The notion that history has nothing to teach us is one of the most pervasive beliefs in modern industrial society. It’s also one of the most misguided. Sure, we’ve got all these shiny new technological trinkets, and we love to insist to ourselves that this means we’re constantly breaking new ground and going where no previous society has ever gone before. Clinging to that fond delusion, we keep on making mistakes that were already old when bronze swords were high tech, and flailing helplessly when the usual consequences yet again land on top of us.
The shambolic end of the US occupation of Afghanistan earlier this autumn is a case in point. The self-satisfied gooberocracy that runs the United States these days talked itself into believing that the hard-earned lessons of the Vietnam war didn’t matter any more, and sent American soldiers blundering into a country that earned the name “the graveyard of empires” long before the United States was a twinkle in Ben Franklin’s eye. It wasn’t just Vietnam that the slackjawed warlords of Washington ignored, of course. The Russians had their own messy experiences in Aghanistan, so did the British, so did half a dozen great Asian empires, and so did Alexander the Great. None of that made any difference, because the political class in the US had convinced itself that the past didn’t matter.
Back when the invasion first happened, wags suggested that “Kabul” is how you pronounce “Saigon” in Pashto, and of course they were quite right. Having refused to learn from their history, four US administrations duly repeated it, right down to the humiliating final scenes of helicopters on rooftops and victorious insurgents parading with captured US military hardware. It remains to be seen whether Afghanistan will turn into the graveyard of our empire. A hundred years from now, I suspect, historians will consider the collapse of American power in Afghanistan as the point at which the United States crossed the subtle line that separates “decline” from “fall,” but we’ll see.
To my mind, however, one of the details of the aftermath was particularly revealing. More than one of our European client states threw very public hissy fits in response to America’s headlong flight from Kabul, insisting angrily that the US should have kept on wasting lives and dollars on a war that could not be won. European media outlets such as the BBC spent weeks thereafter splashing around stories about how awful things were going to be in Afghanistan in the wake of US defeat. There was a good robust helping of irony in all this yelling, of course, since none of these countries seemed at all interested in sending their own troops marching into Kabul or pouring large shares of their own national budgets down the nearest available central Asian rathole. As usual, they wanted the US to do the work for them, so we would carry the costs and they would reap the benefits.
Yet learning from the lessons of history is just as unpopular in European capitals as it is in Washington DC. The response to the Afghanistan fiasco is hardly the best example of this. The one that stands out most forcefully in my mind just now is the way that the European Union is busy setting the stage for the next great European war.
Yes, I know that the entire point of the European Union is to make sure that no great European war ever happens again. This is hardly a new sentiment in the history of that bellicose and fractious subcontinent—for of course Europe isn’t actually a continent, it’s a big peninsula that sticks off the western flank of Asia the way that India sticks off the southern flank. Quite often over the last millennium or so, the great powers of Europe have established some sort of complicated treaty mechanism meant to prevent the next round of European wars. The example before the current one, the Concert of Europe, was established at the Congress of Vienna in 1816 after the Napoleonic Wars. Like quite a few of the arrangements that preceded it, the Concert of Europe then turned into one of the primary driving forces behind the next round of European wars.
Equally, it’s quite common in European history for various chunks of the European subcontinent to end up in a political union of one kind or another. The Holy Roman Empire was the archetype of these arrangements. It dated its foundation to the coronation of Charlemagne as Emperor in 800 AD, and it was dissolved in 1806, one of the many casualties of the Napoleonic Wars. Over that millennium of existence its boundaries flowed, stretched, shrank, and wobbled like a drunken amoeba, its capital lurched spastically from place to place, its ruler was an elected monarch whose power ranged from the contested to the wholly theoretical, and it never succeeded in becoming anything like a centralized state, or even a viable federation of states.
Rather, like a certain other European union I could name, it was cobbled together out of a giddy assortment of effectively independent states with widely varying cultures, institutions, and histories, by way of an awkwardly designed constitution that never quite managed to sort out the distribution of political power into any functional arrangement of who-does-what. Under the legal doctrine of “imperial immediacy,” a gallimaufry of kingdoms, principalities, grand and not-so-grand duchies, republics, bishoprics, free cities, and even certain individual persons all counted as sovereign entities under the broad and ill-defined aegis of the Empire. The relations between these oddly assorted entities rarely ran smoothly, and the resulting clashes quite often ended up on the battlefield, driving some of history’s most brutal wars.
The Thirty Years War is one example out of many. Strains between Protestant and Catholic component states of the Empire reached a flashpoint in 1618 with the Defenestration of Prague, in which three imperial officials were chucked out a window by an ebullient mob. War followed, and just kept on going, drawing in nation after nation. By the time the bloodshed finally stopped and the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 patched a temporary bandage over the remaining quarrels, a third of the population of central Europe was dead.
It was the sheer fecklessness of the Holy Roman Empire, more than any other factor, that kickstarted the long century of struggles between France and England that finally ended on the field of Waterloo in 1815. That fracas began when Louis XIV of France wanted to extend his power into the near-vacuum across the Rhine, and England realized that if it allowed this to happen it would be next on the menu. War after war followed—the War of the Spanish Succession, the War of the Austrian Succession, the Seven Years War, and more—and Europe east of France was the main field of conflict, because the quarrelsome fragments of the Empire weren’t strong enough to withstand French armies on their own.
The cost of all those wars finally brought down the French monarchy in 1792. That didn’t improve the situation any, because it didn’t take long for the ineffectual revolutionary governments of France to be kicked into the dumpster by a talented upstart named Napoleon Buonaparte, who declared himself Emperor Napoleon I and set out to conquer the entire European subcontinent. He didn’t miss it by much. When the smoke finally cleared most of two decades later, Europe had been ravaged from end to end, and the aforementioned Concert of Europe was cobbled together to try to keep that from happening again. It worked, after a fashion, for just under a century.
The Holy Roman Empire came apart for all practical purposes well before Napoleon’s time, and its official abolition in 1806 was merely a formal recognition of that reality. It had a successor, however, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, an equally awkward contraption that dominated the politics of eastern Europe for a little over a hundred years, until it finally went to bits in 1918. The Austro-Hungarian Empire owed its name to the odd fact that the Emperor of Austria was also, by statute, the King of Hungary. Austria and Hungary each had its own laws, traditions, armies, and civil services, which rarely worked well together. Matters got even more complex as the Ottoman Empire was driven out of the Balkans and the Austro-Hungarian Empire absorbed some but not all of the fragments.
The result was a rising spiral of political unrest, terrorist violence, government crackdowns, and white-hot passions, which finally burst into flame on a June day in 1914 when a Bosnian terrorist assassinated the heir to the Austrian throne in Sarajevo. The result was the First World War, as treaties that were supposed to maintain the balance of power in Europe turned into a black hole that sucked nearly every European nation into its event horizon. By the time peace finally came a little over four years later, the nations of Europe had managed the not inconsiderable feat of ravaging their subcontinent even more thoroughly than the Napoleonic Wars had done.
The First World War was sold to the public as “The War to End Wars.” (We all know how well that worked.) Once again, a clumsy mess of international treaties got slapped into place to try to maintain the peace in Europe, and those treaties proceeded to become the main cause of another round of wars. This time around, US president Woodrow Wilson got into the act and had the chance to inject his unique brand of self-important cluelessness into the mix, and that seems to have guaranteed a much shorter lifespan to the peace. Europe accordingly blew up just twenty years later, and achieved a level of suicidal self-immolation that made the First World War look small.
That, of course, was the context in which the European Union was born. It started out very small, as an agreement between France and West Germany governing the steel trade, and metastasized from there into today’s sprawling and sclerotic bureaucratic mess. The resemblances between the EU, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the Holy Roman Empire are striking: similar jerry-rigged and cumbersome structures of governance, similar awkward attempts to force a union among nations with wildly different cultures, institutions, and histories, similar rising spirals of conflicts between component entities with irreconcilable interests, none of which ever quite got resolved. All that’s needed now is a spark—EU officials being thrown out a window in Prague, say, or a spray of bullets on the streets of Sarajevo—to send the continent tumbling down a familiar slope toward war.
The reason there has been no European war outside the Balkans since 1945, after all, has nothing to do with the European Union. The reason is that the United States and the Soviet Union enforced peace on the quarrelsome subcontinent at gunpoint, and backed it up by occupying most European nations with their own troops, tanks, and planes. Neither imperial power, however, could maintain its presence indefinitely. The Soviet Union was forced to withdraw its troops from Europe by 1989, as it lurched toward its own collapse two years later. The United States—well, let’s just say that the recent events in Afghanistan demonstrate, for those who are paying attention, that a similar series of events is already well under way here. I don’t think that too many more years will pass before the United States no longer has troops in Europe, or anywhere else outside its own borders—if, that is, it still exists as a nation, which is anyone’s guess at this point.
At the moment, Europe’s own armed forces are mostly a joke. Britain and France are both nuclear powers, though Britain’s nukes are manufactured and maintained by the United States, as part of the polite fiction by which we pretend that we didn’t invade and occupy Britain in 1942. The rest of the British military is a shadow of its former self, though it’s still rather more robust than most other European militaries. France has its own independent nuclear weapons industry—that’s what all those nuclear power plants are for, you know—and a modestly sized but tolerably effective military, which sees a fair amount of action in France’s don’t-you-dare-call-them-colonies in Africa. Not counting Russia (which is not part of Europe in any way that matters), France has the closest thing to an effective military on the subcontinent, but it’s very small.
Most other European nations have the kind of token militaries that a midsized African nation could defeat without too much trouble. The Bundeswehr, the current German military, is a case in point. On paper, it’s got a fair number of soldiers, tanks, and planes, but the soldiers are poorly trained and have no combat experience to speak of, and the tanks, planes, and other items of military hardware are mostly inoperable due to parts shortages and inadequate maintenance; the entire German submarine fleet, for example, was laid up in drydock recently for quite some time due to technical problems. Few other European militaries are quite so comically inept as Germany’s, but many are even smaller, and none outside of France and Britain are prepared to carry out significant military operations on their own. There is of course a reason for that, which is that the United States wanted European militaries small and dependent on the US military machine. Unfortunately for the future of Europe, nobody there seems to have gotten the memo that the US is going to bits.
That’s a problem because there are two very good ways to make war happen. The first is to be arrogant, blustering, and unwilling to compromise. The second is to be militarily weak. The European Union is both. It does not seem to have occurred to anyone in Brussels that one of these days, when EU officials order one of the nations in its sphere of influence to shut up and do as it’s told, the nation in question might respond in the time-honored way by mobilizing its army and settling the matter by force. Several flashpoints in eastern and southeastern Europe are potentially close to that. The last few times that happened in the Balkans, of course, the United States was available to do the heavy lifting—but those days, again, are over now.
If Serbia, let’s say, decides to adjust its current borders in its own favor the way that Azerbaijan did a little while ago, by force of arms, is the EU prepared to try to counter that on the battlefield? If not, the EU may never recover from the loss of prestige; quite a few people remember what happened in the 1930s when the League of Nations failed to back up its demands with anything stronger than verbiage. (Spoiler: the League of Nations no longer exists.) If the EU does intervene—well, then it’s up to the fortunes of war, and those may not go the way the EU thinks they should. One of the least remembered stories of the First World War is that in 1914, in the opening phases of the war, the Austro-Hungarian Empire launched its armies into Serbia in an attempt to conquer that tough and mountainous little country, and got driven back across the border in utter humiliation after a series of stinging defeats. Just how well the EU would survive a comparable embarrassment is anyone’s guess.
But it’s not just the Balkans that are potential flashpoints in Europe just now. Hungary is roughly half its historic size, and there’s quite a bit of talk in that country about readjusting those borders, too. Poland has similar issues with its post-World War II borders, and is in the midst of a considerable military buildup. France has just signed a mutual-defense pact with Greece, committing each country to come to the other’s aid in war against any other country, whether or not that other country happens to be a member of NATO—and of course France and Britain are getting increasingly bellicose with each other over fishing rights and a flurry of other issues. All this is still being conducted in the language of diplomacy and public relations, but if you know the history of Europe between the two world wars, you know how this movie ends.
It’s not the era between the wars, however, that comes to mind most forcefully just now. It’s the Europe of the Belle Epoque, the last decades of the nineteenth century and the first of the twentieth: the last era when people of good will across the European subcontinent insisted that war was the outdated relic of an older and more barbarous time, that the treaty arrangements that had stayed in place since the last round of cataclysmic European wars would surely prevent anything of the kind from happening again, and that the close economic ties uniting the nations of Europe would stop any general European war in its tracks. They were wrong, and millions of people died because they were wrong. Their equivalents today will turn out to be just as wrong, because they’ve bought into the most pervasive fallacy of our time, the serenely foolhardy conviction that history has no lessons to teach, every shift in social conditions is permanent, and a pendulum can only swing in one direction.
I don’t think the next general European war is imminent, for what it’s worth. If things follow the usual pattern, there will be wars on the periphery first, most likely in the Balkans, while tensions build between the larger nations of the subcontinent. We still probably have some years left before alliances form, positions harden, military spending soars, and nations get locked into a collision course. My readers in Europe, however, might be well advised to look into how their recent ancestors survived the last few rounds of European bloodshed, and keep in mind that they or their children may have to repeat the same exercise. My readers in the United States, to the extent that they can spare the time from the convulsions of an imperial state in extremis, might be equally well advised to keep a wary eye on the other side of the Atlantic, and resist the temptation to get drawn into European quarrels. We’ll have quite enough to deal with over here.
I remember discussing the Kellogg-Briand Pact when studying European history as an undergrad. Yes, the “war is outdated” argument does seem to get picked up and dusted off with unfortunate regularity! And the League…what can on say? (I did an independent study on the League as part of my history major seminar requirements and studied the Aaland Island Affair–a territorial dispute between Sweden and Finland which the League “successfully” negotiated circa 1921. It provided an early win for the new body, but one of the points that was lost in the mix was that the dispute was between two fairly minor powers. Where the League failed, of course, was where it was weakest, namely keeping major powers in line.)
Understanding that the focus of your essay is Europe, I couldn’t help but take a page from Prelude to Foundation as I read and wonder if one couldn’t use Europe’s experience with cobbling together unwieldy coalitions of disparate cultures as a model for the unraveling of the patchwork cultural quilt that is these United States. (Hopefully minus the bloodshed.) Rising regionalism here corresponding to the tides of nationalism that rose and fell over there, for example. If we have an idea of how to navigate those rapids when we come to them, perhaps we’ll stand a better chance of getting through them with less damage done.
Poland is in the process of expanding its army to 300.000, that’s quite a sizeable force. They are also quite miffed the with all the EU dictats at the moment, some commentators recon a polexit isn’t too far off.
History can be a harsh teacher. One of the obstacles I’ve dealt with the topic is the reduction of history to dates, names and places – and far less focus on the human factors, cause and effect, and long-term impact. The history mankind is writing now will be from the perspective of contracting economies, ironically offset by the world having “shrunk” to its tiniest due to fast transportation and other technologies, and expanding back quickly to how global populations interacted in the 1850s or so.
Funny too, I never really thought of Der Fuhrer as a beer drinker. He struck me more as wine cooler sort of chap.
I love your use of the word spastic in this piece, where I’m from it serves both as an insult and a term of affection, great to see it in use.
I broadly agree with with your main point that the arrogance, decadence and sanctimonious presumption of the EU makes for a rather tempting target for a robust lesson in humilty from one of its neighbours or even members.
I can’t see Europe remaining underarmed for much longer and although it martial vigour is dead and gone don’t underestimate the motivating potential of the fear of the ‘other’.
I’m reminded what Charles Pequy said of Europe at the end of the 19th century ‘When a great war or a great revolution breaks out its because a great people or great race needs to break out because it has enough, particularly enough of peace. It always means that a great mass feels and experiences a violent need, a mysterious need for a great movement…. a sudden need for glory for war for history, which causes an explosion… an eruption’
I think you do underestimate how much of our recent history we have forgotten, and how tired some have become with peace, France, and it military is a great example, there is the potential for a new revanchism internally focused on those hostile to French culture and Lacite. The Italians, fearing environmental refugees is in the middle of an ambitious redevelopment of its navy.
Western Europe has being the World’s original Arc of Instability since Varus’s legions were cut down in Teutoberg Forest.
As I recall, resisting entanglement in European affairs was one of the points Washington made in his farewell address. Sadly, the drumbeat of empire drowned out that warning…
If Europeans take any lesson from WWI it would be to watch their behind, what kind of intrigues the Anglo-Saxon nations are spinning.
It is now an open secret that the UK was preparing for a war against Germany since 1905 because it was thriving too well. Everything until the flashpoint was well cooked up.
Just nobody in Germany saw that it play.
The current A-S intrigue would love to see the Ukraine as a flashpoint. hope we can avoid that.
Those are some interesting predictions.
One thing that I think us wirtb looking at, though, is the amount of nationalistic fervor then vs. now. Back in 1914, you had a whole generation of French youth that had grown up eager to avenge the loss of Alsace-Loraine in 1870, while their German counterparts were singing songs like Der Wacht Am Rhein and building their entire social order around a sort of fanatical zeal to repel the next French invasion. And of course the Serbs had similar attitudes toward Astria, the British were basking in the glory of being an unbeatable empire, and so forth. Ducle et decorum est was on everybody’s lips.
Granted, the war that started in 1914 got less, er, joyous when the bodies began hitting the ground, but at the same time, I can’t imagine the supporters of the modern EU project mustering enough enthusiasm to even start a war. Are the German youngsters of today, for whom patriotism often begins and ends with painting flags on their cheeks and blowing a vuvezula at the World Cup, going to suddenly be filled with white-hot zeal to spill their blood in defense of the EU’s authority over, say, Hungary?
I suspect that if one if the smaller, tougher nations in eastern Europe ever does assert itself and invade a neighbor, or deal with Arab/African immigrants in a less-than-peaceful way, or otherwise step on the EU’s toes, the whole thing will pan out like Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine back in 2021 – a great deal of squealing but no organized military response.
