When the history of World War Three is written, it will record the opening shot as ringing out on Christmas Day in 1979 when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan.

The 1970s were a grim time for the Great Powers. The Soviet Union was stagnant, its economy rotting from the inside. Great Britain had walked itself off a cliff. The United States was reeling from the withdrawal from Vietnam, the downfall of Nixon, and the economic earthquakes of the decade. The Cold War raged on, but the US intelligence community were still in the long depression unleashed on them by their failure to protect their commander-in-chief from an unhinged ex-Marine.

Key protagonists of Phase One of World War Three included the Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, the American president Ronald Reagan (1981-1989), and Afghan resistance hero General Ahmad Shah Massoud – known as the Lion of Panjshir..

These men had their own reasons for the war. Reagan viewed it as part of the epochal struggle against communism. General Massoud just wanted freedom for his people. Brezhnev was mostly dead and who knows what, if anything, was going through his ancient, exhausted mind.

The USA poured materiel, money and training into the Mujahideen Afghan resistance which was fighting the Soviet invaders. This included assisting General Massoud, and also a rising star of the Mujahideen, Osama bin Laden.

Hindsight is a beautiful thing, but it seems not enough thought was given in Washington to an exit strategy and what might unfold if the Mujahideen won. Perhaps American leaders imagined this war would rumble on until the Cold War itself went hot, and perhaps they thought the Soviet Union would last forever and would never give up its attempt to conquer Afghanistan.

The Mujahideen did win, and then shattered into its constituent factions and tribes, once the hated Soviets were expelled.

Two of the major factions to emerge were General Massoud’s Northern Alliance, and the Taliban. Massoud’s vision for the future of Afghanistan was to create a modern, free, open first-world nation. The Taliban’s vision was to create a hellish mediaeval caliphate. A long civil war ensued.

The USA seems to have been not entirely certain what to do, but in general it supported the Northern Alliance. By now Reagan was retired, and his vice-president George HW Bush had been elected, then defeated by Bill Clinton.

Liberals get very misty-eyed about Bill Clinton but the historians who write the accounts of World War Three will probably label him as the worst president in the history of the United States.

The Afghan civil war was entering stalemate, with General Massoud’s men firmly entrenched in the Panjshir Valley, and the Taliban entrenched in Kabul and Helmand. General Massoud financed the Northern Alliance independently – the Panjshir Valley was fertile and affluent. He would buy his materiel in Pakistan and then take it over the border to his men.

Then the Taliban managed to interdict General Massoud’s supply lines. Defeat was inevitable unless General Massoud got help.

General Massoud asked President Clinton to help. He did not want money, he had plenty. He did not want American soldiers, he had plenty of his own. All he wanted was logistical help to move the materiel he was buying from Pakistan into Afghanistan. General Massoud lacked aircraft which could over-fly enemy missiles.

Clinton told General Massoud he was on his own. I don’t know why, but I think he was innately mistrustful of American intervention in Afghanistan. Thus a great opportunity was lost, and Afghanistan was lost, is still lost, and will remain lost for generations.

Phase One of World War Three ended on September 9, 2001, when al-Qaeda assassinated General Massoud. Without his genius leadership and diplomatic skills, the Northern Alliance broke down.

By then, George W Bush was in the White House, and it was a new era. Bush invaded Afghanistan after 9/11, and for a moment it seemed Massoud’s dream of a free and open Afghanistan would be realised within months of his assassination. And then it all went very badly wrong.

While insurgents harried the American, British and allied forces that had liberated Afghanistan from the Taliban regime, Bush decided to finish the job his father started, and rid the world of Saddam Hussein.

The West’s relationship with Saddam Hussein was long and complex. At one point he was seen as a bulwark against communism, and reputedly the CIA even gave him lists of trade union and communist activists in Iraq so that his secret police could kill them.

And then Saddam was a bulwark against revolutionary Iran. Britain and the US channeled materiel to him. Meanwhile, Saddam was unhinged on a scale comparable with the Roman Emporor Caligula. His men arrested a young British journalist called Farzad Bazoft, charged him with espionage, and hanged him. The British Government protested, but not very hard.

