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Yes, but I sure hope it doesn’t.
I don’t think it’s super likely, but I think it’s likely enough to be scary.
No, because countries can engage in conflict without escalating into a larger conflagration. Even an all out war doesn’t naturally extend to nuclear war. This will only happen if either country feels its existence is seriously threatened. Although recently Russia did threaten Kerry that they would rearm their nuclear triad if the US started attacking Syrian regime assets. Consequently, the US will back off.
Anything “can” happen, but in terms of probability…
I don’t think so.
I just think any situation that has a decent likelihood of US and Russian troops shooting directly at each other (even if in support of local allies) has the potential to become nuclear.
Russia and the US will not purposely engage over Syria under any circumstance. Any accidental engagement would be quickly de-escalated.
One would hope. I agree that purposeful direct engagement is pretty unlikely (unless Putin thinks that the West is weak and doesn’t have the balls to stand up to him), and accidental engagement will be de-escalated if people are rational and sane, but the nature of accidental engagements is that people are not always able to be long-term rational. It’s also possible that ISIS or some other group would attempt to manipulate or fool the US and Russia into direct engagement that then becomes hard to de-escalate in a way that saves face. WWIII then starts WWI style: it’s just a lot shorter.
I don’t think this outcome is the most likely scenario, or even particularly likely in any absolute sense. But it is possible enough to be reason to be careful, and it’s more likely to ignite in Syria than any other place right now.
Well, Putin probably does want some sort of international incident, to distract the citizens from domestic issues. However, Syria seems to be a bit far away, and going nuclear is probably a bit too much…