Are We Heading Towards WWIII? | Teen Ink

Are We Heading Towards WWIII?

February 4, 2019
By Robert214 GOLD, Guangzhou, Other
Robert214 GOLD, Guangzhou, Other
11 articles 0 photos 45 comments

Favorite Quote:
Make the best of what is within our power, and take the rest as it occurs. -Epictetus

On September 1, 1939, when Germany army bombarded Poland, World War II began. Over the course of six years, war erupted between great powers in the world, obliterating from Europe to Asia, from the Atlantic to the Pacific and taking lives of over 70 million people. Indeed, World War II was one of the darkest and most painful time in history.

Eighty years later, we are now again standing at the crossroad of human history. Since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, Russia-Ukraine tension flares and has led to constant conflicts between the two countries. Ten years after the Arab Spring, religious issues and the power struggles between Russia and the West expose the Middle East to incessant bombing and shelling. With the surge of right-wing conservatism in Latin America, political crisis breaks out in Venezuela and may subsequently break out in other Latin-American countries. The world seems to be more chaotic and dangerous than ever before.

So, questions are: Do we learn from our past mistakes of World War II? Are we heading towards another world war?

Political theorist Kenneth Waltz’s three images of international conflicts are helpful to analyze the possibility World War III. Waltz points out that the causes of war can be found within individual behaviors, internal structure of states, or flaws of our international system.

In terms of individual behaviors, as more right-wing populists and nationalists gained power in recent years—Donald Trump, Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, Giuseppe Conte in Italy, etc.—the emergence of the next Hitler is actually possible. Many populist and nationalist leaders, in the name of “the pure people”, stimulate racism within states and emphasize protectionist policy. This sounds a lot like Hitler, who accentuated the superiority of Nazi German and imposed high tariffs on imported goods to revive German economy. Due to these striking similarities, some right-wing leaders today may evolve into the next Hitler, causing World War III to break out. However, this may not happen in the near future, since the cost of war now is much greater than that of eighty years earlier. Also, probably few states can bear the potential devastating effects brought by nuclear weapons. Clearly, country leaders, including those right-wing politicians, would have to consider more thoroughly before initiating a war now.      

The second image—internal structure of states—is another likely cause of World War III. According to this image, whether countries get into conflicts depends on the similarity of their political systems. For example, democratic peace theory claims that two democracies are not likely to go to war against each other. With regard to the international conflicts today, this theory still holds true—conflicts mostly break out between democracies and mixed/authoritarian regimes. The key conflict is the US—Russia tension. These two great powers have launched proxy wars around the world, the most severe among which is probably the Syrian Civil War. These proxy wars have the potential to escalate into direct conflict between US and Russia, which can trigger off the next world war. Nonetheless, the possibility of this is quite small in a short term. Both Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin are now troubled by domestic affairs. In the US, democrats-controlled congress posts many obstacles to Donald Trump in domestic reforms, not to mention granting money for war. In Russia, President Putin has to deal with the declining Russian economy and the harsh criticism of his undemocratic rule.  

In fact, compared with the first two images, the third image—international anarchy—is more likely to be the root of World War III. Rather than necessarily indicating the disorder of world politics, the term international anarchy denotes the lack of a powerful world government. Recently, the UN’s role in resolving international conflicts gradually declined, mainly because of the permanent Security Council members’ veto power. The US and Russia repeatedly exercised their veto power on the issues of Syria and Israel. Their use of veto power did not settle the controversies existed in these countries but exacerbated them. The UN, established to maintain world peace after WWII, has ironically become a new platform of struggles between states. Plus, some countries fail to contribute enough to UN budget while receiving aid from UN. The resulting budget deficits render the UN financially incapable of coordinating with different states. Therefore, the UN is no longer the world government that can effectively resolve international conflicts. Without effectual restrictions from the UN, states are more prone to going to war with each other today.

Is the next world war close to us? Perhaps not, since states would consider the great costs and damaging effects of launching such a huge war. However, it is no doubt that our world will be more hazardous than the recent past. In East Asia, the decay of US-China relation would increase the geopolitical risk, especially the in China South Sea and North Korea. In Europe, some countries (e.g. Italy) would try to leave EU after Brexit, which could challenge the unity of Europe and spur potential conflicts between European states. Around the globe, the US-Russia tension would continue to be the driving force behind regional conflicts. These trends can indeed give rise to the next world war in the long run. The effective solution to prevent it lies in the reform of the UN. As long as the UN reclaims its authority over individual states, the possibly of the outbreak of WWIII would become much smaller.         

Similar Articles


This article has 1 comment.

on Jan. 15 2020 at 12:34 pm
SolInvictus76, Leavenworth, Indiana
0 articles 0 photos 70 comments
Hitler was not, in any way, conservative, and he wasn't just a "nationalist." And fascism is not nearly as "right-wing" as the media wants you to think. The right of the political spectrum believes in small government, and fascism is not small government. Fascism was designed by Giovanni Gentille, a devout socialist. And the Nazi party, created in 1933, is actually a contraction, a euphemism in many ways, of the real name of the party, The "National Socialist German Worker's Party." Most right-wing voters believe in traditional Judeo-Christian values. Whereas Hitler and his party were the child of a much more sinister value system: the occult.
Hitler is not representative of the GOP, and is not representative of President Trump, who is actually lessening the government's grasp on peoples' freedoms.