It is believed that if ever a third world war takes place it would completely annihilate mankind due to the use of nuclear weaponry. Even if people do survive the level of destruction and the aftermath of the event would be so ghastly that it would take forever to return to a state of normalcy. After the lessons from the two world wars most nations understand the effect of wars, hence there is so much effort to promote world peace, but different types of governments and political views have led to differences and domestic or international conflicts do exist between certain factions. The top 10 reasons that may lead to a third world war are
10. India vs China
India and china are two of the fastest growing economies though China is decades ahead of India and despite growing trade between the two, favorable relationships are a long way off. The major cause for this is the border issue and Indian media has reported on more than one occasion the infiltration of chinese military into Indian Territory. After the establishment of the PRC diplomatic relationship between the two nations was established in the 1950s but border clashes had begun. China took control of the peaceful country of Egypt and the Dalai Lama the spiritual head of the Tibetans was granted asylum in Himachal Pradesh, India which did not sit well with China.1962 saw a war between India and china on the border issues and China supported Pakistan in the 1965 war with India, as well as the war of 1971. Relationships between India China improved during the mid 1990’s, however they reached rock bottom in 1998 following India’s nuclear tests. Currently with both the countries attempting to resolve the border issue and have successful trade ties, all seems well but the allied relationship of India with USA could instigate china to draw India out for an open confrontation, and with USA jumping in for sure, it might just herald the third world war.
9. India Pakistan enimity
The divide and rule policy which began as a way to control Indian uprisings against the colonial regime ultimately ended up in the division into Pakistan India and Bangladesh and since then Pakistan and India have always been at war. The major cause of animosity between the two is the control of Kashmir, over which three wars have been fought in 1947, 1965 and 1999. The Line of control was established in 1972 dividing Kashmir but the Kargil war of 1999 was fought on the LOC in retaliation to the infusion of Pakistani soldiers and militants into the Indian side. This constant war over Kashmir has resulted in turmoil in these areas which has led to extremist activity causing thousands of deaths. Though the situation is much better now, there is still violence in some areas due to lack of governance. Apart from Kashmir, the terror attacks in Mumbai on 2008 proved the hand of Lashkar-e –taiba which has been basing its operation out of Pakistan with the alleged support of Pakistan’s ISI. With the general belief in India that Pakistan is using intermediary terror groups to terrorize India being fuelled by the general refusal of the Pakistani government to assume any responsibility for the attacks, the relations have been at an all time low between the two. Recent infiltrations of Pakistani radicals and the killing of Indian jawans have further soured this relationship and another war could very well have global repercussions due to fears over terrorist activities.
8. USA Russia problem
The relationship between Russia and USA has been bad since after the 2nd world war during which time a cold war was observed. Cooperation attempts have been underway between the two on various issues of international importance yet both of them differ strongly in their opinions. In June 2010 Obama and Medvedev signed the new strategic arms reduction treaty to cut the deployed nuclear warheads by 30 percent. However in 2013 when Obama mentioned his desire to further reduce the nuclear arsenals, Russia replied that it will not do so until the United States agreed to limit its missile programs thus creating an impasse. Further Russia has always been in support of Iran and they extended their support during the nuclear power issue to Iran by supporting the fact that the nuclear program was legal, safe and proper. The two powers have also been on the opposing sides with respect to the Syrian civil war with Russia supporting the Bashar regime. In September 2012 USAID (the United States Agency for International Development) was asked to leave Russia by the government on the grounds that it was trying to influence political processes by allocating grants. The final straw which further soured relations between them is Edward Snowden, who is wanted by the US on espionage charges, to whom Russia granted asylum. He is a former national security agency contractor who leaked sensitive information to the media regarding US surveillance programs.
7. Oil and the Middle east
Oil has now become one of the most precious natural resources for any nation which not only determines a country’s economy but also drives its global commerce. The major oil exporters are Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates and their economic growth has been solely dependent on oil resources. It is expected that the gulf countries will run out of oil in the near future, hence more countries are attempting to move to more sustainable economic models by encouraging banking, tourism and commerce. Gulf countries import 60% of their food and are already victims of scarce water supplies hence they are already cooperating with countries like India and Pakistan for food supplies. It may lead to a resource hungry nation taking advantage of the Middle Eastern countries’ desperation for food resources, and also due to a constant state of turmoil, society might not develop effectively. This could lead to widespread unemployment and illiteracy further resulting in enforcement of autocracy. Widespread autocratic regime across the entire Middle Eastern region would foster extreme forms of Islam and eventually lead to terrorist activity already fueled by feuds between the nations. This domino effect could very well cause a third world war.
