World War III won’t start because anyone actually wanted it to start. World War III will be the result of geopolitical miscommunication and misinterpretation. World War III will start because great global powers painted themselves (or their adversaries) into a corner with no way out.
This is happening today in Syria, just days after the US shot 59 missiles at a Syrian airfield in response to a chemical weapons attack against Syrian civilians. The chemical weapons attack was allegedly perpetrated by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is fighting a domestic rebellion with Russia’s support.
Neither Putin nor Trump want a broader war. Yet, they are both tossing ultimatums and ‘red-lines’ in opposite directions across the Atlantic. Their rhetoric is dragging us closer to war. Possibly world war. Possibly nuclear war.
As Nikita Khrushchev, former premier of the Soviet Union, wrote to John F. Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis, "We and you ought not to pull on the ends of a rope which you have tied the knots of war. Because the more the two of us pull, the tighter the knot will be tied. And then it will be necessary to cut that knot, and what that would mean is not for me to explain to you. I have participated in two wars and know that war ends when it has rolled through cities and villages, everywhere sowing death and destruction. For such is the logic of war. If people do not display wisdom, they will clash like blind moles and then mutual annihilation will commence."
Putin and Trump are tightening the knots of war over alleged chemical attacks by Assad. Putin argues that the gassing of Syrian civilians was caused by the rebels’ own chemical arsenal. An entirely plausible explanation. After all, what strategic motive does Assad have for conducting an act that would raise the possibility of outside intervention? The rebels, on the other hand, which are losing the war with Assad have a strong motive for creating a false flag attack that would compel an American response to Assad.
Even if the chemical attack was really orchestrated by Assad, the rebels now have a strategic ace up their sleeve. Trump has promised another strike if more chemical weapons are used by Assad. The rebels now have a clear action plan for taking down the Assad regime and winning their war – fake a chemical attack, encouraging additional US intervention.
Putin himself has suggested a false flag chemical attack as a possibility:
"We have information that a similar provocation is being prepared ... in other parts of Syria including in the southern Damascus suburbs where they are planning to again plant some substance and accuse the Syrian authorities of using (chemical weapons)."
So after the next chemical weapons incident, will Trump investigate longer than 48hrs to determine what happened? Does that sound like something Trump would do? I think you already know the answer.
Meanwhile, Assad is not on his own. Putin has steadfastly stood by the Syrian president, pledging a military response to any additional US strikes in Syria. Russia will not cave and turn on Assad, partly because Russia’s national interest is tied to Syria and partly because the credibility of Putin’s commitment to other future alliances is at stake.
Compounding this, Trump is busy trying to distract from a domestic investigation into ties to the Russian government. A strong stand against Russia is just what the doctor ordered. Indeed, Democrats, Republicans and the mass media salivating over the recent US military action.
There you have it. Layers of ultimatums coupled with competing motivations and a domestic political crisis. Connect the dots and that’s how World War III starts.
I leave you with this from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, who set the time on the Doomsday Clock:
“The probability of global catastrophe is very high, and the actions needed to reduce the risks of disaster must be taken very soon. In 2017, we find the danger to be even greater, the need for action more urgent. It is two and a half minutes to midnight, the Clock is ticking, global danger looms. Wise public officials should act immediately, guiding humanity away from the brink. If they do not, wise citizens must step forward and lead the way.”