Einstein stated that WW4 will be waged with sticks and stones, as the weaponry used in a World War 3 scenario would most likely destroy our world as we know it. With the rising popularity of isolationism and extreme right wing politics across Europe and US, many are starting to wonder whether a new grand conflict is on the horizon. The danger is real, and there are a few places on the world map where a spark could ignite a flame.
Far East Asia
On the Asian front, the tensions between China and Japan have been present for quite some time. Although Japan has managed to become an economic superpower despite its lack of natural resources, a rise of right wing politics could reignite the old lust for territorial expansion and riches located on the neighboring peninsula. This is especially true if we take into consideration that the Japanese are slowly dying out. Only one third of Japanese people younger than 40 are married, and mortality rates are embarrassingly low. If continued, this trend would lead to the collapse of Japan as a nation. It’s not impossible to envision a charismatic leader taking over the once fanatical people, and returning them back to hero worship and imperialism. China is currently a much stronger force, both economically and in terms of military. But it’s a largely unanswered question for how long will China be able to improve its industry. This ties into its relationship with the US, and the trade deficit that Trump is constantly talking about. If the two countries enter a trade war, Japan would certainly stand by the US as a natural ally against its large neighbor. The two Korea’s would also come into play. South Korea, the natural US ally, and North Korea, largely funded by the Chinese government even today. Kim Jong Un is the first line of defense against US influence from the Pacific. Although North Korea lacks real firepower to threaten the United States, it could run havoc on South Korea with its artillery alone. The situation is Asia is not as serious as it could be, and we can assume that these conflicts would be tied largely to preceding happening on other locations.
It’s hardly an exaggeration to state that globalism as an idea and as a political ideal, has been the biggest loser of 2016. The large and vulnerable European Union was dealt a stunning blow with Brexit, and both EU and the United States were slow to respond to the annexation of Crimea by Russia. With Trump winning the election and promising to focus on “America First”, the position of NATO as we know it is also put into question. It’s hard to predict how the cold war, cyber conflict between US and Russia will pan out. The relationship between Trump and Putin is also one that is filled with mysteries, with CNN and other left-wing oriented mainstream media outlets stating that the two are in bed, while the two leaders state that their only connection is the ideal of world peace. However, the East European countries like Poland and Hungary, together with the Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, are not naive when it comes to Putin. Seeing the annexation of Crimea and the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, these countries are calling for NATO to provide military assurance against any Russian pretensions. If these were to happen, we could see World War 3 escalating along the borders of these countries, with Russia being the main perpetrator of the Doomsday scenario.
The Balkan region already sparked World War 1. Could it possibly stay true to that infamous reputation? There are plenty of reasons to be afraid. After the break-up of Yugoslavia, Croatia and Serbia have kept to themselves, with Bosnia & Herzegovina remaining a weak combination of multiple ethnicity struggling to preserve their identity. With the Republic of Serbia president Dodig raising tensions against the Croatian and Muslim population in Bosnia, a conflict could escalate quite soon. It’s hard to imagine it happening on a large scale without the influence of US or Russia, so a war would likely be tied in with larger geopolitical interests of these two entities. With that being said, the Balkan region is still as unstable as ever, and the only real thing preventing the small countries from waging wars is the somewhat improved economy and the ability to easily get a work permit in the EU. This has relieved the tension in the general populace, but with such shaky foundations for peace, Balkans could yet instigate a major conflict.
The situation in the Middle East is one that is hard to explain. We’ve witnessed a major war happening in Syria, with Assads forces reigning supreme and taking control of the country, mostly with help from Russia. US on the other hand helped fund ISIS through Saudi Arabia. Israel, as a natural ally of the US is in the region is also in on the mess. The reasons for this conflict are multiple. The Shia and Sunni antagonism, coupled with the geopolitical tensions between US and Russia, and the struggle for the construction of a pipeline that would bank in trilions of dollars are all parts of the equation. A World War 3 scenario could escalate in this region due to any of these reasons. It is really a matter of how good the relationship between Russia and US will be in the upcoming years.
With Gaddafi out of the way, and Egypt still recovering from its own chaos, Africa is more destabilized than ever. It doesn’t seem to be the most important location in terms of starting a WW3, but it’s a strong breeding ground of terrorism. With the refugee crisis continuing into the 2017., Africa plays a huge role in the upcoming political elections in Europe. If the African Islamists manage to infiltrate themselves in large numbers in European countries, it would lead to National Front win in France, AfD win in Germany and perhaps even Golden Dawn in Greece. Within a larger context, Libya is still a no mans land with one of the largest oil reserves on the planet. If the Islamists get a hold of these resources, the tensions between US, Russia and perhaps even China, which is increasing its influence in Africa through its corporations, could escalate. This might sound like a far-fetched scenario, but with the Middle East situation getting sorted out, there is always room for waging wars in the undeveloped parts of the Old Continent.