Every great war gets its start from somewhere.
In an article for The National Interest, Robert Farley, a senior lecturer on diplomacy for the University of Kentucky, writes that these five modern-day conflicts could incite World War III if political solutions can’t be found for each of them.
- The war in Syria. The spread of the Islamic State is of critical concern to the world’s largest powers, including Russia, France and the US. But even if these states are united by a joint coalition, internal tensions may rise within the alliance due to the respective members’ different plans for Syria’s future. Warfare between outside forces on Syrian territory would rapidly drag countries like Turkey, Iran, and Saudi Arabia into the conflict.
- India and Pakistan. This uneasy relationship could deteriorate at any moment, and become another spark towards global conflict. If Islamabad-sponsored radical groups carried out terror acts in India like those that ripped through Mumbai in 2008, New Delhi’s patience could run out. In this scenario, if Pakistan suffered a major defeat at the hands of India, the use of tactical nuclear weapons could be seen by Islamabad as the only way to resolve the situation after it had escalated. The US, which has strengthened its ties with India in the last few years, would be very likely to step into that war as well as China, which could take Pakistan’s side.
- The East China Sea. Over the last two years China and Japan have been playing a dangerous game of brinkmanship over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands. Both states claim those territories and have deployed their military in nearby zones. If that conflict ignites, the United States is bound by a cooperation and security agreement to take the side of its long-term ally, Japan. China would be likely to act first by launching an attack on America’s military infrastructure in the region.
- The South China Sea. The state of affairs regarding the South China Sea has continued to elicit global concern because of the confrontation between US and Chinese naval and air units. A loss of self-control by either of the sides could result in horrifying consequences.
- Ukraine. The outcome of the whole situation largely depends on to what extent NATO is ready to interfere in the country’s internal affairs, he highlighted. If NATO intervened in Ukraine, Russia would be forced to take counter-measures. Additionally, any attack on any of the alliance’s member countries could trigger a NATO offensive.