According to a British newspaper, people are increasingly interested in acquiring nuclear bomb shelters to install in their homes. If ordinary people are interested in spending money on such a thing, they are probably thinking that a war is approaching. They must imagine that even a nuclear war is likely in the foreseeable future. I don't know, however, why Britons are more interested in shelters than other people. Maybe British politicians know more about where the world is headed to and perhaps they are informing their constituencies.
Pope Francis was in Egypt last weekend, and while preaching during a mass, he said the world needs to find mediators immediately in order to calm the U.S. and North Korea down. It was interesting that the Pope, while in Egypt, preferred to speak about the Far East rather than the Middle East. Probably he thinks that a nuclear war is quite possible too. He may be better informed than most of us about world affairs, anyway.
If a third world war was to begin, it would probably break out in East Asia, and probably would be started by North Korea. It is an irrational and unpredictable country, so it may very well launch missiles at Japan or at the U.S. bases in the region. No one would be surprised if the North Korean leader suddenly orders his troops to invade South Korea either. He can start by trying to destroy the THAAD missile defense system that the Americans are installing in the Korean peninsula.
If North Korea decides to hit somewhere, anywhere, we'll all know that the real target will be the U.S. In other words, even if not attacked directly, the U.S. will say that an attack against a U.S. ally is an attack against the U.S., and it will then retaliate. If nuclear weapons are used in those attacks, we better look for a new planet to live on. We have already said that North Korea is an irrational actor, but Trump does not seem to be a cool-headed guy.
Of course, despite what we are seeing on the front pages, the real conflict is not between North Korea and the U.S., it is all about testing China and forcing it to divulge its plans for the future.
During their meeting, President Trump asked the Chinese president to put pressure on North Korea, and the Chinese seemed to accept that. On the sidelines, the U.S. has asked China to reconsider some of its economic and financial policies, while Beijing has urged the U.S. not to deploy missile defense systems all over the region. It doesn't seem like these talks worked. Because China keeps using North Korea as leverage against the U.S. If, one day, the U.S. decides that South Korea or Japan should retaliate against North Korea, we may witness a limited and regional war. However, if the U.S. gets directly involved in a military conflict in the region, there is a chance that China will step in, as well.
We know what the global economic conditions, ongoing conflicts and tensions are. We also know who the antagonists are and what they are capable of doing. That's why an important number of analysts think a war is quite possible. Just add populist governments to this picture, growing defense budgets and protectionist commercial policies. Doesn't it look like as if we are right before a great war?
The problem is, in the wake of world wars, great powers often lose their status as the system's dominant powers. In other words, if they decide to play this game, the U.S. and China may lose their current status in the international system. So maybe it would be wise to look at who is provoking them against each other and thus, who is willing to replace them as the system's major powers? If they keep doing what they are doing right now, in other words, if they don't get involved directly in the conflict, Russia and Britain are probably the best candidates.
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