World War 3: Imminent? What do you think?

“Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it” is a quote by George Santayana, and in its original form it reads, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

2_nuclear_bomb_on_cityI’m told that we are living in a time which is liken to the events leading to the World Wars I and II. However claiming that World War III is just over the horizon is as far fetched as water on Mars, but the state of the world is showing some eerie similarities to the global picture of pre–World War II and if Santayana is correct then history is indeed a creature of habit.

We all have read of revolutions that give an individual absolute power inevitably end up as brutal dictatorships. Even individuals are subject to this advice. Couples who do not learn from their fights break up. People who don’t learn from their mistakes don’t mature.

Then what constitutes a ‘world war’? How many countries need to be involved?  And who decides at which point a number of regional battles can be grouped together and called a World War?  At the time, who called the official start of World War I and World War II? And have you noticed that although the term ‘World War Three’ is freely used in the alternative press and on the Internet, all the major news networks have stoically avoided using any phrase reminiscent of World War.

Since it’s difficult to find a definition for an event which has only happened twice in modern history, here’s an attempt at an answer to the question ‘what constitutes a world war?’.

A World War is a military conflict spanning more than two continents, in which at least twenty major countries participate in an attack against a common enemy, and which has the attention of the man-in-the-street due to the significant loss of life.

dWith that definition, we can agree that WW I and WW II were in fact World Wars (both wars involved some degree of participation from most of the world’s then existing countries: Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United States and the Soviet Union).  We can also agree that we are very close to achieving World War III.  The only requirement left to fulfil the start of WWIII is that of a military conflict spanning more than two continents.

Consider what Mark Twain famously said on the matter: “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”


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