Will ISIS Start WW3?

'Humanity needs to weep, and this is the time to weep’ These are the words of Pope Francis, in response to the terrorist atrocities that shocked Paris on November 13th, 2015

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, known as ISIL, ISIS or Daesh, claimed responsibility for the attacks French President Francois Hollande said the bombings and shootings – which killed 130 people – were an act of war The international situation is certainly precarious Security forces are on high alert and media outlets are saturated with frightening statistics, such as the estimated 200,000 militant ISIS fighters attacking the Middle East The 21st century has seen a colossal growth in terrorist threats

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Since 2006, terrorism has caused over 130,000 fatalities, over 90,000 separate incidents In Syria and Iraq, ISIL have executed over 10,000 men, women and children But could this military upheaval escalate to a large-scale world war? President Hollande declared that France would respond to ISIL brutality with a pitiless war against those responsible Two days after the attacks, 10 French fighter jets dropped over 20 bombs on the ISIL-held city of Raqqa in northern Syria The raids killed at least 129 people and reportedly destroyed a significant ISIL command centre

A coalition of countries including the US, Turkey, Australia and the UK are conducting airstrikes on ISIL targets If France were to invoke Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, the campaign against the terrorist group would grow even further Article 5 states that all 28 NATO member countries must work together against an aggressor if one of them is attacked, meaning it would compel them all to fight alongside the French NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg stated that the alliance stands ‘strong and united’, and ready to assist France if needed With more than 3 million troops, 25,000 aircraft and 800 ocean warships, the military force of NATO is incomparable to any other power on Earth

The international ramifications of a NATO war against ISIL are complicated by the fact that the group’s territory is predominantly in Syria The country is in the midst of a civil war, which has raged since 2011 In order to get to ISIS, NATO would inevitably have to enter Syria This has strong potential to anger international powers who have also intervened in the war This includes Russia and Iran, who are conducting airstrikes against Syrian rebels

They could interpret Western nations’ aggression as an attempt against the Assad regime It could be very dangerous if Russia were to retaliate against NATO Putin’s firepower is vastly increasing, and his military spending is expected to grow 44% in the next three years, to over $110 billion And Russia also has very dangerous allies Despite recent moves towards friendlier relations between India and America, Russia has a strong military, economic and diplomatic bond with the South Asian country

Cooperation between Russia and China has also been steadily improving since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 Like Russia, India and China are among the most significant military powers on the planet An alliance of the three countries and their supporters against NATO would make the possibility of a Third World War worryingly real China has long-held ambitions to overtake the United States as both the most powerful and the richest nation on Earth Tensions between the two countries are fraught, particularly because America refuses to endorse the Chinese Communist Party

Perhaps only a small incident would be enough to escalate them If China did enter into war against the USA, it is highly plausible that North Korea would be keen to join the war, due to the extremity of anti-American sentiment in Kim Jong-Un's regime The dawn of World War 1 in 1914 demonstrates just how easily events can escalate into world-wide conflict, as nations entered the war to defend countries with which they were aligned It is possible that a modern-day conflict would play out in much the same way Due to significant advances in technology, the scale of a third world war would dwarf any twentieth-century conflict

Today, nine countries possess a terrifying 19,000 nuclear warheads between them, many of which are hundreds of times more powerful than the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 If all these weapons were deployed during warfare, the ramifications could see total extinction of humanity It is hoped that the fear of nuclear destruction will prevent an all-out war Yet, the biggest incentive for peace is currently a financial one China is among America’s most prominent trading partners, its goods and private services trade totalling $579 billion in 2012

Risking that could be detrimental to both economies Similarly, the Russian economy would struggle with the financial burden of a war, having already shrunk by 38% in 2015 However, with a situation as volatile as we’re seeing today, it is impossible to predict how events will develop Perhaps we could be on the brink of World War Three, after all

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