In the last few months, however, the global context has changed considerably. Given recent developments in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, one could reasonably say that the entire world has come to resemble Europe in 1914.
In fact, the situation today could be considered even more dangerous. After all, a century ago, the world was not haunted by the specter of a nuclear apocalypse. With the instruments of humanity’s collective suicide yet to be invented, war could still be viewed, as the Prussian strategist Carl von Clausewitz famously put it, as “the continuation of politics by other means.”
In 1914, Europe’s leaders, having failed to find satisfactory compromises, resigned themselves to the inevitability of war (some more enthusiastically than others). As the historian Christopher Clark put it, they “sleepwalked” into it. While 2014 ostensibly has little in common with 1914, it shares one critical feature: the risk that an increasingly complex security and political environment will overwhelm unexceptional leaders. Before they wake up to the risks, the situation could spin out of control.
Actually, it only appears that we sleepwalk into war. In reality, we fall into war. A region reaches a tipping point where it can remain for quite some time. Then there is a catalyst that starts the fall. It is simply an excuse for war that had already been sitting on our doorstep for some time. That war was unavoidable unless something fundamental changed – like a revolution.
In 2014, war is sitting on our doorstep. Waiting patiently. It is unavoidable. There is no way out short of regime change in Beijing and Moscow. Once the fall starts (the catalyst), events take over causing a complete collapse – war.