, it will pretty much be all hell breaking loose.   

The Frontlines:

Almost all the main frontlines in WWI were in Europe, whereas the main frontlines in WWII spanned three continents: Europe, Asia and Africa.  During the two wars, and especially in WWII, significant battles also took place in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.  Both wars left much of the world untouched, which is one of the reasons that the United States emerged from WWII as the preeminent Western superpower as there were no battles on the soil of the Americas and so the U.S. was spared the kind of destruction witnessed by its allies in Western Europe.

In World War III, however, I believe that no continent or ocean will be spared a significant amount of devastation.  Indeed, some of the most ferocious battles may take place on North American soil, where no great battles have taken place since the 19th century.  I am almost certain that Russia and China will attempt an invasion of North America, but I don't think that this invasion will begin in Alaska as the Americans might expect.  Instead, I believe that Sino-Russian alliance will circumvent Alaska and invade North America through Canada.  Decades ago, when the impact of climate change was not as significant as it is today, this would not have been possible as ice would block an invasion force from entering northern Canada, even in the summer months.  Now, however, the waterways in Canada's north are almost ice-free during the warmer months, making an invasion possible.  My sense is that northern Canada will be taken quickly, and after just a month or two, the armies of Russia and China will have control of Alaska and a large part of Canada.  Their next goal will be to take the Canadian province of Alberta and its vast oil and gas reserves.  Indeed, the fight for oil and gas will shape many of the frontlines in WWIII.  Whoever is able to control the vast majority of the world's oil and gas reserves will likely win the war.  This is actually the reason why I support the Keystone pipeline that is meant to take oil from Alberta to refineries in Texas.  This pipeline may be key to America's survival, and if it isn't built, the U.S. may have a much harder time getting the oil and gas it needs to win the war.

The other main battle fronts will be in Europe, Southeast Asia and the Middle East.  The battle for control of the Middle East will be particularly bloody, perhaps worse than any other front.  In fact, I think that some of the war's worst atrocities may take place in this region, influenced mainly by the hatred that characterizes the Sunni-Shiite feud.  Of course, the oil and gas resources of the Mideast will be a major factor, but ironically the most important source of these resources that the Western-led alliance will need to protect may not be in the Arab states, but in Israel.  Today, Israel is certainly not a main hub for oil and gas, but this will change in the near future with the recent discovery of vast reserves of natural gas off the Israeli coast in the Mediterranean Sea.  I believe that in the future, these reserves will allow Europe to get rid of its dependence on Russian gas, and so the survival of Israel in WWIII may be the key to preventing Russia from taking over all of Europe.  Indeed, victory in Europe for the Russians may mean victory in WWIII altogether.  Hence, Israel itself may be the key to victory in the entire war.  As I already mentioned, it may even be the site of the attack that starts the war.

The Use of Weapons of Mass Destruction in World War III

During the Cold War, both the U.S. and the Soviet Union kept their fingers off the nuclear trigger because they knew that the use of nuclear weapons would mean mutually assured destruction, or M.A.D. as it was also known.  I believe that something akin to this concept will delay the use of nuclear weapons until later in the war when one side is on the cusp of defeat and desperation kicks in.  I also believe, however, that each side will resort to the use of other WMDs throughout the course of the war, including biological and chemical weapons.

Who Will Win?

I am a firm believer in the principle that good always triumphs over evil, and so I surmise that the West and its allies will ultimately emerge from WWIII victorious.  It will be very close though, just as it was in WWII when Hitler's Nazi Germany was on the cusp of the total conquest of Europe with only Great Britain standing in its way.  At the time, many believed that the British would not survive the Nazi onslaught and that it was only a matter of time before they were defeated.  But of course, Great Britain did survive and its survival ultimately allowed the Allies to stage the so-called D-Day invasion, which eventually led to the fall of Hitler and his tyrannical Third Reich.  I believe that this type of scenario will probably play out again in WWIII, and just as in WWII, the West will manage to stand their ground.



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