Tensions between the United States and Russia have unleashed a flurry of World War 3 theories that have come to the forefront of the final weeks of the 2016 elections.
Questions raised about America’s future relationship with Russia have ranged from cyber-espionage threats to the continuing dispute over Crimea, but perhaps no world issue has been as central to the unfolding drama as the War in Syria. As Russia backs President Bashar Hafez al-Assad, the U.S. arms Syrian rebel forces fighting against him — both sides ostensibly only making direct attacks on Islamic extremist groups in the area. Each nation has separately accused the other of breaking this pact, even to the point of using the phrase “war crimes,” reported the New Yorker.
— Foreign Policy (@ForeignPolicy) October 7, 2016
Gerald Horne, the history chair at the University of Houston, recently sat down with Russia Today to discuss how he sees Hillary Clinton’s proposed policies playing out in Syria — particularly in the case of a no-fly zone that he says could spark the beginning of World War 3.
“When Secretary Clinton talks about establishing a no-fly zone in Syria, she is basically saying that if she’s sworn in to the highest office in the land, in January 2017, she will be challenging Russian jets over Syria. This is a direct provocation. It could easily devolve into World War 3. I’m very much concerned about the hawkish language coming out of Washington that in a very cavalier fashion is talking about confronting and challenging Moscow, a major nuclear power.”
RT‘s interview with Horne largely centered around the fact that Clinton still sees the U.S. as the top dog in the world hegemony, somewhere she seems to think it belongs due to its “exceptional” nature. It’s the kind of rhetoric, Horne said, that no doubt irritates other countries that also think of themselves as exceptional — a concept echoed by Russian officials who think the U.S. is not judged for its role in foreign conflict the same way as its enemies.
“I would suggest that Secretary Clinton take lessons from President Barack Obama, who was asked if he believed that the United States was an exceptional country. He said yes, but he also said he’s sure that the British leadership feels that Britain is an exceptional country, that the Greek leadership feels that Greece is an exceptional country and on down the line.”
— New York Post (@nypost) October 17, 2016
American media is also closely monitoring the rising tension with Russia, but most mainstream outlets are avoiding the term World War 3. The New York Times‘ Somini Sengupta, who has covered the United Nations Security Council for the past three years, recently wrote that she had never seen the situation escalate to its current state.
Vitaly I. Churkin, Russian ambassador to the council since 2006, told NYT on Friday that they are the most tenuous bilateral relations since the Yom Kippur War — a conflict where three belligerents, consisting of Syria and Egypt against Israel, were backed by Russia and the United States, respectively. It was the closest the two nations had been pushed to battle since the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.
“The general situation is pretty bad: I think the tensions are probably the worst since 1973.”
While some have claimed that Russia is highlighting the possibility of the outbreak of a world war in order to meddle in the United States elections, Churkin dismissed these as “conspiracy theories,” saying that the U.S. had no proof of a Russian cyberattack. Furthermore, he chastised the U.S. for any push for a no-fly zone, noting that no such thing has been implemented in the nearby war in Yemen — where the United States is selling billions of dollars in weapons to Saudi Arabia despite repeated reports of human rights abuses, reported The Intercept.
“In one situation their eyes are burning; they, like, speak at the top of their lungs and advocate a no-fly.”
The latest commentary comes after a month filled with unnerving developments between the two world superpowers. Last week, Putin called for all Russian officials with children studying abroad to be brought home, an announcement made while nuclear drills took place in the country, reported Inquisitr citing local media. Also significant have been nuclear and missile demonstrations reported in the country, punctuated by Putin’s gesture to pull out of a disarmament treaty meant to limit the supply of weapons-grade plutonium and avoid nuclear war.
Comments from top U.S. officials have also been disconcerting. Last week, Vice President Joe Biden appeared on NBC’s Meet the Press and confirmed that America would send a “message” to Russia if they continued to tamper with upcoming elections — an action he hoped the public, and presumably the rest of the world, would never have to know about.
“He’ll know it, and it’ll be at a time of our choosing, and under circumstances that have the greatest impact. The capacity… to fundamentally alter the election, is not what people think… to the extent that they [alter the election], we will be proportionate in what we do.”
It’s a sharp contrast to the 2012 election, when President Barack Obama balked at Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s statement that Russia was the U.S.’s primary geopolitical enemy. While the possibility of World War 3 was much dimmer at that time, it’s jarring to look back on that debate and remember just how much things have changed in four years.
Do you think World War 3 with Russia is a real possibility?
[Featured Image by Sean Gallup and Spencer Platt/Getty Images]