There are many countries toying with the threat of war, however it is easy to see which countries may lead to nuclear warfare. While these countries say they don’t want war, it seems no-one is trying to prevent it either.
NATO and Russia
In May 2016, Alexander Richard Shirreff, the former deputy commander of NATO, outlined what he saw as the odds of a major war between the West and Russia. In his grim prediction, he believed that the world was on course for a nuclear exchange by 2017.
His argument boils down to three things — Ukraine, Putin’s paranoia, and the expansion of NATO. With the annexing of Crimea by Russia in 2014, it effectively destroyed the post–Cold War settlement. Then with international sanctions placed on it, Russia has now become ever more distrustful with what it sees as NATO domination.
And then there are the Russian planes that seem to be currently playing chicken with NATO jets in the Baltics. Two Russian bombers were also intercepted heading for the U.K. earlier this year. Russian warplanes have even been getting increasingly aggressive with intercepting U.S. military aircraft and are patrolling near America’s West Coast. All this has prompted the Air Force’s top combat officer to label their provocations one of his top worries.
China and South China Sea
Getting dragged into a war with China is a terrifying idea, although it is a real possibility. China has spent the past few years claiming territory that other countries also lay claim to. This normally would not be seen on the global stage; however the U.S. is an ally with those countries giving this problem more weight.
Because the U.S. is an ally with those countries it is duty bound to step in if China goes too far with its expansion. Both countries have the military arsenal to ensure the annihilation of huge areas of the globe if they ever went toe-to-toe.
Again no-one believes that either country wants to go to war; however neither is making any moves to prevent it. With the U.S. conducting “freedom of navigation” operations, it only heightens tension between the two nations. However, without it where would China stop? How would it affect other countries within the South China Sea? And how would all this impact on the incredibly important trade route and skies above?
Like NATO and Russia all it may take is one mistake that could accidentally trigger World War III. With an increasing number of Chinese fighters flying perilously close to American military aircraft, and ships in the busy waterways, it’s only a matter of time before that mistake happens.
It has become so dangerous, some analysts have predicted a possible war between the U.S. and China as early as 2018. Air Force Gen. Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle, who leads Air Combat Command, told USA TODAY that meeting the challenge from the Russian and Chinese to flights in international airspace is essential, but dangerous.
“Their intent is to get us not to be there, so that the influence in those international spaces is controlled only by them. My belief is that we cannot allow that to happen. We have to continue to operate legally in international airspace and international waterways. We have to continue to call them out when they are being aggressive and unsafe.”