Excellent piece, JMG! I hadn’t seen that quote from Bismarck, despite reading a lengthy book about the Iron Chancellor….Europe is currently in an extremely debilitated condition, due to the harsh restrictions imposed by Governments in response to a mild form of the flu, but when that idiocy passes, I think that the land grabs are likely to start…By then, the US figures to be no factor in the equation, and the British nukes, at least, will probably not work…Thirty Years War anyone?
“self-satisfied gooberocracy” JMG? https://www.slang.org/goober-meaning-definition/
Thank you for understanding that it ain’t the wokesters who are running the show over here.
‘Really, it ought to be called “West Asia.”’
Some Russians often say the same sentence, and I think there is only a bit of jingoism in that, but a deep truth.
Dear Mr. Greer,
This is a very interesting and thoughtful essay on European history, tensions and conflicts, and it always warms my cockles to see and read those fools (so, so many) who would deny the importance and relevance of history being properly taken to task.
Being of 100% Polish heritage, I cannot help but think back, regarding these matters, on Josef Pilsudski’s immediate post-WWI dream of “Intermarium”, a confederation of central and eastern European nations based on the model of the old Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, that would stand as a bulwark against Russia on the one side, and Western Europe proper on the other. And there are stirrings in that direction yet again today, in the “Wisegard Group” of EU nations Poland, Hungary, Czechia and Slovakia, who have largely if not almost completely (so far) resisted EU demands in terms of allowing third-world immigration, conforming to contemporary Western European secular (i.e., “woke”) values, and generally genuflecting to Brussels in every particular.
What do you make of the tensions and conflicts between the increasingly monolithic, EU Brussels-led elite on the one hand, and the much more traditional and independence-minded Wisegard Group on the other? Could the seeds of the next major European conflict lie in this divide? And if so, how do you see it playing out should these tensions lead to armed conflict?
I really like the phrase about ‘wobbling like a drunken amoeba’. It’s a wonderful mental image.
This is a good and useful heads-up. I don’t think a general european war is imminent, either, but the arguments people make about war being impossible/super unlikely because of the economic integration stopped being convincing years ago, after I learned about the attitude before WW1.
Oddly enough, there’d been quite a lot of talk during the early years of the twentieth century about a possible war between france and germany, and you had the race to build bigger and bigger battleships, but things actually calmed in the last few years leading up to the war, and there was this book published saying war was impossible with the economies so integrated, and even if one started it could never be sustained for more than a few months. It was very popular, and was the conventional wisdom among the chattering classes when Archduke Ferdinand got assassinated. And we all know how WW1 went.
I have to wonder if the chattering classes knew deep down that things were likely to blow up, and the popularity of that book was them reassuring themselves that what they feared couldn’t happen.
I remember watching the invasion of Afghanistan and thinking “If Alexander the Great couldn’t hold the region, BEFORE armed pickup trucks, how can you?” 🙄
And then, several years later, when I realized a lot of the PMCs involved in running the war had probably never heard of Alexander the Great, I became really pessimistic.
I have often thought that before a Senator, cabinet member, President, or Congressman can assume office, he should have to pass a basic test. Nothing fancy. They don’t have to summarize the Thirty Years War, like ordinary citizen JMG just did. But they ought to know that it happened and was one of the first seeds sown that would later sprout into WW I. They ought to be able to look at a map of Afghanistan, and satellite photos, and see at a glance why even Alexander couldn’t defeat that particular knot. I envision the test as having at least 5,000 questions (so they can’t steal and memorize the answers), of which 30 or so are spat out of a computer at random for each person’s test. Again, they’d be very basic questions—some basic historical questions, and open-ended questions designed to show if the prospect has any common sense. “How would you manage a 10,000-mile supply line? You can only use contractors, not SMs.” “How might the Axis have won WW II?” “If the U.S. goes to war with China, how would you handle the resulting shortages at home?” “In which countries should the U.S. have bases, and why?”
Given the number of relatives I have in Britain, I have a strong desire for war in Europe to hold off a good long time, and/or for Britain to stay out of it.
But my likes and dislikes have little impact on the course of european history, especially from a nation of moderate importance on the other side of the Atlantic.
One thing that will add to any future war in Europe will be the large number of unassimilated immigrants, mostly Muslim, in the major nations of the EU. Often left out of the general society, the immigrants and their prodgeny are proving to be a big source of disorder. In any future conflict, the angry young men of these communities are likely to take an important role. Think of the Iraqi resistance to the American occupation and transfer that mode of conflict to Paris, London and Berlin. The war may be an internal struggle between the indigenous Europeans and the more recent arrivals. Europe may have another round of genocidal conflict coming.
Plus ca change, plus ca meme chose
Thanks for posting John, thought provoking as usual
That comment about Hungary rang true with me.
My Unitarian church has a partner Unitarian church in Transylvania, currently part of Romania. Other than our names as “Unitarian”, we have very little in common. The church in Romania was resurrected after the fall of Ceaușescu, and are a small working class church in a rural town, devout followers of a human Christ. We are a large PMC church next door to a large university, (mostly) believers in the inerrant march of Progress. Some years ago, their minister and the President of the Congregation came to visit our church. I spoke to them in Italian, which has the same Latin roots as the Romanian language, and the two languages are usually mutually comprehensible. They barely spoke Romanian, since in Transylvania most speak Hungarian, and I got the distinct impression that they really did not want to be thought of as Romanian. If Hungary succeeds in reabsorbing Transylvania, our partners will only be a religious minority.
Is Kosovo worth the bones of a single Pomeranian grenadier? We may find out, as that seems to be a next likely flash point.
Meanwhile, one Italian niece lives in Berlin, and her relationship with her Scots boyfriend is slowly being torn asunder. A small detail in the larger mosaic.
Reminiscent of Peter Zeihan’s predictions of the potential for a re-armed Europe. Zeihan sees a breakdown of US-protected shipping-lanes as the impetus for a renewed colonialism among industrial nations to protect their respective supply chains and captive markets, as in the days of old.
i.e. If Germany is faced with the option of imploding economically or occupying some client states, who knows which way they will go.
Given my impression of the Germans I’ve met, I wouldn’t be too surprised if they chose to implode rather than invade.
France, though, seems very likely (and set up) to keep a strong hold on its former colonies to stay afloat, and even police its interests somewhat in the rest of the EU as things slowly fall apart.
For me personally, these issues hit a little close to home, as I am currently applying for jobs in Europe and Asia… I find myself having to factor in the possibility of imminent war (or just decide ahead of time to come back to the USA after a short stint abroad).
Fingers crossed that the collapse is slow-moving enough to have time to re-locate as things go down hill.
Interesting scenario, but you should not forget demographics. There simple aren’t enough young people anymore to staff a capable fighting force, even if the political will existed. And that goes for Serbia, Hungary and Poland as well. Still, one never knows… The interesting question is what happens if the aforementioned seek support from China or Russia. In that case, all the EU could muster as deterrent would be threatening interviews with Ursula von der Leyen…
You’ve alluded to the USA coming apart at the seams here in this article and other posts, and of course in your books. Care to briefly sketch out your current thoughts for the next decade or so? Have you reconsidered your ideas? Do you think a American civil war is likely?
A sombre and thought-provoking article. I would only add that 1815-1914 was not a century of West European peace – it was sliced down the middle by the wars connected with the Italian and German unification movements: France and Austria went to war in 1859, Prussia and Austria in 1866, Prussia and Denmark in 1864, France and Prussia in 1870.
You could call 1815-59 a 44 years’ peace. Then 1870-1914 was another 44 years’ peace. Then 1918-39 was a (rickety) 21 years. But since then we’ve had a much longer (West) European peace which so far has lasted 76 years, from 1945 to 2021.
My gut feeling, unfortunately, is that you may be right about its transience, given its dependence upon the sheltering shadow of superpowers now on the wane. But be that as it may, in an attempt to add a cheerful note I’d say 76 years is pretty brilliant by European standards.
Our modern “Holy Roman Empire”, by the way, though mostly weak and ineffectual, has made itself strong in one respect – albeit at the expense of the well-being of its citizens. I refer to the invention of the euro. Once a nation is that, it seems impossible to get out of it, or so folks tend to assume.
I was always stunned by the EU Parliament in Strasbourg being based on a Peter Bruegel painting of the Tower of Babel.
It seems to me you’re just courting disaster with that sort of hubris.
I’m with Bernd on the demographics – one thing that is unique to our age is how old we are on average, if there is a historical precedence for that, I’d love to hear about it. I know that there have been demographic declines before, but not such high average ages in populations.
That’s one of the things I find breaks Zeihan’s prediction of a Russian driven war – who are they going to expand to protect their borders from? Are the Germans going to mount machine guns on motorized wheelchairs (the grey technicals)?
It occurs to me that if and when Germany gets around to having a proper military again, they might decide that they want Pomerania and Silesia back.
Props as well for the quote from Bismark, which I’m sure was echoing around in the heads of the people who knew it from the first paragraph. Bismark was a spectacularly skilled statesman and diplomat, who also used to announce his presence in the houses of friends by firing a pistol into the ceiling. We shall not see his like again.
Anyway, for your collective amusement here is a relevant clip from the show Yes Minister, which pretends to be a British comedy but is actually a Masters in Public Policy curriculum with a laugh track:
Superb article John.
A few comments:
1) Agree with you that risks of war in Europe are literally unthinkable to most Europeans, particularly among the elites. I also agree that there are a few countries in the east and south-east who may provoke a war although, like you, I don’t a serious crisis is likely anytime soon.
2) It will take at least a decade to re-arm the major European powers so any wider European war is at least a decade away, probably longer.
3) The bigger risk, in my view, is the growing pressures from the Global South e.g. primarily North African migration into Europe. This, coupled with the problems with our own internal Muslim minorities in Western Europe, pose a serious security challenge to our weakened militaries.
4) in western Europe at least, even the “far-right” are mainly focused on the Muslim threats and have no interest in waging wars against their neighbours. The east is a bit different I grant and they lack significant Islamic minorities to worry about.
5) demographics are also a key issue. Quite frankly, I struggle to see the current European youth slaughtering each other, apart from the fact many are quite unhealthy, I doubt many would agree to fight in such a war. The WW1 scenario was quite different as we had a nationalistic culture, military conscription and so on. A greater risk is less European war but rather civil wars, at least in western and central Europe.
My view on Europe’s future is that it will be divided between Muslim majority countries and Russia-dominated states in the East. And it is that twin fear that drives politics, certainly among the more nationalist/right-wing forces in European society (mainly Islamic fears among the West, Russia fears in the East although the 2015/2016 migration crisis provoked fear concerns in eastern Europe and propelled hard-right parties like the Polish Law and Order party to power in Poland for example).
One final point, you didn’t mention Switzerland. The Swiss have a good army but obviously purely defensive in nature. I wouldn’t understimate them.
JMG, I thought surely you were going to say the next war in Europe is European countries being forced to mobilize or else get overrun by migrations from the Middle East.
Speaking of, a friend of mine just moved to a relatively wealthy country in the Middle East, and was floored to find it common for middle class women to have a dozen children or more. This is in a country that imports most of its food and is sitting on top of a near-future freshwater crisis, yet people are acting like every thing is fine. This is utter insanity.
Europeans have some very uncomfortable and difficult questions to consider. If your country did not play a part in destroying a region, do you have an obligation to accept refugees? But even if European countries back out of assisting the US in terrorizing the Middle East, climate change is still going to eventually put millions of people on the move. What obligation do European countries have to accept such refugees, especially if they are from a very high birth-rate demographic? I guess some countries could put refugees on the next flight to the US, or to whatever guilty party is responsible, but such behavior could be interpreted as fighting words, and cause even bigger problems.
Your analysis is succinct and cogent, and I wish it were wrong. Whenever I hear the phrase “never again”, my inner cynic removes the letter N.
As for what to do, we of the belle epoque get to enjoy the relative peace and quiet, for now. But I have raised my daughter to be resilient. This required no great foresight; the big disruptions of the next generation have been foreshadowed by the mass economic stagnation of this and the preceding generation. At the community college where I teach every demographic except the rich, not only have my students never witnessed a rising standard of living, their parents haven’t either.
I don’t remember who said it, but it’s so so sooooo true:
The punishment for failing to learn from history is that you are compelled to repeat it.
Well, we saw what happened to Yugoslavia when the Russkies pulled out, my guess is we’ll see that writ large over Europe when the Muricans pull out. Call the movie title _Being Slobo Milosevich_
One of these eras where there’s no safe space anywhere, it’s all gone bad.
I think that another think to consider is that for the remainder of the fossil fuel era Russia will have the whip hand when it comes to European energy supplies. As long as a moderately competent crew in Moscow ( as compared to ours) remains in power they will be able to use the cudgel of energy supply to force the European nations to play nice for the sake of commercial stability. Having the most advanced arms industry in the world won’t hurt either. I can just see the next would-be Napoleon taking a step back after a stern phone call from Mr. Putin cutting off his countries natural gas. Or if that does not do the trick a hypersonic missile in to the bedroom of his second in command might seal the deal.
I think you meant Otto von Bismarck, not Otto von Birmarck, right? Great post btw, I didn’t realize the German military was in anything like that big a mess. Yikes!
Thank you for this post! Many of my worries are laid out beautifully in it.
Living in Eastern Europe, I expect decades of power vacuum with military invasions, totalitarian regimes, civil conflict and insurrection. You mentioned the Hungarian border issue. Being Hungarian, I know it quite well. I can verify that there is living potential of violent conflict in this issue. It can be argued that the borders themselves were originally designed to create tension in the backyard of Germany, a function that they can serve very well.
In the broader view, my hunch is that the next great war in Western Europe will be the Franco-German invasion of England (with Irish and Scottish assistance). After finally destroying the peculiar cultural forms of England, the next stable period – decades from now – will start the “universal state” epoch of Western civilization. Of course, this speculation assumes that mass migration won’t destroy the universal state before it is founded.
Meanwhile, the nascent Eastern/Russian great culture might find more elaborate forms of its own new religion among the irrational suffering. My country might even be a part of this. But this is another topic.
As an American living in the UK (with extensive time in Europe), I believe the tensions are within EU countries, between proponents of traditional European culture and it’s rabid opponents. This is similar to the left/right divide in the US, and France is a good example. People are starting to openly speak of a civil war. It’s hard for me to envision nation-state wars when the states themselves have so little popular support.
A most interesting. Let me ad two important points that are shaping the future and survival of the EU.
1. There is a deep, ongoing judiciary spat between the EU and Poland.
On the 27th of October, the EU ordered Poland to pay a daily fine of €1 million ($1.2 million) for failing to suspend a disciplinary chamber for judges.
Poland has indicated they are ready to resolve disputes with Brussels, but they will not bow to “blackmail.” This is sparking fears of a potential ‘divorce’ between Poland and the EU.
And there is another ongoing conflict between the EU and Poland about Poland’s refusal to stop extracting coal at an open-pit mine near the Czech and German borders.
2. France’s Macron is pushes for ‘true European army’ and warned that Europeans can no longer rely on the US to defend them. I don’t know if he will succeed.
– Spork –
Ahhh, excellent! As a fusty book reading fool who barely talks to people, it gobsmacks me how much most people take peace for granted. Afghanistan’s Imperial history is so fascinating; the Achaemenid, Indo-Parthian, Hepthalite, and Kushan Empires managed to integrate the northern (and sometimes more) part of it rather well, when it was the urbanized, sophisticated East Iranian region known as Bactria. I need to do some research sometime in order to see if Afghanistan as a whole really is inherently the graveyard of Empires, or if its just specific sub-regions. I also suspect that ancient Empires probably had an easier time than modern ones because of their willingness to have large outlying regions be just barely pacified. Having, for example, a Bactria that was fairly integrated, but tribal outlands that were only nominally so, was probably more acceptable to the limited-centralization Iron Age states than to, say, the comically greedy and authoritarian British, Russian, and Goobmerican Empires. Hmmm, what was that wonderful parable again? The one with the monkey, the trap, and the mindless, self-defeating attempt to hold on to something at all costs?
Speaking of grim and doomed geographies: Europe … what shall we do with thee? As an American, hopefully the answer is, have some humanitarian aid come in after the rubble ceases its energetic quivering, and that’s all. Europe honestly reminds me of the Middle East in some ways. Instead of a pendulum between tribal fragmentation and rigid centralization, it ricochets between exhausted detente and belligerent explosion. I suppose there had to be some downside to (Western) Europe’s sublimely fertile and well-rivered geography; otherwise they would be even more insufferable. I really hope that the inherently chaotic power of the open, hard to defend North European Plain isn’t emulated by the similarly open nature of the fertile midwest in the upcoming former U.S. I have nightmares of the Texaswoohoo Federation fighting a bloody intractable war with the Neofederacy and the Illinois Union of Protectorates over the remaining fertile, flat, indefensible land in North America.
Let me tell you again, that I think that you are a genious.
Your tragic prediction about Europe, makes me asking you the next question:
Would be posible that my country , Spain , could escape from such a terrible disgrace ?
Before I read the entire thing (but with a sour comment on European Monday Morning Quarterbacks), Kipling has the last word here: he was there when it was Britain’s turn in the barrel.
The tumult and the shouting dies;
The Captains and the Kings depart:
Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
An humble and a contrite heart.
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!
Far-called, our navies melt away;
On dune and headland sinks the fire:
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!
If, drunk with sight of power, we loose
Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe,
Such boastings as the Gentiles use,
Or lesser breeds without the Law—
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!
For heathen heart that puts her trust
In reeking tube and iron shard,
All valiant dust that builds on dust,
And guarding, calls not Thee to guard,
For frantic boast and foolish word—
Thy mercy on Thy People, Lord!
Dear Mr Greer
One of the things that made me really hesitate about voting for Brexit was the idea that the EU was keeping the peace. If the referendum had happened in 2006 I would probably have voted to remain. The thing that swayed me in the end was the euro crisis and the way that the stronger nations of northern Europe threw countries like Greece under the bus. If I remember correctly that countries GDP was reduced by over 25%. There was no way that an organization like this is going stay together. Not only was the original conception of the Euro completely stupid. The idea of having Greece and Germany using the same currency was a non-starter. But the way the EU handled the Euro Crisis just exacerbated the divisions that were already present in Europe. The other thing that is going to speed up the eventual collapse is peak oil and the decline of industrial civilization. If Europe could remain prosperous it has a greater chance of staying together and covering over the cracks. Without prosperity those cracks are going to get deeper and wider and break it apart.
