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Is some form of world war still possible in this day and age?

This is a discussion on Is some form of world war still possible in this day and age? within the Military Strategy and Tactics forum, part of the Global Defense & Military category; Is there any chance that some form of world war is still possible? There are many hot spots in the ...


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Old June 10th, 2011   #1
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Is some form of world war still possible in this day and age?

Is there any chance that some form of world war is still possible?

There are many hot spots in the world, could one or two have a domino effect on the other in the event of hostilities happening? Say for example, China/Taiwan or North Korea/South Korea.

What scenarios could lead to global conflict on the scale of the WWIII scenarios envisioned during the cold war? Do any still exist?
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Old June 10th, 2011   #2
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It's interesting that you say "some form of". Perhaps, Global War on Terror, if it escalates? Also I suppose it isn't impossible for the world to descend into a very large number of smaller conflicts, that are not directly linked, but occur simultaneously. For example, if Central Asia goes south (and I'm talking about Tadjikistan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzistan) and Russia gets involved, meanwhile Afghan escalates and continues to spill over into Pakistan, forcing NATO to remain there, we could be looking at a very large regional conflict. Then, lets say, some of the spill over ends up in western China, and a small shooting war (or a string of escalating border incidents) occurs between India and Pakistan, we could be looking at the set up for a single, very large, multi-sided conflict involving multiple great powers.

However notice the number of suppositions that I had to make? It isn't likely.
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Old June 10th, 2011   #3
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Interesting question, reminds me of the "second cold war" post. I can see a bunch of small conflicts or maybe a couple of countries in Africa or maybe South America going at it but not really the major players going at it like WWII. Nobody really has that kind of industrial capacity anymore (ex: if you sink a couple of billion dollar destroyers, it will be years before they are replaced, goes for almost all major equipment) and plus all the big boys now have nukes. So nobody can really go all out if not you end up with a nuclear exchange.

Another way to look at this, what would be the most likely scenario?

Like Feanor scenario: all the -stans go crazy, Pak-Afgh. conflict with spill over into China plus Pak-India tension escalates.

Could North Korea- South Korea bring it about? Maybe mixed with China making a grab for Taiwan or corner all oil/NG in South China Seas, pissing off Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, maybe even India or Australia? Eventually USA and/or Russia would be involved.

Could you have a small war in South America between Hugo Chavez and his friends versus more capitalist South American countries?

I guess you could get a lot of African nations at war over resources, religion or ethnic race war which could stay confined to the region but still be nasty and sort of a small WWII.

I agree with Feanor though, you need a lot of suppositions to happen, not impossible but I hope for humanity unlikely. More likely you might find wars with small, rapid fire,very short duration exchanges a la Falklands scenario.
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Old June 11th, 2011   #4
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Interesting question, reminds me of the "second cold war" post. I can see a bunch of small conflicts or maybe a couple of countries in Africa or maybe South America going at it but not really the major players going at it like WWII. Nobody really has that kind of industrial capacity anymore (ex: if you sink a couple of billion dollar destroyers, it will be years before they are replaced, goes for almost all major equipment) and plus all the big boys now have nukes. So nobody can really go all out if not you end up with a nuclear exchange.

Another way to look at this, what would be the most likely scenario?

Like Feanor scenario: all the -stans go crazy, Pak-Afgh. conflict with spill over into China plus Pak-India tension escalates.

Could North Korea- South Korea bring it about? Maybe mixed with China making a grab for Taiwan or corner all oil/NG in South China Seas, pissing off Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, maybe even India or Australia? Eventually USA and/or Russia would be involved.

Could you have a small war in South America between Hugo Chavez and his friends versus more capitalist South American countries?

I guess you could get a lot of African nations at war over resources, religion or ethnic race war which could stay confined to the region but still be nasty and sort of a small WWII.

I agree with Feanor though, you need a lot of suppositions to happen, not impossible but I hope for humanity unlikely. More likely you might find wars with small, rapid fire,very short duration exchanges a la Falklands scenario.
I as well think, putting the question of yet another world war in the question of “some form” (bringing up the possibility of worldwide conflict using means not as overtly violent as we have become accustomed) is an interesting way to phrase deliberate acts of disruption to the current world order with acts of aggression? But not all forms of change require aggression and not all acts of aggression require violence or at least they do not initially. It might not at first be able to distinguish the differences between acceptable or intolerable disruptions for competition will always be with us. It is in our nature.As an example the US has stated that a cyber-attack will be treated as an act of war. Opening up the possibility that it would respond to a cyber-attack with conventional means.

