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Defining the "World wars" after WW2

a_majoor

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WW III ended with the utter defeat and dissolution of the USSR and the dismantling of the "Wall" and inter German border.

WW IV officially began Sept 11 2001, and is being fought in SW Asia, with subsidiary theaters opening in East Africa, Indonesia and enemy military actions in Europe and North America. Enemy activity is also reputedly occurring in the "three corners" region of South America, where Hugo Chavez is issuing identity cards to people of Middle Eastern origin, as well as facilitating drug smuggling into North America and terrorist attacks against the Colombian oil industry.

North Korea seems determined to get involved, although I would characterize this as trying to take advantage of the ongoing situation in SW Asia, just as the Pacific theater in WW II was prompted by Japan's Imperial ambitions being stoked by the idea the European "empires" were so heavily committed against Germany and Italy they would be unable to defend their South East Asian possessions. Each of these regional theaters has enough overlapping actors and are concurrent in time so it is very possible to characterize the overall narriative as WW IV.


(Edit by M.O. to correct thread title after split.)
 
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chaos75

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I think WW3 has come and gone (Cold War 1950ish to 1989), and according to who you talk to or what you read, we are in a limited WW4 presently.  Similar to the last post, no one can predict what kind of future war one would be.  An educated guess could be made with regards to current technology weaponry etc, but no one knows what kinds of actions countries would take and subsequent actions etc etc.  Maybe the next world war will be like Independence day and be against invading aliens, who knows.
 

Gunner

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Historically speaking, we might actually be looking at our umpteenth world war vice simply our third, fourth or whatever based on the 20th century as being "ground zero" for world wars....
 

a_majoor

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Gunner said:
Historically speaking, we might actually be looking at our umpteenth world war vice simply our third, fourth or whatever based on the 20th century as being "ground zero" for world wars....

Even given the conception of the "World" was quite a bit smaller than today, Alexander the Great (July 356 BC — June 11, 323 BC) can be said to have waged the first "World War", given that he was attempting to subdue every civilized and semi civilized nation known in the Greek world in his attempt to reach the shores of the World Ocean. (Assuming he actually had conquered India, one can only imagine what would have happened when he realized there was China, as well as the various civilizations and kingdoms in South East Asia....).

Although not global wars, the Crusades were displays of impressive logistical capabilities when the Europeans could transport armies and their logistics trains from Europe to the Holy Lands starting in the early Middle Ages.

The Seven Years War (1754 and 1756–1763), was the first war fought on a global scale, which is pretty impressive considering the lack of reliable communications over long distances and the transit time to get anywhere by sailing ship.

The Napoleonic Wars were pretty close, the War of 1812 is partially due to his machinations in an attempt to draw away British military and economic power (an example of overlapping actors), although there was enough separation in time and space from the main theaters to regard it as a separate war altogether. As well, there really was no Asian theater of operations during the Napoleonic Wars.

Global wars became common in the 20th century simply because communications and logistics had finally arrived to the point where global operations could be supported. The Persian Gulf War really was the first war where space assets and infrastructure played a key role, and OIF pioneered the use of high bandwidth or broadband infrastructure in combat operations. The USAF is on one of its periodic forays into conducting combat operations from Near Earth Orbit (NEO), and on it goes.
 

Nieghorn

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Good points, a_majoor.  I was at the War Museum on Sunday to look at their 'Clash of Empires' exhibit, where it is expressed that the Seven Years War was the first to be waged on a global scale.  Funny that despite this being an area of interest to me, I never really thought of it in such terms until then. 
 

Centurian1985

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a_majoor said:
WW III ended with the utter defeat and dissolution of the USSR and the dismantling of the "Wall" and inter German border.

I dont often disagree with a-majoor, but this is one of them.  If you consider the 'Cold War' as WW III, then the war aint over yet!  A major ideologoical and economic battle was won with the wall falling and the breakup into republics, but there's still a lot of 'cold' activity going on out there...

 

Shamrock

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Allow me to interject.

