photoshopped image of World War III scenario

Worst Case Scenario: Will There Be a World War 3?

by James Walton

In 2024, the world is experiencing heightened geopolitical tensions driven by a myriad of economic, political, and environmental factors. Increased conflict in key regions such as Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and East Asia are becoming significant points of concern for policymakers across the globe, prompting many to wonder: will there be World War 3? 

The ongoing war in Ukraine continues to strain relations between NATO allies and Russia. Significant economic sanctions and military support from the West have done little more than exacerbate the situation in Eastern Europe. 

In the Middle East, Iran’s nuclear ambitions, their increasingly close relationship with Russia and China, and their backing of the Hamas-led attacks on Israel have raised significant alarm amongst the international community. The Iranian-backed Houthi attacks on commercial shipping activities in the Red Sea have also disrupted shipping routes.

In East Asia, China’s aggressive show of military force in the Indo-Pacific region and fierce opposition to recognizing Taiwan as an independent state have led to escalating tensions between the US and China. Additionally, North Korea continues to advance its nuclear and missile testing, further contributing to instability in the region. 

Could we be on the precipice of a third World War? What could eventually cause a global war? Let’s explore some potential scenarios that could lead to World War III.

Table of Contents

  • 01

    Historical Context: Wars Have Kicked Off Over Much Less 

  • 02

    Who Are the Players in WWIII?

  • 03

    Potential Scenarios Leading to WWIII:

  • 04

    Iran vs. Israel

  • 05

    Poland’s Posture Change

  • 06

    Invasion of Ukraine 2022 

  • 07

    Turkey Gets Involved

  • 08

    China Makes a Move on Taiwan

  • 09

    There are Consequences of Global War

  • 010

    Final Thoughts on the Possibility of World War 3

  • 011

    Frequently Asked Questions

Franz Ferdinand death notice.

Franz Ferdinand death notice. (Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Historical Context: Wars Have Kicked Off Over Much Less 

Historically speaking, few wars have been the result of one major event. Rather, they result from relatively minor events that end up being the tipping point during ongoing heightened tensions. Take, for example, the events that led to World War I. 

In the early 20th century, Europe was experiencing fast economic growth leading to a subsequent powerplay for dominance in the region between Germany, Russia, France, Austria-Hungary, and Great Britain. Additionally, we witnessed the rise of imperialism and nationalism among two key states — Russia and Germany respectively. 

With political tensions at an all-time high, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary was assassinated by a Serbian nationalist in June 1914. Austria-Hungary backed by Germany declared war on Serbia which, in turn, was backed by Russia. Great Britain and France joined the war against Germany after it invaded Belgium. 

Come 1918, Germany was suffering from military exhaustion and internal unrest, leading to its ultimate defeat and the signing of the Armistice on November 11, 1918. The war officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919. 

Although well-intentioned, the Treaty of Versailles had adverse effects that led to extensive economic hardship and resentment within Germany. 

Three decades later, in 1939, Hitler Hitler invaded Poland to expand the Third Reich, gain territory, and unite all ethnic Germans. As a result, Great Britain and France once again declared war on Germany. 

By 1941, the United States had entered the war after the attack on Pearl Harbor, which played a crucial role in turning the tide. Four years later, the Axis powers of Germany and Japan had surrendered. It’s said that the conflict resulted in the loss of 75 million lives.

However, another conflict was just around the corner. The creation of Israel in 1948 led to the mass immigration of Holocaust survivors. This, in turn, led to the first Arab-Israeli war, which was a result of political tension, military conflict, and other disputes between various Arab countries and Israel.

Millions died due to a lack of equipment and preparedness. Back then, soldiers didn’t have proper body armor as they do now, like the MIRA Safety Body Armor. This no doubt contributed heavily to the astronomical death toll. 

World War II also saw a rise in chemical warfare. Limitations in technology at the time meant nerve agents could cause devastating effects. While nerve agents and chemical warfare are still deadly, soldiers now have gas masks and respirators to protect themselves, such as the CM-6M Tactical Gas Mask

As we’ve seen time and again, tiny flashpoints end up creating massive conflicts. The aftermath of 9/11 demonstrated how a devastating act of terrorism could trigger a series of responses that lead to prolonged military engagements, such as the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

CM-6M tactical gas mask with one CBRN filter

CM-6M Full Face Respirator

Who Are the Players in WWIII?

