Hi there, most of you must have heard about the assassination of the Iranian official, Qasem Soleimani (unless you live in a cave) . The Americans had ordered the assassination of Soleimani, while he was in Iraq, as a retaliation to the death of American soldiers by the Iranian general. After this incident, people have started raging over the internet about world war 3. How possible is this scenario? Is there any truth to this? Let’s have a look at the facts that we have at our disposal.
Before I start getting into this, I have to say that I’m not an expert on geopolitics, but I happen to know a few things about them. From time to time, I watch discussions about geopolitical issues on the internet and I’m getting informed as much as I can on these matters. Alright, let’s cut to the chase. The world is pretty much divided in two factions. The American and the Russian (The Chinese are included in the latter). NATO consists of America and its allies (Russia might one day create its own NATO, but they are still in talks about this thing). If a world war ever took place, it would be NATO vs Russia and its allies. That’s the only plausible scenario about WW3.
Some people believe that the death of Soleimani will cause many tensions between America and Iran and that things could escalate even further( which could lead in a war between these two). So far so good (That’s only a figure of speech btw, there’s nothing good about this) Now you might be wondering this: How is WW3 connected to this? Well, some people estimate that since Iran is a strategic partner of Russia, then if it gets attacked by the US, this would force Russia to back its ally and join the fight against America. Which means WW3. However, there are two big questions here. Would America ever go to an all-out war with Iran? And if this happens, would Russia take such a big risk and join its ally?
You know, wars used to be different. During the two world wars that have occurred in this world, people fought with conventional weapons (Firearms, explosives etc.). However this time, if a major war was to happen, some countries could use nukes in this conflict!!! About nine nations (Mostly America and Russia) have nuclear weapons at their arsenal. These bombs have huge destructive capabilities. If the two superpowers were to start a global war, they would be both faced with the risk of nuclear devastation. Both countries could fire nuclear bombs at each other. If someone was ever to engage into world war 3, he would certainly consider this possibility. So the question is, who on his right mind would take such a huge risk? To put himself and his country in mortal danger?? Nobody (I think). Well, both America and Russia are supposed to have Anti-ballistic missile systems that protect them from atomic bombs, but no-one can predict what would happen if a nuclear war was to break out between these two.
In addition, the reasoning behind nuclear bombs is to scare your opponents and not to use them on someone. What I’m trying to say, is that the atomic bombs are used to ward off the potential attackers of a country. When someone gets his hands on nuclear warheads, he is signalling this to his opponents: “See what I have? Don’t you dare attack me or you will suffer the consequences”. This is how it works. Some people claim that the tragic events of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki, were a message of the U.S. to the Soviet Union. Part of the reason Truman had ordered to bomb these cities, was to deliver a message to the Soviet leaders (I know, this is very cruel and cynical, but this is how politics are sometimes).
Another argument against the possibility of WW3 is the fact that so far it has never happened. America had acquired its first nuclear bombs in 1945 and shortly after this, the Soviet Union had followed, with is own nuclear program. This means that the atomic bombs have been around for about 75 years. In this period, there was never an incident of a nuclear bombing (Aside from the Hiroshima and Nagasaki tragedies). Thus, the two superpowers are keeping a balance on this matter (Meaning that the planet is still intact). In addition, during all this time, they must have implemented some serious security measures to prevent a nuclear war from happening (I believe that’s the case here). However, I have to mention that during this period, there were a couple of times that the world got close to a nuclear disaster.
The first was the Cuban Missile crisis. This incident took place in 1962 and it was about the installation of Soviet nuclear warheads in Cuba. Fidel Castro and Nikita Khrushchev (The leader of the USSR at that time) wanted to have a trump card against the US, since the latter was hostile to Cuba and had nuclear bombs installed in Turkey, which were in close proximity to Russia. This was an immediate threat to the Soviet Union, which is why, they decided to put pressure in America, by placing nuclear warheads right next to it.
