President Vladimir Putin’s refusal to rule out the use of “tactical” nuclear weapons in Russia’s war against Ukraine has had much of the world on edge over the past month. However, economist Nouriel Roubini says a nuclear escalation of this nearly eight-month conflict could be just the beginning of a global struggle.
The world could also see a nuclear conflict in Iran and, most worryingly for the US, China’s fight over Taiwan, says Roubini, known as “Dr. Doom” after fulfilling its dire predictions, including the 2008 housing crisis that triggered the Great Recession.
The New York University economics professor claims that a US-China cold war already exists and that it could escalate into a “hot war” as President Xi Jinping aims to unite China and Taiwan. Roubini appeared at Yahoo Finance’s All Markets Summit 2022 on Monday ahead of the release of his book, Megathreats: Ten Dangerous Threats that Imperil our Future and How to Survive Them.
“In a way, World War III has already begun,” Roubini said. “It started in Ukraine because this conflict has broader implications that go well beyond Russia and Ukraine. It’s the beginning of something else.”
A cold war between the West “and a range of revisionist powers”
Speaking to the Editor-in-Chief of Yahoo Finance on Monday, Roubini highlighted the geopolitical threats and what he calls a new Cold War raging between the US and China, as well as between the West and “revisionist” powers like Russia, China, Iran , North Korea and Pakistan.
“They are essentially challenging the economic, social and geopolitical order that the US, Europe and the West created after World War II,” Roubini said, explaining that this crisis could entangle the US
In addition to Ukraine, another hot spot could be Iran, says Roubini.
“US-Iran negotiations on new nuclear deal are going nowhere, and Israel says if [Iran is] becomes nuclear – and they are just one step away – we will attack them,” Roubini said.
At the same time, the US and China are on a collision course as the two countries continue to decouple on fronts from trade to labor mobility to technology.
“I believe that the next 5-10 years will be the time when there will be a confrontation between the US and China over the Taiwan issue, and that could be a trigger for this cold war to become a hot war will,” he said. “This is how we get into World War III.”
Chinese President Xi Jinping is widely expected to claim a third term at the helm of his nation during this week’s Communist Party National Congress, cementing him as China’s most powerful ruler since Mao Zedong.
The leader also called for the continued build-up of China’s military at the start of the conference on Sunday, reportedly saying the country should “be prepared for dangers in peacetime”. [and] Prepare for a rainy day and be ready to withstand big tests with strong winds and high waves.
This week’s developments come after tensions over Taiwan peaked this summer when US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taipei on Aug. 2. Chinese warships circled the island, upsetting world markets and raising the possibility of far worse consequences should China attack Taiwan directly.
In Ukraine, that conflict took another turn on Monday when a wave of explosive-laden Russian suicide drones detonated in Kyiv. The attacks set buildings on fire and further strained nerves in the Ukrainian capital.
Ben Vershkul is the Washington correspondent for Yahoo Finance.
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