Should the world enter into a World War Three scenario, we can expect the dominant players to be Russia, China, and Iran on one side versus the US, Europe, and Great Britain. The NATO states play a pivotal role as their expansion east is the main driver behind Russia’s aggression. North Korea would also surely play a role.

It is easy to visualize the players of World War III as “East versus West,” but with outlying Eastern countries such as South Korea, Japan, New Zealand, and Australia aligning themselves with the US and Europe, the equation isn’t as simple as it looks. 

The Russian-Chinese relationship is further fortified by their involvement in the BRICS group. BRICS is a group of countries with economic, security, and political ties that include countries such as Brazil, India, and South Africa. 

These are three dominant countries in their respective regions with significant mineral and defense resources. In early 2024, the BRICS group welcomed six new member states; Egypt, Iran, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Ethiopia.  

BRICS was introduced as an alternative to the dollar payment system used by the G7, and it’s likely to face opposition as it continues to grow. Many of the BRICS countries enjoy a balanced relationship with both Russia and the US, though in time of war, things tend to change quickly. 

 While the BRICS nations enjoy close political, economic, and security ties, it’s unlikely that they’d immediately side with Russia or China. . The US, on the other hand, maintains close mutual defense treaties with countries such as Canada, the Philippines, Japan, Thailand, and South Korea — all of whom would definitively side with the US. 

NATO warships

NATO warships. (Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Potential Scenarios Leading to WWIII:

Iran and Israel map

Iran and Israel. (Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Iran vs. Israel

Iran and Israel play an important role in Middle Eastern geopolitics. Iran has long opposed the existence of Israel, supporting groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas to foster skirmishes.

In April 2024, hostilities intensified in response to Israel’s counterattacks, leading to the war in Gaza in the wake of the October 7, Hamas-led attack on Israel. Iranian-backed militant groups launched rockets and drone strikes from Lebanon and Gaza, targeting Israeli cities and military installations. While the vast majority of the ballistic missile strikes were intercepted, there was minor infrastructural damage in some areas. 

Iran maintains the attack was in retaliation for a suspected Israeli strike on a consulate in Damascus which killed an Iranian military commander. Post-retaliation strike, Iran officials consider the matter concluded but have expressed that they would consider a more severe response should Israel launch any further attacks. 

A US official from President Biden’s administration said Israel was not seeking to escalate the situation further, although Israeli officials have emphasized that they would prepare for further attacks should Iran strike again. 

Poland and Russia map

Poland and Russia. (Wikimedia Commons)

Poland’s Posture Change

From 2015 to 2023, the ruling party in Poland was the Law and Justice party (PiS). The PiS government found itself on the receiving end of many legal actions brought against it by the European Commission for breaching core European Union (EU) values. Critics of the PiS complained that the party was illiberal and authoritarian, undermining the country’s core democracy. 

The 2023 Polish election results were a critical turning point for Eastern European politics. The new government seeks to more closely align Poland with the EU and play a more active role within the NATO states. 

This change of sentiment has angered Russia and Belarus who seek to undermine EU influence and expansion in the region. Poland remains critical of both Russia and Belarus who they see as a direct threat to regional security. 

Invasion of Ukraine 2022 

While Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky claims that Vladimir Putin has greater aspirations than just overtaking Kyiv, Putin hasn’t really countered that claim either. Those claims have become a reality considering the bombardment on the capitol as of June 2024. These attacks have led Biden to take a much more serious tone against Russia With sanctions towards Belarus, we could see increased aggression between surrounding nations and Poland (Not to mention the fact that Poland is the gateway of NATO weapons into Ukraine). 

If Russia would aspire for such access, this stream of resources needs to be cut off. With that said, doing so would incur serious consequences, as attacking Poland directly would of course constitute an “attack on all” in NATO terms.

Turkey and Israel map

Turkey and Israel. (Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Turkey Gets Involved

Turkey enjoys a complex and multifaceted relationship with both the US and Russia. While Turkey and Russia have successfully collaborated on strategic energy projects and in managing the Syrian conflict, it was the purchase of the Russian S-400 missile system that strained Turkey’s relationships with NATO and the US. 