If the is a general war in Europe I just hope that Britain can stay the hell out of it and adopt a policy of isolation, while we build up our naval and air forces and create a ministry of supply to build up reserves of raw materials and reinvigorate our agriculture. I also hope we can rebuild the rail lines and tram systems scraped in the 1950/60’s and become as self-reliant as possible. I just hope that those in charge of our country get a clue. If she are able to retain some sort of nuclear deterrent we might be able to sit this out. Self reliance will be just as important to our defence as ships and planes.
Sean Bolger @ #2 I do hope that does not mean we Americans are in for a new round of anti-Russia hysteria from the Mittel European diaspora.
Chuaquín Gabás Anadón @ #10 I have had er frank and friendly discussions on just that point with school teachers, whom I would have thought should know better. The teachers clung with smug confidence to the canard that There Are Seven Continents–I count six, of which five are habitable by humankind. It occurs to me that there are striking similarities between the two giant subcontinents, India and Europe. Both the site of their own unique great civilizations, both having highly literate and productive populations, all this inspite of being home to multiplicities of peoples, languages and religions.
Slightly OT, I suppose.
Conflicts between humans as presently constituted never end. They just don’t.
One fine day, a man looks out of his mud-and-thatch hut and sees his neighbor.
“You know, that looks like some good land that guy has. I want it.
“Hey you! I want your land. Give it to me now!”
“Screw you! Come and take it!”
“I was right,” the first man says. “This is some fine land. I’ll build a house on it.”
One fine day, a man looks out of his house and sees two of his neighbors.
“You know, that looks like some good land those people have. I want it.
“Hey you! I want your land. Give it to me now!”
“Screw you! Come and take it!”
“I was right,” the first man says. “This is some fine land. I’ll build a castle on it.”
One fine day, a man looks out of his castle…
Of course, this isn’t limited to land or mere stuff.
One fine day, a woman in the First Methodist Righteous Bible Church of Peace and Harmony looks up from her chair and sees the woman in charge of… something. It doesn’t matter what.
“You know, I can do a better job than that… female… could do on any day of the week.
“Psst… hey pastor. Did you know that woman is a gossip and a hussy? I of course would never do things like that!”
One fine day, a another woman in the First Methodist Righteous Bible Church of Peace and Harmony looks up from her chair and sees the new woman in charge of… something.
It never ends. It just doesn’t.
Don’t waste your time calling me a hypocrite. I know it far better than you ever will. Just as Leto II said in God Emperor of Dune, “l am those people!”
What a place. What a horrible place.
Thanks JMG. There are a couple of minor points I think you are wrong on (e.g. I think the EU is, on balance, a good thing) but I agree with the main thrust of the piece.
I do wonder what the next trigger will be, last week’s fishing incident between UK and France was interesting, particularly given that fishing was probably the highest profile policy driver of brexit and that all the fishermen I have spoken to (I live in Kent and am surrounded by the Channel / North Sea) are fairly militant towards Europe. That argument was diffused quietly but I worry about the potential for further action on either side of the water.
And then there’s the gas supply… and electricity… and food.
But worst of all the Christmas presents are all sitting off shore in container ships because 52% of voters decided to send a large number of lorry drivers “home” by taking back control.
It’s a complete cluster**** here.
Dear Mr Greer
I hope you don’t mind me butting in again on another point. I think Forecasting Intelligence is right about the potential of immigration from North Africa and the Middle East. This is something that might maintain unity between the nations of Europe for some time. . However the EU in its present form is so incompetent that it is more likely to be the nation states that come to the fore which could lead to further disunity down the line. I expect there will be so much going on what with peak oil and resource depletion, large scale immigration across the Mediterranean and Europe’s divisions growing deeper; that whichever way it goes, we this side of the pond are going to have an awful time of it.
Progress is well and truly over
I apologize if this is off-topic, but this 46 second video of Potemkin Village Walmart is just too astonishing not to share: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=muyj0b6UlSU
The Powers-That-Be are trying anything to convince us everything is FINE. (No empty shelves here!)
I have a hard time imagining this generation of 20-30 year old Europeans fighting a significant conflict. If you spent all of your life either preparing for an office job or doing an office job, it would take a significant amount of training and motivation on your part, which I do not see existing in a significant amount, to turn you into a solider, and even then many will fail.
I think the generation that fought those last European wars was made up of people who did actual hard labor at some point in their lives rather than stare at screens.
If there will be wars in Europe in the next 20 years, I expect them to either be mainly air and missile wars, which office workers can contribute to by being button pushers and maybe technicians, or like the way wars were fought in the wake of the fall of the Roman empire, by foreign mercenaries who are both more cut out and willing to fight for the right price.
I was in the military when the Soviets were in Afghanistan… we were all rolling our eyes at how dumb the Soviets were being…and then we decided we could do it only a few years later…whelp, so much for that…but a fun story about the German high command during WWII…I had the chance to speak to a man who was around during WWII and worked on building the Siegfried line…they were just putting in the last of the tiger’s teeth to prevent allied tanks from rolling into Germany…and when they finished realized that also meant their tanks could not go out…so they had to go back and knock out a few every 20 klicks…
Military intelligence at it’s finest.
David BTL, the US has held together so far for almost 250 years with only one major civil war — one of the main reasons it’s stumbling and shuddering these days is that it’s got such a geriatric political system. If Europe ever manages that degree of internal peace for that long, I’ll be amazed. I’d suggest rather a close look at other nations that have managed long periods of internal peace despite serious regional divergences — Britain is one example that comes to mind, but there are others.
Sean, Poland needs three things to become a dominant regional power. It needs a big army — it’s getting one of those. It needs its own independent arms industry, and it needs to get combat experience for its forces. If Polish firms start expanding into arms manufacture, and Poland starts cutting mutual-assistance treaties with small Balkan countries and sending soldiers to said countries to get some experience being shot at, brace yourself; it’s quite possible that in 2039 Poland might invade Germany, and conquer it.
Drhooves, good heavens, no. It wasn’t the Wine Cellar Putsch, after all!
Dermotok, Western Europe doesn’t have a lot of martial vigor at the moment, but Eastern Europe is quite another matter. That said, it’s impressive how fast poverty and tyranny can rouse martial vigor in young men.
David BTL, Washington was right.
B3rnhard, funny. All the great powers of Europe were eager for war in 1914, Germany very much among them, and they finally got what they wanted.
Athelstan, oh, I don’t expect the EU to inspire any particular martial zeal — though they may recruit armies of Middle Eastern and African immigrants to do their fighting for them. It’s when the EU goes to bits and countries are fighting for their political and economic survival that enthusiasm for war is likely to pick up.
Pyrrhus, somebody needs to do a good book of Bismarck quotes and ideas. It might improve the quality of political thinking in today’s world!
Mary, “goober” as I’ve always heard it is Southern slang for somebody who’s totally clueless, blinking vaguely as the world goes past. With very few exceptions, most of them bitterly hated for generations after their time, US politicians are always like that when they deal with the rest of the world.
Chuaquín, it may be flavored with jingoism but they’re right. If India isn’t a continent, neither is Europe.
Alan, the Visegrad Group (as they’re called in US media) is potentially the seed of a major European power bloc, and the fact that Poland has launched a serious military expansion is to my mind a step in that direction. The political and military dimensions of a future conflict can’t be known, however, until we see whether the other Visegrad countries join in, and what the EU does in response to the buildup.
Pygmycory, I see you’ve paid close attention to the period! Yes, and that kind of whistling past the graveyard is very popular now, too — as of course you know well.
Your Kittenship, I wonder if any of our current politicians could answer even the four questions you’ve posed here.
Pygmycory, I don’t have relatives in Britain, but I have friends there. I share your feeling!
Raymond, where do you think Western Europe is going to get its cannon fodder? That’s what the immigrants are there for — that, and of course driving down wages and benefits for the working classes.
Peter, that’s Europe for you.
Griff, Zeihan’s one of the few people paying attention these days, and I doubt he’ll be proved wrong. It’s quite possible that Germany will implode; I wonder how they’ll like being partitioned between France and Poland…
Bernd, people in Europe said the same thing in the 1920s, when European demographics weren’t much better. Still, you’re forgetting the obvious source of cannon fodder — Middle Eastern and African mercenaries. I expect to see a lot of that as we proceed.
Joshua, that’s a topic for a post of its own. I’ll consider doing a reprise on the subject soon.
Robert, you’re right, I should have said “the next general European war.” Europe can’t do without war for long — even in the current long peace, the wars in former Yugoslavia have to be taken into account. As for the Euro, it’ll be interesting to see how long that lasts.
Jon, think of it as truth in advertising!
Drew, again, you’re missing the obvious option, which is hiring immigrants and/or foreign mercenaries to do the fighting. Of course that has predictable blowback — look up the career of a guy named Hengist sometime — but that never yet stopped ruling elites from making that mistake.
Mister N, if they ever do get a proper military back, yes. I suspect the Poles have that very much in mind…
Andrew, once the nations of Europe are at each other’s throats again, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if central Europe did its usual trick and started producing brilliant generals and diplomats again. Think of it as a consolation prize. 😉
Interesting post. In the remote future, we might evolve from our current tendencies as violent monkeys.
I grew up in Europe. History can indeed rhyme in the future. The generations in power now there are over 55 , and they are too comfortable and unfamiliar with war for anything serious to happen (though inflation might give them a kick). The exception perhaps is the people in Eastern Europe, as you mentioned. I would say in 15 , 20 years serious conflict will become possible again.
I don’t see any nation trying to invade France or the UK since nuclear weapons are active. Germany and other nations could fabricate them in a matter of years. It is not an absolute deterrent because they may not be used for absolute destruction, and only to destroy military bases and major infrastructure and cities.
In the meantime, Turkey, China, and of course the current empire might be interested in war in one place or the other.
There is a striking difference between Europe in the beginning of the 1900s and today. Back then 25% of all humans were Europeans, and most of them were young. Today we Europeans only make up 4% of the world’s population, and the medium age is closer to 45 than 40. I would expect that the next major war will erupt in a region with many underemployed young men, especially if there is a deficit if young women.
There are some points that i would to offer (from an european perspective)
The Eastern European countries are on average rather old. Poland and Hungary for example. Many of their young people have emigrated to work in the Western European countries because the wages there are (relatively) much higher. The nationalistic goverments are also mostly elected by older people. Younger people are on average more pro-eu (not neccesarily ideological, but mainly economic reasons). Also countries like Hungary have received much subsidy money from the EU because they are on average much poorer than West-Europe and then you are able to get funded basically. These are things that speak against the possibility of a war. And the problem of a lack of young people also applies to Russia.
Immigration fron non-western countries into West-Europe was initially meant to answer the question “who will do the dirty work in a extremely growing economy if the locals don’t want to do it anymore?” Before the Syrian refugee crisis by far most immigrants and their descendants did not come from unsafe countries but where taken here by the big companies and goverments. Without considering the fact that not all cultures are the same they forcefully mixed them in social housing (thereby destroying folk communities that existed for hundreds of years- something that in my opinion is the cause of many things that go wrong now) and created two unhappy groups. With the pmc reaping the fruits of cheap labour and divided people.
If you would’ve asked me five years ago i would have thought war between immigrants from muslim countries and native people was going to happen. Now I think differently. I notice that the muslim minority is integrating in a way that I find very interesting. On the one hand they keep some social conservative values and also their religion (not all, but some), on the other hand they do see that some things of the west also have advantages (individuality, basic social structures etc) and seem to be willing to participate. There are of course still some very big problems.
Also now with the vaccination issue. It seems that the majority of the unvaxxed are christian orthodox people, non european (non white, many muslim) immigrants (and their descendants) and the so called white underclass. Now that countries are increasing their discrimination practices against the unvaxxed (and i say this as an vaxxed person) it might be so that those groups will discover that they have more in common with each other that they thought
Hi JMG and all – My dad’s side of the family came from Poland. The story is that Great-great grandma didn’t want any of her sons conscripted into the army to fight some dumb war, so she sent them all to America. Smart lady, that.
Hi JMG and drhooves (#3),
Im not sure this is on topic, but as an FYI, Hitler was actually a teetotaler (I.e., he didn’t drink alcohol at all). In fact, there’s an old story that when he was having a hotel built for officials and other visitors to his Bavarian home, he asked why the design didn’t have a bar. The architect said, “but, sir, you don’t drink.” To which he replied, “but other people do.”
Some years ago I was on an airplane sitting next to a young woman who had just spend a year in Budapest as a high school exchange student. She told me how amazed she was – their history textbooks showed Hungary’s borders as encompassing a good chunk of Europe. Their present borders were depicted as a temporary aberration.
Hi John! , many thanks for the post
I fact the Europe Union is much more similar to the idea of the German strategists at the end of the XIX century than any other conception; it is quite amusing that the two WW were to avoid this idea to take place in 1914 and that’s exactly what the EU is now: it is an extended Zollverein to absorb the great industrial output of Germany in the exact same way as dreamed by Walter Rathenau, Alfred von Gwinner and later Theobald von Bethmann-Holloweg, as they called it “Central European Economic Union” and it would be centered around Germany, and including France and others “small states”, as in fact is now (of course without UK, that was the main industrial competitor in those days)
I have in my mind other conflicts that may occur before a new big European war:
a) Two days ago Argelia has closed a big gas pipeline to Europe it seems due to problems with Marrocco (this two countries are not also in good relationship right now), and the gas imports from Russia are a quite low level. Also France wants to keep a “free pass” to “its” uranium reserves in Africa to sustain its impressive nuclear power plants, and others raw mats. So what do you think of renwed colonial (mis) adventures in Africa from the European countries once Uncle Sam go home? (now, of course is happening but in a much bigger scale). Too many people, too few resources.
b) A war between China and India after China has built and is building many dams in the Tibet rivers to divert waters to the dry regions of China, with the risks of depriving hundreds of millions of Indians of water:
With the climate change the “third pole”, the Himalaya, is losing ice at an alarming pace at the same time the water consumption in China and India grows exponentially, making the situation even more dangerous as the problems in the Tibet border recently shows. Too many people and too few water resources .
c) A civil war and or secession in your country where the “Let’s Go Brandon” could be the first war-cry and many governors are openly revolting against the federal vax mandate and probably in many other issues, with the list growing, forming a kind of informal CSA that could solidify in a quasi militar alliance. Too many guns and too many disagreements.
d) In longterm a war between China and Russia due to immense thirst of resources of China and the problems caused by the extreme contamination of the soil due to the chinese industrial overshoot, the climate change effects and the pressure of its huge population, as oppose to a the siberian lands mostly inhabited but plenty of resources. Russia has too few people and too many resources, that is the reason why was invaded by the europeans nations many times in the past and probably in the future by the neo-imperial China.
There are many more conflicts in the horizon many of them caused by water dams constructions that is perceived as a life threat by the countries downstream.
Well, how apposite. Some data points from South-East Europe.
Balkans: a whole lotta saber-rattling going on right now, some pretend, some likely real, at least toe-in-water style. For the plebs, it is all couched in terms of sovereignty, ethnicity, religion, nationalism, take your pick, infused with the traditional/perennial pig-headedness, blood-lust and desire for revenge that characterizes the local psyche. Higher up, it pretty much has all the hallmarks of the Russian/Turkish/Sino semi-alliance pushing against the US influence sphere, whether seeking destabilization for the sake of it, just flexing, or laying down the foundations for things to come.
The countries that now constitute the former-Yugoslavia territories are drowning in corruption and political ineptitude (effectively mafia states, sometimes explicitly so), with collapsing education/healthcare/law & order/industry, and that’s no hyperbole. Culturally, there has also been a shift towards the east, or more correctly the middle east/Turkey. This is true even of Catholic Croatia, albeit to a somewhat lesser degree. TV features endless runs of Turkish soap operas (often as many as 3-5 hrs a day per channel), the music on the radio and in bars is indistinguishable from stuff you’d hear in Baku or Izmir, and there is a big uptake in Turko-Arab style groomed beards and hookah consumption, to offer just a few illustrations. The Ottoman spirit resurgent. None of this existed a mere 20 years ago. Much of it has been delivered systematically. Including the influx of Asian and North-African immigrants.
The past 10-15 years have also seen a colossal brain/brawn drain (mostly towards Austria, Germany, Scandinavia, US, Ireland, Canada), coupled with plummeting birth rates across the region. A couple of million (literally) have left so far. Over one million have left Bosnia alone (a tiny country of less than 4m population)
Over the same period, the elites (such as they are) have engaged in egregious plunder, literally (again) to the tune of billions, including much of the financial ‘aid’ & loans proffered by the likes of the US/EU/IMF/WB and their ilk. Much of this plunder was done in plain sight.
The hapless EU bureaucrats look on helplessly and uselessly, and although we don’t have room here to go into the how & whys, they are very much directly complicit. The short-termism and senility are staggering.
As for the wider picture and timeline, I fully agree with your assessment re the periphery wars.
The paranoia currently gripping the lands (I’m frequently between Belgrade-Sarajevo-Zagreb) has many positing a repetition of the previous ex-YU wars, i.e. large scale conflict with tanks, artillery etc. I’m unconvinced, given the current look of the chessboard and the players. The caveat being that things speed up considerably and the Balkans are one theatre of many in a larger conflict, in which case blood will flow freely (assuming there’s anyone left here to fight). But that there will be much sporadic excrement dashing against fans in the shape of (initially) localized mini-wars, and relatively soon, I have no doubt. Ramifications? Who knows.
I personally fought/lived through the last armed conflict here (Sarajevo/Bosnia 1992-95), and sure as hades am not sticking around for the next one, so it’s fare thee well from me.
In case you missed it, Poland (which is facing a substantial wandervolk influx attempt via its Belarus border, of all places) just announced a new draft law to double the size of the standing army to 300,000 (making it the EU’s largest), as well as acquiring tonnes of modern weapons from all over, including thirty two F-35A fighters. Similar (though different scale) re-armament taking place in Serbia, Hungary, others. Si vis pacem para bellum. Allegedly.
