Young people drafting tweets about a third world war probably don’t need to worry about being drafted, according to Ohio State experts.
After Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani was killed by a United States drone strike Friday, fear of escalation led to talk of a third world war on social media. Peter Mansoor and Bear Braumoeller, experts from Ohio State, said a third world war — or even a regional conflict with Iran — is unlikely.
Braumoeller, a professor of political science specializing in international security and data analytics and author of “Only the Dead: The Persistence of War in the Modern Age”, said the origins of the conflict can be traced back to 1979 with the Islamic Revolution and the early 2000s, when former President George W. Bush called Iran part of the “axis of evil.”
Braumoeller said this long-standing tension and opposition set the stage for Soleimani’s death. Soleimani was the head of the Quds Force in Iran, which runs regional operations throughout the Middle East.
Mansoor, a retired colonel, CNN military analyst and current chair of military history at Ohio State, served in Iraq as the commander of the First Brigade in Baghdad from 2003 to 2004 and Gen. David Petraeus’ executive officer from 2007 to 2008.
“This situation is entirely different,” Mansoor said.
Mansoor said that when he served in Iraq the goal was to allow Iran to play a constructive role in Iraq’s future without compromising their democracy, but now President Donald Trump is trying to force Iran to pull back its support of proxy forces and negotiate a new nuclear contract.
“He wants to be seen as a peacemaker,” Braumoeller said. “Escalation is very unlikely.”
Braumoeller said he believes Iran’s formal retaliation was the missile attack on American bases in Iraq early Wednesday morning that did not result in American casualties, which Trump revealed in a statement to the media Wednesday.
“If we don’t respond, it will be the last obvious retaliation they engage in,” Braumoeller said.
Trump also said in the statement that the U.S. will impose additional sanctions on Iran. Mansoor said the statement was both a fist and an olive branch, and the statement would take the argument through diplomatic channels as opposed to war.
Both Braumoeller and Mansoor said World War III is unlikely to occur.
“It is a meme that has no basis in reality,” Mansoor said. “At most, if war broke out, it would be a regional conflict between Iran and the United States and our allies. It would only become a world war if China or Russia became involved, and I don’t see that happening.”
Mansoor said he does not anticipate that outcome because China and Russia have no stake in a war between the U.S. and Iran.
Braumoeller also said he thinks a regional conflict is unlikely.
Mansoor said the long-term ramifications will become clearer in the weeks and months ahead, but there is still one wild card in the situation: the Shiite militia, whose deputy commander was killed in the same drone strike as Soleimani.
“[The Shiite militia] also would like to seek a measure of revenge for his death,” Mansoor said. “Although Iran and the United States now seem to be on a path to de-escalation, some attacks by Iraqi militias to U.S. troops in Iraq that cause casualties could throw a severe complication into matters.”