Then and Now: Comparing Pre-War Political Climates

It was the famous philosopher George Santayana who stated

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

It seems that every day, the world gets more chaotic. The political theater is growing increasingly tense, thanks to a number of battles over environmental policy, border control issues, election interference and other issues. Comparing the current warning signs to those of previous conflicts, one would not be remiss to think that war could be in our future.

North Korea’s Increasing Missile Tests

We can see one possible harbinger in North Korea’s increasingly brazen nuclear and missile tests. In 2016 alone, it conducted 24 ballistic missile tests and two nuclear ones. North Korea has already undertook several more this year, all in violation of UN Security Council resolutions.

While North Korea does have a reputation for treating missile attacks at the slightest provocation, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t take them seriously. North Korea has historically shown a disregard for sanctions meant to curb its military power.

As their missile systems continue to develop, it seems that they’re increasing the number of tests, as if in preparation. Although North Korea probably could not withstand a retaliatory attack, it’s likely that they could use the missile system as a bargaining chip should world powers reach the tipping point.

Trump’s Paranoid Political Relations

Since the election of US President Donald Trump, several noted experts have likened his aggressive stances and political rhetoric to wartime European fascists. This is not to say that Trump is the modern-day reincarnation of Hitler and the Nazis, only that some parts of his movements and methods follow the same methodologies.

Trump was elected, in part, not because people wanted him, but because they didn’t want someone who would continue Obama’s methods. It was the same with the Nazi Party, where Germans felt they were choosing the lesser of two evils.

Among other parallels, there are also similarities with Trump’s leadership style. Knowing that the mass media will always give him an audience, he perpetuates that our nation has fallen from grace. According to Trump, the nations around us are threatening every aspect of our lives. He then uses this fear and paranoia as justification for his bullish actions.

This is similar, of course, to how the Nazis created the myth that Jews were a risk to the German people. By the end of World War II, this evolved to a full out war against an allegedly Jewish-controlled United States.

Lack of Strategic Military Planning

Trump’s style of military engagement so far has been mostly reactionary, such as when he ordered attacks on Syria’s Shayrat airfield in response to chemical attacks on civilians. Analysts note that while he has several strategic options, Trump seems unwilling to commit to a concrete plan for our actions in Syria.

Trump could continue using one-off strikes to pick and choose what atrocities he wants to respond to. However, selective strikes won’t do much to deter the Syrian government for long. He could widen our presence in Syria, and in the process, further damage relations with Russia. As a last option, Trump could send troops to attack Assad from the south, pressuring the Syrian government, which would require a substantial investment.

While none of these options presented is without risk, they are all better than Trump’s lack of military strategy. If Trump were to pick an option that lead to war, the American people could have a huge mess on their hands.

As political tensions mount, the likelihood of war incrementally increases every day. Thankfully, the future isn’t set in stone. If our governments can learn from historical mistakes and work together, perhaps we can avoid deadly conflicts and needless loss of life.

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