People believed that the nuclear war was at their doorstep. An american spy plane was shot down in Cuba and at the same time, an American U2 plane was presumed lost in the Soviet air space. Tensions grew big, and the American Destroyer USS Beale of the navy, sets off to attack the Russian submarine B-59 that was armed with nuclear torpedos. Shortly after this, the American ship was joined by other destroyers, in order to intimidate the Russians. Valentin Savitsky was the head of the Russian submarine. The Americans at that time, had fired some warning shots to the Russians, to force them to emerge from the sea. However, Savitsky and the rest of his crew, didn’t know that these shots were meant to warn them. Later on, Savitsky concludes that the submarine is doomed and that WW3 is at their doorstep. Afterwards, he gives an order to prepare the firing of the nuclear torpedo at the American war ships. This would most likely lead to an all-out war with USA. The naval protocol demanded that the three top officers in this submarine, had to agree unanimously to fire the nuclear torpedo. Two of the three officials were in favor of attacking, but the third one was against it.
In this section, I have to make an honorable mention about a man called Vasili Alexandrovich Arkhipov. Arkhipov was the third officer whom was against the attack of the American ships. Since he was a respected officer in the Soviet navy, people listened to him and they rooted for his decision. This had probably averted a nuclear catastrophe that could have devastated the world. Most of us in this world, probably owe our lives to this man today. If you ever happen to cross over his tomb, drop a flower on this guy. He really deserves it (It is said that Arkhipov had died at the age of 72, because of the radiation that he had absorbed in another incident some time ago).
Afterwards, John F. Kennedy, the acting president of America at that time, had started negotiations with Cuba and the Soviet Union and managed to put an end to this crisis, by promising that he will not invade Cuba and that the nuclear missiles from Turkey will be removed. For more details about the Cuban missile crisis, read this https://www.history.com/topics/cold-war/cuban-missile-crisis .
The second incident that almost caused a nuclear war, was the 1983 soviet nuclear false alarm incident. The major protagonist of this event was Stanislav Petrov, a Soviet officer that had the rank of lieutenant colonel. Petrov was the duty officer at the command center for the Oko nuclear warning system that monitored nuclear threats to the Soviet Union. This system was some kind of radar for nuclear missiles that were headed towards Russia. At first, the computer monitor stated with “High reliability”, that an American intercontinental ballistic missile was headed their way. Then the system, displayed a total of five missiles. Petrov had to decide whether to report this to his superiors or keep quiet about it. Petrov had chosen the latter, because he and his colleagues believed that this was a false alarm and that the system was malfunctioning. It was later proved, that this was the case. The system mistook the reflection of the sun in the clouds for a missile. As you can understand, Petrov had also averted a possible worldwide disaster, by saving millions of lives with this action. Had Petrov decided to report this, the consequences would be dire.
According to vox.com ” A 1979 report by Congress’s Office of Technology Assessment estimated that a full-scale Soviet assault on the US would kill 35 to 77 percent of the US population — or between 82 million and 180 million people in 1983. The inevitable US counter-strike would kill 20 to 40 percent of the Soviet population, or between 54 million and 108 million people. The combined death toll there (between 136 million and 288 million) swamps the death toll of any war, genocide, or other violent catastrophe in human history. Proportional to world population, it would be rivaled only by the An Lushan rebellion in eighth-century China and the Mongol conquests of the 13th century” (source https://www.vox.com/2018/9/26/17905796/nuclear-war-1983-stanislav-petrov-soviet-union ).
The world came close to a nuclear catastrophe a few times and thanks to the actions of some heroes, we didn’t mourn any victims at these times. Hopefully, the superpowers of this world have learned from the mistakes of the past and they have taken extreme measures to avert a possible nuclear catastrophe that would sink the world into oblivion. I hope I didn’t ruin your day with this article, I know that it’s a very unpleasant topic to talk about, but you cannot help but wonder what’s going on with these things. It’s one of that stuff that you are better of not knowing anything about, but if you’re unlucky enough to learn about it, then you can’t just forget it. Alright guys, I’m off. Take care!
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