World War III

REUTERS/THOMAS PETER - Soldados ucranianos junto a un cráter dejado por un bombardeo en un edificio de apartamentos mientras continúa el ataque de Rusia a Ucrania en Kiev, Ucrania, 20 de marzo de 2022

The two great wars that ravaged Europe in the last century had as their cause or origin an event that for many was insignificant or unimportant, although little by little it was growing and expanding.

For many days now, too many, there has been international speculation about the certain possibility and probability that a direct or forceful intervention by NATO, the EU or an independent state such as the USA in the war in Ukraine could be the reason or the trigger for taking the world into World War III.

AP/VADIM GHIRDA - Un rebelde prorruso mira hacia arriba mientras monta en un tanque con bandera rusa, en una carretera al este de Donetsk, en el este de Ucrania
AP/VADIM GHIRDA - A pro-Russian rebel looks up as he rides a Russian-flagged tank on a road east of Donetsk, eastern Ukraine.

Moreover, it is the main reason or excuse put forward by the leaders of the allied countries and all the international organisations, including the UN itself, with which they are trying to put an end to an incomprehensible situation, officially and in reality, to abandon a country to its destiny, a Western country bordering on NATO and the EU, which, with a great initial imbalance of forces, is being massacred - without even a formal declaration of war - is being abandoned to its fate before the impassive stance of a society that conforms to such thinking.

A shameful situation, which, incidentally, semi-hiddenly holds out the hope that, with a little support on their part, it will be those poor wretches who will contain, massacre and finally defeat a "powerful" army, the Russian army, which constantly threatens us all, without this final act of war costing us a single personal casualty or a single shell of its artillery falling on our territory.

Those of us who spend more than a little time observing the evolution of events, the intensity and variations in clashes of various kinds throughout the world, the development of the capabilities, precision and range of new armaments and the application and development of new tactics, techniques and procedures in conflicts played out by old and new actors in wars, have long since come to various conclusions - which can be found in the much written and published - about war and global clashes in the future, in the short and medium term.

AP/SERGEI SUPINSKY - Un combatiente de las Fuerzas de Defensa Territorial de Ucrania, la reserva militar de las Fuerzas Armadas ucranianas, monta guardia en la posición de la Plaza de la Independencia en Kiev, el 2 de marzo de 2022
AP/SERGEI SUPINSKY - A fighter of the Territorial Defence Forces of Ukraine, the military reserve of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, stands guard at the Independence Square position in Kiev, on March 2, 2022.

There is almost total unanimity among most authors and a wide range of experts and connoisseurs that the war of the future will greatly change the major concepts of war strategy, which for several decades have been considered immovable.

In general terms, and by way of summary, it can be said that total warfare, new technological weapons, low-cost and highly profitable given the effects they provide, the economy, as well as extensive use of the electronic spectrum and information, appropriately manipulated and directed, will have a great deal to say in such confrontations.

Due to globalisation and the tangled interconnection between states, the economy, direct economic and trade sanctions and restrictions, vetoes or difficulties in trade and political relations between the resulting groups of countries or blocs confronting each other in the arena of conflict will not only play an important role, given that they will be limited in their real capacity to initiate and fuel the conflict in the medium and long term; but also because, depending on the measures adopted by the International Community (IC), they will suffer major changes, serious pressures and even possible bankruptcy or major economic decline in one or more of the countries involved.

However, or as a consequence of the free market between the various states, as well as mutual energy and economic dependencies, even with or between countries located at political and social antipodes, these ties will be a major handicap when trying to impose vetoes or economic sanctions on countries involved in aggression or conflicts for these or other reasons.

The existing interconnectedness or great dependence in the world for any kind of economic or social activity, for trade relations or exchanges, discoveries in science, the management or spread of pandemics or any other phenomenon we can imagine, will also appear immediately and will play a great role in the possible extension and consequences of conflicts. Everyone will be affected in one way or another, and no one can look the other way while a major conflict is taking place in any corner of the world.  

REUTERS/ALEXANDER ERMOCHENKO - Image by Russian serviceman

Civilian populations will be affected, and immediately, millions of refugees and internally displaced persons, even before the conflict begins, will set out and leave their homes in search of the shelter that their own country is unable to provide; this will undoubtedly contribute to destabilising internal and external relations in their own and surrounding countries.

