While a global war is certainly a possibility for the future, the interconnected nature of the global marketplace makes the likelihood of an all-out conflict somewhat remote. Countries are more dependent upon each other than ever, making it unlikely that conflicts between major powers could escalate beyond local wars.Continue Reading
Paradoxically, another factor that limits the possibility for a third world war is the development of weapons of devastating power. The advent of nuclear weapons proved to be extremely dangerous for the survival of humanity in one sense, since a single bomb could kill more people than weeks of conventional warfare. However, world leaders became acutely aware of how dangerous these weapons could be, and how two nuclear-armed adversaries could easily wipe each other out. The fact that no superpower could emerge unscathed from a nuclear conflict makes initiating total war a near impossibility.
World War III in a more limited sense, however, is not out of the realm of possibility. Some historians have described the Cold War as a sort of third world war played through proxies, even though the United States and the Soviet Union never came to the point of outright hostility. Other historians describe the global war against terror as a sort of third world war, given the wide-ranging scope of the conflict.Learn more about Military