After the declared end of the Cold War, several corporations began acting all corporationally and trademarked several terms (see http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,83969,00.html).  One such term was "World War" by none other than Coca Cola.  Not to be outdone, Pepsi trademarked "Global Conflict" followed by IBM's "Multi-national Non-peaceful Resolution of International Disagreements."    Naturally, this has caused considerable grief in political environments because not only do the corporations control the names for these battles, but the amount of allied forces going in to conflict may also infringe upon the trademarks.  Without appropriate corporate backing and approval, countries can't afford to go to war.
 

a_majoor

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Centurian1985 said:
I dont often disagree with a-majoor, but this is one of them.  If you consider the 'Cold War' as WW III, then the war aint over yet!   A major ideologoical and economic battle was won with the wall falling and the breakup into republics, but there's still a lot of 'cold' activity going on out there...

The USSR is no more, even the constituent "republics" which have been under Russian control since the time of the Tsars are now independent nations and the land empire owned by the USSR is now "New Europe". While Russia may not be our friend, and certainly the successor state may be engaged in the same sorts of activities that the USSR used to do with the KGB, GRU and various other agencies, it is indeed a successor state and can be considered a new nation.

The growing presence of the Americans and Anglosphere in the "Near Beyond" and throughout south west and south Asia should also be a good indicator that things are quite different; instead of the "Red Dawn" scenario of Soviet Bloc troops invading North America, we see "Blue Dawn" as Western investors establish ties and put down roots.
 

Neill McKay

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chaos75 said:
I think WW3 has come and gone (Cold War 1950ish to 1989), and according to who you talk to or what you read, we are in a limited WW4 presently.

I can't say for certain, but I suspect that nobody who lived through either world war would ever describe anything that's happened since 1945 as WWIII or WWIV.
 

paracowboy

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why not? Is there a difference between dodging bullets in Vietnam and Malaysia, Angola and Armenia, Tibet and Afghanistan, any different from doing the same in Holland and the Phillipines, Greece and Libya, Guam and the Rhine? The fact that one took about 6 years, and the other about 50, doesn't impact the fear and boredom that the soldiers on the various front lines felt.
 

GAP

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pradacowboy said:
why not? Is there a difference between dodging bullets in Vietnam and Malaysia, Angola and Armenia, Tibet and Afghanistan, any different from doing the same in Holland and the Phillipines, Greece and Libya, Guam and the Rhine? The fact that one took about 6 years, and the other about 50, doesn't impact the fear and boredom that the soldiers on the various front lines felt.

I agree. While my original Tour was for 13 months, I had the option of 2 - 6 month extensions. In WWII, they were not given the option, but the mindset was totally different then. It was go in, stay until the job is done, while during my era, it was go for 13 months, come back for awhile, then go again. 

Now I see my son do 6 month tours, and stand down for a year. I like what I see. It is better for the soldier, the soldier's family, and for the Armed Force. It takes more manpower, but the ones going over are more motivated and fresher. The time back allows the soldier to wind down, and reevaluate his/her role, and make changes.

Combat is combat, and has not changed for the soldier from WWII to now in relation to the impact the fear and boredom that the soldiers on the various front lines felt, whether for 3 months, 6 months, a year, or longer.
 

Goober

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Calling the Cold War as the Third World War and everything since Sept 11, 01 as the Fourth World War undermines the sacrafices made by the millions who died in the First and Second World War. In my opinion.
 

GAP

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Goober said:
Calling the Cold War as the Third World War and everything since Sept 11, 01 as the Fourth World War undermines the sacrafices made by the millions who died in the First and Second World War. In my opinion.

How do you figure? Nobody is saying they were less honorable, just the two focuses were different, that's why the different names.

The names, whatever they are, simply relate to periods, not the sacrifices made by the men and women in service at that time.
 

paracowboy

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Goober said:
Calling the Cold War as the Third World War and everything since Sept 11, 01 as the Fourth World War undermines the sacrafices made by the millions who died in the First and Second World War. In my opinion.
how? How does acknowledging the hundreds of thousands of dead soldiers who fought on 6 continents, for 5 decades, diminish any sacrifice made prior to their own? How does acknowledging the thousands of soldiers/LEO who have/are fought/fighting terrorists on 6 continents, and have been doing so for 3 years, with no end-date in sight, diminish any sacrifice made prior to their own?

edited for a (rather severe) spelling error
 

Kat Stevens

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Goober said:
Calling the Cold War as the Third World War and everything since Sept 11, 01 as the Fourth World War undermines the sacrafices made by the millions who died in the First and Second World War. In my opinion.

