General Question

fremen_warrior's avatar

Were World War Three to erupt within the next decade, what will have been its trigger(s)?

Asked by fremen_warrior (5487points) November 5th, 2012

I have a few theories on that (a splintered Europe with a new German-Russian pact, a pan-Middle-Eastern conflict, the final Taiwan “crisis”...), I wonder what you think might cause the next great war. Will there be one? How soon? Can it be stopped?


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31 Answers

marinelife's avatar

It could be anything. These triggers are usually left for history to figure out after the fact.

Qingu's avatar

I think if Israel pre-emptively strikes Iran and manages to unify the Middle East around Iran’s side, plus Pakistan, it could spark a major war, possibly a nuclear war.

I don’t think China or Russia are going to want to start World War 3 though.

LuckyGuy's avatar

My money is on a nutjob extremist setting off a nuke in Israel. Israel will retaliate faster than you can say “Iran”. Countries will align and square off and the winner will be…. china.

Crashsequence2012's avatar

Petty tyrants, dictators, religions founded to conquer and all other haters of American style free will and plenty.

Some will nuke us and themselves in the process.

Others will use the most low down, pusillanimous methods possible.

The seeming few of us that understand the concept behind the term
War on Terror accept that it won’t be over anytime soon, that is if at all.

You see, there will be haters for a long, long time until evolution eventually develops it out of them. Our attempts to dissuade have met with practically no results.

ETpro's avatar

It certainly could be @Qingu,‘s @LuckyGuy,‘s or @Crashsequence2012‘s scenario. Or it might be left to resource competition as floods, droughts, coastal flooding and crop failures (mass extinctions) grow more widespread and frequent due to global climate change. Mass migrations of starving people can lead to extremely short fuses on national tempers.

I hope that the fear of MAD is enough to constrain the global nuclear superpowers from turning whatever the trigger is into the end of the human species, and most others.

flutherother's avatar

I don’t think there is a high probability of a Third World War breaking out any time soon. No one has anything to gain by it and everyone has an awful lot to lose. There is the possibility of a ‘limited’ exchange between Pakistan and India but for the rest of the world the outbreak of world war would be very bad for business and not a good idea.

However the proliferation of nuclear weapons is dangerous in the long term and should be stopped. They are outdated and surplus to requirements and should be destroyed before they destroy us.

Linda_Owl's avatar

I think (at least at this point in time) that it will come down to the ideals of the three main Religions – Christian, Islam, & the Jewish religion. Far too many of these religions run to fanatics who are more than willing to die for ‘their cause’ ... no matter how many other lives that will cost. It could easily result in a Nuclear Winter which has the potential to wipe out the human race on the only planet that we have to live on.

Crashsequence2012's avatar

The next world war could be over control of the internet.

It could also be over the territory known as the Moon.

Stupid really since a flag has already been planted there.

ragingloli's avatar

A fight for the planet’s last oil reserves, started by the world’s biggest consumer nations that also have proven to have little qualms about going to war, or general evilness, e.g. China, Russia, USA.

ETpro's avatar

Grammar Nazi here. @Crashsequence2012 if you are going to capitalize Moon please capitalize Internet too. I make my living on the Internet, and get next to none of my sustenance from the Moon. How’s that for being ready to fight over little things? ~

ragingloli's avatar

You think a flag automatically gives you ownership of the moon? Pure nonsense from colonial times.

bolwerk's avatar

I don’t see oil doing it, since oil is already pretty neatly controlled by thugs who have a pretty convenient detente with one another.

Religion is always a safe bet. The world is already a powder keg between christers and islamicists, and both are pretty sure the other is the height of reprobation. Though Christian fundamentalists have learned to hide it because it’s not politically correct, both have a fair degree of contempt for Jews too.

Of course, it might not be that simple either. Hyper-authoritarian forces like the American Republikans, European fascists, and fundamentalist Islamicists are pretty likely to find common ground with each other and tinpot dictatorships or petty nationalist movements around the globe. They might not share the same religion, but they all have pretty much the same hierarchical and and chauvinist value set that are reinforced by religious beliefs. (U.S. christers and Islamic fundies already ally against abortion rights in the U.N., for instance.)

ragingloli's avatar

They may hide it, but I am convinced Governments see Oil mainly as a military asset, because it keeps their entire war machinery running. Once they see that fuel becomes too expensive and as a result they become unable to wage war (“defend themselves”), they will nationalise all oil production to funnel it to their war machine.

Crashsequence2012's avatar

Okay @ragingloli

So the flag doesn’t meet your oh so progressive criteria. Fine.

