12 September 2016

The World Before World War II Re-Emerges

Instability runs rampant across the Eurasian landmass today at a level unseen since the years leading up to World War II.


The Eurasian landmass is in crisis. The last time the world looked like this was on the eve of World War II. Crises simmering in Europe, Russia, the Middle East and China are beginning to interact with each other. There is nothing to stop the momentum of these crises. The global order is poised for a major reconfiguration. That will not necessarily mean a new world war, but the possibility of war cannot be dismissed.Introduction

Almost 5 billion of the 7.4 billion people on Earth live on the Eurasian landmass. It is the heartland of humanity. Eurasia has always been a turbulent place, but over the last few years its turbulence has taken on a new and more ominous form. Various parts of Eurasia have destabilized, and the destabilized areas are beginning to interact. The last time we saw this happening was prior to World War II. This isn’t to say that we are necessarily heading toward a Eurasian war. It does mean that we have entered a new historical phase, and that new phase carries with it dramatically increasing risks. At the very least we are entering a phase where the global system is shifting in fundamental ways. When the human heartland comes under intense pressure, humanity as a whole shifts.

Currently, Europe, Russia, China and the Middle East are destabilizing. The destabilization in Europe is economic, social and institutional. In Russia, it is economic and strategic. China’s destabilization is economic and social. The Middle East is destabilizing culturally and militarily. What is happening in China is different from what is happening in the Middle East. But they are both struggling with transformations they can’t control and can’t stop. The Middle East sinks into war, China into dictatorship. But there is an underlying reality they are both dealing with – instability. The instability leading up to World War II ended in general warfare. Today’s instabilities may heal, or remain separate. They could also turn into a range of interlocking instability or even escalate to war, which should never be excluded as a possibility.

Before World War II

The causes of World War II predated World War I. In fact, we should think of World War I and World War II as one war with a truce, as has been said. World War II simply continued World War I and spread it to the rest of Eurasia.

There were three causes of World War II. One was the rise of a new set of powers – Germany, Japan and the United States – that needed to redefine the global system. None had been significant powers in the 19th century. Germany and the United States had changed the global economic order and by 1914 were pressing for a restructuring of the global system, particularly redefining the British and French empires. After World War I, Germany recovered from its defeat, Japan emerged as a first-rate power and the United States continued to be uneasy with the established powers and the new emerging powers.

The second cause was the economic consequences of World War I. The collapse of Germany and the human and financial costs of the war for France and Britain created massive economic dislocation. This was exacerbated because Germany, which had been a dominant trading power, could no longer export or import. Russia underwent a revolution that further disrupted economic life and opened the door to destabilizing political movements. Populations that had lived through the slaughter of World War I were caught in economic failure and mainstream regimes were confronted by radical parties. This was underway in China, Japan and India as well.

The third cause flowed from…

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In the full version of this week’s important Deep Dive, you will learn…
How the instability that preceded World War II was similar to the conditions that prevail in Eurasia today
How major Eurasian powers are facing varying degrees of political, economic, social and institutional crisis and how these crises are beginning to interact
The role the United States will take in the coming problems
Whether there are any ways to halt the momentum of these crises
And more!

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