For once, I might agree with Donald Trump

World War III — are we fooling ourselves?

War. Big time war. World War III?

It’s one of those things which no one believes can actually happen, at least not to them.

For many of us in the western world, it always seems to be “over there.” Of course we’re not immune to the violence from terrorism, not even in the US or Europe, but full-blown war is not something many westerners are familiar with, at least not younger generations.

Stomach churning news

This morning over breakfast my wife, mother-in-law and I had the BBC on in the background. The top story had to do with North Korea’s launch of a missile that flew over Japan, condemnation of that by the United Nations, and the rogue state’s announcement that this latest missile launch is part of its strategy in the Pacific Ocean. “Containing Guam is next,” say the North Koreans.

China, meanwhile, has been asserting its power in international waters, building fake islands to bolster its territorial claims.

Tensions are not reserved to Asia. Over the last couple of years we’ve been hearing about a flurry of provocations, of Russian fighter plane incursions into the airspace of the Baltic States, the Swedish navy searching for foreign submarines in its waters, Russia building up its forces near the border where NATO member states conduct exercises.

And then, of course, there’s the Middle East, where instability seems to be the status quo, with frequent conflict seen in fragile states like Iraq, Libya and Yemen, while military superpowers take sides on the conflict in Syria.

Conflict in eastern Ukraine seems to simmer on a low, yet steady, heat. Europe struggles, meanwhile, to deal with thousands of refugees coming from places either war torn, or too hot and too poor.

All for none, none for all

Perhaps the worst part of it all is that western leadership in the midst of all this conflict and chaos is either batshit crazy (you know who I’m talking about), or the mood among allies is too moody, broody and testy to show a truly united front when faced with adversity.

When you engage in a stare down with a desperate dictator that is lobbing missiles, is there a way to win?

The title of another article published recently here on Medium is “Why we should start worrying about nuclear fallout.” Scary.

With all that tension, and the anxiety over the fact that basically anything could happen, it actually seems like a miracle that we’ve been able to avoid World War III so far.

Better stock up the pantry

Back at the breakfast table, our little family unit sliced off a few morsels of bacon fat to put on toast from a huge slab of pork fat (called “slanina”) that a neighbor brought from the Romanian countryside for my mother-in-law. The neighbor lady told us that the village has so much slanina that they’re not able to sell, that they’re planning on burning the fat for heat.

My wife made a comment implying that we’d be well served to have a healthy supply of slanina if war broke out. But as far as what else we’d do, I have no clue.

War, how distant a prospect?

War has touched members of both sides of our family. During World War II, my mother-in-law’s father was taken away to Siberia; my American grandfather caught a huge Japanese bullet in his arm; my grandmother survived the Blitz of London.

Given the proximity to such occurrences among the members of our small family, I have come to realize what a blessing the sustained peace has been for many generations like my own.

But now, the world seems stuck in some sort of muck. It’s difficult to discern how quickly we’re sinking.

While I’d classify myself as more of a “spiritual” than a religious person, I’m praying that our world can keep the peace. What else can we do?

A journalist and public relations specialist, Drew Leifheit is the founder of Sounds Serious, a boutique communications consultancy in Central & Eastern Europe that specializes in feature stories, executive c-level interviews, podcast production, voiceovers, and internal newsletters.

Sounds Serious’ areas of expertise include the energy sector, geopolitics, climate change, international affairs, professional services, and brand management.

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