Will World War 3 Be Prevented Because of Global Interdependence? With Parag Khanna

Nine wars have been predicted to erupt since the early 1990s, and all have failed to materialize, says global strategist and CNN analyst, Parag Khanna. That’s a result of trade, the interconnectedness of financial markets, and supply chain integration. Khanna’s latest book is Connectography: Mapping the Future of Global Civilization 


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World War 3  – transcript

There have been about nine major wars that have been predicted in the last 25 years. But interestingly none of them have escalated to the level of a major regional war or a global conflict that we would describe as a World War III.

And I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that we are not just interdependent in terms of trade. Because as we all know Britain and Germany traded a fair bit with each other prior to World War I breaking out 100 years ago. But not only do we have trade interdependence today, today we have a large amount of financial integration. We hold a lot of each other’s debt in terms of treasury bonds, corporate bonds. We are very invested in each other’s economies. There is also supply chain dispersal. We now manufacture goods in even our own rival’s countries.

The United States and the Soviet Union didn’t trade a whole lot with each other. Today not only do the United States and China trade a great deal with each other but many American goods are of course made in China. Walmart, America’s largest retailer makes most of its goods in China. If a war between the U.S. and China were to suddenly break out tomorrow that would probably mean very bad news for the bottom line of America’s largest retailer.

So we are much more careful of course about stumbling into conflict because we not only have nuclear deterrence, of course, and we have the lessons of the past. Those are all intellectual factors and strategic factors. We also have the trade interdependence. We also have the financial integration. We also have the supply chain dispersal. And we have the allure of the size of the markets of our rivals and competitors. Most of the American Fortune 500 generates more revenues from abroad than from home. It doesn’t want to fight wars with the countries on which it depends for its exports and for its revenues.

Leaders are wisely making these cost benefit calculations and saying, “Yes, I have national pride at stake. Yes I believe that my country has been aggrieved historically by this rival.Yes we want to win in the relationship with them and in the race with them. We want to do all of those things but it’s not worth the price of actually going into all out warfare.”

Connectography: Mapping the Future of Global Civilization 

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