Brink of War

Alan Cai

November 18, 2022

"Peace cannot be achieved through violence, it can only be attained through understanding," wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson, a distinguished American writer of the nineteenth century. In an age of plentiful information, yet little understanding, a great war is looming.

Wars challenge human morals and ethics, representing conflicts between opposing peoples and ideologies. In a different sense, wars are a violent expression of argumentation and disagreement. Thus, victories consist not of adequately persuading the opposition to agree, but rather, coercing concession through the usage of military prowess. More often than not, wars are but a temporary solution to a longer and more complicated crisis. Ones that rear their brutal heads as time progresses. Hence, violence between nations rarely occurs spontaneously and most frequently follows a significant period of strained tensions, distrust, and hostile activities.

The world is on the brink of another great war. This war will likely be waged on a scale few analysts could have imagined and could potentially cause irreversible and far-reaching damage. The large wars documented in history often stem from smaller disputes. The Great War began as a disagreement between Austria-Hungary and Serbia. The Second World War was catalyzed by the failed system of appeasement and the subsequent invasion of Poland. The modern era can be seen as a time of similar ever-escalating tensions, with some areas already reaching boiling points. The Russian-Ukrainian conflict presents an ever-present threat to the stability of Europe, with each new day bringing the possibility of the war spilling over to Poland, Romania, or other neighboring countries. China’s harsh stance toward Taiwan is at a level never seen in decades with numerous military experts expecting an invasion to be inevitable. North Korea’s swelling military forces and advanced nuclear capabilities continue to pose a fatal threat to all players in the region. The hermit kingdom additionally demonstrated a willingness to use the full extent of its power if needed through its repeated ballistic missile tests. Even Canada may be in store for some diplomatic scrutiny, as seen by the recent media skirmish between President Xi of China and Prime Minister Trudeau.

The notable global conflicts of the past centuries, ranging from the Seven Years' War to the Second World War have largely involved Western and European powers fighting with each other with theatres on other continents viewed as mere proxies. With few exceptions, Europe and the West have ideologically unified while previously less-influential nations in the East are receiving growing attention on the world stage. Instead of being sparked by a rivalry between the United Kingdom and France or one between the United States and Spain, citizens of the world may soon brace for a confrontation between the East and the West. In such a war, no country, not even Switzerland, could have the ability to retain neutrality and every individual will feel its immediate effect.

While the battles of the past have been marred with massive armies, organized formations, and elaborate command structures, a great war of the future, will hold much more nuanced venues of offense. Conflicts active throughout the world today put a much less(although still existent) premium on territory conquered than history’s examples suggest, but a much higher focus on control of information, ideas, diplomacy, and trade. In addition, contrary to the positive trend of military size and organization observed throughout much of humanity’s past, a new war will contain a larger quantity of smaller yet deadly attacks. For example, massive armies will be supplanted by guerilla fighters, Aircraft Carriers and tanks will be annihilated by swarms of automated assault vehicles, and millions of private citizens will have the potential to participate in cyber warfare. The decentralization of the overall meaning of military might suggests that even non-nation actors, such as breakaway provinces, private corporations, criminal organizations, or even individuals may participate as parties of the conflict.

Much has changed since humanity’s initial shock from global warfare. It would be quite difficult to predict the radical changes we may be forced to endure in the future. With all the uncertainty and confusion, one conclusion can be drawn: every facet of your life will be dramatically altered by a new world war and we must commit everything in our arsenals to ensure its prevention.