Okay, so this is a pedantic look at the number of world wars there have actually been. It is my assertion that the next global war will be World War 7 and not World War 3. These are my reasons why I think this way.
The first world war was the Seven years war from 1756 -1763. It was preceded by the French and Indian War that started in 1754 and continued as part of the Seven years war. This conflict was fought in Continental America, Central America, Europe, West Africa, India and the Philippines. There would have been several naval battles/engagements as well. It is estimated over a million people died as a consequence of the war. This was a significant number considering the population of the world at the time.
The second world war was the American Revolutionary war 1775-1783. This war was not just fought in the thirteen colonies. The war involved not just France and Great Britain but several other European powers and Mysore in India. Therefore there were battles across several continents. There were tens of thousands of casualties due to this war. (It wasn’t just Mel Gibson that won this war!)
So the first two world wars were fought in the 18th century. The affect of these wars and mostly the affect of the Napoleonic wars was the decimation of the European male population. It took eighty to a hundred years to recover from the Napoleonic wars in Europe. Those wars were mostly fought in the European theatre and don’t constitute a world war.
The third world war was fought between 1914-1918. Most people had forgotten about the first two so didn’t think about what they were getting themselves into. There were millions killed in the conflict. As a consequence of this war it redefined the map of Europe, ended several empires and created the USSR as well as sowing seeds of next war. It was an imperialistic war for the most part, started by Kings. Also known as the Great war and World War I.
I don’t need to say much about what is known as World War II. Horrific loss of life and property. Again millions dead and ushered in the nuclear age. Soon after a cold war began began the two great superpowers of USA and USSR. The cold war was fought through spies, proxy wars, economic, military spending and cultural means. The cold war is defined now as a world war and therefore it is World War 5 by my understanding.
World War 6 is the on-going so called ‘War on Terror’ which is actually a global war fought by Western democratic nations against jihadist Islamic fighters. While they have no country of base, they fight on a global scale, on all continents. The number of dead is in the tens of thousands. The Twin Tower attack was the jidahist’s most successful assault. The USA has been the primary lead in fighting the jihadists.
Therefore the next world war that involves a number of countries or groups, fought across continents will be World War 7. When, where and how it starts is unknown, it could start in North Korea, India, South China Sea, Syria or from a black swan event. All I can say for sure is that based on historical evidence it will happen, sooner or later. However as the end of the Napoleonic wars ended two hundreds ago in 1815, the Great War ended in 1918, it doesn’t bode well for the next six or seven years.