From what I understand, many of the papers that revealed British involvement to destroy Germany in WWI were taken to the Hoover Institution in Stanford, CA where they remain today. You can try to access those if you want. I’m sure they would be very revealing!
@ JMG – for the foreseeable future (let’s just say the next 20 years), my guess is that most European wars, will look more like Ukraine right now, the Caucuses last decade, or the Balkans in the 1990s. Yes, some of those conflicts were ‘worse’ than others, but nothing like the sub-continent-wide conflagrations. If anything, I would expect internal tensions between immigrant populations that do not feel they are Germans, Austrians, French, etc and national governments to erupt first. Imagine, for instance, in response to some law or regulation that goes against Islam, North Africans seize the ports at Marseille, Naples and Barcelona, and declare those ports open to their co-religionists across the Mediterranean. The national governments move armed forces to stop them, but the migrants fight back. Those cities quickly devolve into chaos and rioting, that make the Paris terror attacks of a few years ago, look like a walk in the proverbial park. In the end, I don’t think either side really wins. The national governments continue to claim sovereignty, but on the ground, some North African variety of the Muslim Brotherhood, or, gods help the Europeans, IS, actually runs the parts of the city that matter. Does that seem plausible, or, as some of your other replies indicate, do you think that would come after the European powers import a bunch of mercenaries?
As far as conflict between nation-states, just about nothing would stop Russia from, let’s call it ‘liberating’, the Russians living in the Baltic states right now. Probably using special forces and local Russians. And if the Kremlin went that direction, a revived Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, including western Ukraine, chunks of Belarus, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and maybe Hungary too, would spring up quite quickly, once it became clear that NATO was not going to lift a finger to help them. I’m not sure Putin would take Russia in that direction just yet, but it could happen. That’s been a playbook in Ukraine and Georgia. Your thoughts?
Since we are on the speculation train, do you think it likely that Scotland breaks away from the UK in the next decade or so?
Given the oil and mineral resource shortage looming down the road, I wonder what form such a war would take. It might be ‘modernized’ warfare (meaning planes, tanks etc) sprinkled with cyber-attacks at first but with shortages taking hold, after 2040 it might degenerate into salvage warfare with the goal being trying to seize what’s left in order to keep the armies supplied. By the beginning of the next century there may well be a return to cavalry backing up infantry armed with rifles and bayonets with the occasional vintage tank firing shells or a single light aircraft dropping small bombs for shock value (much like Hannibal’s elephants).
Dear Mr. Greer,
Yes, sorry, I guess I subconsciously used the Polish spelling of “Visegard”, in which the “W” is pronounced as the English “V” (e.g., “vodka” being rendered in Polish as “wodka” — literally, “little water”).
One thing that perhaps should be mentioned here, in regards to the potential and future military plans and operations of Poland, is that Poland historically was never an imperialistic or expansionistic nation that sought to conquer and absorb its neighbors, and I believe that this mindset is still very much alive among most Poles today.
Yes, at one time the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was by far the largest country in Europe, but that was only by virtue of Poland joining with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania AFTER Lithuania had engaged in a vast geographical expansion of its own in the 13th and 14th centuries, having conquered vast swaths of territory that today constitute Belorussia, Ukraine, and parts of western Russia. The subsequent military history of Poland-Lithuania was largely if not almost completely defensive of that territory, rather than offensive, and brought no new significant territories (aside from Latvia and southern Estonia) into the Commonwealth — in contrast, slowly losing peripheral territories until the final disastrous Partitions of the later 18th century.
It is nice to have an almost 100% history post here on this blog!
I do say I am surprised at the abuse you pour on the Holy Roman Empire – I thought you had a place of honor reserved in your mind for anachronistic, cobbled-together, unstable contraptions wholly unable to make war against external enemies and wholly unable to impose any uniform rules on the people who happen to live within their borders… Liechtenstein, Andorra, Monaco and San Marino are the survivors of the time when there were hundreds of tiny, nominally sovereign states strewn over the map of Europe, especially Central Europe. Wouldn’t it be nice to be citizen of a state where you know half the population by name? There were imperial immediate villages in Swabia, after all!
More seriously, to me it seems there was more war on the territory of modern France than on the territory of modern Germany from the time they went separate ways (around 880) to the Reformation. Again, the 16th and 17th century were a time of horrible war not only on the territory of the empire, but also in the much more “advanced” and more homogeneous kingdoms of Western Europe – the Huguenot wars, then the disputes over royal succession, finally the Fronde in France; the English Civil War, the wars in Scotland and Ireland until Cromwell’s bloody suppression of Catholic Ireland… I don’t see the aspiration to a strong monarchy as protective against civil war. Maybe the colonies provided an output for some of the fratricidal aggression from the 18th century onwards.
None of this is to deny the possibility of future war in Europe. I simply wonder if there is any path to durable peace once a (sub-)continent has filled up most of its empty patches with people. A universal empire might be a solution, but those don’t last for ever either. I never thought I would say something good about Metternich, but if the 1815 arrangement provided 99 years of peace (leaving aside the Crimean War and Bismarck’s more localized wars), isn’t that very good by any historical standard?
Mmmmm, unconvinced. Sure, one day there will again be large-scale intra-European wars, but I don’t see it anytime soon.
War between the UK and France? No. Not within any meaningful timeline. Brexit is becoming such a disaster that many who voted for it are already bitterly regretting it; if it led to a shooting war with France, the Tories would cease to be a meaningful political force, and the secession of Scotland would be guaranteed. The British Establishment isn’t going to let it happen. The Franco-Greek alliance is about Turkey and its ongoing neo-Ottoman revanchism – which, by the way, is more likely to see a revival of the 19th-century Franco-Russian alliance; Turkey may have bought Russian S-400s, but it’s also palling up with Ukraine with an eye to reclaiming Crimea (which was Ottoman before Russia conquered it; Turkey is playing a long game here, gulling Kiev).
On which note, the EU is built around the Franco-German alliance, and that remains absolutely solid. Paris and Berlin have already been trying to rebuild better relations with Moscow. While they’ve yielded so far to the opposition from the Baltics and Poland, that won’t last; they have to be on good terms with Russia and they know it very well (see: Nord Stream 2, and the size of the trade space of the Belt and Road plus the Eurasian Economic Union).
Meanwhile, tensions continue to grow between the Atlanticist Eurocrats in Brussels and the Visegrad group over the question of where ultimate sovereignty lies. In Brussels? Or in national capitals? van der Leyen and Stollenberg would do well to consider Stalin’s question: “How many divisions does the Pope have?”
I think it’s very likely that Europe will fracture into versions of the Carolingian Empire, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Austro-Hungary, and Balkan rag-tags – but my guess is that they will be too preoccupied with internal issues to be concerned with wars. (The issue of Muslim minorities is likely to be a big one here, as forecastingintelligence suggests). All of them will be dominated by their relationship with the Afro-Eurasian economic and military space created by the alliance of Communist China with a resurgent Holy Russia.
As far as the likelihood for war goes, it’s most likely to come from Ukraine. It’s likely that a desperate Atlanticist US will precipitate war with Russia. Assuming it doesn’t go nuclear, Brussels will burn; the Pentagon, Foggy Bottom, etc will be obliterated, and both the EU and the US will be tipped into disintegration.
So, that’s how I see it going. Time will tell, of course.
Hi John and friends,
You know, I am on the fence about there being another European “Great War” in the same guise as the previous ones. As others have pointed out, lack of martial vigour in the Western European populations, low birth rates, a lack of desire to even defend European borders (mass immigration) and other factors.
It is also true that European nationalists these days do not view other Europeans as the “enemy”. They view Muslims and Africans as the invaders and would much rather take up arms against them then other Europeans, who they view as brothers.
Even if and I mean if European states do decide to turn on one another using African and Arab mercenaries, the main native population will have no interest in defending such a country and will flee.
I think the Fall of Rome and the various fighting between different African and Muslim factions is more a reality with European governments quickly losing power.
But I would like to present an alternative thesis to this – the South African scenario.
What I think is going on in Europe is basically a repeat scenario of what happened in South Africa. When I was there about 10 years ago, I heard a lot of stories about what was happening.
During the 1980s, the current was teetering on the brink of civil war. There was so much fear of a possible conflict. The white community was split of those who wanted to get on with life and supported whatever the status quo was. Then you had the noisy right wing community who wanted to maintain apartheid at all costs. Obviously you also had leftists who wanted to dismantle the whole thing.
The right wingers remind me of todays European nationalist parties. They voted for the Konservative Party that fought to keep apartheid going, joined the militant AWB (which is equivalent to what extremist groups in Europe are) and basically threatened civil war.
Obviously the ANC also armed up with spear of the nation. You get the picture. It really did reach the crescendo in 1994. I remember people back then getting passports ready to flee the country. That is how bad it was.
Then Nelson Mandela was elected President, many whites thought “lets give the new South Africa a go” and that was it. All that tension, threats, panic, just gone with a whimper. No bang, nothing. Gone.
The best the right wing whites achieved was building the small community in the karoo called “Orania”. That was it.
This is coming from a country that knew war, where Boers had fought the Brits, the Zulus, and yeah, a land of war. Yet it never happened. If it was ever going to happen, it was SA and it never did.
Fast forward to 2021 and the whites of SA are pretty much a finished tribe. The young no longer believe in the new SA and leave, complaining the blacks want to kill them and how bad it is. These days those young Afrikaners have started to scout out Russia and Eastern Europe because they can see Western Europe going the same way.
So what is the lesson of the story and how does it compare to Yugoslavia in the 90s or Ukraine today? Simple. The Afrikaners were fat, wealthy and comfortable. They did not want to give that comfort away by fighting.
Europeans are exactly the same. They wont fight – they will flee. To Eastern Europe. I predict the process will start in 30 years when the minority-majority effect hits.
As for European governments fighting again? They could, they could…or they could follow in SA’s footsteps and become inefficient corrupt hell holes…remember the Afrikaners had a very effective military and nuclear weapons. Yet look what good it did them? They never even used mercenaries either. They just…gave up.
This coming from a people who really did believe they were a lost tribe of Israel in Africa and it was the will of God for Afrikaners to be there. Yet for all that fanaticism, money talks and they gave up pretty damn quickly.
Just my thoughts.
While I agree that the US made a mess of Afghanistan, I think that the interpretation “the US was defeated by Afghanistan i.e. the Taliban” is a bit simplistic. From what I gather a lot of Afghans, especially in the North, really resent the Taliban and considered themselves not liberated but “invaded” by a Pakistan proxy. I don’t know how widespread that sentiment is but given reliable reports of ethnic cleansing and the mass exodus of Afghans (not just of Western allies), I think it’s not quite a national liberation struggle that triumphed, just another messy outcome in a contested, divided country with foreign powers of all sorts meddling.
As for Eastern Europe, for all their bickering with the EU let’s not forget how much money they got from Western Europe and how profitable it was in a lot of ways. Also, their societies seem quite divided, not monolithically anti-EU / socially conservative. Many of them also fear/loathe Russia the way many Latin American countries feel about the US, and for similar reasons.
I deeply dislike the EU and the way Italy is so subservient to it because “they give us money” (even though we’re actually a net contributor) and because we consider ourselves incapable of running our own country. Unfortunately Italians are easily bought. Still, I think there’s quite a bit of support for the EU all over the continent – even in the UK Leave didn’t win by that much. As for the Balkans, as far as I know they want in.
Of course I hope we won’t have another war. There doesn’t seem to be any appetite for it, and from what I see, in spite of everything, Europeans are really traumatised by the last big ones, and quite friendly with one another. I live near both Austria and Slovenia, and we constantly have joint war commemorations and our relations are very good. I see mass migration coming from the South and East as a much bigger threat. Speaking of which, Europe might be “Western Asia” geographically, but it isn’t historically or culturally. And I say this in a neutral way – relations with Asia are a big part of who we are.
“It is my intention, on this point, to bring Hungary to its knees. They have to realise they are either a member of the European Union, and so a member of the community of shared values that we are… Or get out,” said Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.
This in response to Hungary’s resistance to wokeness. Regardless of how one feels about the issues involved (and Hungarian school curriculum is far down on my list of things to worry about), a response from Budapest may be “You and whose army?”.
Serbia tried to readjust its borders fairly recently, in the 1990s in the breakup of Yugoslavia. It fought vicious wars with Croatia and Bosnia to reattach Serbs in those areas to Serbia. The United States waited for the European Union to address this European problem, but the Europeans were feckless. The premature recognition of some seceding republics added fuel to the fire. European interventions were useless as well; the Dutch allowed Serb soldiers into the declared safe zone of Srebrenica to massacre Bosnian men.
it was only when the United States lost patience and decided to do something. The US did a lot of bad things — bombing a Chinese embassy in Belgrade, alienating Russia — but they ended the wars. An ethnic rebellion in Kosovo lead to close-to-genocidal Serbian attack, which the US also blunted militarily. There is still a lot of tension in the former Yugoslavia that could re-ignite, that the EU is hopelessly unprepared to handle.
This is a part of me that hopes Europe can avoid being the battleground or belligerents in the next great conflict, like South America during the two world wars. Most of the time it’s a function of geography where battles occur and wars are waged. Such as the way in conflicts between France and Germany, the contested ground is usually Belgium, from Waterloo to Ypres to the Ardennes offensive. It’s selfish of me as an Irishman, but I had hoped the next great war would be in SE Asia.
There are some historians that I quite like such as Ian Morris who believe that war has historically been a spur for technology and political change, but I think there are some pretty brutal diminishing returns here as our capacity for destruction has increased to a global scale. Its like when Einstein was asked what weapons the next great war would be fought with, he said he didn’t know, but he said that the war after that would be fought with sticks and stone.
I also wonder what the defining military units or equipment of the next conflict will be, not many military strategists though the aircraft carrier was going to supplant the battleship as the decisive naval unit in WW2. Nobody foresaw the effect that barbed wired and super-efficient railway timetables would have in entrenching and prolonging battles during WW1. Citizen armies driven by nationalistic fervour swept the battlefields of Napoleonic Europe. National debt and banking funded the mercenary condiattore of Northern Italy before and during the Renaissance.
Those anti-ship missiles the Chinese have been developing look deadly, Russia debuted an artillary advancement in Ukraine that I think it called Steel-Rain. It’s very hard to imagine that no major country is pursing unconventional arms like biological weapons, and that’s what scares me the most.
My favourite Bismarck quote is that ‘God has a special providence for drunkards, babies and the United States of America’ He said that after the US struck gold heralding the Californian Gold Rush in the territory seized from Mexico just two weeks after the conflict ended. Your geography had always being your great gift. You can partly thank Napoleon for that.
Once again, JMG’s wednesday post has a synchronicity with something I have been pondering in the last several weeks…
I have been hearing rumblings of cold and very coherent rage from active and retired military people over the way Afghanistan ended. Things like “any marine corps lance corporal could have planned this operation better.”
Not sure what other’s opinions about Jocko Willink might be; I am not a longtime follower of his, but knowing he was a seal team commander for many years makes me at least inclined to hear what someone of his background had to say about the recent Afghanistan debacle. A quote from podcast dated 10/6/21:
“For all the strategic and reputational consequences, I am happy we are out of that country, because I DON’T TRUST THESE PEOPLE to command or direct American men and women in dangerous places around the world. They better not come talk to us AGAIN about going into any other country where they’re going to put our people at risk until this whole generation of leaders, republicans or democrats or any of this whole group of people who gave us Iraq and Afghanistan…they all have to go.”
For the video inclined, this part of the conversation is about 12 minutes in:
The conversation is about two hours; I listened to the whole thing, and found it reasonable, and very compelling. (The other person in the conversation is Darryl Cooper, who I know little about; I get the sense he may be a controversial figure, but he seemed to have a decent grasp of the realities of military history.)
The upshot of all this, and the point I am most interested to hear JMG’s thoughts on (and anyone else in the commentariat) is that I have the sense that the repercussions of Afghanistan are going to be enormous, and have not even begun to be felt in the US yet. My understanding is that military service, much like firefighters and police, often runs in multi-generational families and groups of families, and whole communities, in both the wage class and with at least some crossover in parts of the PMC. And where it does, the theme of “service” is held in a position of honor, in a very ancient and powerful sense of that word. Much like a tsunami that can’t be seen in the deep water, I think the crisis of legitimacy that has been building for decades may be nearing the shore, as multiple generations of service members who have sacrificed themselves and family members, for all the right reasons of love and honor, see this latest betrayal as a crossing-the-Rubicon moment.
Towards the end of the podcast, they are reading what are claimed to be actual text conversations from marines in Afghanistan describing having to turn away desperate Afghan civilians, some with valid Visas, back to the Taliban:
“I have to drag men and women and children and fathers and mothers pleading for their lives out the gate to the Taliban because they aren’t on a list…grown men and women with babies asking us to kill them because they’d be happier getting killed by us than the Taliban…I can tell you some guys are really gonna struggle when we get home.”
I should say that I cannot vouch for the veracity of the claim that these are real excerpts from real marines in Afghanistan talking to fellow marines back home in the US. But thinking about all this and the way it has been handled and the narrative spun here at home has me thinking some very uncomfortable thoughts…
@Peter Van Erp Just a little correction. In Transylvania (W and central part of Romania) not most of people speak Hungarian. There are a few counties in E Transylvania (Covasna, Harghita…) were Hungarians are a vast majority, and some of them don’t even know the Romanian language. They are not any Hungarians, they are the Szekelys, mostly over religious and very nationalistic. But the rest of Transylvania is a homogeneous mixture of predominant Romanians with a smaller part of Hungarians and Rroma. You’ll never find in Budapest or any other place in Hungary more fervent patriots like these Szekelysz. I am Hungarian, with some small Romanian side, and I live in W Romania. My family been trough the last hundred years of what JMG describes in this another excellent article. So its a familiar subject. Yes there are tensions, always been, between these 2 countries. But oddly (or not?) most anti Hungarian hate is from the southern part of Romania – were they are absent…and most anti Romanian hate is from the Szekely part..were the Romanians are mostly missing.
