World War III: The Heat Rises

Putin, Obama: the face-off stiffens.

In June of this year, we wrote a column entitled “NukeBuild: This Will Not End Well”. We discussed how, as international tensions grow, the U.S., Russia, and China possess and are increasing nuclear arms. Today, we see rising conflict and antagonism moving us – not farther away — but closer to confrontation of these major powers into what is becoming World War III.

We base our assessment on these chief factors:

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A Dissolving Global Economy

We’ve pointed out in other columns how history shows that, when a nation’s economy is deeply struggling, the federal government will often look for an enemy both within and outside its borders, then propagandize those “enemies” to instill fear and promote nationalism – in effect taking the citizenry’s minds off the reality of their own struggles, and the government and business community’s responsibility for those struggles.

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In the United States, the government is controlled by Wall Street’s banks and the military industrial complex. This has led the U.S. to expand its endless-war tactics (a) primarily in the Middle East with military invasions, as well as (2) against Russia and Iran through economic sanctions, and (3) China with U.S. saber-rattling primarily regarding America’s “exceptionalism” and right to control the world economy and specifically the South China Sea area.

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This American view and resulting actions to promote “exceptionalism” have frayed U.S. international relations. We’re mired in a Middle East quagmire promoted by Washington’s neocons in Congress and the White House who are about to get what they’ve wanted: a head-to-head confrontation with a nuclear-armed Russia.

This, as you should know if you’re paying attention, is taking place primarily in Syria. The U.S. has led an effort to remove the government of Syria President Bashar al-Assad, an ally of both Russia and Iran. America has led a coalition which has invaded Syria’s sovereign borders to promote civil war there while arguing it is also fighting the terrorist group The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). This Syrian invasion has included over a year of aerial bombings by American military, and now the mission creep of boots on the ground starting – as Vietnam’s invasion began — with only a handful of special forces.

U.S.-Russian Confrontation

Washington and Moscow began seriously jousting politically in 2014, when the U.S. backed the overthrow of Ukraine’s corrupt, but democratically elected pro-Russian government. Following the right-wing-led revolution, an election saw the pro-European Union oligarch Petro Poroshenko installed as president. Immediately, Ukraine’s pro-Russian eastern region of Crimea broke away from Ukraine and was annexed by Russia.

This set Ukraine and the U.S., as well as the European Union due to U.S. pressure, to oppose Russia, with both the U.S. and EU imposing economic sanctions. It also allowed the U.S. to fulfill its effort to find a reason for resurging the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), formed originally after World War II to oppose then-Soviet Union aggression. With the recent Ukraine government change, the U.S. began moving NATO forces closer to Russia’s borders.

Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, has seen his popularity in Russia grow with the U.S. and EU’s economic punishment of his country. He also saw a move to Russia’s advantage when Syria’s Assad requested Russian military air support for his army in fighting ISIS within Syria’s borders.

Putin began coordinating Russian aerial bombings with Syria’s army, particularly striking ISIS petroleum convoys close to Turkey’s border. Putin also offered to coordinate Russia’s efforts with the U.S. coalition as a united fight against ISIS, but Washington refused.

Turkey Provokes Russia

The Russia-Syria versus U.S. coalition political fracas escalated into a direct military confrontation in late November, when a Turkish fighter jet shot down a Russian bomber for allegedly violating Turkey air space. The incident also prompted NATO to say it will send military aircraft to support Turkey, which is a NATO member.

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Turkey’s Erdogan defies Putin.

The incident gave Putin just what he needed to muster national support for his presidency and efforts at defending Syria from foreign aggression. He has publicly condemned Turkey’s actions, and accused Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of collaborating with ISIS in receiving oil from the terrorist group. Ergodan has denied it.

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But Putin has also upped Russia’s military involvement in Syria, vowing to protect Russia’s naval base on the Syrian coast, and threatening to confront any foreign military aircraft violating Syrian air space.

Syria appears to have seconded Russia’s challenge. In a Dec. 7 Eurasia Review op-ed, “Syria Tells NATO: Keep Jets Out or Get Shot Down”, columnist Finian Cunningham writes:

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Syria is ready to deploy the fearsome S-300 air-defence system supplied by its Russian ally. The anti-aircraft surface-to-air missiles will give Syria control over its territory and the capability to shoot down any intrusive warplane or missile. NATO warplanes beware!…


…Translated from Arabic language Alrai Media (thanks to the reliable Fort Russ Russian news site), the senior Syrian officer at the operations room is quoted as saying: ‘Soon Syria will announce that any country using the airspace without coordinating with Damascus will be viewed as hostile and [we] will shoot the jet down without warning. Those willing to fight terrorism and coordinate with the military leadership will be granted safe corridors.’

This will prove to become even more of a military mess because, following last month’s Paris terrorist attacks, France began bombing in Syria. And last week, Great Britain’s Parliament followed Prime Minister David Cameron’s recommendation and voted to also bomb, British war planes immediately went to work.

Russia-China Alliance

The U.S., seeing itself as the major global military and economic force for decades, has looked for ways to control Eurasia and its energy supplies. It also has sought to stall China’s growth to become now the world’s Number 2 economic power. China, on the other hand, has consistently accused America of hegemony. And while the U.S. has concentrated on military actions to support its economic leadership, China has been following a policy of non-interference in other nations’ internal affairs, choosing instead to cooperate economically, working out trade and infrastructure agreements with countries on every continent.

China’s Xi Jinping: peacemaker or warrior?

This has led the U.S. to oppose China in several ways, including keeping it out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, fighting Beijing’s forming the Asian International Infrastructure Bank, and pushing against China-led BRICS’s effort to move currencies away from the U.S. dollar.

China and Russia began developing positive relations through BRICS, the organization consisting of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. But Beijing and Moscow deeply solidified themselves as allies through two major energy trade agreements over the last couple of years, with Russia beginning to send major supplies of oil and natural gas to China.

This alliance led China to announce support for Russia when the U.S. and EU implemented Russian sanctions last year. And both China and Russia since 2013 have warned against foreign invasions of Syria.

Meanwhile, with the U.S. saber-rattling at the Chinese this year over the South China Sea, for the first time China has released a detailed military policy statement outlining how it plans to increase its military, including nuclear weapons to both defend its own territory and its overseas investments.

If the Syrian conflict continues to escalate, it may take China to offer and lead negotiations in a political settlement and truce. Or it could mean Beijing, if provoked, might decide to join the conflict.

What kind of future do you think that will offer you and your children?