Large-scale mass engagements of armies against each other in the open with extensive artillery preparations and mechanised or armoured units involved for long days of fighting will rarely occur and will be limited to specific moments or situations, as a prelude or complement to a vital action.

Propaganda, deception measures, deception and abuse in the use of networks heavily infected with false information and taking part in one way or another by way of marketing or justification, are tools that will be used profusely in new conflicts, even before they are launched or reach important phases; right from their preparation and throughout their execution.

Electronic observation, by satellite or by the traces left in the means of communication, orientation, navigation and particular localisation systems, will be elements to be taken into account due to the great yields that can be obtained from an adequate exploitation in a stealthy way and without leaving traces that the game to be hunted is being observed and monitored directly.

REUTERS/THIBAULT CAMUS - El presidente ruso Vladimir Putin
REUTERS/THIBAULT CAMUS - Russian President Vladimir Putin

The CNN effect, whereby major conflicts are broadcast live, publicly and unchecked, is an open-source intelligence (OSINT) tool that is highly effective in locating forces and determining the main efforts and scenarios. Similarly, the monitoring of private communications (including videos, chats and photographs) between the combatants themselves and their superiors, family and friends.

High-precision weapons will be a key part of shooting down poorly protected aircraft, targeted attacks or ships surrounded by poor or no means of protection, and even creating chaos by attacking masses of tanks exposed to fire from all sides, even under or over them.

The special units of the three armies, easy and quick to move from one theatre to another, will replace large mass movements and will play a very important role in the conquest of targets at a distance, provided they are quickly and properly relieved by units that are better protected and more capable of resisting the enemy's reactions.

Changes in the demands, needs and ways of living, resting, feeding people and the direct application of health care to the combatant require logistical chains that are too heavy, too long, too continuous and too efficient. If these fail, war stops, as demonstrated in the two Gulf wars, then in the long campaign in Afghanistan and more recently in the war in Ukraine.

Imagen de satélite ©2022 Maxar Technologies vía AP - Esta imagen de satélite proporcionada por Maxar Technologies muestra un convoy militar al noroeste de Invankiv, Ucrania, el lunes 28 de febrero de 2022
Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies via AP - This satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies shows a military convoy northwest of Invankiv, Ukraine, Monday, Feb. 28, 2022.

The days of centralised warfare in both approach and execution are numbered. Decentralisation in the second phase is almost an absolute requirement if more than acceptable results are to be achieved.

Intelligence and espionage in all its forms, while always an essential weapon in identifying potential conflicts and uncovering potential or probable enemy movements, will take on a much more important role in preventing and conducting future large-scale conflicts to uncover or disrupt real and changing hidden intentions.

The use or threat of weapons of mass destruction, especially nuclear weapons, will play an important role in deterring direct or indirect intervention in conflicts, even though there is a widespread feeling that no one with two fingers on the pulse, except a raving lunatic, would ever use them. Their use would mean a confrontation with fatal consequences for all sides, even worse for the one who would use them in the first place because of the uncontrolled response they can provoke.

The use of biological or chemical weapons is not ruled out because of the great power of penetration they cause more or less quickly and silently, with little or no danger to the one who inoculates them, and because they can put entire countries or continents in quarantine or cause hundreds of thousands of deaths.

The capacity of international organisations to intervene in conflicts is and will be diminishing. Their role, organisation, composition and missions, devised in the middle of the last century, have proved obsolescent and irrelevant almost a century later. Their decision-making systems have proved totally ineffective, even for mounting emergency humanitarian missions. 


If, more or less, these have been the conclusions or predictions that have recently been reached about the parameters within which the major conflicts of the future will take place, and if, moreover, they are accepted by many or most of those who make analyses and deductions, we could easily shape the scenario in which, with some slight exceptions, World War III will take place.

But, if we stop for a moment and compare them with what is currently happening in the war in Ukraine, I am afraid we have no choice but to accept that the International Community, however much it has dithered and manoeuvred, has not been able to prevent the dreaded and much-vaunted World War III from having already started and is being fought in Ukraine as the main theatre.