Instead these 2 countries have a bigger issue, silently in the background, an exploding Rroma population. If they keep this trend both nationalities will be soon minorities in their own countries. And all their quarrels will become irrelevant. Ill sound racist but lets just say that you don’t want these Rroma to be your neighbours.
Hi John and commentariat,
1. I would like to offer something to my fellow europeans who insist, that an European war cannot break out, because we lack the youth.
Well, so does every other european neigbouring state. Just imaginesome country, lets say Pol-gary, training and mobalising a small but well armed army, because they do not want to recieve immigrants. Then they threaten a neigbouring country, lets call it The Republick of G/R. That country in the meen time has lots of young immigrants to whom they say: “fight for us and you get citizenship”. You have your soldiers on both sides… JMG has a point.
2. John , you are running a series of posts on covid on the other blog. How do you see covid and vaccinations playing into this?
I don’t think I’m alone as a citizen of one of Europe’s ex-colonies to say that I’m going to be watching the whole show with lots of popcorn. Many of us realized that the era of direct rule ended with the independence movements in the middle of the last century, but the era of indirect rule is only now drawing to a close. It will be especially fun to watch the europhiles in India and other places slowly lose their grip on the cultural stage, and fade into oblivion.
“As usual, they wanted the US to do the work for them, so we would carry the costs and they would reap the benefits.”
No, rather what we wanted, local politicians in the pockets of the State Deparment excepted, was for the US not to go there in the first place.
But since it went, and made things much worse, they shouldn’t just leave it like that. Especially since this is in our neighborhood, and those refugees and other consequences will come our way, not yours.
It’s like someone going to a remote town’s square and starting a fire pit, threatening to turn into a fire. It would be better if they hadn’t gone there in the first place. But since they went, it also makes sense to criticize them for
In general, aside from briefly during the cold war, Europe was never “protected” by those US ventures in the middle east and about.
In other words: just like the US public sees no benefit from the US going e.g. into Afghanistan, similarly the huge majority of Europeans don’t benefit when their governments go there, nor when the US goes there. On the contrary they rip all the downsides, from terrorism imports to the refugee crisis.
Some states like France and Germany go in cause their oligarchs (the Bezos, and Amazons, and Exxon equivalent) benefitted by the plundering (e.g. securing their own oil supplies for companies like Elf, re-building contracts for the bombarded places, and so on).
Most were just dragged in, through the US yanking their chains or having politicians in its pockets with tons of ways (including direct funding of their parties, but a huge network of friendly lackeys was established ever since the Marshall Plan was set up for that very purpose.
That the US “protects Europe” in these kind of endeavours is a long standing myth perpetuated in the other side of the Altantic.
I can name that tune in 5 syllables – No New World Order – DenG: MoB – Master of Brevity
I remember wondering how the people of Europe would reconcile the benefits of a single currency, with being ruled by unelected technocrats. After 2008, and the debt-bondage treatment of the southern nations, I figured that would hasten the end of the union. Then after Western shenanigans in Libya and Syria particularly, and the demand of said technocrats that nations take on millions of refugees, I figured conflict was inevitable. Brexit I knew to be largely about the free movement of cheap eastern European labor flooding Great Britain, even if the BBC would call that logical progress.
In regards to your response to an earlier comment about young men embracing the martial spirit, I figure there is plenty of tyranny, the only thing lacking is the grinding poverty (which is expanding apace).
Which is pretty much how I feel of late, about America, and particularly the union between corporations, the intelligence community, corporate media, woke culture and the Democratic party. Plenty of tyranny, and poverty ever increasing, likely soon to get much worse, if what this fellow says is true about the shipping industry (not a word of which you will hear in corporate media – NPR just calls up CEO of freight company to ask about shipping).
Holy Roman Empire,1600: 27 million to 34 million people.
Germany 2021: 84 million people.
Even if we write off two thirds of the modern population as older/sicker, there are still plenty of people to have a war. Some of us might could benefit from a bit of studying on what percentage of the population historically participates directly in combat.
(Yes, I know, the Holy Roman Empire wasn’t the same geographically as modern Germany. But it gives a good enough idea as to population numbers.)
CS2, thank you for bringing up the high birth rate. It never features in any public debate about refugees – even in the horrendous Syrian war, anecdotal evidence and data points to people having way more children than peaceful Europe.
About the US messing up the Middle East, that’s what everyone is saying, but if you look at those countries, there’s half a dozen other local or international powers doing even more damage than the US, not to mention internal problems.
The West has an insane amount to answer for, but so does most of humanity. This blaming the West for everything that goes wrong anywhere in the world is just simplistic and unfair. It also assumes that only “the West” in the world has any power.
#13 PCK – What a great idea!
What is one to do, with the pitter patter of feet from one end to the other. Your advice in the last paragraphs of Potemkin Nation is particularly relevant, my immediate family had taken advantage of low real estate prices in post conflict South America and inheritance money and set up a farm close to the rest of the family group. The rationale was to ensure a refugia for those overseas to come back to, as well as a means to support my aging father absent any pension. The issue is that having spent seven years at the farm, and another three years back in North America, I have that farm ready as an escape hatch, but the call of adventure to see the American empire fall apart in person keeps me from taking flight.
I see that there is a mercenary factor emanating from South America at play vis a vis the EU. The EU dropping many travel restrictions from South America, right of return citizenship drives from the Iberian nations among others with rather lax requirements. South American nations offer young populations, many of whom have some military experience from ongoing conscription in massive time (many complaints coming out of various armed forces regarding many professional personnel being poached by the Saudis for their Yemen war). To use a sports broadcaster tag line from the mid-2000, there is a possibility of there being “Conquistadores of Europe”, sent in first as a bit player to reinforce a faction, however building and turning out to be a major faction by itself.
JMG, I was trying to think of sample questions that could be answered with a little thought and common sense, so our current moral and intellectual betters might well not be able to answer! 😄. But I bet you could write an interesting article on any of them, as, I suspect, could most readers.
Oh Great Khan, what are Unitarians? They have churches, but don’t seem to be Christians.
One thing that could add to the instability is that the US is not out of Europe yet. However, the US has obviously lost reputation, and is giving a very good imitation of a power at the beginning of serious decline. Historically, this is a dangerous situation; the declining power often tries to reverse its decline with foreign adventuring, and the Democrats have become the rabid Russian haters. It is not inconceivable that the US government might think that some sword-rattling towards Russia could help unify the divided US. Something like trying to get Ukraine in NATO isn’t impossible (although insane), and could only be seen by Russia as a direct threat.
Another issue is current European and US leadership has no knowledge of war in their home countries. i’ve read such knowledge by senior military and civilian leaders was thought to be a brake on potentially dangerous situations; all had experience of what could ensue. Now, there is no such experience, and the leadership is not particularly competent, or interested in the military (outside of the British Royal Family, what sons or daughters of the elites choose this path?).
I agree that the European Muslim population will suddenly be appreciated as military manpower if such a situation arises (maybe western European schools should make sure their Muslim immigrants can spell “condottieri”; that could be a real career option!).
And, for those who like history, a pair of balkan wars (Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria, Turkey) was a curtain opener for World War I. And all the boundary realignments after World War 2! Note that the voting patterns in what the media calls “Western Ukraine” matches the former area of Poland grabbed by the USSR in 1939.
Oh the possibilities (many very bleak)!
According to Article Five of NATO an attack on one is an attack on all. But NATO is a creature of the Cold War designed to deter the USSR from invading Western Europe. Arguably NATO is out of date having served its purpose with the end of the Cold War.
The European Union remains militarily completely dependent on the United States. Poland and the Baltic States are NATO members and rely on NATO to deter Russia. If there were a conflict with Russia over the Baltics would the US be willing to see Americans die for Riga?
If the EU wants to be taken seriously it needs to start paying for its own defence.
Meanwhile trouble is brewing in the Balkans
thanks for the informative historical comparisons. Even though I grew up in Europe, I have very littly idea of what our history is…
But aside from the historical context, we need to look at how things are different this time. I am referring here to the collapse of fossil fuels availability. Maybe that is for the next post in the series?
I would guess that the dependency on Russia for both oil and gas would turn Russia into a kingmaker. There is also China and US of course. I don’t have any idea how this whole mess would evolve.
Ziehan makes a lot of sense to me. I would recommend his books, or look his presentations on youtube from various conferences. I think they are worth watching, though he covers a lot of the same ground in each presentation.
On the US breakup, I don’t necessarily agree that we are headed for a breakup. It seems the conflict is less regional and more of a class conflict, especially rural vs. urban. I think greater state autonomy and a general political upheaval will happen, but I think the classes will cooperate across regions, so there will be less incentive to break up the country. My crystal ball is pretty limited though.
In any case I have put in a solar-powered food replicator in the back yard and have been learning how to use it: putting the little nanobots in the replicator, watching them first produce their little green solar collectors, then later actual food. I find I like the artificial veggies from the replicator better than the natural ones I buy from the supermarket. A Star Trek future today! Though the potatoes and parsnips come out of the replicator all covered in dirt. Oh well. I am making gallons of butternut squash soup right now and freezing it.
One of my late uncles told me (years ago) that the EU would one day lead to a European war. I could not believe him back then. May be there is an element of truth in what he said after all.
I agree that the EU will likely implode some day not too far in the future and that this will probably lead to major crisis in Europe leading possibly to war.
What struck me in this essay was the absence of any discussions about Russia’s future role in European affairs. In my mind, Russia is bound to be tempted in getting involved as it is a powerful nation on the eastern flank of Europe. It cannot remain aloof to what happens there. Hint: Napoleonic Wars, 1914, 1941.
Is it not likely that countries like Germany might turn to Russia for support if faced by a militaristic France and or Poland?
Furthermore, are you not a bit too harsh on the German military, after all, the article you mentioned dates from 2017? Under perceived existential threats I can easily imagine a new arms race in Europe. For example, Germany being an industrial giant would have little difficulty in rebuilding an army worthy of the name. Even the UK with its growing internal problems, could re-arm fairly quickly. The industrial base is still there.
In short, Europe is an unruly quarrelsome corner with unstable political institutions. War is a recurrent feature there. But is it not elsewhere too?
Russia will probably play a major role and may turn out to be the dominant power there. Would it not be in Germany’s interest to get close to Russia? Cheap natural gas & military support are good enough incentives. After all, Russia proved to be a reliable ally to Syria recently. Why not to Germany?
PS: Although I live in far far away Mauritius, I have friends and family all over Europe (Mummy came from Switzerland). I feel concerned.
You may be aware already, but the Polish arms industry produced tanks for the Warsaw Pact, and has tried to maintain that capability. They have a couple of all-new, Western-inspired designs coming into service soon, unless COVID has impeded that. Anyone shopping for armaments in Eastern Europe can also go to Warsaw for armored trucks, self-propelled artillery, and even modernized AK-47s.
As for Polish tanks driving for Berlin: who knows? While at this point the former GDR might be just as happy split off as a satellite to the Poles as shackled to the West, I’m not sure why the Poles would want to bother.
This is prescient as usual – I read it on the same day that Angela Merkel, on the eve of retirement, said that Europe has forgotten the origins of World War II and is rapidly repeating it.
Reading here multiple references to the former Holy Roman Empire, I cannot but help be reminded of the old historians’ trope that the HRE was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire.
Regarding the reference to Ukraine in Cugel’s post (#37), it is also interesting to note that while Poland has steadfastly refused admission to any meaningful degree to Islamic and third-world refugees, despite EU admonitions to the contrary, the one nationality of immigrants that Poland HAS admitted relatively freely in recent years has been the Ukrainians, of which there are an estimated one million living in Poland today, almost 3% of the total population.
As I read your post, I kept thinking of a quote I heard about Europe and what Europeans are really like:
They go from zero to genocide in sixty seconds.
I think it was Sarah Hoyt who said that. She grew up in Portugal and has family there.
My cynical father once snarked, “All I want is my neighbor’s land.”
I moved to the US for many reasons but one of the fundamental ones was that my family could eventually have a non-European passport because of… exactly what you write in this article.
No More Brother Wars!
Forecasting, it intrigues me that nobody European seems to notice that all those young immigrant men are the logical cannon fodder for European armies. I think your longterm scenario is probably correct, but European wars in an age of economic decline and resource shortages will, I think, play a large role in handing over much of the subcontinent to immigrants. Again, you might look into the career of a fellow named Hengist…
CS2, the interesting thing is that Middle Eastern populations are by and large leveling off and will be tipping into contraction in the years ahead. Here are two maps showing the plunge in fertility rates worldwide since 1970. Your friend may not have a representative sample…
Paradoctor, that’s a valid point.
Steve, it is indeed!
Owen, funny. Well, yes.
Clay, it’s by no means certain that it’s to Russia’s advantage to see Europe stable, if that stability enables the European Union to support hostile governments in Russia’s near abroad. If European nations were at each other’s throats, how much easier would it be for Moscow to reduce Kiev to obedience?
Chronojourner, already caught it.
Sleiszadam, whether the Franco-German invasion of England succeeds will depend very much on what state the US (or its major east coast successor state or states) are in at the time. Maintaining England as a viable client state is essential for US control of the Atlantic sea lanes — and yes, that’s another way we could again get dragged into European quarrels.
Carl, it’s quite common for nations to seek external conflict as a way to distract people from internal conflict…
Spork, the strains between Poland and the EU are among the flashpoints I have in mind. As for Macron’s European army, it’s a sensible move — we’ll see if he gets anywhere.
Derpherder, this one? 😉 For what it’s worth, I expect the conquest and absorption of the flat fertile land of the Midwest to be the first great task facing the future American culture when it emerges from its Great Lakes-Ohio Valley homeland; expansion east to the Atlantic and south to the (much expanded) Gulf of Mexico will come later.
Anselmo, good question. Cultivating ties with Hispanic America would be wise.
Patricia M, thanks for this! It’s a favorite of mine.
Jasmine, if Britain has a future apart from Europe — and if it’s going to have a future at all, distancing itself economically and politically from Europe is essential — it’s going to have to rebuild its navy and cultivate its connections with the Americas. For wholly sentimental reasons, I hope you succeed.
Bird, “out of the crooked timber of humanity no straight thing was ever made…”
Stuart, Brexit didn’t cause the lorry problem. We’ve got it here in the US, too, and we were never part of the EU in the first place, you know. (The issue of trucking is well explained here. As for the fishermen, thanks for the data points — I’m not at all surprised.
Jasmine, if mass immigration gets a unified response from Europe, that’ll be one for the record books. I expect the response to be just as disorganized as anything else Europe does.
Deadnotsleeping. ahem. Immigrants…
Alchemy_bear, funny! Thanks for this.
Dermotok, it is Jefferson we thank, not Napoleon, and Albert Gallatin, his Secretary of the Treasury who raised the money. I gather it broke Talleyrand’s heart when the American envoys arrived in Paris with payment in full. There was a time, sigh, when Americans were not stupid.
Having read all the comments, I don’t see how the demographics of Europe (i.e. skewing old) makes a difference.
There are still plenty of young men (and women).
The large contingent of oldsters simply means that there are more people who will die soon after war starts. If you need the miracle of modern medical care to keep you alive, you won’t last long.
You mention general warfare. But the nukes are still there, and no-one has yet figured out how to wage general war without killing everyone. What’s more, as I have speculated on an earlier thread, nuclear bombs operate by quantum physics, which is observer-dependent and non-local. Since humankind cannot survive nuclear war – the MADmen have teched it out too well – it is physically impossible for humanity to observe it, so humanity will always observe it prevented non-locally. I call this the Backfire Effect. It predicts that when nuclear holocaust gets too likely, Murphy’s Law assaults humanity with unlikely pre-emptive malfunctions in critical mechanisms, institutions, and minds. Case in point: Trump’s election. Hillary and Vlad erased the main world-line, so we got shunted to one of the unlikelier ones.
But since actually-existing Homo Semi-sapiens needs the occasional global convulsion to maintain what we call civilization, we’ll have to figure out something else to afflict ourselves with. Two possibilities come to mind: plague and revolution. I used to discount the former, but the mass paranoiac passivity called anti-vax has kept that option open.
As for revolution, consider the Marxian Paradox: namely, if the capitalist class takes Marx’s predictions of working-class unrest seriously, then they enact minor reforms that negate his predictions; but if the capitalist class then self-indulgently dismiss Marx’s predictions, then they save money by cancelling those minor reforms, and his predictions tend to come true. Therefore, from the capitalist class’s point of view, Marx is as true a prophet as he is false.
War, plague, and revolution have one thing in common: they inspire revolutionary advances in biomedical science. So I predict that those societies which survive to the 22nd Century will be very healthy indeed.
Hi I live in Sweden, but I am a Norwegian originally have lived and studied in Denmark and England and have relatives in Germany… North and western Europe is on the verge of civil war… It is the same in every country mentioned…? Why the corrupt leaders have been feeding themselves with the no boundary woke message and have imported unwelcomed foreigners at the native populations expense. Nowhere is this more obvious than Sweden. Swedes are already a minority in its third largest city Malmø, in large part of other towns and cities you will be lucky to find a Swede. The newcomers live mostly on government checks this is the same in every other European “welfare State”. What happens the day the checks are worthless? Well then the barbarians burn down the house just look at what happens in Sweden these days…. Winter is coming, electricity is getting more expensive, gas much more, food….
Karim Jaufeerally said
After all, Russia proved to be a reliable ally to Syria recently. Why not to Germany?
An Israeli general observed not too long ago that one of the reasons why Russia is emerging as a major power broker in the Middle East and Africa is because they have a reputation for sticking by their allies and not leaving them in a lurch when things get tough. The US, not so much…
Speaking of a chap by the name of Hengist, I recently finished reading “The Lantern Bearers” by Rosemary Sutcliff. Seems rather appropriate to these times…
“…Europe isn’t actually a continent …”
You don’t know how much trouble this caused me in school.
Good overview. My favored scenario (and yes, it´s a guess) is that the United States will form a mini-NATO with Britain, the Nordic countries and the Baltic republics. France and Germany will become pro-Russian. Germany is too dependent on Russian energy supplies to just say nyet. And France have never *really* liked being part of the same alliance as Perfidious Albion and post-Lafayette America.
