History tends to repeat itself throughout the ages, sometimes within a few generations. World War I was a conflict decades in the making, and the globe is still feeling the effects from it over a century later. Years before Gavrilo Princip fired that fatal shot into Archduke Franz Ferdinand—the final straw to trigger the proverbial falling of dominoes—the stage was being set. It wasn’t that Mr. Princip’s actions that day were so horrific that it should cost the world millions of fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, and scar the face of the world for generations to come. The war to end all wars was a tragedy in the making even before the 20th century dawned.

Now, today, in the 21st century, the stage is being set yet again. Sides are being chosen and events are quickly progressing to the point of no return. These regional conflicts in Ukraine, Syria, and elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa are piling up, creating fractures in the fragile peace between countries who have been mortal enemies since their founding. This brittle peace between the free world and the pseudo-democratic oligarchy, formerly the Soviet Union, has been showing cracks for years. And if history is our guide, it wouldn’t take much to press the world past the brink and into the apocalypse of another world war.

The facts surrounding Metrojet Flight 9268’s tragic crash are still undetermined, but terrorism hasn’t been ruled out. It is very doubtful that it could have been a shoulder-fired SAM, as even the most sophisticated MPADs are limited in their range and Flight 9268 broke apart at a cruising altitude of 30,000 feet—more than 4,000 feet higher than the FIM-92 Stinger. It has been reported that U.S. satellites detected a mid-air heat flash, but that could have been caused by any number of possibilities, which include an act of terror or perhaps mechanical failure.

With the turmoil since the Arab Spring in 2011, weapons have been smuggled and traded like baseball cards. Libya has been buying and stockpiling weapons from anyone who will sell to her and Syria has long had a warm relationship with Russia since the days of communism. This relationship is the very reason for Russia’s assisting al-Assad in dealing with the rebels. These weapons, though not of the nuclear variety, can still be devastating if they wind up in the hands of extremists hell-bent on destroying anyone who disagrees with their view on the world.

With the Russian military intervention beginning in earnest with airstrikes starting on the 30th of September, the crash of Flight 9268 seems quite coincidental at the very least. It could very well be the work of Islamic extremists acting in retaliation. Perhaps one of the Sunni-dominated rebel groups have gotten their hands on a S-75 Dvina, a Russian-made high-altitude air-defense system. Though unlikely, Syria has nearly 300 of these in their arsenal, as do other war-torn nations such as Sudan, Libya, and Egypt. The question is whether these countries can account for every single one of them. Perhaps they can, however, with the continued failings of these governments and the unrest that follows, there will come a day when these monstrous weapons end up in the hands of monsters.

The more likely scenario is mechanical failure, and the latest news reports suggest this, but whether Russia concedes to this cause is another matter. Putin and his government are looking for a fight and a reason to unleash their awesome military power. If this truly is the opening salvo in another global war, we all should pray for cooler heads to prevail. Until this is certain, we hope the crash proves to be the result of a tragic error in maintenance. The world waits with baited breath as the facts behind Flight 9268 come to light. World War III just might be the war to end all wars, as well as the world man has spent the last 10,000 years building.

(Featured image courtesy of abc7news.com)