Today I’ve learned…

…that there have been more World Wars than the two we remember from the 20th century. An article at Wikipedia defines a World War as a war that involves the world’s most powerful and populous countries. And although World War I and World War II are best-known for being such wars, there have actually been a few more wars that could qualify as such.

The article mentions at least ten other wars that spanned across multiple continents including the Eighty Years’ War, which involved my country. Although this was a war that originated in Europe between Spain and the Netherlands, it also included the overseas colonies that both countries had in the America’s, Africa and Asia. Actually, the Dutch performed quite well in those colonies, compared to the Spanish. Actually, since the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus in 1492 we finally arrived in a situation where World Wars could be started, since most of the World would be known territories by then.

Also, it seems to suggest that all World Wars will include the European countries, especially the Western European countries like Great Britain, France, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Italy and the Benelux. (And Russia.) And in all those wars, the (former) colonies are also involved. This would suggest to me that we Europeans are extremely aggressive. A strange view, since we also seem to try to be the Peacekeepers of this world.

Now, looking at current events I cannot but consider the Arabian Spring as a prelude to the next World War. But contrary to those previous wars,it’s not one that’s started within Europe. It doesn’t force European countries to fight one another. Europe seems to have united pretty well after these previous conflicts. But in a way I cannot help but compare the current situation in the Arab World to be similar to Europe 500 years ago. A world-wide influence of those conflicts in an area that’s divided over religious and political views.

Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen have already had a major change in government after some internal conflicts. Bahrain and Syria are still having internal conflicts although it’s still not clear if those conflicts will result in a political change. Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco and Sudan are still dealing with major protests and many other Arab countries have to handle minor protests against the current politics in those countries.

However, these are all internal conflicts and although the rest of the world might get involved in several of those conflicts, it’s still not a total war. We could wonder if it would ever escalate to a full war between several Arab countries, especially when those countries start to show specific religious beliefs that would conflict with those of the other countries around them. Even though all these countries are Islamic, there’s a major difference between how those countries explain their religious values.

Maybe the United Europe has caused these conflicts to occur in other parts of the world. Europe states to become a singular World Power instead of a group of a dozen or so powerful nations. Maybe humans will continue to need conflicts somewhere on this world so they have some danger in their lives. Something to give them stories about heroes and villains. War also helps innovation, since the fighting parties will continue to need better weapons than their opponents. War seems to be good for the economies of countries that just supply the warring nations with food and weapons.

Will the Arab Spring escalate into the next World War? Who knows? Many of the countries involved will have some major political changes and past friendships between those countries might melt away in the heat of the many battles. Once the internal battles end, these states might turn upon one another, simply because they want to help their “brothers” in the surrounding nations. Kuwait, for example, is a very interesting country to conquer for Iraq or Saudi Arabia because of its oil productions. But Iraq has tried before and lost a few teeth in their attempt, resulting in the death of their dictator and the current, internal conflicts. And the Saudis don’t seem to have that many internal struggles just yet, simply because their enormous wealth manages to keep people reasonable happy.

Just like the Romans did with their “Bread and Games”. Provide the population with enough food and entertainment and they won’t riot too often. This works well for many countries that can offer this all for their population. Then again, the current economic crisis does make this a bit more difficult. And the Internet is providing the modern alternative for the Games the Romans used to organize. But the Internet is showing people how civilians live in other countries, and allows them to see their own poverty compared to e.g. the European and American people have. It makes them want more. Or the exact opposite, since we “westerners” are sinners so all we have are sins.

Just depends on your religious views, actually. Moderately religious people will see the Western lifestyle, consider it very comfortable and they will start to want their own comforts. The fanatics will just see sins after sins and will demand that these sinners are stopped, starting within their own countries. And these different views will continue to cause new conflicts in those countries until one side will have “exterminated” (or suppressed) the opposition.

And again, I have to think about Europe in the past. Especially the Spanish Inquisition. The Inquisition was a very fanatical, religious movement with a powerful army. When they suspected that a town had a few sinners, they would not hesitate to kill the whole population so God could sort it all out at the Gates of Heaven. Innocent or guilty, it just didn’t matter. If you were innocent, you would be welcomed in Heaven. If you were a sinner, you’d end up in Hell. All the inquisition did was to let God decide about this a bit sooner.

Will there be an Islamic Inquisition someday? Actually, it already seems to exist and calls itself “Al-Qaeda”. But this is considered to be a terrorist organisation, related to the Taliban from Afghanistan. It shares similar religious views and has the same origin. It’s views are extremely fanatic and similar to those of the Inquisition, although the religion underneath differs. But Al-Qaeda doesn’t seem to have a clear structure. It’s more like a large collection of small groups that share the same religious values, but without a clear leadership. The Inquisition had a strict structure and clear roles for every member. That actually made it easier to put an end to the inquisition.

But it brings me back to my original question… Will the Arab Spring start the next World War? Might it be that this next War has already started, considering the fact that Al-Qaeda is already operating within six major world powers? (The EU, the U.K., the U.S., India, Russia, Australia and Canada.) However, wars are fought by armies, between countries. Al-Qaeda isn’t representing any country but just a religion. And it doesn’t have a real army but more something that might be called Militia at best, or plain terrorists for most.

And to be honest, I don’t know the answer. But I do realize that if one of those countries that are involved in the Arab Spring manages to create a stable home base for Al-Qaeda then that would result in World War III almost immediately, since the USA has already declared Al-Qaeda as their number one enemy. If, for example, it turns out that e.g. Iran happens to be the home base of Al-Qaeda, then the USA would bombard this country so much and for a very long time until the highest mountain will be lower than any Dutch meadow. The same would apply to other countries that would try to provide Al-Qaeda a home base.