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News World War Three

  1. Nov 28, 2009 #1


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    How probable is a large-scale war in the next 20 years? Are there any significant growing tensions between powerful countries? Would a violent war be constructive to anyone?

    I remember this quote:
    "I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones."

    But I'm beginning to wonder if, in the information/digital age, that would be necessarily true anymore.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 28, 2009 #2
    Another World War simply won't happen on the scale of conflict of WW1 and WW2 (with full use of every available weapon). Everyone on the planet knows that we (as humans) have the ability to Nuke ourselves back to the stone age, and as crazy as some people are, they do realise that in a Nuke war noone wins.
  4. Nov 28, 2009 #3
    I wrote a paper once on this same topic a while back. I came to pretty much the same conclusion that you have.

    If we read Clausewitz On War we understand that war as it was known prior to the 'information age' was an act of policy on another state to force them physically into abiding the attacking states will.
    The victor of war will be the country who maximizes their use of force. You can see this take a crucial role in World War 1 and it comes into play in World War 2. This is known as 'total war' or some authors call it 'big war', so a state uses full possible force on another state in order to make them surrender to the original states will.

    The last 'big war' we have seen from the powerful countries of the world was World War 2. After America dropped the A-bombs we discovered exactly how deadly and devasting 'big war' had become. As the continued testings of nuclear weapons showed great increases in power it became quite obvious that going through such a war would be pointless (MAD).

    I agree with you that instead a new type of war will be fought using information and technology. Spreading of misinformation in another state can be extremely devastating (the same way propaganda is motivating). Of course Clausewitz never having seen modern military or technology could never have predicted what we would soon become. Another form of war that is being utilized to great success is guerilla warfare. It makes it pretty much impossible for a state to impose total war against attackers, or ever really engage in traditional war. This gives the attackers a huge advantage in most cases. (Looks to Cuba :tongue:)

    I do not believe that violent wars in the sense of countries destroying eachother would be constructive. It would defeat the purpose of war as a tool of policy since a modern day World War would guarantee the destruction of states and not simply forcefully making them follow your will. (Not only would the military be destroyed but the governments the societies, even majorities of civilians, so what's the point?)

    Since the state always strides to perserve itself it will never fight in wars that cause its self-destruction. This causes modern states to never attack full-force and is what is leading to a more technology/information run war (in my opinion of course).

    I could write up a lot more but I haven't slept for 24 hours and my thoughts are all jumbled (you can probably tell reading this post) Maybe tomorrow night when I come on I'll fix up some ideas, if you have more questions then go ahead and shoot.:rofl:
  5. Nov 28, 2009 #4
    That's a good point, why blow a country up when you can effectivly levy trade embargos and things like that on them.

    The ultimate reason World Wars are won is the total collapse of a nations economy. Today this can be more effectively done without the use of weapons.
  6. Nov 28, 2009 #5
    To the victor go the spoils of war, right?

    Because you can only do such things because you can blow them up and if you don't they will think you are weak and go to war with you.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 28, 2009
  7. Nov 28, 2009 #6


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    Yeah, that's half of what I was thinking. The other half is that with the information age, we can influence policy on each other with smaller black-op missions, utilizing the information to pinpoint "weak" points. We have satelite data, logistics, we can figure out who's particularly responsible for bad policies (instead of blaming the whole country) and loads of other kinds of intel that we can send a team in to confront.

    What triggered this thought was the movie, Defiance, and the whole idea of WWII itself. I don't think anybody could get away with what Germany got away with back then.
  8. Nov 28, 2009 #7
    It would remove thousands maybe millions of peoples carbon footprint, some i'm sure would find that constructive.
  9. Nov 28, 2009 #8
    i guess it depends on which is more profitable to the bankers, war or peace
  10. Nov 29, 2009 #9
    War is not constructive, it is destructive.
  11. Nov 29, 2009 #10
    The purpose of war is not to get more money Proton Soup. War is not a purpose to itself.

    @Insanity, of course depending on which perspective you look at it from war can be constructive or destructive. What Pythagorean was asking is if a War fought to the max potential right now with use of physical force would be constructive to anyone. So I don't think your post is really relevant at all.
  12. Nov 29, 2009 #11


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    What? Of course it is! A very large fraction of wars - probably most of them - are just grand, grand theft.

    That isn't to say that Proton Soup's characterization is correct...

    Regarding the topic on the OP, I think many of you are being far too creative here, including the OP. Too many Tom Clancy novels mabye. War is the most direct and effective way to make things happen in international politics. If something really needs to get done (where two countries disagree), war is the way it will get done. Spec ops and spies have limited capabilities.

