Israel and the next world war

Dr. Norman Bailey

Forecasts about a coming world war don't stand up to scrutiny, and the dangers to Israel in any case lie elsewhere.

Earlier this year, retired US Admiral James Stavridis and his co-author published a book called "2034: A Novel About the Next World War". It immediately became a best-seller. This very well-written thriller chronicles a future war between China and the US that becomes global and nuclear and results in the destruction of much of the world, including most of the US.

So much has recently been written and discussed publicly about the likelihood of a new world war, involving the US vs. either China or Russia or both, that it has almost become "common knowledge" that another world war is around the corner, just as it has become "common knowledge" that climate change will destroy civilization with or without another world war.

Let's look at this terrifying proposition. Russia is a dying country -literally. Its population shrinks yearly and becomes less and less healthy at the same time, mostly due to alcoholism. Putin is neither stupid nor a megalomaniac. He is a very meticulous strategic thinker and planner and carefully keeps Russian aggressive activities within a range that the West will oppose at most with words or the occasional sanction directed mostly at individuals. He also knows that he has most of Europe dependent upon his oil and particularly gas exports, so they're not going to do anything genuinely hostile unless he engages in a full-scale invasion of NATO territory. The chance of that is zero.

What about China? Isn't it rampaging all over the world--literally, using all the instruments of statecraft, including the military in the South China Sea; establishing military bases in various parts of the world, spreading its culture, language and ideology through its extensive network of Confucius institutes; aggressively using its massive monetary reserves to buy influence in the entire world, through trade, infrastructure investment and the active theft of technology? Yes, it is.

And that is precisely the point. It is being extremely successful in its efforts to establish itself as the "other" superpower, relegating Russia to the position of an "almost" superpower, which has only gas and nuclear weapons to deploy, in contrast to China's panoply of strategic resources and activities.

What would China gain by risking starting a world war, by, say, invading Taiwan? If they conclude that the West will do nothing effective, yes, they might. Otherwise not. Would they like to get back their wayward province? Sure. Would they risk extensive nuclear devastation to achieve that goal? No way.

Conclusion; forget about the next world war. Admiral Stavridis's book is a good read and I recommend it. But it is fiction. No more.

There is plenty to worry about in the region, without adding the possibility of Russia or China starting a world war. If it develops a nuclear capacity, Iran could indeed risk armed conflict with its neighbors, considering itself invulnerable--wait..."invulnerable"?

What about the Israeli submarines in the Gulf reportedly with nuclear-tipped missiles? Hmmm.

Right now, Israel is in an enviable position--economically, scientifically, technologically and militarily powerful several orders of magnitude beyond its minuscule size and population. What threatens Israel more than anything else is not anything that is happening externally. It is the possibility of internal failure of social cohesion and political will. If those threats are overcome, the future is rosy... and then we can worry about over-confidence.

Dr. Norman Bailey is professor of Economic Statecraft at the Galilee International Management Institute, and adjunct professor at the Institute of World Politics, Washington DC. Dr. Bailey was a senior staff member of the National Security Council during the Reagan administration and of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence during the George W. Bush administration.  

Published by Globes, Israel business news - - on November 16, 2021.

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd., 2021.

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