In a series of articles, I discuss several subjects related to a possible next systemic war, including: How systemic wars “work”, the function of privileges for Great Powers and the System, and what we should fight for in the next systemic war.

Has this war – the Third World War – just started?

My research – based on the application of e.g. laws of physics (in particular the Second Law of Thermodynamics), and ‘hard’ data – shows that during the period 1480-1945, the European State-System produced four accelerating war-cycles, each cycle consisting of a relatively stable period (RSP) that is typically followed by a systemic war.

During the period (the European State-System) 1480-1945, the System produced four accelerating war-cycles.

During a RSP, the System produces non-systemic wars, with the purpose to balance the international order that is implemented at that stage.

During systemic wars (when the System is in a critical state) and when all Great Powers present in the System are actively involved in war-activity, the purpose of (this systemic war) is to reorder the System and to implement an upgraded order, that can ensure a new RSP (at least for the time being).

My research also shows that the Second World War (1939-1945) – the fourth systemic war – had two complimentary effects: (1) the unification of Europe (albeit with a delay until 1989) and (2) the upscaling of the (European) State-System to a global State-System.

Through the fourth systemic war (the Second World War) the United Nations international order (1945-….) was implemented.

International orders (in place during RSP’s) have a typical life-cycle, the research shows: Initially – following the implementation of a new – upgraded – international order (through the preceding systemic war) – non-systemic wars are on average still relatively small in size; the ‘new’ international order is working quite well.

However, the average size of these smaller wars increases over time, until the tipping point of the RSP is reached.

The typical life-cycle of a war cycle, depicted schematically

At the tipping point, the average size of non-systemic wars reaches a maximum and starts to decrease. When the tipping point is reached, war as a regulator of tensions in the System becomes less effective, and consequently the average size of wars starts to decrease.

However, tension still build up, even acceleratingly; social and political volatility increase (including terrorist activity this research shows, as an alternative ‘escape’ for tensions).

It is a matter of time, before the System becomes critical, because of the accumulation of tensions that can no longer be effectively regulated through ‘smaller’ wars.

At the critical point the System is highly susceptible for (even small) ‘incidents’ that will under these conditions be amplified (and cause disproportional effects). The critical condition results in a systemic war.

The research shows, that the global State-System (1945-….) regulated through the United Nations international order, started producing a first global war-cycle in 1945, reached the tipping point in 2011, and that presently the System is approaching a critical point that would – according to this model – produce a next systemic war (the Third World War, so to speak), that will be instrumental in upgrading the current international order (the UN) to a next-level international order, a UN 2.0

The current behavior of the System and its volatility are consistent with this model.

Contrary to non-systemic wars (smaller wars during RSP’s), systemic wars – the research shows – are highly regular phenomena and highly predictable in time.

The model shows that the System produces a fifth systemic war in 2020 +/- 2 years (the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648), the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars (1792-1815), the First World War (1914-1918) and the Second World War (1939-1945), were respectively the first, second, third and fourth systemic wars, the System produced).

Systemic wars are hugely significant events, that have immense impacts on the System and societies and states that fight these wars. The outcome – “who wins’ – determines the new order, and what values and laws will underpin this order. Democracy is not obvious. The laws of physics determine and shape specific ‘physical’ characteristics of the System, but not political solutions and (social) ideologies.

To ensure the next international order represents your values and interests, you must make sure you ‘win’ such a war.

This typical dynamic – and the significance of systemic wars, including the upcoming one – raises the question: “what should we fight for”, what international order do we want? And given the dire condition of the environment and climate, in combination with exponential population growth (at least until the next century); what international order do we need to ensure survival of humanity and livable and humane living conditions for the world’s population?

In the spirit of the Atlantic Charter – a political vision that shaped and underpins the United Nations international order – I suggest we start thinking about a “global Charter”, that defines the basic principles and outline of a UN 2.0, if indeed a systemic war is unavoidable.

Let’s make the best of it.

I suggest this Global Charter, should at least include the following aims:

Parties to the Global Charter deem it right to make known certain common principles they will adhere to and promote to ensure a better future of the world.

  1. Parties are aware that humanity has severely damaged planet Earth and the ability of the planet to support life.
  2. Parties will refrain from activities that can cause further degradation of the Earth system, and its potential for recovery.
  3. Parties will collectively undertake actions to mitigate the negative effects of global warming and environmental degradation.
  4. Parties accept the right of other life (species) and recognize the vital importance of biodiversity. Parties recognize the unity of the Earth system.
  5. Parties agree to transfer (national) authority and (a) certain sovereignty to an supranational body, that will be responsible for the formulation of global policies, actions (the execution of these policies) and their coordination, to ensure that survival and well-being of humanity, as well as of other life (species) on Earth.
  6. Parties recognize that social interactions cause tensions that could cause the use of organized violence. Parties will transfer authority concerning the use of organized violence to a supranational body, that also has the responsibility to develop effective prevent policies.
  7. Parties recognize that all humans have the basic right to live a respectable life, that basic facilities will be (made) available and that poverty must be eradicated. A supranational body will have the authority to devise effective strategies and to ensure their coordinated use.
  8. All parties recognize and actively support mutual respect and the freedom of individuals to make their own life-choices: All people – also at the individual level – have the right to self-determination.
  9. Parties agree that exploration of our solar system and space will be guided by above mentioned principles.
  10. All parties work for a world free of want and fear;

In the next article, I discuss the question “did the Third World War just start” in more detail.