World War III- Will It Occur?

World War III:

World War III and the Third World War are names given to a hypothetical third worldwide large-scale military conflict subsequent to World War I and World War II. The term has been used once at least as early as 1941. Some have applied it loosely to refer to limited or smaller conflicts such as the Cold War or the War on Terror, while others assumed that such a conflict would surpass prior world wars both in its scope and in its destructive impact.

Due to the development and use of nuclear weapons near the end of World War II and their subsequent acquisition and deployment by many countries, the potential risk of nuclear devastation of Earth’s civilization and life is a common theme in speculations about a Third World War. Another major concern is that biological warfare could cause a very large number of casualties, either intentionally or inadvertently by an accidental release of a biological agent, the unexpected mutation of an agent, or its adaptation to other species after use. High scale apocalyptic events like these, caused by advanced technology used for destruction, could potentially make the Earth’s surface uninhabitable.

Views on the likely outcome and definition:

In 1949, after the unleashing of nuclear weaponry at the end of WWII, physicist Albert Einstein suggested that any outcome of a possible WWII would be so dire as to mankind back to the Stone Age. When asked by journalist Alfred Werner what types of weapons Einstein believed World War III might be fought with, Einstein warned, “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”

In his book Destined for War, Graham Allison views the global rivalry between the established power, the US, and rising China, as an example of the Thucydides Trap. Past examples have often led the war, and in this case, World War Three is possible but not inevitable.

Cold War:

As Soviet-American relations grew tenser in the post-World War II period, the fear that it could escalate into World War III was ever-present. A Gallup poll in December 1950 found that more than half of Americans considered World War III to have already started.

In 2004, commentator Norman Podhoretz proposed that the Cold War, lasting from the surrender of Japan and Germany until the fall of the Berlin Wall, might rightly be called World War III.

Still, the majority of historians would seem to hold that World War III would necessarily have to be a worldwide “war in which large forces from many countries fought” and a war that “involves most of the principal nations of the world”. In his book Secret Weapons of the Cold War, Bill Yenne explains that the military standoff that occurred between the two ‘Superpowers’, namely the United States and the Soviet Union, from the 1940s through to 1991, was the only cold war, which ultimately helped to enable mankind to avert the possibility of an all-out nuclear confrontation and that it certainly was not World War III.

War on Terror:

The “War on Terror” that began with the September 11 attacks has been claimed by some to be World War II or sometimes as World War IV. Others have disparaged such claims as “distorting American history”. While there is general agreement amongst historians regarding the definitions and extent of the first two world wars, namely due to the unmistakable global scale of aggression and self-destruction of these two wars, a few have claimed that a “World War” might now no longer require such world wide and large scale aggression and damage.

Still, such claims of a new “lower threshold of aggression”, that might now be sufficient to qualify a war as a “World War” have not gained such widespread acceptance and support as the definitions of the first two world wars have received amongst historians.

Military Plans:

Operation Unthinkable:

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was concerned that, with the enormous size of Soviet forces deployed in Europe at the end of WWII and the unreliability of the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, there was a serious threat to Western Europe.

In April-may 1945, British Armed Forces developed Operation Unthinkable, thought to be the first scenario of the Third World War. Its primary goal is “to impose upon Russia the will of the United States and the British Empire”. The plan was rejected by the British Chiefs of Staff Committee as a military unfeasible.

Chances of Happening:

Tensions have been at a seemingly all-time high since the US assassinated top Iranian general Qaseem Soleimani in a deadly airstrike on January 3. On Wednesday, President Donald Trump spoke about de-escalation from conflict but what are the chances of World War 3 happening, and it has started already.

Heightened tensions between Iran and the USA lasted 10 days before both sides hinted they would be willing to dial down any potential conflict. But things have not entirely calmed in the region since the assassination of General Qaseem Soleimani and subsequent missile strikes by Iran.

Will the War happen?

In response to the killing of General Soleimani, Iranian leaders and politicians issued a fiery statement promising revenge.

The Iranian retaliation saw two precise missile strikes on military bases in Iraq where the US and allied troops were stationed.

There were no casualties in the attacks and follow up statements from the Iranian leadership mentioned it had “concluded” its response to General Soleimani’s killing.

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