The flash point is “East” Europe, where some nations are traditionally anti-Russian (Poland being a good example), others are traditionally pro-Russian (Serbia and Greece comes to mind). Others are evenly split: Ukraine. In a sense also Estonia and Latvia, with their large Russian minorities. There are also some wild cards in play right now: Hungary (traditionally anti-Russian) is pro-Russian these days, and Turkey (also traditionally anti-Russian) is surprisingly willing to negotiate with Russia, which makes me wonder how Turkey´s natural alliance parterns in the Balkans will line up?
So yes, the usual fault line in “East” Europe might get re-activated…
I also think there are a great many unknowns in the current situation: the COVID crisis, the migrant crisis, the climate crisis, “the limits to growth” crisis, even the latest idiosyncratic gyrations of a man named Donald (Trump), so I wouldn´t be surprised if the future gets far messier than the standard scenario.
I expected a post on COVID, btw, so I was a bit surprised to see this foray into European politics.
Dear Mr. Greer:
Please don’t be so hard on the Deutsche Bundeswehr. After all, they survived the spartan discipline meted out by Ursula von der Leyen as their former Minister of Defense. And by the way, all that the nations of Europe truly need for their final, peaceful reeintegration is a new Diet of Worms, as enthusiastically endorsed by the eminent Doktor Klaus Schwab.
Tony, depends on how long France and Britain can maintain their nuclear deterrents in functional condition. Those things are expensive, and have to be maintained constantly.
Thomas Larsson, go into an immigrant quarter of any city in your country and count how many young men you see. It’s astonishing to me how many Europeans don’t seem to notice them.
Kwak, here again, has it occurred to you that war is one of the kinds of “dirty work” those immigrants might do?
Danaone, smart indeed.
Chronojourner, true enough. He was also a vegetarian, though not a vegan.
Jim Kukula, thanks for the data point! I’d read the same thing elsewhere.
DFC, I don’t see a Sino-Russian war as likely — or at least not until the US is entirely out of the picture. Other than that, yes, those also might well happen.
Revelin, many thanks for the data points! I didn’t know about the neo-Ottomanism in the Balkans, though it doesn’t greatly surprise me. I did know about the arms buildup in Eastern Europe, but not that it was extending so far. Hang on for a wild ride.
Ben, I could see any or all of those things happening too, but I suspect Russia isn’t interested in absorbing the Baltic states — just in imposing client states there. As for Scotland, that’s an open question at this point.
Jeanne, excellent! That’s close to what I imagine: high-tech warfare to begin with, gradually lurching down to something closer to the eastern front of the First World War.
Alan, as the small print on stock brochures says, past performance is no guarantee of future results. I wonder how many Poles have considered the possibility that their purely defensive stance is why they ended up being partitioned…
Aldarion, funny. I didn’t think I was pouring abuse on the Holy Roman Empire, just noting that there are downsides to being in a dysfunctional political contraption of that kind! As for a path to durable peace, not while Europe is still inhabited by human beings.
Bogatyr, funny, the only people I know who insist that people who voted for Brexit are regretting it are those who voted against it. That said, well, you’ve made your prediction, I’ve made mine; we’ll see who turns out to be correct.
Ksim, that’s an interesting hypothesis. If it’s true, however, it implies that Europe will be culturally, linguistically, and demographically indistinguishable from the northern half or so of Africa within not that many years. Mind you, I expect that to happen one way or another, but I doubt it’ll be peaceful.
Gaia, I didn’t say it was a national liberation struggle. I said the United States was defeated by the Taliban. In exactly the same way, when the North Vietnamese conquered South Vietnam, millions of people fled the country — quite a few of them ended up here as refugees, as doubtless plenty of Afghans will.
Lothar, I read that. It’s a shining example of the kind of arrogant, blustering collective narcissism that dominates the EU leadership these days.
Tomriverwriter, exactly. None of the European nations was actually prepared to do anything that mattered, any more than they were in the 1930s.
Dermotok, all of these are valid points. We know already, from the Armenian-Azeri war, that coordinated drone swarms are likely to play an important role in the next major war, at least until somebody figures out how to make guided missiles home in on the source of the signals controlling them!
Raab, I’ve been watching the same thing. I think you’re right that the fiasco in Afghanistan is going to turn out to be a major turning point.
Marko, thank you! It’s good to see that someone actually gets it. As for the virus panic and the vaccines, it depends on the long term effects of the inadequately tested experimental drugs that are being pushed on whole populations. If they turn out to be innocuous, it won’t have much effect. The higher the long term death toll, the more drastic the consequences — and it’s curious, you know, that here in the United States hospital emergency rooms are full to bursting, not with Covid, but with exactly the health complications that the vaccines are known to cause…
Varun, now I’m imagining popcorn with Indian spices. Yum! 😉
European Reader, I’m speaking of your governments, not of ordinary Europeans. The governments have been very eager to get the US to do their dirty work for them, in the former Yugoslavia and in many other places. If you don’t like that, hey, you could always try voting them out of office.
DenG, that’ll do.
WHD, as I noted in my post, we’re going to have a lot to deal with here in the US, and NPR is about as perfect a mouthpiece for our gooberocracy as you can find!
BoysMom, thanks for this. That’s a valid point!
Ighy, fascinating. Yes, I could see that — if Spain and Portugal bring in Latin American mercenaries, that could inject quite a wild card into the game.
Your Kittenship, I could indeed. So could nearly all of my readers. So, I suspect, could you!
Cugel, I’m pretty sure that at this point the US is so far gone in effective national bankruptcy that we won’t be doing any foreign adventuring any time soon — check out how few of our military airplanes are actually airworthy right now. As far as spelling “condottieri,” good! Othello was in that business, so there’s quite a precedent…
Robert C, exactly. The collapse of the jerry-rigged Bosnian state is one of the flashpoints I had in mind.
NomadicBeer, for the moment, while its reserves hold out, Russia’s in the catbird’s seat. We’ll see how long that lasts — and in the meantime, we’ll see whether Moscow has any reason to be displeased if Europe’s regional powers exhaust themselves in war.
BCV, we might avoid a breakup. That’s why I said in the post that it’s anyone’s guess whether we’ll still exist as a nation when the next European war comes along: that’s still undecided.
Karim, keep in mind that it might please Russia very much to have Europe tear itself to shreds. As for the German military, yes, that post was from four years ago. It was the most convenient example of a pervasive problem. Europe can indeed rearm, which is part of the problem: once it does, the armies will start marching in due time. That is to say, you’re wise to be concerned.
Dusk Shine, I wasn’t aware that the factories stayed open. That takes care of two of the three requirements for Polish regional power. Keep a close eye out for Polish troops in the Balkans. As for why the Poles might want eastern Germany, why, some of Germany’s largest brown coal mines are in that part of the country, and energy resources will be a common cause of war in the years ahead.
Peter, fascinating. I wasn’t aware of that.
Alan, that’s very clever of the Poles. I wonder just how seriously they’re considering possible eastward expansion. They might be able to cut a deal with the Russians on the “you take one end, we’ll take the other” basis.
Teresa, it’s true. Brutal, but true.
Ahriman, there’s a serious point to that. I can see quite a few scenarios in which getting to North America in a hurry would be a very good idea for Europeans.
Karl, er, perhaps you can translate that out of the jargonese. I have no idea what you’re saying.
Teresa, I ain’t arguing.
Paradoctor, please look up how many wars have taken place since 1945, some of them quite large. Since most of Europe doesn’t have nukes, it’s quite possible for a very substantial war to ravage large parts of the subcontinent without mushroom clouds getting involved.
Martin, I’ve been watching that with some concern. I trust you’re familiar with what happened in Roman times when large numbers of immigrants from elsewhere moved in…
Galen, excellent! I adored Sutcliff’s books when I was young, and still enjoy them now.
Christopher, Europe’s a peninsula with delusions of grandeur. I hope someday American schoolchildren will be taught that.
Tidlösa, it’s already in process; the AUKUS business with Britain and Australia is pretty clearly meant as the replacement for NATO, as the US writes off Europe as a bad deal.
Homo, funny! Somehow Schwab’s insectivorous fantasies didn’t make me think of the Diet of Worms, and it should have. (This is one of the places where defenestration is definitely called for.) You’ll be amused to know that in the deindustrial novel I’m writing right now, the EU embraced the Great Reset and turned into the Soviet Union 2.0, complete with secret police and a Stalin clone in the newly created position of General Secretary of the European Secretariat. One of their secret agents is one of the villains…
This week, Green Wizards has a new first guest post by Eric Durland (aka EricTheHiker) titled “Let’s Grow Garlic! It’s Easy and Tastes Great!”. Its that time of the year, to get your garlic bulbs in the ground so you can have a bumper crop next June. Eric gives us some advice on growing and cooking this tasty kitchen mainstay. Add your recipes to the list.
Read Eric’s Post Here
Remember, we are always seeking guest posts. If you have a subject you’re passionate about, send me an email. (green wizard dtrammel at gmail dot com) Or if you want to sign up and join the community.
In other news, looks like we’ve had to cancel the planned Holiday Seed Exchange. The rules to send plants via US Mail are pretty strict, and we don’t want to give the US Post Office any more problems than they already have with the holiday season.
One hot topic this week, Green Wizard Ping is thinking of adding some bamboo to their garden.
“Bamboo as fuel and building material in small garden”
If you have any experience with this useful plant, either good or bad, stop by and give Ping your advice.
Didn’t the Spanish Civil War also play a part in the skirmishes that followed in WWII? How might internal conflict within EU countries also contribute to “collateral damage” with their neighbors?
Hitler’s vegetarianism was not ideological, he had trouble digesting meat but liked it enough that he frequently fell off the vegetarian wagon, despite the gastrointestinal distress it caused him. If Hitler had trouble digesting bread, no doubt that some of his flunkies would have declared bread to be some sort of Jewish conspiracy.
On European populations, I am fortunate enough not to live in Europe, but in the past eight years the building I live in has gone from 85% white to 15% white. Of course the demographics of my city, province and country have not changed so dramatically. I recall the 00’s, when there were fairly frequent stories about huge weapons caches being found in mosques. I suspect nothing has changed but the censorship, and would counsel Europeans to leave before the bloodshed starts. Also, what, exactly, are the European governments going to pay their new mercenary class with? It might not be money…
Also, consider this post a preorder for your novel about Ze Great Reezet – I will own ze book and be happy.
Well the one thing that separates the barbarians of classical Rome and these ones are this, the Roman immigrants came by foot or horse and had to literally walk through sh.t. The ones today come in by luxury boat, plane or car with a prewritten sob story tailor made to get them the highest “welfare grant”. What happens to desert flowers that occasionally spring up in the Northern Hemisphere in the autumn and then the winter…?
@ paleobear #67: The members of our partner church are Szekelys. I wrongly extrapolated their language to the rest of Transylvania.
@ Princess Cutekitten #77: off topic reply to #77 sent via alternate media. Shouldn’t you have been Duchess Cutekitten before your elevation to Princess?
A further note re Euro demographics & conflicts:
Makes not one jot of difference.
As Marko/Teresa noted, the numbers are dwindling across the board, so a lot of the balance is undisturbed. Certainly true in this neck of the woods.
And obviously, the immigrants/imported fighters are likely to be a factor in any coming conflicts in Western Asia (heh). That’s already the recipe in many of the low-intensity wars being waged around the world. And this in the long run will totally change the face of Europe.
Meanwhile, for the high-intensity short-term conflicts I see looming, especially along the old Balkan fault lines: you’d be amazed how much mayhem and destruction a mere few hundred armed and committed young men with a semi-decent command structure could do. Particularly when the intent is just to push out or exterminate the few people across the river, and then loot/annex their land once you’ve driven them away, or slaughtered them. Dwindling/aging populations are a boon in this regard.
One last point:
I would also factor in the private military contractor (PMC) establishment, formerly known as mercenaries. The growth in this sector over the past two decades is astonishing.
The big players in the field (eg. Academi, Aegis, G4S, Defion, Wagner) can easily raise thousands upon thousands of highly-trained, experienced, often battle-hardy soldiers, equipped with the best gear there is (most of these companies are also leading arms brokers). The vast majority are ex-military from US/UK/AUS/NZ/CAN, plus South Africa, France, Russia, Brazil etc, with a disproportionately high number of ex-special forces of various hues.
At one point (around 2011), the total number in Afghanistan, Iraq & Libya alone exceeded 35,000. Today, I’d wager they have 4-5 times that on their books. These are heavily-armed multinational corporations, many of them far better equipped than official western national armies. With almost no allegiances other than to the cash. Current military contractor average salary: $500 per day. Contracts: billions. I bet they accept crypto, gold bars, land deeds, whatever.
Just like the Pretorian guard of yore, these will be the folk who topple/install governments, control raw material extraction, safeguard shipping, you name it. They already do a lot of this all over the globe.
Just a short remark: the discussion about Poland is fascinating, I assumed Poland was a third-rate power! You know, the kind of guys who talk tough mostly because they expect the US to bail them out if something goes wrong (i.e. like almost everyone else in Europe). It would be interesting if modern Poland could finally form the Intermarium federation Pilsudski dreamt about. However, I suspect Russia might not like it too much…
I disagree with the Polish (?) poster who said that Poland was generally defensive historically. Cough, cough, Zygmunt Waza, cough cough. (He was half-Swedish, btw.) 😉
Putin actually proposed (according to some remark in a stray interview, I think) that Ukraine might as well be partitioned between Russia and Poland – in fact, I could easily see this happen if the geopolitical fault lines shift, since it´s the “natural” state, so to speak. If the Poles are smart, they will let the West Ukrainians form their own pro-Polish client state, of course.
Another thing. I think the general view of Third World immigrants in Europe among anti-immigration groups is that they just pick up welfare cheques and engage in the occasional gang rape, nothing warrior-like about them at all. I find this ironic since the same groups often point out the existence of well armed immigrant crime gangs! Of course they could be recruited to a mercenary army, or to a terrorist group working for a foreign power. I can see Russia destabilizing Europe by secretely arming both pro-Russian Christian Mideasterners and Muslims – not today, but in the future. Even honest people might join such groups if and when the crisis becomes severe. Might come as a shock to the far right groups who think Russia is the savior of Western White civilization…
But I feel too polemical. So I end here.
Fascinating post and great comments too. As an Aussie, would love to see an analysis of our options/possibilities/ likelihoods in the next few decades or so.
Indeed, it is war that is the great wild-card in predictions about the future. But two near certainties are that there will be war and that western nations in 2021 significantly overestimate the time we have until the return of widespread warfare. Maybe the knowledge of the vast destruction of carpet bombing and nuclear weapons makes it harder to trigger a large war today, but war is not over. When was the last time an industrialized nation was in a war fighting for survival? (As opposed to proxy wars (Korea, Vietnam and to some extent the wars around Israel), colonial wars (French-Algerian, etc.), regional wars between developing nations (Iran-Iraq war, Indo-Pakistani war), and imperial wars (Gulf Wars, Soviet and US Afghan wars)) World War II is the clear answer, and we are steadily losing the last people who remember that era. With the vast technological change that has occurred since the last war between major powers, we can expect the next war to have a lot in common with WW1: new weapons and carnage that was unimaginable. There was almost no one who knew to expect trench warfare with poison gas and thousands of square miles torn up by artillery shells in 1913. Destruction of enemy infrastructure will be much easier than it was in the 1940s. I would guess a sequence of well targeted cruise missiles or drone bombings could keep the electric grid down in significant sections of the US for months.
Your essay was mostly about Europe. The continent is very different than it was during its last war, so the next conflict will be different. I wouldn’t be surprised if the threat from Russia, China, emerging powers, and the US will be enough to keep Europeans united militarily, even if the political union fragments. I suspect they fought amongst themselves more when distant common enemies were not a threat. There could be an outbreak of a “civil” war within the core of Europe. But I think wars at the periphery with Russia, Balkan, Middle Eastern, and African states are more likely. Europe is militarily weak now, but it would take only a few years for Europe to build a powerful military. And unless they are defeated at the beginning, they would benefit from not having the massive military and military-industrial complex that ensures the US will be fighting a 20th century war for the first few years of the next major conflict. It will be a real morale advantage not to start the war with the loss of a sequence of aircraft carriers, manned bombers, and military satellites.
I always have to look for a constructive course of action, and I think one of the best for staving off war as long as possible is to highlight the importance of being a good loser in political conflicts. Many violent outcomes that have followed from idealistic and moralistic attempts to suppress enemies who won political conflicts. We in the US are not on a good track here with both the right and the left retreating into moralistic visions that demonize their opponents. This week, the left could simply admit that they lost in Virginia and look for strategies to do better next time rather than simply talking about “Trump” and his “racists”. And of course we need the right to accept that the culture has become more diverse and they need the constitution now more than ever if they hope to sustain the cultural traditions they cherish in a multi-cultural pluralistic society. But they have been shown that talk of multi-culturalism is often just a disguised Trojan horse containing progressive mono-culturalism. So it will be a challenge to help the right unlearn the angry and destructive loser model they have seen from Trump.
One interesting point is that I hear from different sources that the Eastern European countries are now much more pleasant to live in than the Western ones: more economic growth, less nonsense, less aggressive governments towards their populations, more affordable cost of living, perhaps even less social tensions.
Justin 1, yep. Pay close attention to which countries get involved in the Balkan wars of the next decade or so; that’ll give you a heads up as to the likely battle lines of the general European war to come.
Justin 2, the demographic shifts are important, and enduring. Remember that the population of what’s now England used to speak Welsh before, er, some illegal immigrants arrived. As for the novel, so noted! It’s not just about the Great Reset — like most of my deindustrial fiction, it covers a lot of ground — but that’s one of the threads woven into it.
Martin, all of them? That’s certainly not what I’ve seen — and the “flowers” planted in the no-go zones in quite a few European cities seem to be pretty tough…
Revelin, Europe has a very long history of mercenary armies, so you’re not likely to be wrong.
