Charisma Caucus

Are We on the Brink of World War III?

Nuclear Explosion
The U.S. and Russia appear to be on a hair-trigger as officials on both sides talk about the potential for war. (Public Domain Image)

With relations between the United States and Russia at their lowest since the fall of the Soviet Union, and with increased provocations by Russian military assets around the world, it's easy to assume a hair-trigger separates peace from World War III.

Adding to those concerns was a new report that the Russian government is in the midst of a "war game" in which 40 million people are preparing to respond to potential nuclear, chemical, and biological attacks. According to the Russian Ministry for Civil Defence, Emergencies and Elimination of Consequences of Natural Disasters:

Fire safety, civil defense and human protection at social institutions and public buildings are also planned to be checked. Response units will deploy radiation, chemical and biological monitoring centers and sanitation posts at the emergency areas, while laboratory control networks are going to be put on standby.

Last week, Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, Commander of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that to implement a "no-fly zone" over Syria would require the U.S. declaring war on both Syria and Russia. But if you were to listen to Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, the U.S. is already on a war footing:

The strategic resolve of our nation, the United States, is being challenged and our alliances tested in ways that we haven't faced in many, many decades. I want to be clear to those who wish to do us harm ... the United States military—despite all of our challenges, despite our [operational] tempo, despite everything we have been doing—we will stop you and we will beat you harder than you have ever been beaten before. Make no mistake about that.

While we focused on the counter-terrorist fight, other countries—Russia, Iran, China, North Korea—went to school on us. They studied our doctrine, our tactics, our equipment, our organization, our training, our leadership. And, in turn, they revised their own doctrines, and they are rapidly modernizing their military today to avoid our strengths in hopes of defeating us at some point in the future.

Milley quoted a Russian official who said he believed the former Soviet state could launch a conventional war in Europe and win. He then said that such a war would be "highly lethal, unlike anything our Army has experienced at least since World War II."

"It's a tall order for sure—to project power into contested theaters, fight in highly populated urban areas, to survive and win on intensely lethal and distributed battlefields, and to create leaders and soldiers who can prevail," he added. "Tough? Yes. But impossible? Absolutely not.

"Make no mistake about it, we can now and we will retain the capability to rapidly deploy, and we will destroy any enemy anywhere, any time."

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