Are we going to have another World War?


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Profile Wiggo
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Message 1459800 - Posted: 2 Jan 2014, 4:11:36 UTC

http://www.news.com.au/world/are-we-on-the-brink-of-war-academic-sparks-debate-by-drawing-comparisons-between-1914-past-and-2014-present/story-fndir2ev-1226793586357

Are we on the brink of war? Academic sparks debate by drawing comparisons between 1914 past and 2014 present

A CENTURY ago, a simple assassination was enough to topple a tenuous balance between the old and new worlds. The resulting war killed millions and spanned the globe. Is history about to repeat itself?

The year was 1914. The world was experimenting with economic globalisation.

Optimists believed this new world economy would eliminate war.

But the concept proved to be in conflict with old notions of empire and fresh attitudes of expansionism.

There was friction between the industrial and military powers of the "old" world and the ambitions of the revitalised "new" economies.

Add a century to the date and ask yourself: does this scenario sound familiar?


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Profile James Sotherden
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Message 1459827 - Posted: 2 Jan 2014, 5:14:18 UTC

Maybe. But it will be over resources not economics.
Im not sure WW1 started over economics. It seems every European country had a treaty with another for defense if they were attacked. So when Austria attacked after The crown prince and his wife were killed. Everyone else had to stick thier nose in.

Ive read in some of my books that if Queen Victoria had still been alive,There would have been no war.

Plus drawing borders with out taking into account ethnic tribes is courting another war.
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Message 1459893 - Posted: 2 Jan 2014, 11:29:43 UTC - in response to Message 1459827.
Last modified: 2 Jan 2014, 11:30:10 UTC

Maybe. But it will be over resources not economics.
Im not sure WW1 started over economics. It seems every European country had a treaty with another for defense if they were attacked. So when Austria attacked after The crown prince and his wife were killed. Everyone else had to stick thier nose in.

The treaty system simply explains how everyone else got involved, but by itself its not a real reason for war. And treaties could have been broken and would have been broken if that had been to the advantage of the countries breaking the treaties. In reality, each of the major powers saw this war as an opportunity. A very brief and simplistic oversight:

Starting with the Germans, who under their new Kaiser were rather expansionist to say the least. The Kaiser who wanted a fleet that was powerful enough to challenge the British Navy, the Kaiser who wanted his own colonies to exploit, the Kaiser who recklessly threw away what Bismarck so carefully constructed, a system where Germany could at any time side with the winners in case of a conflict and a system in which the main rival of Germany, France, was completely isolated in terms of defense treaties. The Kaiser started to support that useless old corpse called the Austrian empire unconditionally and when those idiots invaded the Balkan and Russia got involved Germany in its arrogance thought this was the perfect opportunity to smash the Russians and the French.

Then the French, who were still bitter because they were so totally humiliated during the Franco-German war, even losing a number of regions to the Germans. For them, going into this war, with the backing of the English, was the perfect opportunity to regain what was lost.

The English who were seriously concerned with the Kaiser trying to challenge their domination over the seas. Who they suspected of being a treat to peace and stability. For them it was the perfect opportunity to put a definite stop to German naval ambitions.

And then the Russians and Austrians who mainly started this war over the Balkans. Both empires wanted to incorporate the Balkans into their own sphere of influence and when the Austrians invaded the place they had to react, opening the way for all other parties to get involved.


And now to the main question. Are conditions similar enough to have another world war. No, aside from some superficial similarities, todays world also completely differs from 1914. While indeed the world economy started to 'globalize' a bit back then, one must not forget that most of the world back then was under the control of one of the European Empires. Globalization as we know it today is completely different, thanks to the internet and 60 years of international free trade regimes. The current level of interconnectedness is far greater than back in 1914.

Another massive difference is the degree of military imbalance. Back in 1914 each participant started on roughly equal technological footing, no side had a decisive military technological advantage. This is why it turned into such a pointless bloodbath, over the course of most of the war no side was really able to force a breakthrough (exception being the Eastern front where the Germans did have an advantage and eventually won the war, also thanks to the revolution in Russia). But today, such a balance does not exist. The United States has such a technological advantage over everyone else that in a conventional war it will undoubtedly win. It has one critical weakness but for as far as I know, weapons that can exploit this weakness are still being developed by China.

Another major difference remains the fact that today all superpowers are also nuclear powers. In case of an escalating ground war, the risk of the deployment of nuclear weapons increases. And all sides know this, and as a result all sides will try to ensure that any direct conflict will remain small and contained in order to prevent escalation.