Tidlösa, Germany was a third-rate power, too, until it wasn’t. One of the classic lessons of history is that past performance does not guarantee future results.
Russell, I’ll consider it.
Ganv, my essay was indeed mostly about Europe, which is why it had the title it did. 😉 I’m far from sure that Europe will unite as reliably as you think it will, but we’ll see.
Tony, that doesn’t surprise me at all. I don’t expect to have the chance to visit there, but I’d like to.
@deadnotsleeping (#44) – For what it’s worth, I went into the US Army a bookish Classics major and one of my buddies that most strongly took to it left a successful engineering desk job to do it. That’s what basic training is for.
Did marksmanship and roughing it in the woods come as naturally to us as the country boys? Of course not. But you get enough young(ish) men together in a group with strict standards, lots of exercise, and NCOs yelling at them constantly, and with a few months (US infantry “One Station Unit Training”, combined basic and job specialty training, is around 16 weeks) you can get civilians to a place where they can join a unit that can pair them up with some guys that actually know what they’re doing and they won’t be a complete waste of space.
The notion of Poland as a great European power is intriguing, though without US backing I think they would have their hands full with Russia and probably not want to make trouble in on the western border.
Have you been following Belarus’ use of immigrants to punish its neighbors for sanctions? President Lukashenko has been having thousands of people flown in from the Middle East under tourist visas and then transported immediately to the borders with Poland and the Baltic states. I can see that becoming a more common tactic of escalation before a true war breaks out.
Which it may in that particular case. This week some Belarusian soldiers actually crossed about a thousand feet into Polish territory as a show of force.
Here’s an interesting Balkan fantasy map that some diplomat leaked earlier this year:
In it, Bosnia loses its Serbian half to Serbia, and also some southern territory to Croatia (where currently, drivers have to drive on Bosnian roads to reach some coastal pockets of Croatian territory). Albania gets Kosovo plus the eastern part of Macedonia. This also incorporates some exchanges of land between Serbia and Kosovo that were mooted earlier (but shouted down for fear that it might lead to wider pressures to revise borders).
Here’s another fun map (apparently the site is down now) from Rudyard Lynch of the “Whatif Althist” YouTube channel, projecting the world in 2100:
For some idea of his thinking, see these (longish, but good) videos:
(This is coming from a 20-something university dropout who likes to play “Warhammer”!)
Tidlösa (no. 98): “Others are evenly split: Ukraine.”
Heh heh, Ukraine may well end up being “evenly split”!
I second Russel’s comment about Australia!
given the amount of fighting there was between Russia and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, I don’t think Russia would want to see it arising again. The Commonwealth did rather well in their conflicts with Russia for a long time, and actually invaded Russia and were in control of Moscow for a couple of years in the early 17th century when Russia was having a civil war. About 5 million russians died in the conflict and the troubles related to it.
Of course, Russia was much smaller then than now, and this was all a very long time ago but I doubt Russia would encourage its reemergence.
I see a lot of wishful thinking regarding avoiding or delaying potential war in Europe yet the same circumstances exist there that we have here in the states: monstrous unpayable debt, money printing, inflation; authoritarian crackdowns & mandates, mass demonstrations against same; supply chain disruptions & shortages; immigration-related issues; burgeoning energy/commodities issues; cultural divisions; etc.
Seems to me the entire world is ripe for conflict already and the temperature’s rising daily. These things don’t care about anyone’s schedule. They also don’t wait for arms buildups, either, since weakness itself is typically an invite for predatory regimes. Not to mention (as JMG also noted) that governments start wars to distract from all the troubles at home.
@paradoctor re: #93 –
Interesting – so what you’re saying is, effectively, that Time itself might not allow a nuclear war?
@Tidlösa re: #98 –
With your proposed alliances, that hems in Poland from both sides, and almost forces them to become aggressively defensive, given the relative ease with which plains can be invaded, and that in itself could trigger a crisis. I somehow suspect the flashpoint will be somewhere between the 23rd and 25th meridians east of Greenwich…and I think I need to do some ingresses for Warsaw, Minsk, and Kiev…
In general re: demographics
The percentage of the population that’s young doesn’t matter in this instance; what matters is the raw number of young people, especially if your opponents are in the same situation, and Europe has gone to war in the past with far fewer in raw numbers. As for the lack of will to fight, (1) that’s what immigrants are for, and (2) that’s actually one of the things a social credit system could be used for (join the Army, double your score!).
I can see something like this occurring in Eastern or Southern Europe. That said, I don’t see most of Western Europe getting involved in any large scale conflict. Many of those countries have or are in the midst of committing cultural suicide. They don’t really believe in anything, including themselves, and the nihilistic rarely fight.
“it implies that Europe will be culturally, linguistically, and demographically indistinguishable from the northern half or so of Africa within not that many years.”
Somehow this makes me think of how Cro-magnon replaced Neanderthal.
Many American’s are unaware of the amount of ethnic and racial diversity in Europe. I listened to a podcast some time ago that told of 20-30,000 people of Vietnamese ancestry in Poland. According to the speaker, N. Vietnam had contracts to supply labor to Warsaw Pact nations and when the Communist government of Poland fell the workers were stranded. No one was going to pay to send them home. They have been joined by relatives coming as illegal immigrants, and of course have also reproduced. No one is really sure how many there are. Poland also has a small remanent of descendants of the Taters, some of them still Muslim. The speaker pointed out that in conservative country villages the Christian women wear head scarves too, so the Muslim women don’t really stand out as having an alien custom.
Over a year ago the New Yorker magazine published an article about the influx of Africans into Italy. These are not just refugees from the Muslim, Arabic speaking north but also Nigerians and other sub-Saharan peoples fleeing unrest in their nations. The collapse of Libya during the Arab Spring left an uncontrolled coastline from which Italy is the nearest landfall. Needless to say, Italians in the coastal towns resent the EU refugee policies and the burden placed on them. Not just the burden of trying to house and feed the refugees, but the increase prostitution, drug dealing, and other crime both among the refugees and among those preying on the refugees. Not a pretty situation.
There is currently a group of US veterans who are still working to locate and rescue Afghans who helped the American forces. These veterans are pretty vocally dismayed by the performance of their government in the exit from Afghanistan. More locally, there were groups of school children and their families from California who were left in the country by the abrupt collapse. I did hear that at least one of the groups had been returned home. In contrast to the media plaints of “what about the women” complete with photos of women in western garb interviewed about their fears of losing newly found freedoms, the New Yorker recently pointed out that the 70% of the Afghan women who lived in the countryside had not benefited from the American occupation. Women in Kabul might be attending university, but women in the hills were being killed or having their husbands, brothers and sons killed by drone attacks, Taliban reprisals and other aspects of the ongoing conflict.
As for immigrants fighting for their new country–a high number of Union troops in the US Civil War and later in the subjugation of the Native Americans were Irish immigrants.
The shattering of the Belle Epoque shocked the world as the ruthless efficiency of industrialised warfare was revealed. Do you worry a similar dynamic will play out if major powers once again take up arms? There are a lot of funky new weapon systems sitting in military research facilities itching to test their mettle on a real battle field. My personal bet is that a melding of biological/chemical warfare with light weight, self targeting drones will greatly magnify the untapped lethal potential of both of these technologies on their own.
I also wonder what this change in military technology might mean for broader society. In many ways democracy and nationalist culture is a consequence of mass produced firearms, where the side who could convince the largest number of men to pick up a gun often prevailed (and did so by offering them a bigger slice of the economic and political power pie, and a dose of cutting edge mass media propaganda).
By contrast cutting edge weaponry today is more concentrated and automated, meaning the masses do not necessarily get a seat at the negotiating table. Instead it seems that 24 hour digital propaganda is a cheap and effective way to keep them passively supporting the war, from the comfort of their suburban homes.
Europe had a chance forge a new relationship with Russia after 9/11. In 2001 Putin, speaking in fluent German, addressed the Budestag and made some staggering concessions to the US to help in its punitive attack on Afghanistan. He offered to arm and train anti-taliban forces and share counter-intelligence with the US. Putin, amazingly, also offered US forces access to Russian aerospace to conduct operations in Afghanistan, which was much easier than humping their supplies across the treacherous bandit country of the Pakistan boder.
Putin also offered a longer-term security arrangement with Europe and the US in return for the Baltic staying out of NATO and Bush dropping his missile shied program in Europe. The US took the operational help from Russian but chose to ignore its offer of Detente.
Europe then moved into the era of Angela Merkel, the most incompetent German official since George Zimmerman. Zimmerman is the genius whose grand strategising drove America into the WW1 way faster than its own people or politicians wanted (unrestricted sub warfare and a cheeky little telegram to Mexico asking it to stab America in the back). He is also the cretin who sealed Lenin in a train car and inflicted him on the Russian people. Doubling dooming his Germany in the present and also in the future.
Merkels legacy will be much worse including as it does- a bunlged debt crisis, unnecessary austerity for her Southern neighbours, Europe-wide economic stagnation, an open door policy to culturally incompatible economic refugees and a total lack of reform of the EU.
I pray we have better luck with our next generation of leaders in Europe but I have yet to see any evidence of it. Most of our ills are self -inflicted. Those who the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad. And Europe has driven itself mad indeed. My only hope is that the roots of our many cultures are so deep that they will survive the coming frost.
Interesting points. I would just note that altering the risk of war is demographics. The more young people you have, the bigger the chance of a big war. Fewer, smaller.
Armies predominantly recruit people at 18 and not 35 years old for a reason. Obviously physical fitness plays into it, but not only are younger people more able, they are more willing to fight. They’re more energetic, more aggressive, and have less to lose.
Tell a single 20yo, “I want you to fix bayonets, and run up that hill towards that machinegun post,” and there’s a fair chance he’ll say “Yes, sir! I’ll kill them all!” with great enthusiasm and get to it. Tell a married 35 year old with a couple of children and he’ll say, “Now just a minute, sir, are you sure that’s a good idea? Perhaps there’s some better way? Let’s talk about this – and come to think of it, maybe we could talk to the enemy, too?”
As birth rates have dropped, a smaller fraction of the population is younger people. This means it’s harder to get people to fight wars.
As well as being less willing, they’re less able – more and more younger people are obese, poorly-educated and have criminal records. Only about 2-3 in 10 young Americans are fit for military service:- https://www.thoughtco.com/us-youth-ineligible-for-military-service-3322428
In principle you can train that out of them – I had a friend who was conscripted into the Greek army at 180kg, and by the end of his service he was 80kg, amazing what you can achieve when someone else controls what you do and eat for every minute of the day for two years. But he wasn’t a very useful soldier during that time, and every minute swatting a doughnut out of someone’s hand or teaching them to read and write is one less minute training them to run faster or be a better shot or actually having them fight.
This is why countries with high birth rates tend to have more civil conflicts than those with low. International conflicts such as those JMG is talking about are a bit more complicated since they can be directed by ambitious governments, or stopped by pacifist ones; but many international conflicts begin as civil conflicts, the Russia (1.5 children per woman) vs Ukraine (1.2) conflict is a good example – but notice those countries acted to limit the conflict, we didn’t see Russian troops go all the way to Kiev, or Ukraine call on Poland to come and help them. This contrasts with Saudi Arabia (2.3) and Yemen (4.6).
Now, Western Europe is getting some young people, but that’s mostly from migration. And if you have one part of your population growing fast and producing a lot of young men willing to die, and another part not… that brings its own problems. So we might get to the same place anyway.
Good news is that as oil causes logistics to shrink. And technologies to become less materially and energy intensive.
Military conflicts of the future will be scaled down. It will no longer be WWI and WWII scale. On the other hand it could end up looking like Yugoslavia.
The problem with the breakdown of Government is that Warlords/Drug Lords take over. And every abled Man is forced to become a Warrior to defend his families and friends.
Freedom is greatly restricted by the realities of violence. And of course Lone Wolves will end up all getting killed.
Many will almost always win against one. And the more well organized Militarized Military Men with effective organization and good leadership will end up winning in the long-term.
Resulting in the destruction of all the street gangs, drug gangs who don’t field as well trained Men and good leadership.
But those Gangs will be definitely ruthless and try to come after people’s families and kill civilians just because they can and to make them submit through the reign of terror. Until they are destroyed by more Professional Militarized groups.
I notice that China has long periods of peace in between Dynasties. But during the transitions their Wars were even more bloodthirsty and cruel than I believe even Europe could muster.
I do wonder if Wars are like raging bushfires like the ones we get in Australia.
And that perhaps little Wars are as necessary as controlled burns to get rid of the fuel that would ensure huge massive Wars like WWI and WWII.
Better to have a few here and there. Rather than struggling to keep a lid on the pressure release valve as long as possible.
If people need to let off steam there should be a way to do it in the least destructive ways possible outside of how current sports simulates War.
This is armchair theory and I am not in Europe so take with a grain of salt.
I agree with our host likely the first one will be Balkans War 2 but that won’t happen until the US is out of the picture.
I would not be that surprised to see the second war some kind of invasion of the various “non compliant” nations like Poland and Hungary by EU forces for rejecting “democratic values” i.e cultural Marxism after the US is completely out of the picture either do to collapse or just gone non compos mentus .
It would be about the dumbest thing even imaginable but so was WW1 which was a historically immense confluence of stupid behavior.
As for the immigration issue, there will be war , if only because migrants are being used as weapons for political goals and when not if mass famine hits Africa and folks can hear that horsemen neighing in the distance, there will be a mad scramble.
The current leadership is all “Camp of the Saints” level self destructive but this is changing , the Sweden Democrats are becoming significant players , no one will coalition with them but they are able to render the government unstable which hasn’t happened in centuries and its quite possible they’ll get enough votes to form their own government soon
This will force action on immigration issues.
France also has things going on, a number of active duty generals more or less warned the government that the military will take action if things get out of hand.
And some far Left parties in Denmark and elsewhere are becoming rabidly anti migration
if the European nations decide to resolve the issue for good which will be far from certain it will be done with food as a weapon.
If you are “from the wrong town” you don’t chow down and as almost all the problem causers are urban, a little home brew Holodomor or cordon sanitaire maybe on “medical grounds” around some troublesome banlieue is just the ticket .
To Paradoctor, who wrote
“Case in point: Trump’s election. Hillary and Vlad erased the main world-line, so we got shunted to one of the unlikelier ones. ”
Totally new here and want to express my gratitude for what JMG is doing. Curious of JMG was tuned into the event above? I haven’t been a blog reader long enough to know. Mostly I read some of JMG’s books in the past and knew him as an occultist of integrity, something rare in that world, although until recently I was unaware of the extent of his writing and work. What a treat! Thank you Archdruid.
Returning to Paradoctor’s comment; glad to encounter another one who is paying attention. Now I can count 5 other individuals besides myself who remember the “shunt”…not sure how many you know? Late to the “show” here.
I’m not a Trump fan, but the world has no idea that he was part of the reset when the other went south. He still has potential, should he rise to the occasion. Those who can see, might need to actually “play” their own trump cards in the near future.
HRC is/was hopeless. Trump could run again and win with a landslide (presuming an election will even be allowed) but he would have to make a cabinet that actually reflects America and not more representatives of Black Rock and Vanguard and the same other nameless corporations that are calling the shots and part of the Davos and NEO crowd. Perhaps Trump had to show us the swamp before we actually take the steps to drain it? One step at a time. My own opinion on both Trump and Putin still remain up in the air. Either could be a great hero or enemy depending on factors not yet determined. I hold very little hope for the rest of the US/Britain/Australia/NZ/Israel/Saudi Arabia alliance because it is not built on solid ground. (looking at you Woodrow Wilson).
Simply switching sides when the same people control everything at the financial and state level isn’t going to get us anywhere – they have long proven their incompetence and inability to lead. Neos whether neocon or neolib need to be rejected both here in the USA and in EU and UK if they want to avoid war and the coming dystopia.
A long neglected understanding of Russian and Chinese History beginning long before the USSR and CCP would also be very helpful for giving a more balanced perspective. The factors that play into the conflict with Russia go back nearly 1,000 years, and especially date from the reign of Peter the Great. Most Westerns and many Russians are unaware of the factors that have come into play. It is the Latin West that has driven a wedge between Russia and Ukraine…for the past 800 years, when they were originally one. Without knowing the history, one would not be able to see it. It is also why our armies have been so unsuccessful in the foreign wars because they do not truly know how to win the people beyond violence – and that will not suffice. The Chinese conflict goes back centuries as well. None of these conflicts “suddenly” appeared.
In the USA, it is easy to dismiss the Founding Fathers through the excuses of CRT, Cancel Culture, and what have you. This prevents further inquiry that might teach us something about freedom and liberty, despite their shortcomings of the old eras according to our current understanding. Drip. drip. drip. history is being forgotten because the evidence is being destroyed in the digital age where nothing is actually physically real anymore. Throw the baby out with the bathwater until there is nothing at all left.
I remember in Grad school having an assignment to read a speech by Cicero. One of the students protested the assignment because we shouldn’t care about dead white men. My response to her was that if she refused to read it, she would have no understanding of how we got to where we are and how to actually make progress instead of continuing to repeat the same mistakes because we refuse to read this or that …While this happened more than 30 years ago, it has become commonplace in PMC/MSM mouthpieces today. Those very people that made comments like this 30 years ago are our present “elites” and “experts.” Who should we actually trust to lead us when this is the quality of the so-called leaders?
+Metamorphosis not Metaverse
I accept that there is a global shortage of truckers however the position in the UK is that is has been made worse by Brexit. There are now 16,000 fewer as a direct result of the migration back to EU state follow Brexit out of a current total shortage of 100k.
One of the main battlefield in the next European war will likely be Italy.
At the moment, Italy is ruled directly by some unelected bureaucrats coming directly from Brussels, who keep the country afloat with an endless stream of money coming from the EU. But all the money go to the North, and the decisions of the Brussels bureaucrats (vaccine mandates, high taxes, etc) are becoming more and more unpopular among the people and the Southern governors.
At the same time, France is strengthening its national identity, with a radical change from the woke ideology of the past years, and in favour of a more nationalistic approach (France: Love it or leave it).