Many people think that war is about killing people and breaking things. This is not true. Nobody wants endless war no matter how interesting or exciting it may be or appear to be. What war is really about is the desire of people which are capable of waging war, by risking their life and treasure, so as to create a new form of peace that is presumed to be sufficiently better in some way to justify the risk even if the desired change that they are seeking is even understandable to the people which are perceived to be blocking that change. They are looking to create a new form of peace different from that of the form which precedes it and they think they can get what they want with violence, if that is required, but they are seldom seeking violence itself. This principal is sometimes put in the context as, war is just politics conducted by other means, though a very expensive form of politics.

War becomes inevitable when one or more groups of people find the current version of peace to be so unacceptable that they are willing to engage in disruptive acts that they believe will in “some form” change the current form of peace to a different form of peace more acceptable to them. This is in comparison to the other methods of seeking that change which (might be better or it might not) by coming to a mutually agreed consensus of how to change the norms and rules currently in existence or to just allow people to work it out for themselves organically in an unstructured way by allowing change to accrue but not by trying to plain or to dictate it. You go your way and we will go ours alternative. The assumption is that the less disruptive methods to create change have been tried and found unsatisfactory but this is not always true.

But the real question is what kind of proposed changes to the current world power structure (be you for or against it) would be so important to have so many people that they would think that they would have to get involved in a war to protect their vital interests and secure the version of peace that they desire? What are the issues that could draw enough people into a global conflict is far more important than the possible lineups. The issues would determine the lineups, as some strange political bed fellows have proven to be in the past.

So what do you want to discuss? The issues that would drive people to war on such a large scale that it would evolve a large percentage of the world or are you just interested in new methods of disruption that have not been extensively employed in the past and which are now practical to use as methods of aggression? Both are interesting subjects but I cannot see how they can be separated for very long. It is a fact of life that you cannot separate you goals from the methods you use to achieve them.
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Old June 13th, 2011   #5
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Thank you Rip.

I see no point trying to keep the two subjects seperate, as you say they will be joined at some point.

So lets discuss both from the outset.

For the initial question is "What would drive people to war on such a large scale?"
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Old June 13th, 2011   #6
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War is about controlling resources in the end. Eventually when resources is getting limited, some kind of war will be held to gain additional resources from disputed area, or securing what you think you have by crushing any potential rival on that resources.

The questions now this days, is whether it's more 'profitable' to lauch 'armed' wars or 'economic' wars. There's economic 'wars' being conducted everyday where the rival and allies can change within second for each parties need. World economic system it'self is a GLOBAL economic battlefield that everybody conducting each day.

In some part of world those economics rivalry and battles can spill in to armed conflict, but now this days the biggest economics players still think that their economic rivalry can be more profitable to be settled on the result of dailly Economic battlefield. However if then you asked whether those economics batllefield can be turned in to armed battlefield, then again the possibility always been there. It's in the end back to the cost calculations. Which one is more effective to gain your upper-hand to your rival.
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Old June 13th, 2011   #7
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Lots of people at DT and other sites seem very worried about the rising China and effect China might have in "taking over" South China Seas. Well, you will need a lot of money to develop all these potential commodity sites, why would China get all aggressive if down the road they are the only ones with the money to extract all these commodities? Does the other countries like Vietnam or Philippines have the money and tech to exploit their resources?

I don't have the true numbers here but as an example would China spend $100 billion invading Australia when it could just simply buy everything in needs from Australia for $50 billion? What would be the point of using force? Why would Australia stop selling commodities to China, very unlikely that Australia will find a better buyer? Now, counter point would be if commodities rise to the point where China feels the price is to high, I guess military action could ensue but in a global economy, prices rise and fall depending on economic conditions and also China would probably try to find other sellers before just invading.

I agree with Ananda, we have economic battles being waged everyday, it would have to make real economic sense to use other means (military).
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Old June 14th, 2011   #8
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Some very interesting views, thank you to all that have posted.

But lets know throw a view at this. What if we were to think in terms of fiction/film setting/novel.

