The Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand
“War is the unfolding of miscalculations.” Barbara Tuchman
Sometimes I miss the Cold War and the ever constant threat of Nuclear annihilation. Not that I looked forward to getting nuked and having the world blown out from under us, but back in those days it was pretty much for sure that the United States and Soviets would keep their missiles in their silos no matter how much they jibber-jabbered. Things did get awfully sporting during the Cuban Missile Crisis and during the 1973 Yom Kippur War but cooler heads prevailed. Yes there were incidents but we survived. We fought proxy wars and helped despots that we liked while the Soviets did the same. There was an air of predicability as both sides restrained their client states. Those were the days, we only really had to worry about two sides keeping things under control. Yes, those were the days… not really but compared to now I wonder.
Now, it seems that the shit is really starting to hit the fan all over the world, especially in the Middle East, Southwestern and Central Asia and even Europe. As day does into day it is hard to keep track of all the boiling cauldrons of hatred and misery and the vast numbers of political, religious, military, economic and ideological “leaders” that pour gasoline on the fires that stoke them. While I cannot definitively predict exactly where the disaster of war will begin or what the reasons that men will justify it; I do know that whenever, wherever and for whatever reasons it will be because of a failure of political, religious, military and economic leaders to prevent it. Abba Eban said “History teaches us that men and nations behave wisely once they have exhausted all other alternatives.”
*Iran continues to threaten to close the Straits of Hormuz and unleash missiles on neighboring countries and Israel.
*Israel is making plans for pre-emptive wars in Iran and Lebanon.
*The EU Oil Embargo on Iran has gone into effect.
*In Lebanon Hezbollah, the proxy army of Iran has made major strides in its ability to strike Israel and border skirmishes are now occurring between Israeli forces, Hezbollah fighters and even the Lebanese Army.
*Syria’s Assad dictatorship is killing vast numbers of its own people and violence from its civil war is spreading to Lebanon.
*Turkey has reinforced its borders with Syria after one of its aircraft was shot down by Syrian forces.
*The United States sends additional naval and air forces to the Persian Gulf while maintaining a strong ground force in Kuwait.
*Iraq, still beset by sectarian violence and undermined by Iranian agents is unable to maintain its traditional role as a balance to the Persians.
*In Egypt a government led by the Muslim Brotherhood has taken power and threatens to end the peace with Israel even as they contend with the still powerful Egyptian military, and more secularist Egyptians for control of the country.
*The United States and NATO are bogged down in a war in Afghanistan that cannot be won and works with a government that cannot be trusted and a military whose members are killing more NATO troops than actual “enemy” forces.
*Pakistan teeters on the brink and supports Taliban and Al Qaida forces even as the United States wages a clandestine war against those forces ensconced in their Pakistan bases.
*The United States fights a drone war in Yemen as that country’s military fights Al Qaida Yemen forces, forces that are now more capable of harming the United States and its interests than those based in either Afghanistan or Pakistan.
*Violence in the Horn of Africa spread by the Al Shabaab terrorist network threatens to spill over into neighboring countries.
*In Nigeria Moslem extremists burn Christian churches and threaten that country’s oil production and economy.
*European nations stand on the brink of disorder and anarchy should nations begin to default on their debts and abandon the Euro.
*Simmering long term disputes in the Balkans continue to cause worry about more war and instability.
*Fascist political parties and movements are gaining momentum throughout Europe, especially in Eastern Europe.
*Leaders of all of nations make bellicose statements meant to stoke the passions of their most zealous political supporters often invoking apocalyptic visions of the future.
*Other leaders attempt to maintain a precarious balance in order to ride out the wave of change, hatred and discontent sweeping the Middle East and Europe.
*Religious and political leaders do their best to demonize anyone that does not agree with them or their version of “the truth.”
*The war profiteers sell arms in abundance to every side to maximize their profits by legal and illegal sales and transfers.
I could keep going but the point is that eventually someone is going to miscalculate in one or more of these conflicts or situations and events will take on a life of their own. Leaders will commit themselves to wars that they think that they will be able to manage and like 1914 things will go horribly wrong. The hatreds of peoples, many which go back hundreds of years will spill out against their neighbors. Martin Luther said “War is the greatest plague that can affect humanity; it destroys religion, it destroys states, it destroys families. Any scourge is preferable to it.” Unfortunately it seems that we are heading down a path that will bring great suffering and misfortune all because of all types of leaders who are willing to take a chance on war rather than to do the hard work of peace. Confederate General Robert E Lee wrote about the American Civil War “The war…was an unnecessary condition of affairs, and might have been avoided if forbearance and wisdom had been practiced on both sides.”
I wonder if any of the leaders now waging war or preparing for war will say the same when the coming wars are over, or if they will find words to justify the suffering that they have inflicted on millions of people. I imagine that it will be the latter.