Sunday, October 7, 2012
From small beginnings are world wars started
Turkey and Syria are exchanging fire across their border. In the big scheme of things, it really shouldn’t amount to much. At worse, it should only escalate into a limited border war between second string players.
However, there’s the issue of treaties. Turkey is a NATO member. An attack on one member is considered an attack on all. Syria and Russia also have agreements. What should only be a small regional conflict has all the potential for turning into a much wider war.
Nobody learns the lessons of history. This situation reminds me of the years leading up to WWI. For years the great powers avoided major wars. Over time all of them developed a series of agreements and treaties. Once the spark was lit, things escalated quickly. Yes, things are different this time. They always are, but it’s close enough to cause concern.
Normally the big players are wise enough to back away from the abyss -normally. There are enough miscalculations, accidents, ambition, and nut job leaders to push countries over the edge. For example, the US could pressure Turkey to call for NATO help, thus toppling the Syrian government. Russia, feeling stronger than it has in the recent past, yet beset by domestic issues, might feel it advantageous to draw the line at Syria. Then there’s China off to the side, holding a few trump cards of their own.
George Washington, when the US was young, warned against foreign entanglements. He was a wise and prescient man. Of course, nobody listened.