View Full Version : Cataclysm. Disaster. Calamity...

01-29-2018, 02:33 PM
Cataclysm. Disaster. Calamity… World War III. I don’t want to sound like an alarmist; but I see comparisons between today’s world and that world that existed one-hundred years ago. As a long-time history teacher, now retired, I see many parallels between the summer of 1914 and the world today.

As you may recall, the world, particularly Europe, just over 100 years ago, was a precarious place. At that time, the European continent was becoming increasingly polarized. “Us” vs. “They”. “We” vs. “Them”. In those days, there were systems of alliances (the U.S., at the time, in a manner of speaking, was: “The Lone Wolf”; it was separated from Europe by 3,000 miles of Atlantic Ocean). There was the Triple Alliance: Germany Austria-Hungary (a vast dual monarchy) and Italy and the Triple Entente: Britain, France and Russia.

In those days, all it would take to start the conflagration would be just one spark - like the act of throwing a lighted match into open cans of gasoline - to set off a cataclysmic war. That “spark” or incident did take place. It occurred when Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian, and his wife Sophie, were both shot and killed by a teen-aged Serbian nationalist named Gavrilo Princip while the Archduke was visiting Sarajevo in the Balkans (that region was then called: “the tinder box of Europe”). That incident would, in itself, become “the trigger mechanism” that would quickly lead Europe down the path to the beginnings of World War I.
Today, in 2018, I believe the world is, similarly, in a precarious place. No, admittedly, there are not the same system of alliances that existed in Europe. Yet, there are certainly many trouble-spots.

First and foremost: North Korea. The current leader, Kim Jong-un, is an absolute dictator. He’s also paranoid. That combination is frightening. What would it take for him to launch a nuclear missile, possibly at South Korea or Japan, or even the Hawaiian Islands or Alaska? We’d like to feel we can deter him, but he’s not rational. He’s a mad-man. This psychopathic individual has the potential to do great harm. In fact, he alone could bring about the start of World War III.

Another “hot spot” is The Middle East. It teeters on the edge. The Middle East is a “powder keg,” not unlike the Balkan Peninsula was at the start of World War I. In particular, the country of Iran comes to mind. After the overthrow of the Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlevi, in 1979, Iran has become an increasingly turbulent place. That country has become a more dangerous threat by virtue of its nuclear ambitions. In the realm of foreign policy, the United States appears to be working with Saudi Arabia to deter Iran’s Middle East ambitions.

Another issue, not the least of the Middle East’s problems, is the Israeli-Palestinian situation. That “brush-fire” has continued unabated now for some 70 years. T he decision by the Trump administration to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel (it would seem for purely domestic reasons) can be called into question. This only inflames the Palestinians. It does little to bring the two sides to the bargaining table. Further, the Arabian Peninsula, particularly Yemen, remains a trouble spot. T o add fuel to the fire, Russia is increasing its presence in the Middle East, particularly in Syria.

Another global concern involves China; they could rein in North Korea, but the Chinese choose not to do so. The Chinese expansionist policy is evidenced by its fortifying of an island in the South China Sea. There’s been a good deal of saber-rattling and posturing in this matter.

Yet, there are many other flash-points: the continuing war in Afghanistan against the Taliban insurgency. Myanmar’s Rohingya Crisis. The problems in the African countries of Mali and The Democratic Republic of the Congo. Ukraine remains a trouble spot, as does the country of Venezuela. And then, of course, there’s the threat of international terrorism.

Let’s hope that international “hot spots” can be dealt with and then diffused. Yet, I believe it would naïve to think that every troubled place in the world can be effectively dealt with.

In conclusion, let’s hope that my analogy that compares today’s world to Europe at the start of World War I is overstated. Yet, I do contend that all it would take is one unexpected, ill-conceived action or event to throw our world into chaos. I’d like to believe that rational, realistic and sensible decision-making can effectively deal with today’s many problem-areas. We can only hope.

01-29-2018, 02:36 PM
for a minute and from the title, I thought this was a Hillary as president thread.

01-29-2018, 02:51 PM
You forgot the United States - the coastal libs versus the rest of the country.