Then It goes to whoever took the greatest risks, laid out the most money.

ragingloli's avatar

More colonial nonsense.

bolwerk's avatar

@ragingloli: I’m not sure governments are very operative here. The key point is, a lot of the major players are on the same side regardless of what government is nominally in charge above them, like the Saudis and their buddies in Texas oil conglomerates. Likewise, major corporations aren’t shy about moving their resources away from the U.S. when it suits them. When shit hits the fan, GE’s headquarters may be in New York but its means of production is in dozens of countries. Not to say political borders and governments won’t be a factor, of course, but ideological affiliation may actually trump them in WW3.

@Crashsequence2012 is obviously not familiar with the Treaty of Space.

Crashsequence2012's avatar


He just doesn’t agree with it.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

My first thought and the obvious answer would be a fight over oil. I agree with @ragingloli on that one.

ragingloli's avatar

people like him are contributing factors to the probability of a next world war

bolwerk's avatar

Those treaties we signed are a pain in the neeeeeeeckk, because we’re the cops of the world!

By Crom! \o

ragingloli's avatar

Yeah, it is such an outrage that this treaty forbids the deployment of orbital nuclear weapons platform hanging over humanity’s heads like the sword of Damocles, ready to wipe us all out at the push of a button. What a ‘progressive’ abomination of a treaty.

Nullo's avatar

My guess? The Israeli-Palestinian conflict will escalate. Alliances will form behind both sides (the U.S. and allies with Israel, and either Egypt or Iran rallying the Muslim nations in support of the Palestinians). And then some belligerent will shoot a key figure, and the powderkeg will explode. This will almost certainly give the jihad some traction.
I don’t anticipate a lot of nuclear activity, either because of the MAD doctrine or because it’s wildly irresponsible.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Nullo Irresponsible, yes. Unfortunately there are some nuclear weapons under the control of some extremely irresponsible people. I see a dark future of one of those nuts setting off a nuclear weapon and bringing down death and destruction on the majority of the people of earth.

ucme's avatar

I’m guessing the germans may go for “third time lucky!”
The trigger will almost certainly be collective madness on a grand scale.

PhiNotPi's avatar

Here’s an alternative story that I don’t think has been mentioned yet:

North Korea drops a nuke on South Korea.
United States wipes North Korea off the map.
China may or may not destroy the United States and its allies.
If China does this, then the United States and its allies will also destroy China and its allies.
Russia is also going to get nuked sometime in this process, but they will be on their own side.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

YES! That’s what I’ll do the next time I want something; that beautiful tropical forest at the edge of a 100ft cliff overlooking the white Atlantic beach on Dominica, that incredibly beautiful woman in the restaurant in Miami, that 60ft yawl-rigged Pearson motor-sailer with full above-decks cabin loaded with everything up to the jetskis at the stern above the diving platform, that metalic cobalt blue Lambourgini that suggests a smaller, lower profile XKE—I’ll just plant a flag into them. Jesus, I’m 59 years old and never thought of that. OMG, my life has been such a waste! Now I just want to kill myself.

I like Kissinger’s description of MAD:
Two men standing in a basement up to their knees in gasoline, one with ten matches and the other with eleven. And the one with eleven matches thinks he’s ahead.

It will be over resources.

Nullo's avatar

@Espiritus_Corvus That may actually be a viable method, provided that you could defend your claim. Historically, that’s the preferred method for getting more – stake a claim and guard it.
The trouble with your examples is that you’re operating as an individual: individuals are easily overpowered by other individuals, more easily by groups. The parties who paid for the boat, or the car, or whatever, are “allied” with the police, who are in turn “allied” with other, more powerful organizations, making flag-planting a laughable practice.

Lunar real estate, on the other hand, is easily defended because at the end of the day, nobody really wants the Moon. Not as-is.

lillycoyote's avatar

Who knows… but quite possibly a fight to the death for control of the planets remaining oil reserves. And there really hasn’t been a real religious war for centuries. Most modern “religious conflicts” really aren’t about religion at all, it’s just that people who share a religion tend to share a lot of other things. Protestants vs. Catholics, Sunnis vs. Shia? Even Arabs vs. Israelis? Not really at about religion, not about doctrine, just about the same things almost all non-religious conflicts are about: territory, resources, power, control, economic opportunities and self-determination. Sure, there are religious fanatics stirring the pot, and they certainly have an agenda, but it’s not really about religion, for the most part. It really isn’t, when you take the entire world, and we’re talking about the entire world, into account.

At least that’s how I see it.

Jussange's avatar

Resources, my god is better than your god… you know, the usual.

DWW25921's avatar

Why do I have the feeling that Israel will be the center of the next one?

YARNLADY's avatar

I’m wondering if it will all be an accidental release of a death virus.

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