Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it. We had two wars in the 20th century, World War I(1914-1919) and World War II (1939-1945), which were characterized as world wars due to their global nature, involving all major economic powers and combat on most continents. As collective memory in America tends to start on April 19th of 1775 we forget the first all encompassing conflict – the War of the Spanish Succession (1702-1715).
Europe, North America, and South America all got dragged into Europe’s effort to dissuade the merger of French and Spanish power after the death of the penultimate royal inbred, Charles II, in 1700. I lack a map of the Imperial Alliance Network involved in this conflict, but here are a list of the political entities involved.
The concept of divine right of rule started to die when Charles did and it pretty much took the entire 18th century to play out, ending with the conclusion of the French Revolution in 1799.
We seem to be entering another period of global upheaval that arguably began with the end of the Cold War in 1991. The unipolar, western dominated world is coming apart, not because it failed to face down communism, but because posts communist Russian corruption is eating it from the inside.
There are world events conditioned on environmental issues. The French Revolution owed much to the Lakagígar eruption and the last time the U.S. had as many town halls as we have now was in 1816, following the Tambora eruption. I’ve argued in the past that Pinatubo in 1991 triggered over a decade of wet weather than influenced northern hemisphere wheat production.
Grímsvötn shut down air travel in Europe in 2011 and just like the Cascadia subduction zone, it’s overdue for a period of extended activity. When this volcanic system gets going it can erupt for years at a time. Europe was in chaos after just a few days of no air travel.
We’re focused, for better or worse, on dismantling the neo-liberal world order that arose concurrent with the Cold War. This translates into crumbling infrastructure, declining diplomatic capacity, and I would argue that there is also declining military capability, despite massive expenditures. The F-35 Feeding Trough and the Zumwalt Class are Cold Warrior fantasies with little connection to real requirements, but they vacuum up all available funds and fail to perform as advertised.
When the time comes, we’re not going to be ready, not conceptually, nor financially, nor operationally. I’ve suggest there is some Functional Triage happening right now, but corruption and dissolution may lead to dysfunctional triage. Selling out smaller NATO members in the Baltic region would be an example of that. These areas are environmentally much better positioned than the likes of Yemen, Somalia, and Syria, but they have the misfortune to be nestled against resurgent Russia.
This latest series of articles offer a broader scope and a reduced level of precision than my prior work. It’s a curious place for a habitually analytical writer to be, paying more attention to feelings than facts.