Flat White

Sorry, doom-mongers, but it’s not World War III

8 January 2020

3:00 PM

8 January 2020

3:00 PM

In the days since the assassination of Iranian Revolution Guard Corps leader Major General Qassem Soleimani and the subsequent Iranian missile attack this morning on American bases in Iraq, there has been a great deal of speculation this sequence of events could lead to World War III. 

Some have even contrasted Soleimani’s death with that of Austro-Hungarian Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand in 1914, which ultimately led to the First World War. 

Except in this instance, it won’t lead to any such conflagration. 

Neither China nor Russia have any interest in engaging in a war with the United States that not only risks a fullscale nuclear exchange but also runs completely counter to both their interests. 


While some point to the recent trilateral naval exercises between the Iranian, Chinese and Russian navies as the beginnings of some sort of alliance, the reality is the relationship between the two superpowers and Iran is in its infancy at best. 

Some geopolitical and military commentators have predicted that the if the United States goes to war with Iran, it could end up bogged down in a decade long quagmire similar to the Vietnam war, costing potentially tens of thousands of lives and trillions of dollars. 

This outcome suits the interests of Beijing and Moscow. The US would weaken itself fighting in Iran for years, while Russia and China could continue to build their economic and military strength. 

In fact, Beijing and Moscow would likely consider supplying Iran with discounted or even free weapons in order to prolong the conflict for as long, while simultaneously testing their latest weapons technology in combat conditions. 

Ultimately, though, it is in the interests of both China and Russia to stay out of any conflict that arises between the United States and Iran, allowing the United States to deplete its resources in a war that neither Beijing nor Moscow has any real interest in. 

While war between the United States and Iran is certainly a possibility if the conflict continues to escalate, neither China nor Russia are interested in starting a third world war. 

Especially when the best way to win is to not get involved in the first place. 

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