Predicting what is most likely to cause World War III is, frankly, an impossibility. It could be sparked in 10 years or in 50 years and we have no certainty over what exactly could set everything off. That being said, I am of the belief that, eventually, the world will enter into a Third World War at some point.
Fundamentally, I think a world war would result from several simultaneous regional conflicts which somehow become linked — some combination of e.g. North Korea/South Korea, China vs. Taiwan, some kind of crisis in Burma, various Middle East wars, Africa, Mexico/etc.
The US used to be able to fight multiple parallel wars, but has demonstrated it can fight at best 1.5 wars — delay/hold on one while fighting the other. It’s possible that in an all out situation, the US could focus more on winning vs. casualties (civilian or own-forces), and maybe fight 1-2 simultaneous conflicts while holding down a few others, but that would be a stretch politically and logistically.
Almost no other countries maintain force projection capabilities (strategic airlift like C-17s and tankers, global sealift and sea control), so it’s highly likely the US would be the only combatant in each sphere of operation, augmented by regional or local allies (e.g. Australia for SEA conflicts; Japan in East Asia; France in North Africa). The UK, maybe Canada would make some effort to contribute in some randomly selected conflicts, but fundamentally the US would be doing the majority.
The turning point would be these multiple parallel conflicts going from de facto enemy alliance (splitting the resources of the US) to some kind of overtly coordinated strategy like the Axis in WW2. The scenario where the US is already tied down in e.g. Iraq, Afghanistan leaves the opportunity open for an adversary to test the limits of US response, making conflicts more likely.
The high peak destructiveness of modern warfare suggests that any conflicts will be short and very destructive, or long and insurgency-focused, but in the multiple-wars scenario, some could be “hot” at any given time, and others could be simmering.
A major shift since the end of the cold war has been a shift from purely proxy wars to direct involvement by the US, and the rise of non-state actors. In Korea and Vietnam, the US faced Russia/China proxies; in virtually every other conflict, one or both sides was a proxy for the US or USSR. This at least prevented conflicts from escalating to all-out nuclear war. Now, the US gets involved directly, but is fighting local enemies (Taliban, Al Qaeda, Iraq and then domestic insurgents, …).
The major factor tempering all of this is the global economy and economic interconnectedness. As long as trade is more beneficial than war, there is a strong bias toward resolving conflicts peacefully. If mercantilism/protectionism or economic collapse (perhaps precipitated through NBC terrorism, or some kind of plague) turns back the clock on globalization, the odds of a war increase dramatically.
At the end of the day, we don’t really need complex political conflict to get us into WWIII. A silly mistake might be all it takes.
Possible scenarios which could spark World War III
Scenario 1: Fanatics get hold of biological warfare and use it on other fanatics in a hate – revenge cycle and people start accusing each other and defending against their accusations until everyone takes sides
Scenario 2: We run out of water, everybody fights to control it
Scenario 3: Accidental launch of atom bombs trigger wipe out mode
Scenario 4: BRICS gets enough allies they decide the communist revolution needs to take over the low population rich US, taking down the world economy
Scenario 5: A group of super government-sponsored hackers decide to take over the world and wreck it all by control of human, financial and natural resources
Time to wake up world and face reality… Check this out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HP7L8bw5QF4 and see for yourself
It is as explicit as can be
Share your thoughts….