As global tensions reign in the news cycle, many are curious about what the World War 3 roster would like if such a conflict broke out tomorrow. North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) heads of state have all, at least tacitly, supported the United States’ strike on Syria, but outside of each nation’s highest office, there is widespread dissent.
In the upcoming French presidential elections, three of the four frontrunners have expressed a desire to pull out of NATO. Half of those candidates have also publicly condemned the U.S. bombing of Syria, and only one seemed to whole-heartedly support it. Several other NATO members, including Germany, also face elections within the next year that feature candidates who did not support the Syrian strike. Some of those detractors have also expressed a desire to remove themselves from NATO entirely.
Unsurprisingly, Russia and Iran — Syria’s staunchest allies — were against the maneuver, but they were also joined by China, who has tacitly supported the regime through U.N. Security Council votes and indirectly sold it military equipment through Iran, reported The Diplomat. Indonesia expressed concerns that the Trump administration had not acted in accord with international law, but also condemned the chemical weapons attack. Also taking a public position were Latin American socialist nations Venezuela, Bolivia, and Cuba; none of which would be likely to enter World War 3.
— Zachary F. Volkert (@ZacharyFVolkert) April 9, 2017
Yet much can change in the space of a presidential term. If World War 3 broke out in 2020, this roster could vary wildly. With France set to choose its next president with a primary on April 23 and a run-off on May 7, the election will be a valuable indicator of how Europeans will vote across the continent. Here’s what each of the leading candidates has said about France’s future as a part of NATO.
Marine Le Pen
Lumped in with Donald Trump and other nationalist politicians, Marine Le Pen of the far-right National Front (FN) party is probably the most internationally well-known French presidential candidate. She’s likely to win the first round of elections in France, but then lose to any of her three potential competitors in a run-off. While her following is staunch, she lacks broad appeal.
Polls are, however, constantly fluctuating, with a large portion of French people still unsure for whom they will cast their ballot. Like Trump in the U.S. and Brexit in the U.K., polls could undermine the devotion of Le Pen’s core voters. If they elevate her to victory in May, she has promised to re-negotiate the terms of the European Union, threatening to pull a Frexit if they are not beneficial to France.
— Vocal Europe (@thevocaleurope) April 9, 2017
Furthermore, Le Pen has joined Trump’s criticism of NATO, agreeing with him that the institution is “obsolete.” Instead, she has vowed to crank up defense spending at home to 2 percent of GDP and open up relations with Russia, leaving her open to pull out of the “Washington-centric” NATO, reported Russia Today.
“It was established when there was a risk from the Warsaw Pact and the expansionism of the communist Soviet Union. The Soviet Union no longer exists, and neither does the Warsaw Pact. Washington maintains the NATO presence to serve its objectives in Europe.”
Perhaps the candidate with the most momentum in the French elections, Jean-Luc Mélenchon has climbed significantly in the polls since a strong showing in the nation’s first debate. While he’s the only left-wing candidate with a chance to make it to the second round, he lags behind the other three frontrunners. Still, if he does make it to the second round, he would easily beat Le Pen or Fillon, according to recent polls.
French 2nd round polls should be taken with a pinch of salt but scenarios by Elabe show Fillon weakness. He’d lose to Melenchon, Macron. pic.twitter.com/3vZV01Iy9J
— Mark Deen (@MarkJDeen) April 11, 2017
While existing on the opposite side of the spectrum from Le Pen, Mélenchon does agree with the far-right candidate on NATO. Not only does he want out of NATO, he has also called the U.S. “the most dangerous military power,” reported Reuters.
Independent centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron is the clear frontrunner in the French presidential elections, poised to beat any of his three closest rivals if he makes it to the second round. A former investment banker, he is the biggest supporter of globalization with a real shot at the presidency, reported Reuters. Not only does he hold a pro-NATO stance, he has also expressed skepticism about the intentions of Russia.
“I’m convinced it’s in America’s interest to cooperate with the EU. We have common values and similarly structured economies.”
Though he is slightly ahead of Mélenchon in the polls, Fillon could easily place fourth in the first round of voting. Against Le Pen and Mélenchon’s magnetism and Macron’s freshness, Fillon has failed to capture the excitement of his competitors, instead standing as a grim reminder of the conservative government of Nicolas Sarkozy. A scandal where he was accused of creating a well-paying government job for his wife has bogged down his campaign and made his claims that French people need to “get to work” to fix their economy less effective.
If Fillon did somehow pull ahead of the rest of the pack, he would also be likely to shift the alliance of France in the event of World War 3. Fillon has often sided with Russia in political disputes, such as the invasion of Crimea, and he also spoken negatively about NATO, reported Politico.
Great Britain and Germany
Two of America’s other closest NATO allies, Great Britain and Germany, have also made their support for the U.S. strikes on Syria clear both publicly and privately. According to the White House, Prime Minister Theresa May and German Chancellor Angela Merkel both told Trump on Monday that it was important to hold Assad “accountable,” reported ABC.
Still, in both countries, the leaders of the opposition parties spoke out against Trump’s actions, with Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn calling it “wrong” in the U.K. and Martin Schulz of the Social Democratic Party saying it was “not the time for bombs” on Twitter. Germany will choose between Schulz and Merkel in a close race for Chancellor in September.
Poison gas attack in Syria is a war crime. All the more we urgently need diplomatic solutions. This is the time for talks – not for bombs.
— Martin Schulz (@MartinSchulz) April 7, 2017
Do you think the upcoming French presidential elections could alter NATO’s position in a potential World War 3 roster?
[Featured Image by Sean Gallup/Getty Images]