    Nuclear weapons are a double-edged sword. They are a big part of why we haven't had a major war between major global powers since WWII, but at the same time if it ever does happen that two nuclear powers have a serious war, it is highly likely that it would go nuclear. Such wars involve national survival and if your national survival is at stake, most of the downside to nuclear weapons goes away.
    I'm not quite following - what does getting away with it have to do with the topic? Hitler didn't get away with it either, but WWII still happened. The last big war of theft was the 1991 Gulf War and Hussein didn't get away with it either. In both cases, they must have thought they could get away with it, but that may be more delusion than anything. Certainly, humans have not lost the capacity to be delusional.

    The first Gulf War is an interesting case for this topic, though. Hussein had a huge international coalition against him, but his national survival was not at risk and he knew it. He was, perhaps, sane enough not to use WMDs because he knew that if he used them, his national survival might become at risk.
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2009
  13. Nov 29, 2009 #12
    Wasn't there a long thread that has already discussed this possibility?
  14. Nov 29, 2009 #13


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    Once every six months to a year, yes.
  15. Nov 29, 2009 #14


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    Hitler did get away with it though. By it, I mean a very long genocide campaign. Perhaps "get away" is the wrong term. I simply meant that he was able to do it for a long time. I don't know if people didn't notice or didn't care or didn't want to sacrifice their own resources, but it took a while for other countries to get involved. My argument is that nowadays, the Jews could be twittering and facespacing everybody for help (of course, that wouldn't make as much of a difference if the reason for not getting involved is we didn't care or couldn't afford a rescue.)

    So, to my original question, do you see any potential for a third world war? Any growing tensions between countries that are particularly unstable?
  16. Nov 29, 2009 #15
    Well I'm going off the research I've done into War to write my paper before which included Tzu, Clausewitz, Mosely etc. What I'm trying to say in my post wasn't that wars don't generate money or bring income to a state I'm saying that the purpose of wars isn't to earn or lose money. It is just a political tool as you said to force your will physically over another state. I have never read Tom Clancy but I have read modern war philosophers and they all agree that 'total war' as defined by clausewitz will not be faught anymore. Guerilla warfare and information/technological warfare will take its place. (Of course though we can't say Clausewitz work is not important because he missed this aspect... it didn't really exist at his time, guerilla warfare wasn't really a big thing either then)

    I guess the reason I said this all was because the OP had to do with 'large-scale' wars, which in my opinion will not take place through physical wars as it used to simply because it won't be worth it (to the attacking state)... Wars like Iraq and Afghanastan are not 'large-scale' wars. And obviously because they are not 'large-scale' wars countries like America do not need to maximize force in order to force their will onto the target. I do believe however that in order to accomplish this NATO forces will all have to use much much more force than they currently do but this is for another thread. :wink:
  17. Nov 29, 2009 #16
    It does still happen, just not in the 'first world' (IDK how else to put this). Darfur? Rwanda? South-Africa? No one has really gone to aid these situations anymore than they went to aid the Jews during the early phases of the Nazi regime. Research into Darfur I'm sure you will be surprised by what's going on there, even to this day...

    I remember looking on google earth satellite images of regions of Sudan... you can see villages completely destroyed and burnt down... No people around them at all... you can see the refugee camps THOUSANDS of little white tents you just see the tops of. When I saw these images it was the sadest thing I've ever seen really that is occuring right now during my life-time... and no one is doing anything really to put an end to anything.
  18. Nov 29, 2009 #17


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    The research on Darfur has been interesting so far. But still, we're talking 6 million Jews in the genocide of WWII.
  19. Nov 29, 2009 #18
    well, whether or not you think people profit from wars (ladybird johnson, anyone? haliburton?), things often come to a head over resources. cutting off their oil got us into it with Japan. the Hutus attacked the Tutsis because of envy (the Tutsis were the upperclass ruling minority). Russia attacked Georgia because they don't like guys moving in on their turf (controlling the flow of petroleum out of the Caspian). Hitler made moves to acquire fuel and farmland. Khmer Rouge was not unlike the situation in Rwanda. all the wars against the Native Americans waged by the US government.

    take a look at Samantha Power's book. the Rwandan genocide saw more people killed in a shorter time frame than any other in history, from a much smaller population.
  20. Nov 29, 2009 #19
    This is true I don't want to send you on a massive search of different events in history but Proton Soup made mention of Rwandan Genocide.

    The situation in Darfur isn't exactly 'comparable' to what Hitler did but they don't exactly have the technology or capabilities to perform such a large movement of people etc. etc. Mostly they ride into villages and kill everyone and destryo the village. I was just making reference to that situation because it is occuring right now. As well 6 million Jews I don't think were killed all within the beginning of the Nazi regimes influence... (I'm not saying Darfur will escalate to this type of situation only that other states didn't get involved with Nazi Germany at the beginning which in my opinion is quite comparable on different levels to Darfur at the moment)
  21. Nov 29, 2009 #20
    If there is any chance of a war, most of the situation will be tense negotiation and probably no need for actual troops as it would be much more cost-effective and just plain easier to nuke a country into oblivion. Also not many countries would be ready for such a war as only a few countries hold the majority of nuclear weaponry and at the same time have much better defense systems too.
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