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WW3: Who and What does it depend on?



Following the Hamas attack on Israel, Donald Trump warned that "We are closer to World War III than we've ever been."


He was joined by Elon Musk who said this week that “We are sleepwalking our way into World War III


Last week, Mitch McConnell called China, Russia and Iran the “new axis of evil” and declared that “in many ways, the world is more endangered today than it has been in [his] lifetime."


How likely is WW3? How concerned should you be? What does it depend on? Who does it depend on? What are the biggest risks?


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Zionism was founded on the idea of the return of Jews to their homeland.


For many Jews, the creation of the state of Israel fulfilled the prophesy in the Hebrew Bible that God would one day bring back the people of Israel from exiles.


The return of the Jews to the land of Israel is also central to Christian belief.


Many Christians believe that the second coming of Christ would happen only after the Jewish diaspora has returned to Israel, secure a final victory against its enemies, and rebuilt the Temple of Jerusalem.


Like the Christians and some Jews, Muslims also believe in the idea of the final judgement Day but they differ in the way it will be brought about.


According to the Hadith, words and deeds attributed to the prophet Mohammed, "The Hour [of Resurrection] will not come until you fight the Jews. The Jew will hide behind rocks or trees. Then the stones or trees will call: 'Oh Muslim, servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.'


Prophecies sometimes become reality because they can be self-fulling when enough people believe in them.


Hamas cast its attack on Israel on Oct 7 as a holy war.


Last Friday, the Palestinian Ministry of Religious Affairs’ instruction sheet for all preachers quoted Mohammed’s call to kill Jews.


Some Christians see Hamas’ attack on Oct. 7 as the first sally of the Antichrist.


According to the New Testament, the second coming will be preceded by disease, earthquakes, and wars.


Whether Republican Senator Lindsay Graham is right or not to call the Israel Hamas war a religious war, there is no denying that is touching a raw nerve with all 3 main western religions.


This alone makes the conflict more combustible, and less predictable than the Russia-Ukraine war.


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To get a WW3 going, we will need a regional war first.


Hamas can provoke a regional war but it cannot start one.


For a regional war to break out, Hamas’ backer Iran will have to directly join the war against Israel.


Iran has denied any involvement in the Hamas attack on Israel, even though a report by the Wall Street Journal on Oct 8 quoted unnamed senior members of Hamas and Hezbollah as saying that Iran not only helped plan the attack but gave the go-ahead for it.


Another sign of Iran’s increased brazenness is a string of attacks against US personnel at various bases in Iraq and Syria since Oct 17 by Iranian-backed Shiite militias.


U.S. Central Command told NBC News this week that 20 American personnel sustained minor injuries on Oct. 18 when at least two suicide attack drones targeted al-Tanf military base.


On October 23, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said, “We know that Iran is closely monitoring these events, and in some cases, actively facilitating these attacks and spurring on others who may want to exploit the conflict for their own good, or for that of Iran.”


What can these attacks tell us about Iran’s calculations right now?


What is clear is that Tehran is taking advantage of the reluctance of the US to be dragged into a regional war.


In other words, Tehran is banking on America’s lack of appetite for going to war with Iran.


And Iran has been right so far.


The Biden administration until now has refrained from taking actions against these attacks by the militias, despite facing increasing political pressure to do so.


American deterrence, at least when it comes to Iran, has weakened significantly under the Biden administration.


In August, Biden agreed on the transfer of $6 billion of Iranian funds that had been frozen in South Korea under sanctions in exchange for the release of 5 U.S. citizens detained by Tehran.


This was on the back of the transfer of $10 billion frozen in Iraq in June.


Since the start of the Biden administration, Iranian oil exports have increased by 400%.


This is despite the discovery in March by the IAEA of uranium particles enriched up to 83.7% in Iran’s underground Fordo nuclear site.


Meanwhile, Robert Malley, Biden’s special envoy for Iran, the chief architect for resurrecting the Iran deal, has been placed on unpaid leave by the state department since June, with his security clearance suspended, over allegation of compromising classified information.


