Global hotspots could erupt at any time

TUCSON, Ariz. (U-Wire) — The Kosovo conflict is over, and while Bill Clinton is breathing a big sigh of relief, he’d better hope that it was the worst war he’ll see during his term in office.
Because while Bill’s and the world’s attention was focused on bombing the Serbs into the Stone Age, three other problems have reared their ugly heads. And each one could turn into a war that would make Kosovo look like nothing.
ù The Kashmir War
When: any day now
No, this isn’t a conflict over a sweater. It’s about a tiny, Muslim-populated enclave in northern India along the Pakistani border. The Muslims in Kashmir want independence from Hindu-dominated India, either to join Pakistan or to be an independent state.
India, though, doesn’t want to give up Kashmir. India has kicked Pakistan’s butt over Kashmir in two of the three wars between those two countries since 1947.
Right now, India and Pakistan are fighting over some guerrillas who have taken over some key mountains overlooking the major highway in Kashmir. The Indians have accused the guerrillas of being Pakistani soldiers, while the Pakistanis have claimed they are indigenous freedom fighters.
India could clobber Pakistan again if it becomes a full-scale war. India’s army has 1.1 million troops, with over 3,000 tanks. The air force has over 700 aircraft, including modern French Mirage 2000s and Russian MiG-29s and Su-30s. The navy has more than 25 warships, including a small aircraft carrier, and a dozen Russian and German attack submarines.
Pakistan spits out only half as many troops armed with mostly antiquated Chinese and American weapons dating back to the 1950s.
Seeing that, is it any wonder there is worry that Pakistan might resort to using its small stockpile of nuclear weapons to stop an Indian assault?
Hey, if you blink … South Asia could be gone.
ù The Second Korean War
When: Jan. 1, 2000
A recent naval clash between these Cold War relics heightened tensions along the 38th parallel. With North Korea extremely unstable after consecutive years of famine and flooding have ravaged its economy and civilian population, its unpredictability toward its old adversary is greater than ever.
North Korea still has 980,000 troops massed along the demilitarized zone, with over 3,000 tanks and 10,000 artillery pieces.
It is true that the North Koreans aren’t in good shape, and their ability to take over South Korea is next to nil (unless China comes in again, God forbid). But by sheer force of numbers alone, the North Koreans could overrun the DMZ, where some 30,000 American troops are stationed.
Stopping the Communists at Seoul would take a lot of firepower and casualties numbering in the thousands. It would make the Gulf War look like a turkey shoot.
The war would happen in the winter, when the rice patties are frozen over so tanks can cross them, and what better time for the North Koreans to catch the South Koreans and their American allies off guard than on the dawn of the new millennium?
ù The American-Chinese War
When: sometime in the next five years
China’s government doesn’t like the U.S. government and now the U.S. government doesn’t like China’s.
The recent spying incidents mean little, because China will take forever to adapt the stolen technology to its nuclear arsenal, which is smaller than France’s. But China has 2.2 million troops, more than any other country in the world. The Chinese navy is still small, though, and the air force’s vast numbers of aircraft date back to the 1950s and ’60s.
The war could start over Taiwan or Japan or even one of the two wars above. China is a rising power, but has so far to go to catch the United States in terms of technology and quality of weapons that it’s growing frustrated. China loathes American hegemony and what it perceives as American interference in other countries’ internal affairs (e.g. Kosovo).
America could beat China in a conventional war, but the cost would be tremendous, especially if it was a ground war. And just like Pakistan, a desperate, outgunned China might panic and resort to nuclear weapons.
Welcome to the new world order. Chaotic, isn’t it?
Chris Jackson’s column originally appeared in Wednesday’s University of Arizona paper, the Arizona Daily Wildcat.