Thursday, August 10, 2006
Are we on the brink of World War III? Judging by recent and current events in the Middle East, it seems safe to answer that question with an unqualified “yes.” What we’re seeing now is the spark that leads to ignition—and a raging inferno.
U.S. troops occupy Afghanistan. More U.S. troops conduct a failing ground war in Iraq. And, in Lebanon, U.S. ally Israel continues its outrageous slaughter of the innocents—and its wanton destruction of Lebanon’s infrastructure—as it wages war against a largely civilian population in an attempt to root out Hezbollah.
On another Israeli border, the Palestinians, as always, are restless. The stability of the entire region is threatened. How long before Syria is drawn into the picture? How long before the U.S. or Israel looses a preemptive strike against Iran? How long before the Saudis, the Egyptians and the Turks are sucked into the conflict?
As tensions rise and hostilities spread across the region, it won’t be long before Russia and all of Europe is fully engaged in the madness. Add to this mess North Korean ambition and you have an RSVP invitation to the biggest weenie roast in history.
Can any single nation hope to survive a global conflict and emerge from it a winner? Clearly the U.S. cannot, short of unleashing a firestorm of nuclear weapons early on. An all out nuclear war, however, would likely render the planet uninhabitable for most of the higher life forms, including humans. No winners here.
Early and protracted engagement in a global conflict will consume resources and erode capacities and capabilities of nations so engaged. One by one, the European Union, Russia and the U.S. will fall, leaving their allies vulnerable to takeover by invading forces.
China, inscrutable as always, is poised to be the big winner of WWIII, providing she can postpone her involvement until most other nations have been depleted and defeated, and the end of hostilities draws near. Through careful planning and timing, China can conserve its resources and vast reserves of manpower, using them efficiently to conduct strategic mop-up operations and police actions in far-flung countries where populations, resources and infrastructure are so diminished that citizens and governments lack the will or the means to resist.
Sun Tzu (a name used collectively by several Chinese writers) wrote The Art of War, which contains the guiding principles of successful combat, between about 450 B.C. and 220 B.C. Many of the principles contained therein are as valid today as they were more than two millennia ago.
Providing that China’s political and military leaders adhere to and apply Sun Tzu’s principles of war, there’s no reason not to think that that nation of a billion people has the capability of becoming the world’s next great superpower.