Since President Trump ordered 59 missiles to be launched at a Syrian airbase April 6, there has been a flood of tweets, memes and online articles on the start of “World War III.”
While a typical, if not passe, conclusion for Americans to jump to, most do not understand the implications of such a statement.
The reality is, world wars are spurred by the conflicting growth and change of many leading nations. WWIII will not happen, at least not for a very long time.
To understand what will happen going forward, we need only to look at what has happened in the past. Both World War I and World War II came from the then-world super powers looking to grow and finding one another in their way.
WWI arrived at the peak of European imperialism. Major powers like Great Britain and France had spent years garnering power and resources by capturing and controlling as many colonies as possible.
Countries like Austria-Hungary and Germany wanted that power. A couple alliances and an assassination later, they were fighting to gain the colonies necessary to have some of that power.
WWII was founded in similar conflict, but in developing ideologies. After WWI, Italy and Germany began viewing Fascism and Nazism respectively as their way to achieving their goals. Both of these ideologies rejected liberalism, Marxism and democracy, biting sharply against these concepts in the other world powers like Great Britain, Russia and the United States.
The trend we see in the history of world wars is clear. Developing world powers wanted different things and had to go through one another to get it. They did not see a way to achieve their desires without a war.
If you don’t look closely, what I just described sounds exactly like what’s happening today.
The U.S. and Russia, among others, disagree on what is going on in Syria and have to go through one another to get it.
But the war in Syria doesn’t represent major change or development for any of the world powers. Russia and the U.S. are on different sides more due to protecting interests than ideological differences, and Syria does not represent the primary concern of either country.
World wars start because of massive pushes by leading countries looking to grow, and there is no evidence of such revolutionary tension, especially not in Syria. We are past the point of major development in top countries, and the most powerful have stabilized.
There are many developing countries that show a lot of similarities to the U.S., Great Britain and Russia of 80 years ago, but in the past smaller countries have not dragged larger countries into war; larger countries have dragged smaller ones into war.
World wars are huge, dramatic events and are only caused by major forces not letting anything stop them from getting what they want and defining who they are. The major forces of today’s world no longer need to go to such lengths to reach their goals.
The countries that are going through rapid expansion today do not have the firepower nor the influence to start another world war, and countries who have been through these wars in the past are unlikely to be dragged in willingly any time soon.