What’s Next for World War III?

Great Game Theory

Richard Murff
5 min readDec 8, 2023

For all the little knobs whining about American imperialism, in our defense we’ve been spasticly backing away from the global stage since George W. realized that the Mission was not, in fact, Accomplished. Obama didn’t know how to throw the machine into reverse and candidates Trump and Clinton both vowed to scrap the Trans-Pacific Partnership. And China has now applied to head the partnership we scrapped. No one really wants to be at war, and nevertheless, here we are — with little geopolitical grease fires breaking out all over the place. So what is a reluctant superpower to do?

First, we need to realize that America has never been able to contain the world’s heavies on our own — we need allies. So this week the Senate just did its best to scrap what alliances Washington hasn’t already infuriated, when it blocked Biden’s $61bn request for aid to Ukraine and $14bn for Israel. It may have started World War III.


Without that US military aid, Ukraine is mostly done for, they know it and so do the Russians. For the moment, lets’ leave aside that all that military aid would do more for the US economy than most of our current industrial policy. Or that it would ensure crucial allies for years to come. Let us also leave aside that — with all due respect to Greta Thunberg — the ensuing nuclear conflict in ten years or so will do more harm to the environment, the spotted owl and property values that an additional 1.5 Celsius in global temperatures. Washington may be in a trade war with China, but the EU is currently in trade talks with Beijing. Europe knows that it can’t go it alone in the face of large aggressor. They’d rather cling to the US, but if we leave them to their fate with Russia gnawing at the edges of the Western Europe like leftover cheesecake, then the EU will have to make peace with China, for its own safety.

Beijing, for its part, would rather do business with the US as well; to continue as the world’s workshop is the best way that it can keep its economy going. If that market disappears behind a wall of trade restrictions as the US retreats to its own shores, China will adapt. The EU clinging to China to contain Russia brings us to the next potential grease fire…


Mostly the same dynamics apply to Taiwan as to Ukraine, save that it would be a naval war. This week we just signaled to Beijing, Russia and our Asia and European allies that they are on their own. The price of that isolation, however, is that the US will not be able to dictate how these abandoned allies will cope with the coming situation. So, South Korea, Japan and the region will be forced to deal with a China they can’t resist without US help.

Many Americans, and the tits we keep electing to federal office, fail to grasp how many advantages the US security umbrella brought us as a country. We haven’t spent the last 70 years dictating our terms to the world — and getting colossally rich — because the rest of the world is scared of us. We were able to do it because the rest of the world was and is scared of something else altogether: disorder and chaos. No we’re exporting the stuff. Trump swings wildly from isolationism to power protection — but doesn’t seem to realize a) we can’t do both and b) everyone on the planet gets this with the exemption of Trump and whomever is keeping him in the news cycle. Biden says that he wants to repair international relationships but keeps getting into trade spats with our allies with incoherent policy.


Israel is burning hot, but this will likely be a short(ish) war, and fortunately at the moment no real power wants to punch that tar-bay, including Iran, which just wants to stir it up. It will likely stay contained. And since Iran is targeting US troops and assets in Syria, off the Red Sea and Israel, the move here is simple: Strike Iran’s oil capabilities (to limit civilian structures) in a limited, but direct way.


As if that wasn’t enough end of the year fun, on Monday, Venezuela “officially” annexed the Essequibo, which makes up 2/3 of neighboring Guyana along with its territorial water — at least the ones with those enormous oil fields. The issue here isn’t so much invading Guyana — the Essequibo is sparsely populated jungle, but the oil rights. On Thursday, US Southern Command announced it will conduct flight operations in Guyana, and Anthony Blinken announced America’s “unwavering support of Guyana’s sovereignty.” That will be enough to put an end to that foolishness — for now.

To leave Ukraine to its fate — and the Senate appears set to do it — will be to abandon European allies to make an uneasy peace with Russian and China on their own. The knock-on being a conflict in Taiwan, which we can’t win without the allies we’re are abandoning. If we retreat from that fight, so go both Indo-Pac and European allies. As China already dominates Central Asia, this puts India is an unforgiving position.

So, if you’re looking at a map… All of Europe and Asia, and most of the global South (read Africa and Latin America) will be in the sway to a China-led block in a maneuver that would have given Sun Tzu a case of the giggles. That’s pretty much the world with the exception of (probably) Scandinavia and Great Britain, Canada, the US and Australia. The good news is that an alliance of Anglophones and Scandinavians will fare well enough — in fact, they might be the only places worth living. Goods will be scarce and more expensive, but doable.

Which will be precisely the point when the rest of the wrecked, darker, less-free world will be come after us — because that’s what they do. Understand that this time around we can be reached: With the best-case scenario being that the fleets of unused cargo ships left over from the collapse of global trade are used to get economic refugees to our shores — which we won’t be able to secure — in numbers that will make the current migrant issue seem like a leaky faucet. The worst-case scenarios involve nuclear warheads on intercontinental ballistic missiles and hypersonic gliders.

The United States is the biggest economy and the baddest military in the world — that is true. Still, we can’t contain China and Russia alone. Allied with dynamic countries of Asia and Europe, however, the maneuver is fairly easy and well worth the money.

Richard Murff is the founder of 4717 Insights. For more on the world, how it got here and a stiff drink, head to the 4717. Murff is the author of Pothole of the Gods: On Holy War, Fake News & other Ill-Advised Ideas, Drunk as Lords, and the upcoming Horrible Political Jokes in Ukraine.



Richard Murff

Founder of the 4717 Author of Haint Punch, and Pothole of the Gods. Good egg