Additionally, there are ancient religious and historical ties between Turkey and Russia. The Byzantine Empire, centered in its capital city Constantinople (modern Istanbul), profoundly influenced Eastern Orthodox Christianity, which is central to Russian religious identity. 

After the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks in 1453, Russia viewed itself as the protector of Orthodox Christianity, which continues to influence contemporary relations between the two nations today. 

Turkey, however, remains a staunch ally of NATO and is committed to its cooperative efforts with the US on security in the region. That being said, the recent escalation of conflict between Israel and Gaza has somewhat soured the once impenetrable relationship. Turkey remains firm in its opposition to Israel’s policies towards Palestinians and fiercely condemns military action in Gaza. 

China and Taiwan map

China and Taiwan. (Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons )

China Makes a Move on Taiwan

China has been adamant in its resolve to reunify Taiwan with the mainland. Increased military activity in the South China Sea aimed at demonstrating China’s capabilities have concerned nearby nations such as Japan, India and Australia who all maintain strategic military locations in the region. 

Additionally, the US remains a close ally of Taiwan and has reinforced its commitment to supporting an independent state. Should China act on its warnings, the implications would be far-reaching, especially when you consider that Taiwan remains the hub of semiconductor manufacturing globally. 

Such an assault would trigger international sanctions, however, considering China’s economic position, this is unlikely to deter a fiercely resolute China. 

Economically, sanctions would disrupt global supply chains, particularly in the technology and manufacturing sectors, leading to significant market instability. The other scenario is that an assault would lead to a conflict that would not only destabilize the Indo-Pacific region but could challenge the global order as we know it. 

candles next to clock

Are you prepared for life off grid? (Image courtesy of Pixabay)

There are Consequences of Global War

While the modern world has already experienced two World Wars, the threat of World War 3 is made even more concerning due to modern technology. Nuclear weapons, advances in chemical and biological warfare, and the threat of cyber-attacks and sabotage make the last two great wars seem like child’s play. 

Physical confrontation on US soil is unlikely at this point (the US often prefers proxy wars), but if we are to learn lessons from Pearl Harbour and September 11, 2001, one should “never say never.”

It is, however, expected that cyber-attacks will sabotage infrastructure leading to blackouts, breakdown in communication channels, and the disruption of basic services like clean drinking water. 

Fortunately, there are many safety and survival solutions on the market for such scenarios. Learning how to protect yourself, and investing in protective gear, is one of the best things that you can do. For instance, the CM-7M Gas Mask from MIRA Safety is one of the most versatile masks designed with tactical capability in mind, and offers maximum protection against harmful gases. 

Should tensions escalate to on-the-ground conflict in the US as they have in Israel and Gaza and Ukraine and Russia, protective body armor such as the MT-LVL4 Body Armor offers superior protection against everything from small handguns to battle rifles and common platform rifles. 

Additionally, the use of nerve agents, exposure to radiation and nuclear emergencies are all potential evils that we could face. Also, keeping safety items, such as  CWD-3 Nerve Agent Detection Strips, MIRA Safety Potassium Iodide Tablets for radiation exposure, and Thyrosafe Potassium Iodide for nuclear emergencies are all essentials that you should have at home.

Gear for WWIII.

Final Thoughts on the Possibility of World War 3

It would be a grave miscalculation to say that we are categorically entering into a Third World War. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Iran’s attacks on Israel, and China’s posturing in the South China Sea are all separate conflict zones that are only marginally connected. 

Each key player knows the importance of economic development in a time of global economic turmoil. While Russia remains an aggressor in Eastern Europe, Putin has said that there is no alliance with China when it comes to the idea that we are heading for world war. 

That being said, coolerheads need to prevail if we are to avoid nuclear war. Much also depends on the next US Presidential Election. Despite the end of the cold war, it seems that we are again heading towards a clash that may see the US pitted against Russia if things don’t change.

One thing is certain, we are in tumultuous times and it will take effective diplomatic conversation and strong international cooperation to steer us away from a path that may lead to another global conflict.  

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the world doing to prevent World War III? 
Would nuclear weapons be used in World War III? 
How would World War III affect the global economy?