World War III is a forthright and conscious scenario that is already in the plans of the great powers. The horizon dates for which these powers are preparing their armies are official and vary between 2027 and 2034. In any case, outlines of military blocs and coordinated strategies are beginning to take shape, rendering the imperialist balance increasingly volatile and violent.
In this article
France prepares for a "major showdown"
The upswing of French military budget is not slowed down by the crisis... on the contrary. The growing urgency of readiness gives materiality to the risk of a third world war.
France has been conducting its own war in the Sahel for well over a decade... without success. As of today the military intervention is stalled and only an effective news blackout allows scenes reminiscent of Iraq or Afghanistan such as the bombing of weddings by European aircraft, the [succession of massacres](https://www. aljazeera.com/news/2021/3/16/gunmen-kill-at-least-58-civilians-in-attack-on-niger-convoy) or the military revolts to go unnoticed. Media discipline and imperialist fanfare so far allow Macron to tout each new troop surge and funding increase without any outrage, reserving the headlines for fantastic utopian reforestation plans without any base on the real world.
But the Sahelian agony is not the main scenario of French strategy. What shapes state budgets and military doctrines is the horizon of a real war: direct, industrial, between powerful states... A war that would constitute the central perspective of this decade. In other words, a World War III.
In January, the General Staff quietly set up ten working groups to examine the country's preparedness for a high-intensity war. French generals reckon they have a decade or so to adapt. The groups cover everything from ammunition shortages to societal resilience, including whether citizens are ready to accept a level of casualties we have never seen since World War II, says one participant.
The spectre of high-level warfare is already so pervasive in French military thinking that the scenario has its own acronym: HEM, or major engagement hypothesis.
The French military is preparing for high-intensity warfare. La Vanguardia
The USA and China are preparing for a war in the Indo-Pacific that could trigger World War III by itself
US fleet in South China Sea.
Neither the provisions for the Chinese military in the new five-year plan nor Biden's US place the danger of a World War III as far away in the future as the French do. Chinese strategists believe that conflict could break out as early as 2027. The Americans are looking at even earlier dates. Not least because the latter are consciously raising tension with China and forcing their own allies into tearing their production and supply chains apart, as we see in Korea and Japan.
This is no bluff, the US military already routinely conducts its exercises on a dual-war scenario with China and Russia, i.e. that World War III about which the US military constantly fantasizes about. More importantly: technical plans for a war with China over Taiwan and in general for control of the China Sea are openly discussed and roles are distributed among the allies, starting with Australia and Japan.
And on a day-to-day basis, U.S. diplomacy not only encourages states with territorial claims to militarily display their determination in their aspirations vis-à-vis Beijing, but monitors their armed actions and integrates them into what can only be understood as a rehearsal of military bloc structures.
At the moment, the generalization of preparations for a World War III is triggering militarism across Asia at a speed unseen since the 1930s. The race for missile development in North Korea, the [explosive increase of Australian military budgets](https://www. scmp.com/news/asia/australasia/article/3127736/australia-announces-a1-billion-missile-programme-us-amid) or the massive Indonesian, [Philippine](https://www. scmp.com/week-asia/politics/article/3124135/will-buying-indias-brahmos-missiles-give-philippines-edge-south) and Taiwanese arms procurements try to keep pace with the [impossibly fast tempo of the US](https://thebulletin. org/2021/02/why-is-america-getting-a-new-100-billion-nuclear-weapon/) and China. The Pacific and the whole of Asia are turning into one big tinderbox.
Of course there remain loose ends. No one today pretends that a World War III is imminent. The U.S. Navy is asking for an additional $27 billion. And the alliance map doesn't quite add up. India's imperialist ambition means that its quarrels with China will not ultimately drag it into further engagements with the US. Indeed, the Modi government is still resisting breaking its long-standing bond with Russia and even resists opening its borders to U.S. imports. But it is the last regional power trying to keep an independent imperialist policy. Even Iran already seems to accept its fate as a member of a bloc led by China.
China and the 25-year pact with Iran
Rouhani and Xi Jinping
When the first news of a formal, secret alliance between Iran and China emerged in the summer of 2020, it was already clear that the imperialist map of Asia might take a new shape. What was less clear was whether the internal battle between power factions in Tehran would allow it to consolidate. Eight months later, it is considered Beijing's biggest strategic success so far.
Paradoxically, the first power to realize the extent to which the secret agreement meant a change in the rules of the game and a giant step towards a World War III was Russia. As soon as the first news broke Russia volunteered to participate and almost immediately endorsed Beijing's collective security speech for the region.
With something that looks pretty much like a bloc already in place, the U.S. is figuring out that if it wants to stop Iran's nuclear program so it can focus on giving battle to China... it has to go through Beijing first. So it is simply relegating to the third or fourth row the problems of its assertion in the region. The consequence is that Tehran's old enemies in the Middle East -Saudi Arabia, Israel, the Emirates...- find themselves for the first time orphaned by Washington and alone before an increasingly assertive Iran which feels triumphant in Syria and, for the first time, with its back covered.
Russia, Europe and Ukraine
British fighter intercepts Russian bomber this week
Let's assume that the secret deal had extended to Russia and that Chinese interests orchestrated the overall strategy. What would Russia's role be in preventing further US pressure in the Indo-Pacific against China? The same as in an eventual World War III: Forcing Washington to disperse its forces.
At first, it would be easiest to spur and strengthen the Taliban in order to force the US to keep a part of its army deployed and consuming resources. And once this first blow has been achieved.... increase the pressure on Europe and the Arctic.
Russia is actively testing new weapons systems that do not fit into the traditional framework of arms control treaties near the borders of Norway and Finland, according to the Norwegian Intelligence Service's (NIS) annual report released Monday. While test sites are located around the Barents Sea, the White Sea, the Kola Peninsula and Novaya Zemlya, a large number of nuclear warheads are stored at several facilities on the Kola Peninsula, the report adds.
Russia is testing and deploying a new generation of nuclear weapons up North. Euractive, 11/02/2021
Whether it is due to coordination or not, whether a Chinese-Russian-Iranian bloc is operating under the radar, or whether there is simply a spontaneous, organic coincidence of imperialist objectives. In reality, it doesn't matter. Even if the primary effect is to weaken and delay the momentum toward war in the Pacific, what it shows is an increasingly volatile and violent situation in the correlation of forces among the great powers in the midst of an unprecedented arms race and with all the major states thinking that a World War III is inevitable in the medium term.