‘The spectre of WW3 is a realistic concern – Britain needs to step up,’ writes Tobias Ellwood

‘The spectre of WW3 is a realistic concern – Britain needs to step up,’ writes Tobias Ellwood

WATCH HERE: Tobias Ellwood addresses World War Three tensions

GB News
Tobias Ellwood MP

By Tobias Ellwood MP

Published: 02/02/2024

- 14:20

Writing exclusively for GB News membership readers, the ex-Defence Minister warns ‘the scales are tipping’

Stability only lasts until the alliance of nations supporting our global order is outweighed by those who don’t. Failure to address this transition and war is inevitable.

By any measure, the scales are tipping. Our world is enduring an increasingly grim chapter in our history with no stakeholder, no superpower no international alliance indeed no global institution (such as the UN) is in control of where our geo-politics is heading. This is why there is increasing talk of a world at war.

Alarmist? This is an understandable charge thrown at those like me who, for some time, have called for an increase in defence spending to 3 per cent GDP. But in our ever-complex inter-dependent world we simply cannot ignore the growing schism between those who respect our global order and those who not only ignore it but undermine the West’s appetite to defend it.

And those in the latter category, particularly China, Russia, Iran and North Korea, are increasingly rallying together, offering mutual support as they all pursue regional agendas that cumulatively test the West’s threshold to respond. Worse, this prompts many nations (crudely termed the Global South) to step back and avoid taking sides – unclear where all this is heading.

\u200bTobias Ellwood

Tobias Ellwood warns Britain needs to step up

Reuters/GB News

Parallels are drawn between now and the 1930's. "History doesn't repeat itself," said Mark Twain, "but it often rhymes".

Historical shifts in world order often follow a pattern, leading to epochal wars with the victors writing and upholding the new rules. But since the Cold War (the last time we avoided World War Three) we’ve become complacent in assuming we’d finally cracked it – not just securing relative world peace, and greater international engagement through globalisation but a happy embrace of liberal democracy. That this new era of stability would go unchallenged has proven to be an arrogant assumption shared by all those from Charles V through to Napoleon who thought their world order was unbeatable.

Our own era of recent stability is now over. The fear of a rising power by an established hegemon to often leads to conflict. The so-called Thucydides Trap.

The world is not (yet) at war, but we are not at peace. The blurring of state and non-state actors, rising discord in the grey zone and a progressive retreat from globalisation are already disrupting supply chains, access to markets and availability of critical materials and minerals. International security and our economy have never been so symbiotically linked.

UK and US strike against Houthi rebel sites

The UK and US launched fresh strikes against Houthi rebel sites last week


On the current trajectory our world is sliding towards a similar crossroads we saw twice last century as alliances and rivalries forming today - now bear a striking resemblance to those preceding the great wars of the past – arguably more so with the rise of proxy forces such as HAMAS and the new dimensions of AI, cyber and space warfare.

The strategic choices for Britain and the West are complex. History shows appeasement is not an option. State-level aggression requires the robust utility of hard power when diplomacy falters. That is the only language the bully respects. What ratchets up global tensions today is the clear formation of a powerful authoritarian club - it's called the Shanghai Cooperation Council - with a clear strategy to openly exploit the timidity of a disunited West still bumbling along without a plan to handle this gradual erosion of the very global order we created.

A cold war - but different to the last - is already here. A world at war - but different to the last - is inevitable unless we rekindle a cold war level of statecraft to swiftly and efficiently put fires like Ukraine out and contain adventurists such as Iran. Otherwise, China’s pursuit of a very different global order – will move up another gear in the grand plan to weaken the West.

Israel HamasThe war in the Middle East remains ongoing with Israel bombarding the Gaza strip following Hamas attacksGETTY

As our leadership in Ukraine and the Middle East shows – let’s not underestimate the influential role Britain can and should play on the global stage. The choices made by our leaders today will determine whether the world can avoid another catastrophic conflict.

So, the spectre of World War Three is not just a theoretical possibility but a realistic concern, given historical precedents and current global tensions. Once every century, the interplay of rising powers, strategic miscalculations, and the inherent instability of unipolar moments pushes the world to the brink of a major transformation in the international order. We are heading there again.

The challenge for Britain and our allies is to learn from history and navigate these complexities to avoid repeating the catastrophic conflicts of the past. What would Churchill do today?

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