The first of the high-risk conflicts, Farley writes, is the war in Syria. The spread of the Islamic State is of critical concern to the world's largest powers, including Russia, France and the US. But even if these states are united by a joint coalition, internal tensions may rise within the alliance due to the respective members' different plans for Syria's future.
Warfare between outside forces on Syrian territory would rapidly drag countries like Turkey, Iran, and Saudi Arabia into the conflict, as well as other states from distant corners of the globe.
The uneasy relationship between India and Pakistan, which could deteriorate at any moment, could become another "spark." If Islamabad-sponsored radical groups carried out terror acts in India like those that ripped through Mumbai in 2008, New Delhi's patience could run out. In this scenario, if Pakistan suffered a major defeat at the hands of India, the use of tactical nuclear weapons could be seen by Islamabad as the only way to resolve the situation after it had escalated, Farley notes.
He continues by saying that the US, which has strengthened its ties with India in the last few years, would be very likely to step into that war as well as China, which could take Pakistan's side.
A third possible trigger could be the East China Sea, where for the last two years China and Japan have been playing a dangerous game of brinkmanship over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands. Both states claim those territories and have deployed their military in nearby zones. If that conflict ignites, the United States is bound by a cooperation and security agreement to take the side of its long-term ally, Japan.
Farley notes that in such a situation, China would be likely to act first by launching an attack on America's military infrastructure in the region.
And finally, the last point on Farley's list is the series of events that have been unfolding in Ukraine. The outcome of the whole situation largely depends on to what extent NATO is ready to interfere in the country's internal affairs, he highlighted.
If NATO intervened in Ukraine, Russia would be forced to take counter-measures. Additionally, any attack on any of the alliance's member countries could trigger a NATO offensive.
Farley concludes by saying that the world powers fail to understand how dangerous war games actually are nowadays and that the leaders of the most powerful countries should remain vigilant and mitigate crises around the world rather than fueling them.