In 2022, the world is closer to a third world war than at any time since the end of the Cold War, according to the American media, emphasizing that there are 5 areas, among which the war between Greece and Turkey could become the beginning of the conflict.
According to business insiderRussia launched a full-scale ‘invasion’ of Ukraine, which almost immediately led to a combination of sanctions and direct military support for Kyiv. The US and its allies are pursuing policies that have already resulted in the deaths of thousands of Russian soldiers, the destruction of Russian military equipment, and the long-term deterioration of the Russian economy.
The war has had a different impact on the world stage, sharply raising the stakes in decades-long disputes in various regions, as well as intensifying the confrontation between various centers of power that do not like the role of the United States as “the world’s gendarme”.
These five areas represent the greatest risk of what we might be tempted to call “World War III”:
Concerns that Russia could use nuclear weapons to retake territory in Ukraine appear to have subsided since the summer, when the war reached a devastating stalemate. However, escalation remains a problem. Russia’s failure to make progress could jeopardize the stability of Putin’s government, prompting Moscow to consider a dangerous escalation. Concerns about Ukraine’s ability to continue the war in the long term could push Kyiv to take its own risky steps to break the stalemate.
The spread of the war to NATO remains unlikely, but at the same time possible. The use of nuclear weapons by Russia remains unthinkable, but not impossible.
The Biden administration and its allies in Europe have been extremely wary of the risks of escalation, but both Kyiv and Moscow may take the risk of a wider conflict that could escalate into World War III.
Concerns about the imminence of war between Taiwan and China have eased a bit in recent months, largely due to China’s disastrous record in dealing with Covid. However, there is no doubt that tensions in the straits remain significant. The Biden administration’s willingness to take a dangerous rhetorical stance in defense of Taiwan shows that Washington is genuinely concerned about the prospect of a Chinese attack. At the same time, these statements (and unscrupulous stunts such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei) risk escalating China.
Fortunately, there is every reason to believe that we will receive at least some warning of war. As with the Ukrainian border, China’s preparations for conflict will be clear to all. As you might guess, this would lead, including the United States and, quite possibly, Japan, to a war between the major powers.
The Greek-Turkish crisis may have “worse” amid the war in Ukraine, but it is a crisis that has been smoldering for years on the southern side of the alliance. Tensions between Greece and Turkey have risen significantly over the past year, largely due to a dynamic shift in Turkish foreign policy and the internal vulnerability of the Erdogan regime. Disputes between Athens and Ankara over energy exploration in the Aegean have heightened current tensions, although the underlying territorial dispute has been around for decades.
While it is unlikely that a NATO ally would openly attack another NATO ally, past conflicts have already brought the two countries to the brink of war (and sometimes a little further), despite their allied commitments.
Any armed conflict between Turkey and Greece would immediately involve NATO and almost certainly lead to some opportunistic intervention from Russia.
Tensions between Seoul and Pyongyang have risen steadily in recent months, with North Korean provocations (often fueled by Kim Jong-in’s regime’s idiosyncratic and cryptic assessments of the international situation) prompting aggressive rhetorical responses from the South. The dynamic between the two states seems to be fueled by the impatience in the North that the world is still refusing to take it seriously, despite its fairly numerous nuclear weapons, and in the South that a nation of great importance remains saddled with its incompetent and backward brother.
This tension is not new, but historically it has been limited to the Cold War and the liberal international order since. The first is gone and the second is wearing out to the point where Pyongyang may feel like it has a moment and Seoul may struggle to find patience for its neighbor’s antics.
If war does break out, it could quickly become more destructive than the war between Russia and Ukraine, with conventional and nuclear weapons inflicting horrendous losses on both sides.
Sporadic clashes between China and India continue on the Roof of the World.
While the real stakes of control over the nearly uninhabited highlands remain unknown, neither China nor India has backed down from the conflict. Although the fighting has so far remained fairly limited, the desire to protect national prestige can quickly become toxic to even the most wise and rational leaders, drawing these two great nations into a war of attrition, since they are both nuclear powers.
Whether Modi and Xi fit that description is up for debate, but the governments they lead have been unable to find a way to resolve the conflict. At some point, either the Indians or the Chinese may be tempted to escalate the problem, a move that, as expected, could open the door to a much larger and more destructive conflict.
Pray there will never be a third world war
All of these frictions are not new, but they have historically been kept in check by the Cold War,” the Insider report concludes:
“It remains unlikely that any of these disputes will escalate into a global conflict, although the war in Ukraine already has some aspects of a great power war. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has shown, at the very least, that major wars can still happen, despite the best efforts of the international community. Managing escalation in times of war requires exceptional skill. We can only hope that the leaders of the great powers of the world will make sure that in 2023 they keep the peace, despite the huge stockpiles of weapons they control.”