This summer, President Obama was often golfing.
The summer of 1914 in
In the summer of 1939, most observers thought
Wars often seem to come out of nowhere, as unlikely events ignite long-simmering disputes into global conflagrations.
The instigators often are weaker attackers who foolishly assume that more powerful nations wish peace at any cost, and so will not react to opportunistic aggression.
Unfortunately, our late-summer calm of 2016 has masked a lot of festering tensions that are now coming to a head -- largely due to disengagement by a supposedly tired
In contrast, war, unlike individual states, does not sleep.
Radical Islamists likewise seem emboldened to try more attacks on the premise that Western nations will hardly respond with overwhelming power. The past weekend brought pipe bombings in
Instead, the American government appears more concerned with shutting down the detention center at
Aggressors are also encouraged by vast cutbacks in the U.S. defense budget. The lame-duck Obama presidency, lead-from-behind policies and a culturally and racially divided America reflect voter weariness with overseas commitments.
It would be a mistake to assume that war is impossible because it logically benefits no one, or is outdated in our sophisticated 21st century, or would be insane in a world of nuclear weapons.
Human nature is unchanging and remains irrational. Evil is eternal. Unfortunately, appeasement is often seen by thugs not as magnanimity to be reciprocated but as timidity to be exploited.
Someone soon will have to tell the North Koreans that a stable world order cannot endure its frequent missile launches and nuclear detonations.
Someone could remind Putin that the former Soviet republics have a right to self-determination.
Someone might inform the Chinese that no one can plop down artificial islands and military bases to control commercial sea lanes.
Someone might make it clear to radical Islamic terrorists that there is a limit to Western patience with their chronic bombing, murdering and destruction.
The problem is that there is no other "someone" (especially not
The result is that at this late date, the tough medicine of restoring long-term deterrence is as almost as dangerous as the disease of continual short-term appeasement.
Obama apparently assumes he can leave office as a peacemaker before his appeased chickens come home to roost in violent fashion. He has assured us that the world has never been calmer and quieter.
Others said the same thing in the last calm summer weeks of 1914 and 1939.
War clouds are gathering. A hard rain is soon going to fall.