The world has a history pattern of how wars work. Follow along for a minute before saying I am off the wall. Its all in pattern analysis. I am paraphrasing from the book "The Fourth Turning" by Strauss and Howe.
The world works on a 80 year cycle (I'm skipping the generational stuff and going right to the wars.). The wars reflect what part of the cycle you are in.
First turning wars occur after the last big war and settle any left over issues from the last big war. Example: Queen Anne's War, War of 1812, Korean War. No major changes to the world dynamic. People are happy to settle things down for a while. These are often proxy wars between the winners of the last major conflict.
Second turning wars go no where fast, drag out for a while and are a quagmire. Example: English Civil war, King George's war, Spanish-American War, Vietnam, Afghanistan (Russian intervention). These wars tend to be guerilla wars, don't get a lot done and no one is quite sure why they are being fought. These are potrayed as police actions or proxy wars (or both).
Third Turning Wars are preparatory wars for the fourth turning. These wars are based on new conflicts that did not exist when the last big war occurred. Examples: French and Indian Wars, Mexican War, World War I, Operation Desert Storm. These wars are fought but don't fundamentally change the underpinnings of the world structure. They do point to how the next major war will unfold. These are often interventions or peace keeping expeditions.
Fourth Turning Wars are decisive and to the end. Example: War of the Roses, Armada of Triumph, King Philips War, Bacon's Rebellion, King Williams War, Glorious Revolution, American Revolution, American Civil War, World War II. During the fourth turning wars are brutal and to the end. Have any new powerful weapons you were afraid to use before? Now is the time to use them.
It is all in pattern analysis. There have been major conflicts, wars and political realignments going on throughout the last 15 years (starting in 2001). The number of governments that have fallen or realigned during that time is breath taking. Europe, the Middle East and Africa are all coming apart at the seams. China and Russia are working very hard to keep their countries battened down hard. The US has its own troubles, notably a big push towards fascism (government take over of corporations and oppression of minorities fits the bill).
Everything is pointing toward large countries being willing to see how far they can push the envelope on any problem they encounter, which leads to larger wars. I expect there to be an expansion of the middle eastern conflict into Europe, Africa and Asia before it calms down again. Case in point: If Russia runs out its currency reserves next year (and it is on track to), it won't have the money to do anything and the Russian state will have to lash out or pull back and lick its wounds. Right now the posture that Russia has is not toward licking its wounds. If Russia lashes out and starts something major things will get serious quickly in Asia and Europe. And Russia will drive it until it runs out of money or collapses either way is not good for Asia, Europe and the World.
Will it unwind this way? I don't know. But I do see something on the horizon that ain't pretty.