Are we close to global war?

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OP-ED

by Candice Malcolm

Toronto Sun
December 21, 2016

Are we heading toward another World War?

As tensions rise around the globe, from Europe to Syria to China, it’s starting to feel like we are on the cusp of an unstoppable catastrophe.

In particular, there is reason to be concerned about the escalating tensions between Turkey and Russia.

The Russian ambassador to Turkey, Andrey Karlov, was assassinated Monday.

He was shot and killed before a live audience, by a special ops member of the Turkish police force.

The assassin was standing behind the ambassador — he looked like a member of the secret service.

It could have easily been a scene from a James Bond film.

After he murdered the ambassador, the assassin stood in front of the crowd and shouted “Allahu Akbar” and “we die in Aleppo, you die here.”

Russia and Turkey are both involved in the Syrian civil war, backing different factions and occasionally colliding.

This isn’t the first sign of escalating tensions between these two regional powers.

A little over a year ago, in late November, 2015, Turkey shot down a Russian military jet for supposedly violating Turkish airspace and crossing into Turkish territory.

At the time, Russian President Vladimir Putin called it “an ambush” and a “stab in the back by terrorist accomplices.”

But ultimately, and thankfully, Putin decided not to retaliate with force.

This time, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has joined Putin in condemning the assassination.

But one can never really know what’s going on behind the scenes in Turkey.

The country has devolved into an Islamist dictatorship, where opposition political figures are jailed, media outlets are shut down and political dissidents face the death penalty.

Following a failed military coup earlier this year, we’ve seen more and more power concentrate into the hands of Erdogan and his inner circle.

Turkey also appears to be deliberately provoking former allies.

The problem with this internal chaos is that Turkey is a member of NATO — the political and military coalition of Western nations, which includes Canada.

NATO’s founding principle is that of “collective self-defence”’ as defined by Article 5 of NATO’s 1949 Washington Treaty.

Article 5 states that, “an armed attack on one or more [members] shall be considered an attack on all.”

It calls for members to assist the victim of any such attack.

Hence the talk of a possible World War III.

If this feud worsens — as many analysts fear — and if Russia strikes back, Turkey could invoke Article 5 and ask for the support of NATO members.

If so, would NATO members vote in favour of military intervention?

It’s unlikely, but what would that mean for the post-war peace alliance?

The NATO partnership means nothing if member nations don’t trust one another.

But it also means nothing if rogue adversaries believe they can get away with attacking a NATO member.

It wouldn’t be out of character for Putin to strike against Turkey.

The last time Putin invaded a sovereign state — non-NATO member, Ukraine — the world did nothing.

U.S. President Barack Obama helplessly watched from afar.

It’s anyone’s guess what will happen next. Either way, we’re witnessing history.

It may be history repeating itself.

The First World War began after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne.

That started a chain of events that led to the Great War, and the bloodiest and deadliest century in human history.

The world needs strong leadership to avoid going down that path again.

Image: Ozan Kose/AFP/Getty Images

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