2. What will cause World War III

Written 12 September 2015

The world is overpopulated and our resources are dwindling. At the current rate of population growth, we are set to reach 10 billion people as soon as 2040, the maximum amount which the planet can sustain with our current resource capacity. While oil, natural gas, and minerals are all likely to be exhausted (re: peak oil), there is a much more valuable and much more important natural resource which is also going to be facing severe scarcity: water.

The scarcity of clean drinking water is already known in many major Chinese cities, such as Shanghai, where only 3% of the available water is potable, not to mention the arid landscapes of the Southwestern United States or the Middle East. This will become an even greater issue as the world continues to overpopulate, leading to other issues such as economic crises and pollution, in turn leading to less access to potable water.

Many theorists iterate the fact that the destructiveness of nuclear weapons is enough to deter its use. Indeed, this was the concept behind the Mutually Assured Destruction (or MAD) policy of the United States, namely that a nuclear strike by the Soviet Union would be met with enough of a retaliation as to destroy the Soviets. The assumption behind this is that the Soviet Union would be rational enough to realize that a strike against the United States would result in catastrophe for their own country. Many proponents of this theory cite the lack of nuclear war during the Cold War as evidence.

There is certainly a possibility that the devastating effects of nuclear war could be mitigated through defense programs like the Strategic Defense Initiative, better known as “Star Wars”. Whatever the case, any normal person would think of this policy as insanely dangerous, not to mention that it is not scientifically provable. There are certain situations in which it would be rational to use a nuclear strike, and I will highlight some of them:

Middle East:
The only country in the Middle East which possesses it own nuclear weapons in Israel. However, many of the powers in the region have in the past carried out nuclear weapons programs. It is certainly possible that one of these powers may develop nuclear weapons, but it is impossible to predict which ones. Instead it is more important to focus on the ones which do have nukes.

Israel is at a high risk of facing water scarcity in the future, and the fact that most of its neighbors are hostile to its existence will only make this worse. In the same way that when a wolf is cornered it behaves very aggressively, an entity that faces desperation and real threats from outside to its existence can be very dangerous. The fact that Palestinian population growth exceeds the Israeli one seems to suggest that water and other resources will increasingly be used by non-Israelis. This will no doubt cause strains between Israel and the Palestinians which will further lead to outside pressure from neighboring countries.

In such a situation, it may be more expedient for Israel to lead a desperate attack on foreign powers than it would be to attempt negotiation. In this case, Israel would have to use the only weapon in which it has an undeniable advantage in: nuclear weapons. Of course, such a scenario would involve a well-planned and well-thought-out strategic doctrine which would take into account many risks. The major risk will be that these nuclear strikes will lead to World War III.

East Asia:
China has a very large population which is continuing to grow and will only continue to grow despite the one-child policy, although at much steadier rates. The situation will become more complicated as pollution becomes an ever bigger issue, making most of the water in China non potable. Furthermore, the lack of agricultural land could contribute to an even greater crisis in the country.

North Korea already faces severe food shortages and the country has exhibited increasingly irrational behavior as fear of collapse worries the Kim regime. Similar behavior could be exhibited by China as the country faces severe economic shortages. The most likely scenario would be an attack on one or more of the island chains facing China, quite possibly starting with Taiwan. Although China’s manpower alone might be enough to snuff out any resistance it faces, the desperate situation it will face at home may cause it to act very dangerously, perhaps using nuclear weapons if its luck reverses.

South Asia:
Facing an even more dire population challenge, the states of South Asia will likely be the most devastated by overpopulation. India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh are all facing the threat of water shortages. Unlike China, population growth is not expected to slow down, with each country expected to face at least 20% population growth by 2030. Furthermore, as each country’s population grows, pollution will also increase, further decreasing the available amount of potable water and agricultural land.

Both India and Pakistan possess nuclear weapons, meaning that a “Mutually-Assured Destruction” policy is in play. This makes it less likely that nuclear war between the two states will erupt, but the devastating economic shortages they will face may be enough to cause a crisis. Whatever the case, it is more likely that both states will collapse, leaving many different powers to take control of the nuclear weapons. The competition which will result may indeed cause nuclear war and may even lead to terrorist groups gaining control of these weapons and may start World War III.

This is a bit different from the other examples because it implies an irrational reaction and doesn’t involve economic scarcities. Although in my previous post I questioned the assumption that Russia will collapse, I did not preclude the possibility that a new, ultra-nationalistic force will take over the country. Although the United States and the Soviet Union were very much rational forces, there have certainly been examples of irrational powers. The Nazi regime of Adolf Hitler was one of them.

The possibility of a fascist or ultranationalist party taking control in Russia is not too remote. Indeed, these ideologies have already found a home in Russia, with people like Vladimir Zhirinovsky and Gennady Zyuganov — who express quasi-fascist ideologies — being mainstream politicians. Furthermore, neo-fascists ideologists such as Aleksandr Dugin have found support among ruling circles; indeed, Dugin’s The Foundations of Geopolitics has been used as a textbook in the military academies of the country.

If a fascist were to rise to power in Russia, it is certainly possible that an irrational strategy would be taken. Similar to how Hitler promoted irrational strategies in Europe during World War II (eg. demanding the defense of undefendable territory taken from the Soviets instead of retreating and regrouping as his generals suggested), a fascist Russia would consider the irrational use of nuclear weapons. Fascism is an ideology which promotes mysticism (re: occultism) over reason making such a scenario possible. It is impossible to predict irrational actions, but such a state would pose serious threats to other powers and may even cause World War III.

This is by no means meant to be scientifically accurate — as there is no way the scientific method can be applied here. However, considering the political economic situation which will be cause by climate change, water scarcity, and — most of all — overpopulation, these are some scenarios which are possible. In the next post, I will describe what the strategies and tactics of World War III may look like.