Kurds rose up against Saddam, so Saddam gassed them. The British Government protested, but not very hard. The British Foreign Secretary still went to Baghdad to an arms fair hosted by Saddam, at which Iraqi companies showcased weapons of torture and mass-destruction which were available to the highest bidder.

Then Saddam invaded Kuwait, and suddenly the West decided he was a very bad man. Even though Gulf states had almost unlimited money and huge armies, they got Britain and the US to send their armed forces to liberate Kuwait. This despite Kuwait itself being an entirely fictional concept dreamed up by colonial powers, and ruled over by a corrupt elite.

The US intermittently had a pop at Saddam during the period between the two Gulf Wars of 1991 and 2003, even when Clinton was in power. Then the USA decided the Saddam problem was going to be solved. British prime minister Tony Blair ruined his reputation by joining Bush’s war. And then came the hubris of Bush’s infamous MISSION ACCOMPLISHED banner.

So now Afghanistan and Iraq are both ruined. Iraq itself was another fictional construct with no historical basis, which is one reason Saddam was so popular in the West until 1990. Only a ruler with an iron fist could hold together such an abstract and disparate entity as Iraq. Saddam was a Muslim, but a secular ruler, with a cabinet drawn from various faiths and tribes, who were invested in the Saddam regime because he gave them their own mini-empires to rule.

The Kurds, however, could not be won over to the Ba’athist cause, because they were simply far less corruptible than most of Iraq’s tribes and ethnic groups. As a result, Saddam committed genocide against them.

Now World War Three is in an entirely new phase. We have Daesh rampaging across Iraq and Syria, raping and murdering and destroying everything in sight. We have Syria’s Bashar Assad fighting them, and we’re fighting them, and the Kurds are fighting them. And now we have Putin’s Russia fighting them too. It’s an absurdly complex war in which all sides seem to be simultaneously allies and enemies of all the other sides.

Meanwhile we have Russia rattling sabres all over the place, and Iran on its way to being a nuclear state, and a liberal US president with a grasp of foreign policy even worse than Clinton’s.

So the next phase of World War Three will be the clash between Iran and Israel. Iran has been saying for many years that it will destroy Israel and wipe out the Jews. But assorted scum have been saying that for thousands of years, and they always fail, and they always will fail. When the time comes, the Israeli Defence Forces will use electromagnetic pulse weapons to fry Iran’s military electronics, and then we’ll get to see if the ayatollahs like living in a mediaeval state as much as they claim.

With Iran neutralised, Israel will almost certainly retire from World War Three unless someone else thinks of trying to destroy it. Israel doesn’t like or want war; anyone who doubts that should recall that Saddam Hussein fired Scud missiles at Israeli cities, and yet Israel did not respond, even though it could have wiped Iraq off the map.

There isn’t an army in the world that could defeat Israel’s army, and eventually even thick-headed Arabist rulers will realise that, and will make peace with Israeli, just like King Abdullah I of Jordan was doing at the time a Palestinian assassinated him.

The phase after that will see Putin do whatever it is he is going to do, which I doubt even he knows yet. And then after that we have China. China does not want war with the West, because they make so much money by selling to us and lending to us. But eventually their economy will crash, and they’ll start wanting some of the money we owe them, and may get rather fractious. Their armed forces are truly enormous and the West doesn’t have comparable forces, so it might get a bit nuclear.

But in all likelihood, by then the USA will have electromagnetic pulse weapons so advanced that they will be able to fry China’s antiquated hardware, at which point China will probably break up into its constituent nations.

This is so far in the future that by then we’ll all have hover-boards and monkey-butlers, and the United Kingdom of England and Wales might even have a Labour Government again.

The last time man lived in a world without war was five thousand years ago. The next time is probably at least that far off.

I’m reminded of a scene from one of my favourite films.

A child watches two small boys fighting with toy guns, and remarks to his cyborg guardian “we’re not going to make it, are we? People I mean.”

The machine replies: “it’s in your nature to destroy yourselves”.

It is.

We probably will.

I hope I am wrong.

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