The Nature of World War Three

The first world war was fought in the trenches of Belgium and France and in parts of the world like Gallipoli. Artillery and ships were used amongst other weapons.

WW2 was more widespread geographically. All parts of Europe were involved spreading into Russia, North Africa and the Middle East, and an extensive Asian front in India, South-East Asia, and Japan where the US played a major role. The opponents were organized in and fought as national armies, navies and air forces, controlled by governments.

Today’s terrorist attacks, especially over the past 15 years, have taken place in different parts of the globe, conducted by non-traditional forces often located  among civilian populations. When these terrorists are attacked by regular military personnel, civilians are placed in danger or forced to move from their traditional homelands. The result is flows of refugees who live in squalid camps or undertake dangerous passages to what they perceive to be safe havens in places like Western Europe and North America.


Since 1914, there have now been three world wars, the last one currently being fought in the Middle East and parts of the world where terrorist acts can be undertaken either by local inhabitants or by persons who can easily cross borders. Modern societies have many places where bombings can occur to kill people, disrupt lives and capital equipment – power grids, travel (road, rail, air, ships), commercial activities dependent on communication systems, cyber attacks on computer networks and so on.

For most of the post WW2 period, potential threats have focused on nuclear attacks from countries with this capability. Today’s threats can be undertaken with equipment like drones, individuals willing to perish as suicide bombers, and other low cost measures which are impossible or hard for civilized societies to guard against.


A listing of terrorist attacks by year and location can be found at

They have occurred in all parts of the world including major incidents like 9/11, bombings and shootings in Madrid, London and Paris, as well as many in other locations. Travelling the globe today is a bit like travel by horse and coach in earlier days when highway men could be expected to attack and there was no protective police force.  Today, I would argue, we are in the midst of WW3 with techniques used which are far different from those used in WW1 and WW2.


One Response to “The Nature of World War Three”

  1. cmaule Says:

    Should international terrorism be described as global warfare? A learned friend suggested that it is not war. An alternative term might be conflict or violence. Similar to the world wars of the past century, today’s terrorism is global and is opposed by almost all national governments, including those which were opponents during the Cold and other Wars of the past century.

    Terrorist violence is occurring on all continents in a variety of forms, from the assassination of individuals to attacks on buildings, trains and planes. Technology provides terrorists with weapons which are relatively low cost including drones, chemical substances and explosives, while communication systems facilitate the recruitment of persons in different parts of the world.

    The last two world wars were fought with professional armies, navies and air forces. Terrorist violence uses different tools. It can be opposed using traditional means but will require professionals to adapt these to the enemies they now face. In the past, opponents knew who their enemies were and where they resided. Today they can be your neighbours.

    Whatever the label assigned, war or conflict, terrorism is a growing potential threat everywhere in the world. It will require security forces to adapt their tactics to confront the threat, and for civilian governments to allow their forces to take measures which in normal peace-time conditions might seem excessive.

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