Thursday, March 18, 2010
One of my interests is reading materials about international relations. I know it is a boring topic to most people as they all have their busy lives to live, what matter to them are things that would affect them closely, like what’s happening in their social circles, their community or city that they are living in at most. Anything beyond that on national level has already been deemed as too far away to matter, let alone international affairs! Perhaps, it is because it is just too ‘far’ from a personal level, I find it to be interesting as a ‘spectator’ on how countries interact with each other and guess what motives are behind them. Yes, I did separately blogged that international incidents can impact individuals, like U.S. financial health would no doubt affect international economy which will impact most nations, such as affecting interest rate, currency exchange, import/export and trades, etc. However, it is not what I’m blogging about this time. I’m talking about WWIII, yes, it is World War III! It got me thinking about this as a result of reading some articles about U.S. military spending and its current involvement in Afghanistan, Iraq and potential Iran.
I’m no prophet to know the future. I just express my view based on what I’ve read and my limited intelligence. Certainly, nobody would like to see WWIII happens, not in their life times for obvious reason. For people who are parents, they don’t want that to happen to their children neither. I would say that, since the end of WWII, there have been talks about WWIII: when will it happens? how will it get started?. Those talks translated into books or novels etc. Certainly, with the surge of popularity of prophecy every now and then, when people talk about the end of the world, if it is not caused by natural disasters like asteroid, sudden shift of earth axis, or new deadly virus, war is certainly a very logical option that could cause the end of the world. Particularly, when we consider what we human did to ourselves not too long ago and what we are capable of with the stockpiles of WMD that our world currently has.
I came across some scenarios on how WWIII gets started, the usual involving parties are NATO (including U.S.), Russia, China, and M.E. countries. Of course, those parties changed over the past few decades, like U.S.S.R. and Warsaw Pact got dismantled, and the rise of China which is deemed by some hawks as a potential villain to the West, etc. In my opinion, unlike WWII, in which the aggressors were clearly with evil goals and motive: Nazi wanted to exterminate the Jewish people, Italy and Japan were fascists to tag along. WWIII may not be that clear cut. In spite of the fact that George Bush named Iraq, Iran, and North Korea as the ‘Axis of Evil’, I’m not sure if they will can neither start WWIII nor even be on the evil side.
For a war between 2 countries next to each other, that’s a regional war. When we talk about a World War, it is got to be global, at least cross continents. As the Cold war was over, the power balance in the world was shifted drastically from bipolar to unipolar which is led by the U.S. with NATO tagging along. If WWIII happens, I can’t see it without American involves. Under the current global power balance situation, I think the possibility of WWIII should be quite lower. Imagine that there is only one ‘really BIG guy’ in the playground, unless the big guy wanna start a fight, would any little guy be dumb enough to pick a fight with the big guy knowing that the big guy will beat the crap out of him? I don’t think any rational small guy will do that. In fact, the big guy is already dominant, he doesn’t need to fight to be or stay number one. For now, I don’t see any other guy is planning or even potentially strong enough to dethrone him.
Let’s take a look at the usual suspects of large scale of war today.
Consider that Russia didn’t go to war with the U.S. (though it ‘almost’ did during the Cuba Crisis in the 1960s) when it was more capable and had ideological reason to do that when it was in the form of the U.S.S.R., I can’t see any reason Russia will start a fight with the U.S. now, though it still has piles of WMDs. Russia’s economy is still too fragile as it is heavily depend on oils. It can’t afford to have a prolonged arm race with the U.S.
China is too busy with its economy. Its military spending has been up for many years. Though the Pentagon hawks have been trying to portrait China as a potential threat to U.S.’s military supremacy, I just don’t believe China’s expansion is anything but defensive. Tibet and Xinjian regions are not volatile enough to create international arm conflicts, they pose real threat to China’s civil integrity but not national security. Taiwan is a separate issue, but I doubt Taiwan dare to do things to trigger military actions from PRC. Also, even if such unfortunate thing happen, I don’t see U.S. will participate direct military conflict with China. Taiwan is important in American’s global chess setup, but it is not important enough to risk the potential number of America lives in direct conflicts with China.
Some suggest that SCO – Shanghai Cooperative Organization which composes of Russia, China and 4 other Central Asia states is a potential rival to NATO. I think that China and Russia can cooperate to some extents, but both of them know that the whole organization is like a cart pulling by two horses without a horseman. How far it can go and where it will go really depend on a lot of diplomacy, aka gives and takes, rather than by one single dominant power. So, this alliance will only work on mutually beneficial interests, like economic development and security in the region which will most likely be defined by defense rather than expansion of interests. SCO has not and I doubt it will ever become another Warsaw Pact. Cos, the organization members and potential members just have too diverse national interests and respective historical burden to become an unity on military front. SCO is neither united by ideology nor any cooperated expanding interest. So, I can’t see it as an aggressor or any kind. Cos, countries of SCO neither need land nor resources via military means.
So, the ultimate volatile region is the Middle East. Both Iran and Iraq are now dominated by Shiite, so there won’t be Iran-Iraq war unless there is another a radical Sunni dictator arise in Iraq again. Other ME countries are stockpiled with conventional weapons, as long as Sunni and Shiite are not in serious conflict that can't resolve without war, they should be able to get along with each other. So, the master of all conflicts would be the one between Israel vs the rest of Arabs in ME. The ME has never been truly peaceful in the last 60 years or so, and all conflicts there went as far as regional wars at most. However, the situation has been changed in recent years. The most critical of all are the answers of :
- Whether Iran is really going nuke or not?
- Whether Israel can tolerate the threat of Iran having nuke? which will also depend on whether
Iran is insane enough to nuke Israel if it has ever got access on nuke.
The whole ‘game of Chicken’ between Israel and Iran is really the only major potential cause of a nuclear war that I can think of. Cos, if Israel is involved in nuclear war with Iran, U.S. will no doubt involve and so does NATO. I don’t see Iran can get any country backing them military. I guess other nuclear powers are just not gonna risk themselves to go against the U.S. Yes, Russian and Chinese have investments and economic interests in Iran, but will they willing to risk their lives to defend Iran in conflicts with the U.S.? I guess not.
So, even if U.S. is involved in a nuclear war with Iran. I doubt it will last long in terms of the heavy military actions, cos once nukes are fired, the destruction is quick and massive. There won’t be much left in the cities that got hit. If Jerusalem or Tel Av iv got hit, consider the size of the country, it can almost pronounce the death of Israel. Since the war will be painful but quick, I just can’t see it will be prolonged and spilled to other countries across continents that can be defined as a world war. Certainly, after blood has been shed, hatred between ethic groups will last for generations. There will be surge of terrorist activities against the West for years to come.
Nevertheless, I don’t think WWIII will happen under even such horrible scenario of nuclear war in ME. Therefore, unless there is a birth of Anti-Christ as some prophecies have predicted, I just can't see how WWIII can happen in foreseeable future.