The final difference is the presence of international organizations such as the UN. While indeed, the UN has a pretty bad track record when it comes to preventing local conflicts in places like Africa, its norms and values have become more and more widespread around the world. And this to some degree influences the behavior of states, at least the reasonably developed states and almost certainly the states that make up the Security Council. I think it does decrease the chance that open war will break out over something as small as resources, especially when it is a conflict between major powers.

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Message 1459896 - Posted: 2 Jan 2014, 11:43:25 UTC

If there is ever another major world conflict it will probably kick off in the Middle East somewhere with other countries deciding which side to support.

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Message 1460000 - Posted: 2 Jan 2014, 15:30:34 UTC

Come on Wiggo, do you Aussies really pay your academics and press to come up with drivel like this? Sure, everything in 2014 is just the same as in 1914. Well, except for a few minor points:

1. Every world leader today has 24 hour near real time access to satellite coverage of every square inch of the planet. Any undetectable sneak attack these days can't be any bigger than two guys with back packs.

2. Every world leader today has 24 hour real time phone connections to every other world leader. And they use it regularly.

3. As for assassinations, not a week goes by without one. We have become very used to this. They don't start big wars anymore.

4. Every world power has become economically dependant on all the others. Russia needs western Europe to buy gas and oil. China needs the US and Canada to feed them. Everybody needs China for cheap cell phones and TVs. And so on...

And the big kicker -

5. For 60+ years every world leader has known that large scale nuclear war is, at best, unwinnable, and at worst threatens all life on the planet.

All that is why we haven't seen a superpower direct confrontation in 60+ years, and are not likely to. This appears to be an all time record going back to when being a world power meant having lots of spears and chariots.

Yes, proxy wars, religious wars, and local liberation movements will continue to cause death and destruction, but not the globalized industrialized death and destruction we saw in the last two world wars.

Another long term trend that may even reduce the local wars is the democratization of the planet. Democracy means many things in different parts of the world, but when you give the average man and woman some say in their national policy then governments stop worrying about global power, insults to their national pride, and building empires, and instead focus on really dull stuff like clean water and affordable health care. This dullness may just save the planet.
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Message 1460068 - Posted: 2 Jan 2014, 19:57:19 UTC

If we do, and I doubt it, I'm pretty sure WW IV will be fought with clubs and knives.
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Message 1460074 - Posted: 2 Jan 2014, 20:06:06 UTC - in response to Message 1460000.

1. Every world leader today has 24 hour near real time access to satellite coverage of every square inch of the planet. Any undetectable sneak attack these days can't be any bigger than two guys with back packs.


Excellent point. However, with the likes of Iran supplying the terrorist organisations in the Mid-east, and their continuous desire to be a nuclear power, those backpacks will soon be more worrisome than any aircraft plunging into tall towers.
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Message 1460093 - Posted: 2 Jan 2014, 21:04:46 UTC - in response to Message 1460074.

Even one or two packback nukes today would not start a world war. A quick round of phone calls between nuclear powers would lead to very limited responses. People who understand this stuff know that a large scale nuclear exchange would kill everybody and everything, everywhere, within a few years.
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Message 1460111 - Posted: 2 Jan 2014, 21:44:13 UTC - in response to Message 1460074.

Excellent point. However, with the likes of Iran supplying the terrorist organisations in the Mid-east, and their continuous desire to be a nuclear power, those backpacks will soon be more worrisome than any aircraft plunging into tall towers.

Besides, WMDs are not designed to be used, they are designed to be used for political bargaining and deterrence.

As for terrorists using nuclear weapons, it would be suicide for the entire organization. No country will harbor an organization that used nuclear weapons. There will not be a place in the world where they can safely hide. And if a country is actually dumb enough to harbor such criminals, you can be sure that no one will hesitate to invade the place and turn every stone upside down until they have found them.

I think terrorist organizations know this and as a result they will not be very interested in getting their hands on nuclear material.

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Message 1460124 - Posted: 2 Jan 2014, 22:02:22 UTC - in response to Message 1460111.

Oooh, do be careful here, too many posts like that would give Obama an excuse to go into Iran :)
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Message 1460126 - Posted: 2 Jan 2014, 22:06:40 UTC - in response to Message 1460124.

Oooh, do be careful here, too many posts like that would give Obama an excuse to go into Iran :)

Why shouldn't Iran have nukes? Pakistan has them. North Korea has them. Iran really isn't worse than those countries. I really don't think that Iran is stupid enough to actually use nukes once they have them.

