How we get to World War III
by Danielle Pletka
NATO’s SecGen Jens Stoltenberg today warned the Russians about their violation of Turkish airspace in ongoing Russian air operations over Syria. It was only the latest warning from NATO about Russian violations of various NATO nations’ airspace and assorted other antics. But today’s incursion — which prompted a nasty threat from Turkey about what would happen if the Russians make the same mistake again — only underscores what a dangerous place the world has become since Barack Obama became president.
History teaches us that large wars begin for many complex reasons, and that notwithstanding our obsession with poor old Archduke Ferdinand, it was probably not simply his shooting that spawned World War I. But… there are now so many global flashpoints that we cannot rule out the notion that a conflict between major powers could break out simply based on circumstance.
- NATO aircraft scrambled more than 500 times in 2014, with only a few exceptions, in reaction to Russian incursions into NATO member airspace. Russians planes reportedly often switch off transponders and fail to file flight plans, which has resulted in several near misses, including with a passenger plane. (Not to speak of the Russian shoot down of the Malaysia Airlines passenger jet.)
- In 2014, Japan scrambled aircraft almost 1000 times, with all but a few of these incidents attributed to either Russian or Chinese warplanes.
- Russian bombers entered US airspace 10 times in 2014, double the previous average.
- On July 4th, as Americans celebrated Independence Day, the US Air Force scrambledfighter jets to intercept two pairs of Russian bombers skirting US airspace off the coast of California and Alaska.
- The United States is preparing, reportedly, a show of force with “freedom of navigation operations” in the South China Sea, a reaction to increasingly aggressive land reclamation/military construction in disputed territory.
- On the eve of Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s recent visit to Washington, two Chinese fighters intercepted a US Air Force surveillance plane over the Yellow Sea.
- The US is planning on stepping up air operations over Syria at the same time that Russia advances its own war on Assad’s opponents. Washington and Moscow aim to “deconflict” (whatever that means).
- Russia is consistently violating its obligations under the Minsk Accords and continues to make claims on Ukrainian territory. Facing few consequences for his actions in Ukraine, there are fears that Putin may choose to move on NATO members Lithuania, Latvia or Estonia.