In 1914, the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand led nation after nation into a massive conflict. Known at the time as “The Great War” and “The war to end all wars,” World War I killed 17 million people; 11 million on the battlefield. Another 6 million from disease and famine. If you count the post-war Spanish flu epidemic (which many say the war caused), another 50 to 100 million died. By any measure, World War I was terrible. The death and destruction was so great, the world vowed “Never again.”
Yet, only 20 years after the Treaty of Versailles and the end of World War I, Europe and the world were once again at war. This time, 60 million people died, including 6 million Jews in the Nazi Holocaust. Once again, the world vowed “Never again.”
Since then, smaller wars and conflicts have killed millions. Yet, more than seventy years after the end of World War II, we haven’t seen anything yet resembling a World War III. Why? Why did the first few decades of the 20th Century bring two global wars, while the many decades since have brought relative peace among the major world powers? The answer is found in how World War II ended.
The Era of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD)
World War II ended when the United States obliterated two Japanese cities in four days. The atomic bomb changed the face of war forever. After the bomb, a nation at war had to worry about more than defeat. It had to worry about total annihilation.
When the Soviet Union became the second nation to develop nuclear weapons, the world faced the possibility of a catastrophic war between two nuclear powers. As the United States and the Soviet Union enhanced their nuclear capabilities in the Cold War, the prospect of a global war capable of destroying the entire world struck fear in the hearts of men and women everywhere.
Ironically, this fear is the reason many believe we haven’t had World War III. In textbooks, the concept is known as mutually assured destruction (MAD), and it’s been the cornerstone of international security since 1949. The idea is simple. An attack by one nuclear power on another will result in the total destruction of both the attacker and the defender. In such a scenario, the first nation launches an initial, pre-emptive strike, and this triggers an instant launch by the second nation. In the end, both nations are destroyed. Since the end of World War II, this simple doctrine is often cited as the reason we haven’t had World War III.
Unfortunately, it won’t last much longer.
The End of MAD
Just as European diplomacy provided 19th Century Europe with peace until it didn’t, MAD will spare the world from World War III — until it doesn’t. Eventually, MAD will become obsolete.
Why? Because advanced technology will one day lead to a way around MAD. The rise of artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and nanofactories will one day allow one nation to disable the nuclear arms of another (before they can be launched). In addition, these technologies will pave the way for new superweapons capable of conquering and subjugating entire nations. When these technologies emerge, they will kick off a dangerously unstable arms race. Some of the reasons why include:
1) Global Trade – As new technologies and automation progress, nations will become independent of one another. This is a dramatic reversal of a long-standing trend toward economic interdependence. In fact, in the decades since the end of World War II, nations have entered into trade agreements with one another based on the idea economically interdependent nations are less likely to go to war. The European Union is the result of such an assumption. As technology advances, nations could become isolated, increasing the likelihood of a misunderstanding triggering a major military conflict.
2) Increased Uncertainty – A post-MAD world will be a world of intense uncertainty. Rival nations will worry over each other’s intentions, and the exponential growth of new technologies will make it difficult for any nation to understand potential threats. Because of this, developing an adequate defense will be difficult at best. When you’re unsure what kind of attack you face, you certainly can’t be sure of your response. Can an attacked nation respond quickly enough to defend itself? Or will it be overwhelmed before it can respond? This uncertainty increases the odds of a major conflict, because it favors the nation that strikes first.
3) Ease of Development – Unlike the development of nuclear weapons, which require expensive infrastructure and the acquisition of rare and controlled materials, the development of post-MAD superweapons will be within the reach of almost all nations. Tracking and monitoring the development of such weapons will be difficult, if not impossible. Because of low barriers to development, such weapons will become widespread. Within a short period of time, the first developing nation will be followed by a second, a third, a fourth, etc. The more nations that have these superweapons, the more likely we’ll see a catastrophic war.
4) No Fallout – After a nuclear strike, ground zero and the surrounding land are filled with radioactive contamination. Because of this, there’s no true victory in an all-out nuclear war. After all, who would want to live? No one would want to live in such conditions. But will it be the same when MAD is obsolete? No. A post-MAD superpower could conquer its enemies without contaminating the land. This makes a first strike, and the possibility of victory, much more appealing to a rival nation. A successful attacker could gain great wealth, and this increases the odds of a conflict.
5) Targeted Destruction – Unlike a nuclear strike, post-MAD superweapons will enable targeted, near surgical destruction of the enemy. Nuclear weapons indiscriminately destroy everything around them. But the next generation of superweapons will destroy an enemy without widespread destruction. Using quantum computers and artificial intelligence, an attacking nation will simply disable an enemy, then conquer its territory. Again, such an attack will leave the land, its buildings, and its people intact. It won’t leave destroyed infrastructure or contamination. And like the other factors, this makes a first strike much more appealing.
Advanced technology will result in a total reversal of mutually assured destruction—the very doctrine that has kept us from nuclear war for so long. The world must keep two or more nations from obtaining post-MAD superweapons. With such weapons, a destabilizing arms race could end in global war and catastrophic destruction. Because of this, post-MAD superweapons present the world with a grave problem. How do we avoid a global war that threatens the very survival of the human race?
The World’s Solution: Global Government
Faced with the prospect of total annihilation, the world will choose what it views as the only sensible course of action – global government. Not a weak confederated global government such as the United Nations, but a unified world government with a monopoly on advanced superweapons. Such a government will be the only way the world believes it can avoid the danger of two or more nations plunging the world into darkness.
To those who know the Bible, this comes as no surprise. Almost two thousand years ago, John recorded his vision of global government in the book of Revelation.
In it, he says the Antichrist will have authority over everyone on earth, “people of every tribe, language, and nation” (Revelation 13:7). In other words, the Antichrist will rule over a global government. This is the same global government mentioned in the book of Daniel. It will crush everything in its path and rule the earth (Daniel 7:23), and it will only be overthrown when Jesus Himself returns to destroy it (Daniel 2:44).
Our generation is unique among all others. No other generation in history could point to so many signs of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Think about it … Israel is once again a nation. The Jews are back in Jerusalem. Israel is surrounded by enemies. Travel and knowledge have dramatically increased. The Gospel is preached all over the globe. The convergence of all these signs is a clear signal His return is near. And while these signs converge, advanced technology moves the world closer to global government.
These signs and other signs of the Second Coming are everywhere we look. Nevertheless, the world remains ignorant of how close we are to the end. This too, should not come as a surprise. The Bible indicates when the Rapture occurs it will take the unbelieving world by surprise; the world will be like it was “in the days of Noah” and “the days of Lot.” People will eat, drink, and live normal lives right up until the time (Matthew 24:37-38).
When Noah was building the Ark, his neighbors didn’t believe a flood would come. But it came. And before Lot left Sodom and Gomorrah, the residents of those cities didn’t believe fire would come from heaven and consume them. Likewise, many people today don’t think God’s judgment will come. But it will. And the nearness of global government is yet another sign.