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Message 1460129 - Posted: 2 Jan 2014, 22:10:16 UTC

Come on Wiggo, do you Aussies really pay your academics and press to come up with drivel like this?

Not me, but old Rupert Murdoch obviously does and you know what he's like. ;-)

But It did look like a good subject that others could grind over. :-)

Continue on people.

Cheers.

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Message 1460130 - Posted: 2 Jan 2014, 22:12:55 UTC - in response to Message 1459800.

No, it will only be Europe, Asia and the Middle East. The U.S. is going to sit this one out.

We have drones.
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Message 1460131 - Posted: 2 Jan 2014, 22:13:42 UTC

To Bills list of reasons why no WWIII I would add another:
6. If we did then WWIV would be fought with sticks and stones, and that would do no good to the defence industry's bottom line....
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Message 1460136 - Posted: 2 Jan 2014, 22:24:50 UTC - in response to Message 1460126.

Oooh, do be careful here, too many posts like that would give Obama an excuse to go into Iran :)

Why shouldn't Iran have nukes? Pakistan has them. North Korea has them. Iran really isn't worse than those countries. I really don't think that Iran is stupid enough to actually use nukes once they have them.


So if it actually did occur, can I come back to haunt you should the first hit Europe?

Did not an Arms Race be the eventual cause of both WWI & WWII?
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Message 1460140 - Posted: 2 Jan 2014, 22:36:07 UTC - in response to Message 1460136.
Last modified: 2 Jan 2014, 22:38:49 UTC

So if it actually did occur, can I come back to haunt you should the first hit Europe?

Did not an Arms Race be the eventual cause of both WWI & WWII?

What happened before WW1 can hardly be called an arms race, though all powers did try to keep up with each other in terms of military size and technology. It was nothing like the arms race we saw during the Cold War though.

Prior to WW2 there was absolutely no arms race. If there was, only the Fascists were participating. When the war broke down, France got caught with their pants down because they had completely refused to even rearm until the last possible moment. In fact, the French army doctrine consisted of 'a nation at arms' as they called it. Basically it meant letting the Germans walk in, then grind them down in a trench warfare, while the rest of the people are conscripted into the army, then beat them through attrition WW1 style. The British were better prepared, but even they had cut significantly in the defense budget in the years prior to WW2.

The US didn't fare much better. When the war started, their army would have been incapable of doing much against the Germans. They needed those few extra years they got by staying out during the initial years of the war.

The Russians...well the fact that they lost 3 million men to the Germans in the opening stages of their push East shows that if they had participated in any arms race, they had been running in the wrong direction.

Also, yeah, you can come and haunt me. I'm just pretty sure nothing will happen. So far the US is the only one who used nukes on another country. In every other conflict it has only been shown that if both sides possess nukes the intensity of the conflict lessens. Everyone knows that a state who uses nukes is essentially doing a suicide run. And most states are more rational than that. Iran so far has been very rational in its foreign policy.

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Message 1460141 - Posted: 2 Jan 2014, 22:45:25 UTC - in response to Message 1460140.

Iran so far has been very rational in its foreign policy.


You call supplying terrorists rational?

Good god, the quicker we get out of Europe the better!
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Message 1460144 - Posted: 2 Jan 2014, 22:55:55 UTC - in response to Message 1460141.

You call supplying terrorists rational?

Good god, the quicker we get out of Europe the better!

Its a perfect way to influence events in a foreign country without having to invade the place. And Iran is far from the only country who has done this. Many countries have aided rebels or terrorists. The US did in Afghanistan. Even the UK has supported non state armed forces on occasions where they did not want to send in their own army.

Perhaps rational is not the right word, but Iran has been playing the international relations game in a very calculated fashion. They are not just blundering around like a bunch of idiots. And I do not believe for a moment that Iran wishes to destroy itself by launching a nuclear attack. Nothing so far has indicated such a wish.

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Message 1460147 - Posted: 2 Jan 2014, 23:04:46 UTC - in response to Message 1460126.

I really don't think that Iran is stupid enough to actually use nukes once they have them.

They would if they needed to. Then it wouldn't be stupid. Nor would it necessarily be stupid for the other side either. You don't have to be irrational to start WW-III, only ill-informed (among other reasons).
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Message 1460148 - Posted: 2 Jan 2014, 23:08:57 UTC - in response to Message 1460147.

Agreed and the greatest excuse would be Israel making a blunder to push the Mid-East over the edge. All there want Israel out of the picture.
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