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Let’s talk about the next war, shall we. This may not be a comfortable topic, or perhaps it’s one you think is a long way away so not worth the conversation now. As a student of history, humanity, and humor, I can tell you with a straight face, we’re now facing the next major war. This will be no Brush-Fire war on the scale of Iraq or Afghanistan, but one in which we’ll be fighting for control of the air, land, and sea in multiple theaters at the same time. It is the kind of war few in the world wish to contemplate until it’s already begun. It’s the kind of war we fought twice in the 20th Century. I can’t say exactly when or where it will begin, but we can talk about how it will happen, possible ways to prevent or limit it, and what it means for all of us. So, please join me as we think through our future, what it will cost, and what we can build if we happen to survive to see the other end of this human tragedy.
First, where we are today. From North Korea, the South China Sea, Iran, NATO-Russia frontier, and maybe even Venezuela based on some recent comments, we may be close to a multi-front catastrophe. We, as a nation, don’t seek out these conflicts, though some high within the administration would like to use them to galvanize support behind an unpopular and fearful President cringing with the ever encroaching approach of the special prosecutor looking into Russian election meddling which brought him to office. Expect the closer that prosecutor gets the more belligerency we’ll see from this administration. Lessons were learned by these folks when they fired a few cruise missiles into Syria back in April: Show some bombs and missiles, and the American people will line up, form up, and fall-in. This administration is counting on that wag-the-dog Pavlovian reaction when they need it most.
NBC had the chance to stop this when he was just a TV show character who grabbed woman’s body parts because he was a star. The Republican Party had the chance to stop this when he was a joke candidate no one took seriously who attacked judges, families of fallen soldiers, and war heroes. The American people had the chance to stop this when he espoused hate-filled propaganda and called it a candidacy for the Presidency of the U.S. Now, it’s up to all of these forces, aligned with the international community of democracies, to prevent a mad-man from literally going down in a blaze of (self-perceived) glory, and taking us all down with him. If we don’t stop him, the world itself, and all within it, will suffer the wrath of his hate-filled dystopian fantasy. Yet, there is hope.
No one knows when this conflagration will begin exactly, but it will be soon. When this war does start, wherever that is, the U.S. may initially look strong in that one theater of battle. We may even resist in two theaters at once, although we walked away from that doctrine more than 15 years ago. If we move to three, four, five, etc. theaters at once, we’ll be overwhelmed, especially without our allies, but that is exactly what our potential opponents would want to see.
This is where the power to stop such a war resides today: with our friends and allies across the world. Do not align with this administration. Do not enable them. Suffer the angry tweet. Suffer the change in trade policy. Suffer the malign barbs from within our political leadership. Stay true to the foundations of democracy, to the ideals of democratic governance, and to the ideas behind the world we built together after World War II. Don’t join this war on the side of this mad-man just because you have an alliance with the U.S. As a Fulbright Fellow who focused my work on NATO-EU relations, and a strong believer in the foundation of Trans-Atlantic Security being the bedrock of global stability, I am calling on our NATO Allies to protect NATO, but not let the U.S. drag the world into another World War. This message also goes out to our allies in Asia and the Pacific. Protect your interests, but don’t get dragged along to suicide by this clearly damaged individual and his enablers.
It’s easy to see NATO rallying against an opportunistic Russia, or Japan and S. Korea working with the U.S. against a nuclear weapon yielding North Korea. Yet, let’s not get into those fights, shall we? NATO, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, other allies please work together, with the U.S. if you can, to prevent those threats from culminating into full-scale war. Remove the hostility and short-sightedness of our Commander in Chief from the equation and the world can probably work something out. Follow him down into the morass and we’ll all have to pay the price for his lack of understanding, inability to ask, and hatred of all who are not succumbing to his will.
If, despite these best efforts, the U.S. starts wars, consider where you stand. You may not feel you have the ability to stand to the side, nor may you want to see the U.S. defeated. I sure don’t, even if I don’t agree with the war. So, then think of how you’d engage without aligning with the aggressor. Think of how you’d fight if you were a co-belligerent rather than an alliance partner. Think of how you’d engage if a pretext for war was created by the U.S., but it didn’t actually fire the first shot. That is the most likely scenario, at least for the first in the chain of conflicts which will coalesce to form this new war.
Now, let’s come to the home front, a term introduced during the First World War when civilians became a key contributing factor in the outcome of that conflict. Our soldiers and (disproportionally huge numbers of civilians) will die from our having failed to prevent the rise to power of this mad-man and his sycophants, some of whom hope and want to bring about this war, having expressed such desires in the past. A nuclear exchange with North Korea, let alone China or Russia would be devastating to the United States, and any allies who join us in these conflicts. Yet, there is hope.
On the Home Front we can belatedly, although hopefully still in-time to save ourselves from any more grief, disable this mad-man from sending us down this path. We have the 25th Amendment which empowers those under the President to remove him from office. We have the process of Impeachment which, although slower, can have the same result. This path is difficult though, as the scared little boy inhabiting the body of the man titled President will strike out when he senses himself at risk and cornered. None-the-less, we cannot keep enabling him. We must prevent this disaster in whatever legal means are available to do so.
Those waffling on this idea because they would not want to see Mike Pence assume to role of Commander and Chief, I get you, but I respectfully wish to tell you to “Get off your butt!” Pence may disagree with almost everything for which I stand as a compassionate person who believes in the power of democracy to better the lives of all citizens, but I’d prefer him to the clearly disturbed individual inhabiting the oval office as I write this. Yes, he’d enact policies I’d disagree with. Yet, I’d be alive to disagree with them, fight him, over-turn them after the next election, and hopefully start rebuilding that democracy again.
If we cannot cut off this war before it starts, we then have to consider what to do once it’s over. No one knows what the world would look like after the end of such a calamitous human catastrophe. No one in July 1914 could have imagined what the world would look like in November 1918. No one in August 1939 could have imagined what the world would look like in August 1945. Yet, there is hope. Even after countless military and civilian deaths, humanity will endure. Those left will do what they can to rebuild and work together to prevent another such disaster in the future, strengthening the bonds which link like-minded nations together for the common goals of all. All of this depends on who survives. If those who led us into this human blood-bath survive then there is little hope for growth and learning from what occurred. If those who believe in cooperation, democracy, and the rule of law survive, we could again align as we did after World War II to build a better world. Therefore, plan how you’ll survive such a war. Where can you go? What can you do to secure your family, your values, and those of the country you love? How can we work together as communities to ensure everyone is cared for, safe, and able to contribute to the future we all hold dear. There is, and always will be, hope.
We will face this war, unless we can prevent it now. If we face this war alone we will lose. Whether we win or lose, many will die and suffer from what could have been avoided. None-the-less, there is hope all along the path through this difficult time. We can plan for how we’ll work to prevent, protect, then mitigate, if we have to, such human caused violence. Then, maybe, the lessons of history will compel us toward Peace.
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