Big Picture

The Big Picture: Should you be worried about World War III?

1913intel is about emerging risks, and World War III is an emerging risk. If you are surprised by this then you haven’t been paying attention. Keep reading to understand more.

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Updated on April 19, 2017.

Before 9/11 there were a few people talking about the possibility of the US getting hit big but most had no clue. Before the 2008 financial crash there were a few people talking about it but most had no clue. Big shocks are generally preceded by talk from a few credible people. This is an indication of a tipping point.

Define tipping point: When something small can trigger something big.

We can remain at a tipping point for several years then something happens and bang.

Have we reached a tipping point concerning World War III?

Take a look at a few recent articles below:

People are writing about the possibility of World War III. They are worried about an accident or miscalculation escalating into a full-blown nuclear war. Even though they may not want war, it can still happen through unstoppable escalation. But how do you know that the leaders in Russia and China don’t want nuclear war? You can’t read the mind of these leaders, and thus, you can’t be sure they won’t start a nuclear war if given a good excuse.

Well, World War III will destroy the world. No it won’t. Nuclear winter has been discredited based on the study of volcanoes. Nuclear winter is more like nuclear fall that will go back to normal over about five years.

What about Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD)?

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Given the low level of deliverable nuclear weapons in the US nuclear arsenal, the US will only be able to respond once to a large-scale nuclear attack from Russia and China. If the people in Russia and China can get to a nuclear fallout shelter, then they will survive. There will be no complete obliteration of the Russians and Chinese. In other words, the concept of MAD no longer applies when the US can respond only one time. The first one to launch a nuclear attack pretty much wins if they have plenty of fallout shelters. Both Russia and China are in better shape than the US regarding fallout shelters.

What does history say about the threat of war?

In forecasting competitions, the best forecasters use the past as their guide. They do not look into the future and guess likely events. They go back in history to find similar situations, and see what happened. This works much better than attempting to look into the future because so much information is incomplete. You don’t know what various leaders around the world are thinking. You just can’t know enough in order to make good forecasting decisions.

One estimate from the past shows that the probability of war is 77% (10/13) when a rising power (like China) gets into conflict with a hegemonic leader (the US.) This is based on hundreds of years of historical data. Is China in conflict with the US?

It looks like a military conflict between China and the US is brewing on the horizon. What about Russia?

U.S.-Russia Relations Are ‘Worse’ Than During the Cold War, Kremlin Spokesman Says

You can see that there is a lot of tension between the US and Russia, and the US and China. It’s really not a stretch to say that we are indeed at a tipping point concerning World War III.

To get a little more conceptual understanding about how collapses work (war is just another kind of collapse), please see my About page.

To really get a handle on the situation you need to take a look at some key article lists that I have created:

The Big Picture
Russia
China
What does history say?

Monitoring emerging risks.