What then in the realms of semi-realistic fiction could start a global conflict?
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Old June 14th, 2011   #9
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Lots of people at DT and other sites seem very worried about the rising China and effect China might have in "taking over" South China Seas. Well, you will need a lot of money to develop all these potential commodity sites, why would China get all aggressive if down the road they are the only ones with the money to extract all these commodities? Does the other countries like Vietnam or Philippines have the money and tech to exploit their resources?

I don't have the true numbers here but as an example would China spend $100 billion invading Australia when it could just simply buy everything in needs from Australia for $50 billion? What would be the point of using force? Why would Australia stop selling commodities to China, very unlikely that Australia will find a better buyer? Now, counter point would be if commodities rise to the point where China feels the price is to high, I guess military action could ensue but in a global economy, prices rise and fall depending on economic conditions and also China would probably try to find other sellers before just invading.

I agree with Ananda, we have economic battles being waged everyday, it would have to make real economic sense to use other means (military).
For NICO and for STURM and ANANDA

You are wrong about your central assumption for the cause of all human conflict. That assumption is that there are not enough resources within the world for the world to realize a time in the future when all of its peoples can obtain a modern level of prosperity due simply to the lack of such contested resources. This assumption is also assumed to be both logical and immutable. Especially when compared to all the other less logical reasons that people have harmed each other which are then assumed to be then illogical because they not immutable.

The logical fallacy is that after a long period of rapid population growth that the planet will reach its maximum load baring potential and then at that point we will decent into a global Malthusian society where the stronger will pray upon the weaker resulting not only in the death of the dream of a peaceful and prosperous world but also a major die off of the species. However only a part of this scenario is true.

For the younger people on this board I will share with you an observation that many of the problems that were considered unsolvable in my youth and which were relegated to the category of immutably unsolvable, I have live long enough to see solved or at least highly migrated to the point that further growth, prosperity, long healthy life, and increased freedom was not limited because of them any longer. Most of the predictions of my youth would put the planet today in far worse shape than we find it right now with no hope of it ever getting better. The majority of people do not have the imagination or the belief to see that mankind’s material problems are solvable if we can find a way to work together and unleash our collective human capacity to adapt, improve, and innovate. But for this to happen mutual cooperation and trust is required on a scale which we have never had before.

The only reason that we have attained the world’s population as we currently find it is because of the unprecedented cooperation we have achieved since WW II.

Cooperation that was designed into the new world order by its victors so as to end the endless cycle of conquest and exploitation the world had always been operating on before. Why? Because we now have the capacity to end all human civilization through acts of our mutual hostility. Something had to change. Have we found the perfect system? Probably not but it is sufficiently better that anything before it that the world has profited greatly.

But here is the danger. If we blow it this time there will be new constraints for any future civilization to advance from the ruble. There is plenty of resource in the world for all of its peoples but all most all of the easily accessible one have been already exploded. The greater amounts that still remain require more technology, infrastructure, capital, organization and stability than any that existed ever before or could exist before the second half of the industrial revolution. If we not only lose the knowledge and skills needed to bring natural resources to a useful condition with wide spread civilization collapse. We will no longer have the capital, organization, infrastructure, or stability to retrieve the resources that still remain. The survivors will be suck in a pre-industrial age permanently. From time to time nature whips the world clean of its higher life forms. It has happed many times before. Without the power to modify the world through physical means that comes with industry and a knowledge bases society so as to insure our existence, we will someday go the same way as the dinosaurs.

To answer the question “is it's more 'profitable' to launch 'armed' wars or 'economic' wars” the answer is nether but that will not stop people from trying. Competition however is a good think. Competition between people, companies, industries, and forgive me for saying it "countries" drives innovation and increases efficiency and the winners need to be rewarded for their skills. But work competition must always be maintained and the winners of the day, kept nervous about tomorrow. All of the players need to be kept in the game and trying for we need all of the intelligence and imagination we can get to solve all of the problems of the world, especially the economic one’s.

To get back on topic “Is some form of world war still possible in this day and age?” The trend I think is to attack the moral, physical, and stabilizing institutions of another society so as to weaken it from within and in doing so suborning it or intimidating it to such a degree that is no longer is a rival. It could be by making illegal drugs more easily available, promoting corruption or just inefficacy’s or anything that destroys mutual trust or cooperation within a target society. I no longer buy anything on the internet. How does this differ from just crime? Government’s do it better when profit is not the main motive.
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Old June 15th, 2011   #10
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@rip, your explanation is logical based on historical evidances. However eventhough I admit I made simplification on my belief on human nature in war, but I still believe that eventhough historian can argue on ideology, religion, sense of justices, etc as the caused of human wars throughout history of human civilizations, but in the end it's about control of resources.

