One thing which concerns me today is that the present looks a lot like 1939 with Putin playing Hitler and the west unable to decide how to respond. Canada is reported to have sent five jets to the Baltics but they are unarmed, and one ship to the Mediterranean, that’s about half the operational Canadian navy! Not only do we not know what the world will look like five and ten years hence, we don’t know what it will look like tomorrow.
In 1914, Queen Victoria’s relatives headed England, Germany and Russia, countries which went to war over how to divide up Europe and parts of the world. England and Russia had their empires and Germany wanted one. From 1919 to 1939 they took a time out. Later play resumed with much the same teams but different coaches. The boundaries of Europe and the Middle East were redrawn after 1919. Today, borders are being fought over in Eastern Europe and the Middle East.
Or looked at another way, WW1 took place as the Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian and Russian empires were in decline. The British Empire was near its peak and the American one on the rise. After WW2, the British Empire was relegated to the second division, and the USA became the sole super power, with the USSR its only adversary but not a very strong one except for its nuclear weapons. Now there is a weaker American Empire, a weak Russian Empire trying to redraw boundaries in Eastern Europe, and a vague Islamic empire made up of feuding parts. Weakness signals unrest. And none of this includes those parts of the world where half the world’s population lives – China, India, Pakistan, Indonesia and neighbouring Asian countries. They have both their own and interrelated problems because of regional and international interdependence.
In 1914, the German invasion of Belgium triggered England’s declaration of war; in 1939, it was the German invasion of Poland. What might it be for NATO in 2014? Putin has already said (August 2014) that he could occupy Kiev within two weeks. This may say more about his arrogance than good judgment, but the latter seldom prevented the outbreak of wars.