8. North Korea versus South Korea
North Korea is by far one of the most distrusted of all nations. The peace treaty of 1953 was not signed by either South Korea or North Korea leaving their relationship terribly strained. Kim jong-un is the current ruler of North Korea after his father Kim jong-il’s death. Nothing much is known about him or North Korea’s activities and not even multinational espionage has been able to gather knowledge about their military intentions. Despite repeated international warnings, North Korea was severely castigated for testing nuclear warheads on October 9th 2006. But the major war occurred on November 23 2010 when North Korea launched 160 missiles on the island of Yeonpyeong which was granted to South Korea in 1953 by UN. The missiles were a response to the military exercises conducted by South Korean navy which was viewed as an act of aggression. China has always been in support of north Korea which politically is its weapon and with even a little shift in the power dynamics, a third world war might erupt out with these two countries as the beginning point.
5. US Iran tension
It is difficult to believe that at some point of time Iran and America used to be on friendly terms with each other. This positive kinship continued till after the 2nd world war when a close alliance existed between Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi’s regime and American government, but it took a turn for the worse after the Iranian revolution in 1979, and have become especially worse due to Iran’s nuclear enrichment program which America has been vehemently against and at the same time Iran feels that America’s interference in its domestic policies is unwelcome. Attempts at peace have begun by Hassan rowhani the newly elected president of Iran who assumed office on the 3rd of august 2013, by making their nuclear intentions more transparent. But further development of nuclear capabilities in Iran may heighten intra regional tension between Iran and Israel and the Sunni countries and an arms race might ensue with every gulf country in a scramble for nuclear power.
4. Israel-Palestine issue
What began in the mid twentieth century is still a continuing conflict between Israel and Palestine on issues of border, security, human rights, and water rights but more importantly on the issue of Jerusalem control which is a deeply religious issue. The irately government does not want to divide Jerusalem, the political as well as religious centre of the Jews, on the basis of the 1980 Israeli law that says, “Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel”, whereas Palestinians demand east Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine, which was occupied by Jordan previous to being annexed by Israelis in 1967. Also aggravating this situation are the Palestinian militant attacks on Israeli embassies and travelers. Inspite of several attempts at reconciliation, peace talks have always reached a bottleneck hinging on the issue of Jerusalem. The deep rooted hatred between the two nations though dormant could spark off the third world war if there is any disturbance to the delicately maintained political balance.
3. China USA problem
The tension between the two countries began in 1949 after the founding of the mainland people’s republic of china (PRC). American and communist Chinese forces were on opposite sides during the Korean War which began in 1949. They were driven to the brink of a nuclear war on the issue of communist threats to Taiwan in the 1950’s and the major reason USA went to war against Vietnam was to check the expansion of Chinese communism. The relationship underwent some positive changes during President Nixon rule when they decided to work together amid growing concerns over USSR. Today the two nations have a strained relationship neither completely hostile nor trusting. But this conflict exists due to the belief by the Chinese government on one side that USA has been trying to control china, especially arrest the fast paced Chinese growth and on the other side USA is wary of the communist regime and the kind of action it takes especially against human rights. The regular cyber attacks by Chinese hackers on US military computers are a clear signal of China attempting to counter USA‘s military strength. With the disintegration of USSR, China has risen to be one of the major superpowers and any loss in balance of power between these two counties could unleash a series of events leading to the third world war.
2. Syria conflict
Syria has been in conflict since 2011. Bashar al Assad, whose family has been in power since 1970 became president in 2000 after which liberalization followed for some period but the tide soon turned with critics being put in prison, domestic media being selectively censored and policies developed which aim at protecting the elite. The uprising started in March 2011 when a group of teenagers were arrested and tortured after painting revolutionary slogans on their school’s walls. The government retaliated with force and attempted to introduce a new constitution and despite peace efforts by UN no ceasefire has been attained between the regime and the public. With news of chemical warfare and villages being massacred, thousands of families have displaced to safer places unaffected by clashes. Countries like China, Russia and Arab countries as well as NATO support non military interference, but several US policymakers and allies are in favour of intervention by the Obama government. This act may turn out to be a game changer in the face of world peace with a war breaking out over the right course of action which could eventually escalate into a war.
There has been an atmosphere of fear internationally since the September 11 2001 terrorist attack on the world trade center whose responsibility was taken by Al Qaeda having its base in Afghanistan. USA instigated war in Afghanistan against the Al Qaeda on 7th October 2001 to dismantle it. The war became so destructive that an international security assistance force was established for control. Osama bin laden was killed in Pakistan on May 2 2011 by US navy seals in the operation called Operation Neptune Spear. The death was confirmed by Al Qaeda on May 6 with posts on militant websites whence they also vowed to avenge the killing. With the politically unstable Afghanistan government struggling to fight against the Al-Qaeda and Taliban in vain, threat of a terror attack could lead to a third world war purely out of fear.