Given the Biden administration has taken a very tough stance on China and Russia, it is puzzling why it has been pandering to Iran that is sending weapons to Russia while brutally suppressing dissents at home. Human rights groups are investigating the killing of more than 500 people, including 69 children, during the protests in 2022.


The only explanation I can come up with is that it is a knee-jerk counter-reaction to policies under the Trump administration that walked away from the Iran deal, applied tough sanctions on Iran, and assassinated the head of Iran’s Quds Force Qasem Soleimani.


Whatever is the reason, we can reasonably assume that US actions, or inactions, under Biden have emboldened Iran.


This could explain the unrestrained attack on Israel on Oct 7 and the attacks on US personnel in the Middle East.


Will the US finally put its foot down?


I don’t know but I do know is that whatever you think is the probability of a regional war, the biggest risk is that Iran makes a miscalculation, go too far, and trigger an over-reaction by the US and/or Israel.


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Even if we get a regional war, it is not a given that it will lead to WW3.


To get WW3, the superpowers will have to decide to go to war with each other.


WW3 is dangerous because not only the US, China, and Russia are all nuclear powers, but that nuclear powers may choose to use nuclear weapons over accepting defeat.


This is why by definition a WW3 will not end well.


But what is the chance of WW3?


In theory, because there will be no winners in WW3, the three superpowers have no incentive to start one.


This is especially the case with Russia that has more limited resources than either the US or China to fight and sustain a total war.


WW3 also offers less upside for the Russians


China might hope to gain control of Taiwan, but the Russians have already the upper hand in the war in Ukraine.


With the Ukrainian counter-offensive that started in June stalling, Russian forces have gone on the offensive over the past few weeks.


Russian forces are encircling the town of Adviivka in the Donesk region that boasted of having the strongest defenses along the entire front-line.


This week Russian forces took control of the strategically important landfill north of Avdiivka and advanced to the railway line north of Avdiivka.


Even more important is the fact that the Russian military announced this week that its air defense system shot down two long-range U.S.-made ATACM missiles that many military experts thought were game changers for Ukraine.


All these developments reinforce the view that Russia has little to gain by starting WW3 and has everything to lose.


If this is obvious to me, it should be obvious to people in the Biden administration.


But after Biden’s speech on Oct 19 on his return from Israel, I am not so sure.


Biden’s decision to link Putin directly with Hamas in his speech is making WW3 more rather than less likely.


Equating the Russia-Ukraine war with the Hamas attack on Israel, Biden is asking Congress for more money for Ukraine.


Ironically, of the $105 billion Biden is asking Congress for Israel and Ukraine, less than 15% will go to Israel and most of it will go to Ukraine


The $61 billion Biden is asking for Ukraine is more than double the $24 billion he was asking before the Hamas attack that Congress has yet to approve.


I may be missing something but it looks to me like Biden is using the Hamas attack on Israel as an opportunity to double down on the Ukraine war that is critical for his re-election bid.

It Putin believes that Biden is going to double down on Ukraine, he may decide to take Iran’s side in the Middle East crisis.


In this respect, I agree wholeheartedly with Elon Musk who said this week that to avoid WW3 “we need to figure out peace in Ukraine, and “restore normal relations with Russia.”

But what is the chance of that happening before the 2024 US elections?


Not very good.


But there was one good piece of news this week for people who don’t want to see Ww3.


Mike Johnson became the Speaker of the US House of Representatives this week.


A former constitutional lawyer and a conservative radio host, Johnson won the Speaker race with unanimous backing from House Republicans.


Johnson has many advantages. He doesn’t have a high national profile, he is an evangelical Christian, he has the support of Trump, he has the reputation of being a hard worker, he is well liked.


He was described as “A friend to all and an enemy to none,” by the Republican conference chairwoman during the nomination process.


With the Republicans in control of the House, for Biden to double down on the Ukraine war, he will now have to go through Mike Johnson.


