Is there going to be a Third World War?
Surely I’m not the only one who has wondered about this. At the moment, there is lots of unrest and instability in the world and it only seems to increase with every day passing. Could we possibly be heading for yet another devastating world war?
How much have we learnt from history?
This is a somewhat rhetorical ‘sub-question’ which from my point of view is narrowly connected to the main question of this article. After all, the first half of the previous century was characterized by terrible wars. First there was the First World War (1914 – 1918), which not much later was followed by the World War Two (1939 – 1945). The latter would cost the lives of many millions of people. Not to mention the cruelties committed by those at war (not just the Germans!). Now, 70 years after the last world war came to an end, tensions seem to be rising once again, hence giving us food for thought. Let’s have a look at potential causes of World War Three.
Tensions between radical Muslims and the Western World
It never seems to stop, radical Muslims claiming their religion to be the only right one and considering everyone else to be their enemy. As if Al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, Al-Nusra and the Taliban (just to mention a few) were not enough, we now have to deal with the biggest threat ever caused by Muslim extremists: Islamic State. It is truly astonishing to see how many Western countries simply downplay the dangers these terrorists are causing to the world. Ehm, hello? For crying out loud, wake up! These lunatics have conquered major parts of Syria and Iraq and their ultimate goal has been clear for a while by now: world domination. Not undertaking some serious action against IS any time soon is the equivalent of a cancer patient not taking his medicine: before long, it will be too late. So far, it seems like only a few countries have acknowledged the threat that these vile terrorists form, among them the United States and Great-Britain. But where is the rest of Europe? Do they simply not see this danger, or do they deliberately pretend like it’s not there?
Syria has become the stage of a war where everyone appears to be fighting everyone. Its dictator, Assad, remains stubborn and determined to continue the war, even though his army has been suffering from major defeats and many desertions and a large part of his country has fallen to Islamic State. The regime has confidently stated that should the West get involved in attempting to overthrow it, the consequences will reach far beyond Syria’s borders. No doubt this is a subtle reminder that countries such as Russia, Iran and China support Assad’s reign of terror. Therefore, a world war between allies of both sides is likely should the West intervene.
Chino-Japanese feud over Senkaku Islands
Though perhaps not the most likely cause of a new world war, the Chino-Japanese feud over the Senkaku Islands does form a reason for concern. Both countries claim these islands, causing animosity between them. In China, the hostile feelings have grown to such a degree that people driving Toyota’s or having Japanese photo cameras have been harassed. With Japan being a member of the United Nations and having the United States as its most powerful ally while China has been known to team up with Russia on various international issues, the ingredients for a worldwide conflict are there.
The Sleeping Giant
Speaking of China, it is not without reason that many refer to this country as ‘the Sleeping Giant’. Due to China’s overall relatively peaceful foreign policies, a lot of people forget that it’s still an authoritarian, Communist state where freedom is scarce and its founder and former dictator, Mao Zedong, is still being hailed as a hero despite having killed millions of his own people. Not to mention the fact that in 2014, its military budget was 9(!) times the size it was in 2000. I wonder: could the peaceful foreign policies possibly be a nothing but a distraction from what this country is really up to? It’s difficult to be certain, but no doubt time will tell in the end.
The Russia-Ukraine conflict
With hooded eyes, I have to acknowledge that the conflict between Russia and Ukraine may, in time, turn into something far worse than it is right now. It’s hard to tell who can be blamed for this conflict. Is it Russia, since it simply confiscated Crimea, a piece of Ukrainian territory? Or are Russia’s actions understandable considered the fact that the vast majority of the people in Crimea wish to be part of Russia, a detail which has been ignored by the current Ukrainian government? Regardless of who is right and wrong, Cold War II obviously has begun, with Russia and the West throwing economic sanctions at each other as if it were a mud fight. This quarrel has a beneficiary, since given the current situation, a sincere and serious alliance between the West and Russia – which would no doubt mean a death sentence for Islamic State – seems to be less than a dream. Could a nuclear war between Russia and the West still be inevitable after all, even though the ideological differences no longer exist? It would be ironic, but it can’t be ruled out.
There may have been an agreement established about Iran’s nuclear program, but I question its value. It seems like U.S. President Obama has grown so desperate to explicitly carve his name into history, that he has started to make all kinds of hasty decisions putting major issues to an end for the sake of his own legacy. One of such decisions was to come to terms with Iran in regard to its nuclear ambitions. And he succeeded… Did he not? Yes, the agreement is there at last. But what about slogans like ‘death to America’, which were shouted left and right in Iran during the celebrations of the treaty? Or ayatollah Khamenei, who stated America will always be Iran’s foremost enemy? Also, let’s not forget about the Islamic dictatorship’s ultimate dream of a world without Israel. Are we supposed to just ignore or downplay all of that and be happy about the agreement? I don’t think so. We better remain vigilant at all times.
I doubt that I have to explain that from a country where a dictator even decides the kind of haircut you get, little good can be expected. Technically still at war with South Korea, North Korea has proven itself to be a threat to peace and the world’s safety. Rather than denying that it has nuclear ambitions, it openly and proudly claims to have them, making them part of the bellicose rhetoric that has characterized the isolated nation’s foreign policies for years at this point. It’s remarkable to notice how much time can pass by without hearing anything from the reclusive country, when all of a sudden we find ourselves at the brink of war with it.
Taking the other potential causes of a Third World War in consideration, I’m not too worried about China or the Chino-Japanese feud over the Senkaku Islands – at least not for now. It isn’t Cold War II either that troubles me the most. Instead, from my point of view, it is the ever growing threat of radical Muslims – Islamic State in particular – that is the most concerning. Hypnotized by political correctness, most of the Western world just stands by and watches as IS conquers one piece of territory after the other. At the same time, Muslim extremists are wreaking havoc in Western countries. The Twin Towers in 2001, the bombings of Madrid’s Atocha Railway Station in 2004, the suicide attacks in London in 2005, how much more is there to come and how much more bloodshed will it take before all of the West realizes that something has to be done as soon as possible? Regardless of all questions that remain unanswered, there is one thing all of us better keep in mind: that a Third World War may be the war in which mankind makes itself undone.