08 November 2020

Covid pandemic has made World War Three a risk, says UK defence chief

08 November 2020

The economic fallout during the coronavirus pandemic has made the prospect of World War Three “a risk”, the UK’s most senior military commander has said.

General Sir Nick Carter, the Chief of the Defence Staff, said Britain and the rest of the world would need to “learn” from history and the international missteps that led to the previous world wars in the last century given the uncertainties caused by Covid-19.

Sir Nick made the comments when asked by Sky News in the run up to Remembrance Sunday whether he feared the global economic crisis brought on by coronavirus could lead to war.

That’s why Remembrance matters, because if you look back at history, hopefully you learn from their experience

He told the Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme there was a worry that the increase in regional conflicts playing out across the world could ramp up into “a full-blown war”, mirroring the run-up to the two world wars in the 20th century when a series of alliances between countries led to years of bloodshed.

The senior official argued that, with the world being “a very uncertain and anxious place” during the pandemic, there was the possibility “you could see escalation lead to miscalculation”.

“We have to remember that history might not repeat itself but it has a rhythm and if you look back at the last century, before both world wars, I think it was unarguable that there was escalation which led to the miscalculation which ultimately led to war at a scale we would hopefully never see again,” said Sir Nick.

Regional conflicts (AP)

Asked whether he was saying there was a “real threat” of World War Three, he replied: “I’m saying it’s a risk and we need to be conscious of those risks.

“And that’s why Remembrance matters, because if you look back at history, hopefully you learn from their experience and you make sure that you’re very cautious about how you manage the sorts of regional conflicts that we see playing out in the world today.”

In a separate interview with Times Radio, Sir Nick admitted to being uneasy about the prospect of the military being drafted in to police coronavirus lockdowns in the UK.

He said forcing “people to get off the streets” is “not what the military is for”.

Sir Nick added: “I would be leery about getting involved in all of that.

“There are others who are better qualified to do it, I would suggest.”

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