Yes, Malthusian believe that with finite number of resources by the time of this present now, the quality of life of humanity will be much reduced from before. True Malthusian I believe think the human inginouity and capability to addapt was near negligible, that the resources will eventually going to be so scarce that civilizations as we know it will going to crumble.I my self believe on humanity capabilities to addapt, developed, and inginoity on finding sollutions, that the civisations will be evolved and try to fit it self on every turned of situations

As a bankers and economics by train, I still reserve my believe that dailly 'economic battlefield' (in which competions is part of that), will in the end being chooses as better alternative on controlling resources. However on time to time in some part of the system, some parties will try to take Armed options when they feel thay can get better 'return' than using economics batllefield.

It's the responsibility of all players in this economics batllefield to try to convinces eveyone to avoid 'armed' option, and stick to the game of the systems. Just like economics dicipline it self wich trying to quantified human nature, the 'economic battlefield' systems will try to reduces human natures to the numbers that can be traded in the game.

It's not perfect, but I believe still provide better alternatives than resote to other options on the game of Resources control that being played eveyday as part of Humanity nature.
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Old June 16th, 2011   #11
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Lots of people at DT and other sites seem very worried about the rising China and effect China might have in "taking over" South China Seas. Well, you will need a lot of money to develop all these potential commodity sites, why would China get all aggressive if down the road they are the only ones with the money to extract all these commodities? Does the other countries like Vietnam or Philippines have the money and tech to exploit their resources?
Vietnam and Brunei have already signed deals with major oil corporations, who will bear the main costs, to look for oil in the area. Vietnam's economy is at an all time high, so if had to allocate funds, it is in a much better position to do so than before.

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For NICO and for STURM and ANANDA

You are wrong about your central assumption for the cause of all human conflict. That assumption is that there are not enough resources within the world for the world to realize a time in the future when all of its peoples can obtain a modern level of prosperity due simply to the lack of such contested resources.
And when did I make this assumption? This is my 1st post in this thread.

We are all entitled to our own opinions and views, irrespective of whether we're right or not. I would also mention that no one has a monopoly on what's right or wrong....
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Old June 16th, 2011   #12
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@rip, your explanation is logical based on historical evidances. However eventhough I admit I made simplification on my belief on human nature in war, but I still believe that eventhough historian can argue on ideology, religion, sense of justices, etc as the caused of human wars throughout history of human civilizations, but in the end it's about control of resources.

Yes, Malthusian believe that with finite number of resources by the time of this present now, the quality of life of humanity will be much reduced from before. True Malthusian I believe think the human inginouity and capability to addapt was near negligible, that the resources will eventually going to be so scarce that civilizations as we know it will going to crumble.I my self believe on humanity capabilities to addapt, developed, and inginoity on finding sollutions, that the civisations will be evolved and try to fit it self on every turned of situations

As a bankers and economics by train, I still reserve my believe that dailly 'economic battlefield' (in which competions is part of that), will in the end being chooses as better alternative on controlling resources. However on time to time in some part of the system, some parties will try to take Armed options when they feel thay can get better 'return' than using economics batllefield.

It's the responsibility of all players in this economics batllefield to try to convinces eveyone to avoid 'armed' option, and stick to the game of the systems. Just like economics dicipline it self wich trying to quantified human nature, the 'economic battlefield' systems will try to reduces human natures to the numbers that can be traded in the game.

It's not perfect, but I believe still provide better alternatives than resote to other options on the game of Resources control that being played eveyday as part of Humanity nature.
War, even illogical terrible war, is a very real possibility even today. And you are perfectly correct that in the primitive human past, when humans were faced with a lack of vital necessary human life support they would routinely fight over them and in the process reduce their populations along with the need for those resources resulting from that reduced population which always comes with war. It was in effect a negative feedback loop to population stabilization and resource matching. An unrecognized biological mechanism and historical fact that is now within our power to change if we only grasp the opportunity. The rush to look to the certainty of taking what you think you must have to survive and prosper from someone else verses in trusting in the uncertainty of future to provide as yet unseen possibilities to meet your needs requires a belief system that emphasizes morality over the naked primitive impulse of fear and want. Yet to ever increasing effect the last two centuries have proven that belief to be justified though it always comes with a new set of problems that must be mastered to get to the next level. At first the sporadic periods of human expansion were considered to be anomalies but the forces that drive improvement and advancement are now dynamic and self-reinforcing.

