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••• The International Writers Magazine: Review

2020 World of War
Paul Cornish & Kingsley Donaldson
Published by Hodder and Stoughton - July 2017
ISBN: 978-1-473-64032-0
• Sam Hawksmoor
'Essential reading for troubled times'

Dr Cornish is Chief Strategist at Cityforum Publish Policy Analysis and Kingsley Donaldson is a retired Army Officer and Director of Causeway Institute of Peace Building Conflict Resolution Institute.


When General Sir John Hackett wrote ‘The Third World War: August 1985’ way back in 1978 it caused quite a sensation and I guess we all sighed with relief when not only did WW111 not happen (in part because of President Reagan’s build-up of American forces that the USSR could not match) but also because of the whole intellectual and ideological bankruptcy of Communist life that could no longer oppress millions of people who wanted a western way of life. Gorbachev gave way to Yeltsin, an alcoholic, who ultimately opened the way for the devious strongman from the FSB Vladamir Putin to rebuild Russia from economic ruins.

Hackett’s book served a purpose written in a time of chaos in the UK with inflation at 25% - a hopeless Socialist Government in office but the Unions in power. Now Cornish and Donaldson’s book (written in collaboration with Middle-Eastern specialists and others around the globe) wishes to alert us to the immediate problems ahead. We no longer have one big bad wolf to fight, war isn’t about going face to face with an enemy you can see. Sure Russia is still ‘the enemy’ taking every chance to destabilise democracy (using RT fake news for example) putting pressure on the Ukraine with thousands of deniable Russian soldiers in the theatre pretending to be patriots. Add endless cybercrimes against a complacent and vulnerable west that relentlessly puts all our lives on-line without genuine protection against fraudsters or hostile governments. Not only is Moscow our undeclared enemy but one must add to the mix Iran, Erdogan’s strident nationalist Turkey, ISIS, China and more. World of War 2020 takes all this on board and focusses on every scenario possible that could lead to war.

Chapter by chapter it lays the groundwork for plausible conflict. Russia wanting Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania back under lock and key keeps us constantly distracted in the Ukraine knowing that NATO would not be able to cope with two out of control situations at once. China wanting a reason to take control of the Pacific countries around it notably Taiwan and even Japan, creates a distraction in Australia and takes a bet that the US won’t come to their aide over a migration issue. The book pushes at all the weaknesses in liberal governments, the sense of fair play. ISIS might be defeated in Mosul and Raqqa but it isn’t dead on-line and suddenly regroups in Tunisia and rapidly seizes Libya and then overwhelms Egypt. It happens so fast the west cannot react because they need parliamentary approval or UN approval and Russia emboldened by their success in supporting Assad in Syria and destabilising Europe with fleeing Syrians won’t let it happen. Trump vacillates in all these situations as he is compromised by his ties to Russia.

It is the speed of modern conflict and cyberwar – unimaginable in 1978 by Hackett. In one scenario an EMT attack in Central London knocks out all command and control of government and police. A cyberattack on banks, hospitals, railways, and internet paralyses the UK. We are defeated in around three minutes without loss of life. The very fact that we have just launched a new aircraft carrier loaded with Microsoft XP that went out with the Ark ten years ago tells all you need to know.

There is no 5 Minutes to Midnight anymore. There is almost nothing we can do to protect ourselves from acts of random violence (Borough Market for example) or rogue states such as North Korea seeking to bring down our financial system. Our Armed Forces are shrunken, our equipment is poor and our recruitment of cyber warriors to fight the hackers is woeful in all forces and MI6.

World of War 2020 was published in July, and already some events have passed it by. Macron doesn’t figure and the changes he will make to France and Europe. Mrs May is no longer strong and stable and Brexit can only serve to make us poorer and more vulnerable to events.

The Scenarios Cornish and Donaldson give us have a ring of truth, but of course it’s just an informed guess. One hopes none of the worst case scenarios will happen. The book is an alarm call to complacent governments and warning to us readers to get our own houses in order, stash provisions and some krugerrands underground in the garden for the inevitable day the ATM’s shut down, your name is erased from everything official and the supermarkets don’t open anymore.

Definitely worth a read and make sure your local MP is reading it too.

© Sam Hawksmoor July 2017
author of J&K 4Ever (a post apocalpyse novel)

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