Johnson voted against two different appropriations bills that provided aid to Ukraine, one in 2022 and another last month over concerns about the lack of transparency of the $100bn the US has already sent to Ukraine.


My guess is that Biden will get some money for Ukraine but it will be much less than what he is asking for.


The best way to stop the war in Ukraine is to stop money from going to the war.


My bet is that a united Republican caucus in the House will now be in a better position to help end the war.


I hope I am right.


If I am wrong, that increases the risk of WW3.


Conclusion:


As I argued last week, there are 3 main scenarios for the Israel Hamas War.


A ceasefire followed by a return to the status quo before Oct 7


A regional war


A prolonged localize conflict


I attached a 10% chance to scenario 1, 30% chance to scenario 2, and 60% chance to scenario 3.


Where could I go wrong?


More specifically, what are the upside risks to the 30% probability I am attaching to a regional war with the potential to morph into WW3?


In this video, I have outlined the two main risks:


1. Emboldened by US inactions, Iran goes too far and trigger an over-reaction by the US and or Israel


2. The Israel Hamas war allows Biden to double down on Ukraine.

As I explained, I am less concerned about the second risk than I am about the first.


Given these two risks are not totally independent, If I am wrong about the second risk, it will increase the chance of the first risk.








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Johnson has many advantages??. Yes, he did not have a high national profile, NOW he does. He is an evangelical Christian - and that will be his greatest weakness. He has the support of Trump? That certainly did not help Republicans in US midterm elections. He might be a hard worker, but he is NOT well liked because he is way too far right.

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RE: "Donald Trump warned"......consider the source.

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Replying to

Robert, I can see you don't care for Trump which is ok. There are both pro-Trump and anti-Trump subscribers to this blog. I know where I stand but it does not influence my investment strategy. This is not a political blog and I only care about being right.

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Aly
Aly
Oct 29, 2023

Hi David, I know theology isn't your specialty. Fwiw, the Islamic hadith you mentioned relates to the coming of the Anti-Christ. Muslims believe that, near the end of days, a man will come who is the Anti-Christ but many Jews will mistakenly think he is the Messiah. Here's another hadith on the matter for additional context: "Ibn ‘Umar said that he heard the Messenger saying: “The Antichrist will pass by this salty barren area i.e. Madinah, in a passage of a canal. Most of those who will come out to him will be women so that a man will return to his intimate wife, mother, daughter, sister or aunt to tie them up for fear that they might go out…

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Replying to

No doubt Christianity was violent for a long time: the crusades, Spanish inquisitions, pogroms (especially against Jews). What Christianity shares with Islam (or at least used to) is the idea of the infidels that is the primary source of their aggression. This idea does not exist in either Judaism or in Buddhism.

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David


I appreciate the scenario analysis but why isn't this similar to the run-up to the Iraq war. George W Bush kept sending more and more troops to the Gulf. There was consternation in the United Nations, but the US didn't care. Colin Powell lied, and the rest is history. I was naive then and thought "evidence" and "logic" mattered. Even if there are no provocations, the US military and media can manufacture them.


Of course, the relative power of other factions have changed since 2003. No one cared about China's opinion. The weapons gap seems to have narrowed. Drones and rockets are more important than tanks. And most importantly, the US military machine has been strained over the pas…


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Biden's Iran policy has nothing to do with the Neocons. It has everything to do with Obama who sees the Iran deal as his chief foreign policy legacy.


Robert Malley, the lead negotiator of the nuclear deal under Obama, was appointed by Biden as the special envoy to Iran, responsible for resurrecting the Iran deal. Below is the article by Iran International (the most influential independent Iranian news outlet) about what Malley has been up to. https://www.iranintl.com/en/202308281852 There is a lot more that you can find outside the maintstream press but I will leave you to look. Sensational stuff that could be a John Le Carre novel.


Below is a good article by Lindsay Graham's in Foreign Policy in 2021…


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