The pathway to success to permanently overcoming the Malthusian dilemma once and for all is to be found in ever increasing cooperation within the world and its many peoples. When the peoples of the world set their minds to it, versus the unnecessary conflicts that consume us the seeming imposable problems the future holds will be solved without a mass die off and with ever increasing comfort, safety, long life, and prosperity for everyone who is willing to work for it.

It is the irrational fear that they will not be enough and that will not be able to solve the problems of the moment which have a very real possibility of destroying the cooperation which is necessary to solve the problems.

World War I was caused by the emergence of new powers that thought wrongly that the only way to advance themselves was to use the model of conquest and empire just as all of those before them had done. But in fact that model was already obsolete at that time but they could not see beyond the past an embrace a new vision. The proof of that statement is WW II and all other major conflicts since were not caused by economic necessity but by other human frailties because many nations have advance to great prosperity without embarking upon the path of conquest. Yes I know that there were other things evolved, nationalism, historical grudges, opportunism, and much more but all of those factors were based upon a belief that the strong has the right to take from the weak so you better be strong or else.

It is those other human frailties along with the refusal to acknowledge that we are not trapped by Malthusian economic limitations that could destroy the cooperation in the world necessary to solve its problems.

So what is the difference between good open honest and fair competition that enhances progress for everyone and other forms of competition which are bad? Simple, if you compete to win by being better, faster, cheaper, safer, and by using with sustainable means you are good. If your methods to win is to use sabotage, the denial of resources and markets to others or to destroy or harm you rivals then you are bad. Bad things lead to war.
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Old June 16th, 2011   #13
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Vietnam and Brunei have already signed deals with major oil corporations, who will bear the main costs, to look for oil in the area. Vietnam's economy is at an all time high, so if had to allocate funds, it is in a much better position to do so than before.



And when did I make this assumption? This is my 1st post in this thread.

We are all entitled to our own opinions and views, irrespective of whether we're right or not. I would also mention that no one has a monopoly on what's right or wrong....
I was attacking a commonly held idea that comes up all the time and not you. Sorry if I offended.
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I was attacking a commonly held idea that comes up all the time and not you. Sorry if I offended.
You didn't offend me. I just feel that you need to bear in mind that different people have different perpectives of things that are viewed from different angles and viewpoints, though it may differ from yours or mine.
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Old June 17th, 2011   #15
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The pathway to success to permanently overcoming the Malthusian dilemma once and for all is to be found in ever increasing cooperation within the world and its many peoples. When the peoples of the world set their minds to it, versus the unnecessary conflicts that consume us the seeming imposable problems the future holds will be solved without a mass die off and with ever increasing comfort, safety, long life, and prosperity for everyone who is willing to work for it.
Well that's what the present economic system/battlefield are for. Look, Human nature is to compete. We will still be staying in the cave on the mountain or hut in the dirt if we don't have in our genetic a strive to be better. And to be better we naturally see what our neighbours had. Jelousy and envy can be negative or can be positive. The present system channel those basic human instict in to competitive 'game' that can keep 'commercially' scores without resulting on to other basic primal instict of grabing and destructions.

The present global economic system with all the ineffciency and injustices still provide the better alternatives for human to acquiared resources in more 'civilised' way in which you put as 'honest and fair' competions. But no competions is actually really fair and honest. It's only exist on an utopian level that we can only dream off.

In such any competitions we try to best our rival in everyway, in such the system have to enforce rules and ethics to minimise that. The ones that can utilise what they have more effectively and more recourcefulness usually can have advantages on the system. However as human nature, nothing is 'precise' and sure until one particullar game/competitions being played. Sometime you win, sometime you lose. But as long as the players still see that the nature of the game is more profitable than other 'primal instict' of mankind which are destructive, then it will survive to be used by humanity to search relative equilibrium on dailly life.
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