The Cold War was as much an idealogical and an economic one as one fought by steely eyed men in a thousand dustups around the planet.  The whole world was involved, therefore, ipso facto, QED, etc,  it was the next, or 3rd, world war.  I should know, I was there when we won it.    ;D
 

Neill McKay

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pradacowboy said:
why not? Is there a difference between dodging bullets in Vietnam and Malaysia, Angola and Armenia, Tibet and Afghanistan, any different from doing the same in Holland and the Phillipines, Greece and Libya, Guam and the Rhine? The fact that one took about 6 years, and the other about 50, doesn't impact the fear and boredom that the soldiers on the various front lines felt.

I think the threshold for calling something a world war should be somewhat higher that the presence of gunfire.

Both world wars involved extensive and sustained operations for years at a time on a scale that has never been (and we hope will never be) seen since.  Armed forces expanded, in some cases, to many times their peacetime strength.  The war was virtually the entire focus of the countries involved.  The very existance of countries was at stake.  The civilian population was involved to an extent that we could never envision happening today (e.g. through the extensive "bombs and bullets" industry, rationing, and having to worry about the enemy literally overrunning their homes).  Finally -- and this is why we call it a world war -- virtually the whole of the developed world was involved and they were fighting on almost every continent.

It's the difference between a hockey player slugging it out with one from the opposing team (this hapening several times throught the game), and a series of bench-clearing brawls.  The punches are just as hard, but the circumstances are quite different.
 

Red 6

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Here's my two cents: Someday in the future, historians will look back at the 20th Century and classify the world wars and the Cold War as one interconnected and prolonged conflict similar in nature to, say, the Hundred Years War. Meanwhile, here's what I think: The Cold War was a war in the truest sense of the word. It spanned the globe and millions of people were involved with it in one form or another. There were numerous conflicts that arose as part of the larger picture, among them the Korean War, Vietnam, the Afghan War, and numerous wars of "liberation" in Africa and other places.

Additionally, and mostly forgotten, are the thousands of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines, not just American, but of many nations, who died in training accidents, mishaps, etc, during the Cold War. These service members were casualties of war just as surely as if they'd been killed on a beach head, or a patrol. (And there were thousands and thousands of them over the years of the late 20th Century)

NATO and the Warsaw Pact devoted a huge amount of resources and international prestige to the Cold War. It was the defining series of events in the post World War II era. Think about the other events that came out of this era– the space race, the collapse of the Soviet Union, the EC, German reunification.
 

GAP

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I think Red 6 has it about right.

After WWII, the world, in short order, and for about 50 years, practised global wars, with one or another of the super powers backing small insurgency wars. This really is no different than one global war, with periodic, sporadic hot spots. It's about two powers fighting it out over the years, using representative armies to achieve it.
 

Red 6

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Right on, GAP. The wars on the periphery fought by proxy armies were an integral part of the bigger conflict. Nicaragua, Angola, Cuba, Rhodesia, etc, etc, all achieved importance far above their actual worth in the global picture.
 

paracowboy

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Neill McKay said:
It's the difference between a hockey player slugging it out with one from the opposing team (this hapening several times throught the game), and a series of bench-clearing brawls.  The punches are just as hard, but the circumstances are quite different.
not quite. The various brush wars, espionage actions, propaganda, and terrorist acts, not to mention the economic efforts brought to bear, were simply campaigns in the War between Democracy and Communism. That was WW III, which sprang from WW II, which had sprung from WW I and the German's feelings towards their treatment in the decades following it. Just as WW IV, the war against militant Islam is a result of WW III, and the Soviet's support/promulgation of Arabic terrorism as a proxy in their attempts to subvert/overthrow Democracy, and the West's poorly thought-out campaign against it.
 
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