So, in the next year, these things may happen:
1) the south starts to look for a better ally than the EU. It may be the US, Turkey or Russia.
2) the unelected bureaucrats have to face bigger and bigger unrest, and their government finally collapse, just like Ukraine in 2014.
3) as soon as the Italian government collapse, France invades from North-West.
4) USA/Turkey/Russia (one of them) invades from the South
5) Germany might invade from North-East. In an alternate scenario, Germany will be too weak to invade, and the North-East starts to orbit with the Balkans (NE borders are quite arbitrary and the populations of NE Italy, Slovenia and North Croatia are quite mixed).
6)depending on the force of the invaders, central italy could turn into a huge battlefield, as in WWII, or divide into a handful of small states, just like the Baltic Republics or the Caucasus.
Although I agree with the overall theme of the essay, what about the energy situation from a systems thinking perspective? As in, in nature, and in systems generally, the most competitive stage of succession is the growth phase when there are free resources available. Europe’s most bloody episodes always occurred when some new resource opened up, either from colonial conquest (new world resources from 1500 onwards) or the decline of imperial power. Peace was when a large Empire dominated (rule Britannia), like a grand old tree in the forest shading out everything else. It was when the tree fell down and light was opened up for the weeds that blood was shed.
With the current period of decline and collapsing resource and energy supplies, war makes less sense, especially between such small countries with very little to gain from conquering each other, unless they plan to get genocidal. What is up for grabs? Europe has been busy raping the rest of the world for centuries to maintain its living standards as all its resources are used up. The 1000 year long expansion of Faustian culture is over. Although I don’t doubt wars will happen, won’t it be more like the end of the western Roman Empire, going out with a whimper, perhaps swamped by new migrants from elsewhere, rather than a bang?
Once the USA leaves Europe, Russia could stomp the EU merely by aiming a missile at Brussels. Russia currently has no plans of expansion, as it has all the land it could possibly ask for, but it could certainly make Europe behave if the Europeans start talking tough. All it would have to to is turn off the gas and oil pipes. Any war would quickly wind down without jet fuel or diesel, or millions of people freezing to death. I personally see Europe becoming a backwater again, with large amounts of people migrating east as Russia’s energy supplies, natural resources and federal/societal cohesion will last a lot longer than most.
Ah, I forgot one thing. Regarding that “Afghanistan is the graveyard of empires” cliché: military/Classical historian Brett Devereux discusses that in some depth here (tl;dr – it just isn’t true, and Alexander and others did conquer Afghanistan quite thoroughly). He’s a good writer; the article is worth reading and is rather informative.
Thank you, I try and learn. What else can I do.
1. I also remember your Lakeland republic and on the surface see some similarities to the Swiss model of Armed forces. They have the hardware and the trained manpower. The big question is how much experience they have of being shot at. Could the Swiss model hold up as a defensive strategy if europe starts slipping?
2. I have been mulling over patterns last evening when I went to sleep. You start your article with the Holy Roman Empire, but was this european war pattern present in Europe before the HRE? My knowledge of central European history does not streach further then the encounters with the Romans. But the ancient Celts had slaves. They had to have goten them somewhere. Might this be the influence of the land itself?
3. The way I see it, we have the current 20s as a recession/health decade with some possible fire on the periphery. And then the boom somewhere in the 30s. How long it lasts… Well there was the 30 year wars. And the whole WW1 and WW2 afair taken together also lasted 30 years. Am I looking at it right?
Jmg and tidløsa, sure the gangs of the No Go Zoones are tough, violent and ruthless no doubts. “Desert flower” was intended as an irony, because this is the words the mainstream press used about the fighting age bearded men gaining refugee status by claiming to be 16 year old boys with no documents. The thing is you can be a tough street thug in an inner city when the lights are on and you have a state funded subsidy to sell drugs, ie welfare check. But the day the green new deal sets in, the lights are off people have no money to buy drugs from you, you are stuck in a rusty decrepit old small to medium sized Swedish town surrounded by a hostile population… Why would you stay? no money, no plunder, it is cold, you are in a foreign land. No more thuggin… When the Soviet Union broke up, what happened to the Russians in Kazakhstan, the Tartars in Uzbekistan, the Volga Germans, they said farewell.
Owen, #29: just as a data point, the Russkies weren’t in Yugoslavia, except for a brief period after WWII. Tito kept Yugoslavia out of the Soviet sphere; in fact, during the Cold War, Yugoslavia (along with India, Egypt, and Indonesia) was a major leader of the Non-Aligned Movement. The reasons for its collapse were complex, but not connected with Russia.
In the era of fossil-fuel depletion and consequent economic decline, where do the resources for a large-scale rearmament of Europe come from?
It is possible though, that a war could come anyway, without having much of preparation, because it wasn’t intended to be a shooting war but various countries stumbled into it anyway.
If I understand correctly, Spengler thought that Islam deserved more, was cut short by the Faustians.
Could Islam serve as a vehicle of the Second Religiosity of Europe?
If European civilization is tired, yet needs to re-arm itself urgently, will it perhaps not only be bodies accidentally posessing the Muslim faith doing it for her, but also their faith, sweeping up the minds of those higher European casts scrambling for familiar monotheistic justifications for this new round of Pax Europaea?
@paleobar: (comment #67)
I am Hungarian myself but from a small town in the agglomeration of Budapest. (Not from a rich neighborhood.) I want to reflect on the Roma issue because because I think it might be relevant for the general topic, too.
The Roma are effectively indigenous in this region, their ancestors are here for hundreds of years. Still, due to cultural reasons, they might play a similar role in our region to the migrants of Western Europe. They have a relatively high birthrate with very many young men in dire social and economic position. It seems possible to weaponize them against neighboring countries. You can like them or dislike them, but it may happen that they will be the ones arriving in Hungarian uniforms if it is time to arrive.
Not that I want war but the borders in the Carpathian basin seem to be geopolitically unsustainable to me, especially so in a world without cheap fossil fuels. The easiest road from Pozsony to Kassa leads through Budapest and present-day Romania has an inconveniently high mountain range in the middle of the country.
Because of time-zone differences, I rarely see these essays until some hours after they are published, and so I tend not to respond, especially if there are already lots of comments.
However, since I’m a European, I know Afghanistan and I’ve seen the EU from the inside, i’ll make a few brief points. Since I have only skimmed the comments, my apologies to anyone whose views I am repeating.
First, it may be true that in the US people believe they have nothing to learn from history, but in Europe it’s a staple of media and political discourse. The liberal internet has been consumed for years now with fears that we are in for a re-run of the 1930s, with the rise of extreme right-wing political parties everywhere. I’ve read at least three articles this week on the subject, including one this morning. Most Europeans know their history very well, and are always on the look-out for patterns repeating themselves.
Therefore virtually no similarities between Vietnam in 1975 and Afghanistan in 2021 outside the minds of lazy journalists. There’s a lot of good analysis off this by military strategists with knowledge of Afghanistan. Incidentally, Afghanistan was not a US-only war: until 2014 it was a NATO operation, and thousands of European troops died there, which explains some of the anger in Europe at the precipitate US withdrawal. And the “graveyard of empires” meme is another myth of lazy journalists. Read the blog of the ancient military historian Brett Devereaux, who explains how Afghanistan has been part of an Empire, or a protectorate, for practically all its existence. (The Russians, by the way, left behind a functioning state, which fell apart only when Yeltsin, under western pressure, stopped supporting it.)
Britain designs and builds its own nuclear warheads and guidance systems and always has. The missiles came from the US, but the system is otherwise independent. The French have a system which is virtually 100% independent, including the missile bodies. Incidentally, the French military nuclear programme dates from the mid-1950s and was operational at the end of the 60s. The civil nuclear programme didn’t start until after the 1973 oil crisis and the two are not connected except incidentally.
The initiative for the EU arose out of utter exhaustion and the recognition that the fundamental question of European security, the rivalry between the West (largely France) and the East (once the HR Empire, then Germany) had no solution except a supranational one. European elites, terrified by the electoral strength of the Communist parties in Italy and France, and fearful of the revolutionary consequences of another war, went ahead with the construction of a supra-national entity whose function, as Schuman said in his famous 1950 speech was to make war “practically impossible.” In this, the EU very largely succeeded, helped along by the anti-militarist sentiment of most European countries. Elites put up with US presence and domination largely because they could exploit the US politically in various ways.
The galloping expansion of the EU in recent decades (partly a deliberate policy by the UK to make the institution less effective) has created security problems that didn’t exist before, and there is the risk of tension and even violence around the edges. But few EU nations now really understand what war is and few publics, and no elites would accept it. Ironically, if you want a historical analogy there is oner ready-made: the EU is the re-incarnation of the Holy Roman Empire: it would take too long to list the similarities but it will be obvious when you think about it. Europe has not so much got past the nation-state, therefore, but returned to a time before it.
There’s much more to say ….
Very good points John! It seems to me that the ‘natural estate’ of Europe, unfortunately, is to be at war with each other, we might have lost track of this… Guess we are who we are, the good and the bad…
Re Anselmo’s question: as a fellow Spaniard, I guess the most likely thing to happen in Spain is not external war but, alas, the eternal curse of Spain, civil war. With the current political tableaux eerily resembling the pre-civil war scenario, perhaps only the lack of a competent army can save us from being at each other’s throats again…
Thanks for this provocative, informative warning about the possible future. Here are some comments from the perspective of an American living in Czechia:
1) In a sense, you could say that WW2 was a continuation of WW1. And in a sense, you could say WW1 was a continuation of the Franco-Prussian war of 1870. And in a sense, you could say the war of 1870 was a continuation (or outgrowth) of the Napoleonic Wars. The Napoleonic Wars were a direct consequence of the French Revolution of 1789. The French Revolution, therefore, not only was pivotal philosophically for the West (with new ideas like “down with the ancien regime”, and forward with Liberty, Equality, Fraternity – which arguably led to Marxism) but also in the material realm politically and militarily.
2) It is an interesting question, what if the Czechoslovaks had resisted Hitler in 1938? I am really intrigued by this. I read a history of the appeasement strategy and Munich agreement which suggested WW2 might not have happened, or at least not the way it did, if the Czechoslovaks had fought. I think you can make a good argument that the occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1938 was the real start of WW2.
3) I am skeptical about a Europe-wide war in the future. I’m not saying it won’t happen. I’m just saying that there has been quite a bit of influence by the EU to create a common sense of “Europeanness” to supplant nationalism. Also, as long as Europeans are rich and comfortable, why fight? Also, philosophically Europeans are highly secularized and don’t really seem to believe in anything but material prosperity. I get the sense that the 30 Years’ War in the 1600s really exhausted Europe in terms of religious beliefs, and WW1 and WW2 exhausted Europe ideologically and nationalistically to a great degree, and now like the “lost generation” after WW1 most Europeans don’t really believe in anything, and indeed they think that unbelief is precisely the key to peace: if you don’t believe anything, you won’t conflict with others, and then you won’t fight. There is a kind of vague warm fuzzy commitment to “human rights”, but relativism prevails.
4) Related to this secular “religion of prosperity and indifference”, I would say that in a sense, Germany has been much more successful in “occupying” other countries and thereby growing its wealth and power via the EU than its efforts to conquer territory in WW2. This economic imperialism has a lot more legitimacy than brutally invading and killing a lot of people, but still results in German dominance and wealth extraction all the same.
5) Nationalism is really a dirty word in Europe these days, as is “populism”. It’s hard to imagine the nation-states of Europe fighting each other again. But it is not so hard for me to imagine civil conflicts within nations or across borders, particularly in those countries in the West that have admitted large numbers of foreigners. The linguistic, religious, cultural, and economic differences between the “indigenous” European populations and the mass migrants could cause violent conflicts within those countries. For the moment, France, Germany, England, Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, etc. are wealthy enough to more or less “buy off” the masses of migrants via welfare, which more or less “keeps a lid” on crime and social unrest. The conflict is not just between “migrants” as a group and “Europeans” as a group. There are many conflicts among migrants as well along racial, ethnic, national, and religious lines.
6) It’s true the European national militaries are small and weak. But I think in a time of real need, they could be expanded pretty quickly. To really get bigger and more effective (and have the needed equipment) would likely take a few years, however.
7) I think the national and international “powers that be” would prefer if possible to use soft power rather than hard power to control their own populations and compete with adversaries. I think that’s the purpose of the vaccine passports and digital i.d., for example. Brutal suppression makes the power-grab overt and can result in a head-to-head confrontation. Why not slowly boil the frog and avoid direct conflict?
So, I would say that under present circumstances, war in Europe, even in the Balkans, is highly unlikely. But if the circumstances shift, for example the economy crashes into a depression, then I think conflicts could arise, including in the Balkans. In a depression, there could easily be civil unrest within countries, and conflicts between countries outside the core of the EU, particularly in the border states of the EU. Under current circumstances, I do not believe Hungary or Poland will resort to force in their present disagreements with the EU, and I don’t think Serbia believes outright war is in its own interests.
“if Spain and Portugal bring in Latin American mercenaries, that could inject quite a wild card into the game. ”
About this, JMG and Ighy: , there is a lot of Latin American people living in Spain nowadays. Oh, and quite soldiers in the Spanish Army are nationalized South Americans.
Hiring mercenaries isn’t an option to the spanish government now, nor tomorrow. However, in the future they could think that Latins Americans are more reliable than Magreb people as cannon fodder to wars…
If I may, though not related to the post at hand as such, I have posted the 11th in my series of twelve brief glimpses into the lives of a variety of American Eccentrics here:
This post is on David Wills, aka, The Weatherman (also known as the Clorox Cowboy in some situations).
I am deeply appreciative of the Johnny Appleseed project in general. Writing this series was one way I wanted to help contribute to those energies. Thanks JMG!
I found this post very refreshing as I suspect 80% of people currently in western Europe think the last few hundred years of our history’s offering is now just for entertainment or ‘interest’ on the Yesterday or History TV channels. Delving deeper into the detail after having found myself teaching the French Revolution to 14 year olds a few years ago, parallels with today are everywhere. None more obvious than the perils of ‘governing by committee’ with added power-plays and ideals.
EU can’t make this up. :-/
Just to make sure I understand you where you say: “…when nuclear holocaust gets too likely, Murphy’s Law assaults humanity with unlikely pre-emptive malfunctions in critical mechanisms, institutions, and minds. Case in point: Trump’s election. Hillary and Vlad erased the main world-line, so we got shunted to one of the unlikelier ones.”
JMG, are you making a point here about varied time-lines? [As in Keith Laumer’s “Worlds of the Imperium” series.] And combining that with an equivalent of the cosmological anthropic principle.
Well, the first thing that popped into my mind was “Yes, Minister”, the BBC show. And what do you know, Andrew beat me to it!
I think I read this in the Stratfor geopolitics monograph series, but I can’t locate the source. It goes like this: Europe is geographically too fragmented. It is divided by mountain ranges at more or less regular intervals – Pyrenees, Carpathians, Alps, Balkans, Ural, Scandinavian (and a few more). The major river systems don’t connect to each other for the most part – except Danube perhaps. The peninsula itself has many other peninsulas (peninsulae?) sticking out of it into shallow seas, and a handful of islands large enough to support a sizeable population.
Now my interpretation of the implications: The geography is favorable for multiple cultures to develop and stay independent of each other. But at the same time, they are still influenced by each other because trade and communication is relatively easier (courtesy long coastlines and rivers). So the different political entities aren’t culturally close enough to stay together, but neither are they far enough apart to mind their own business. So I think, as far as Europe is concerned, conflict is the default state, occasionally interrupted by peace.
“If the is a general war in Europe I just hope that Britain can stay the hell out of it and adopt a policy of isolation, while we build up our naval and air forces and create a ministry of supply to build up reserves of raw materials and reinvigorate our agriculture. I also hope we can rebuild the rail lines and tram systems scraped in the 1950/60’s and become as self-reliant as possible. I just hope that those in charge of our country get a clue. If she are able to retain some sort of nuclear deterrent we might be able to sit this out. Self reliance will be just as important to our defence as ships and planes.”
The nuclear deterrent might be a problem if Scotland becomes again an independent state, not sure if any of the nuclear submarines could stay off the English coast…
There’s a lot of talk here about “getting out of Europe” (or of wherever things are not looking too great). I’ve often wondered whether it’s an American thing, or just human in general, because I feel very strongly about the opposite: staying here and doing what I can to either make my country a better place, or defend it if necessary (hopefully it won’t be). A popular Italian historian recently remarked about how even during WWI, which was truly horrendous, there wasn’t a mass exodus like we see say from Africa or the Middle East, and most people did what was expected of them and stood their ground and fought.
(Of course a lot of Europeans migrated – just not so much as war refugees in the millions to other continents, except the Jews)
Maybe it depends on culture and social expectations, but I have more respect for those who fight for their community’s survival and peace, rather than flee. And reading what a lot of people who have stayed in areas a lot of refugees come from say about those who left, I know I am not alone. Sometimes they’re upset with those who fled and left them alone to defend the land, community and culture – often from something truly awful, like IS, so they did a service to humanity too.
(I expect some pushback, now, but that’s how I feel)
Thanks for this incisive insight. I do wonder, though, if the United States is engaging in a similar constitutional incoherence. Since the Great Depression, Congress has delegated more and more of its law-making authority to the executive branch in the form of executive agencies (EPA, FDA, FCC etc. etc). And since then virtually every president has taken “just a little more” law-making authority supposedly to address this or that pet crisis.
Fast forward 80 years and what we get is bloated executive agencies issuing patently illegal fiats, while also being tremendously expensive relative to actual usefulness. Take a prime example: the CDC eviction moratoria. A first year law student could tell you it was a blatant violation of the contracts clause and the Fifth Amendment’s takings clause and equal protection clause. The Supreme Court eventually brought the CDC to heel, but it still demonstrates the point. This is to say nothing of the current admin’s abuse of OSHA authority but that’s a topic for the Dreamwidth page.
So, I don’t see how we return to something that looks like sane, not to mention legal, federal governance without reducing the federal government to about a third of its current size. Which of course would trigger a massive recession given how many people are employed by it. But such is the decisions in the winter of a civilization: would you rather have a shale sandwich? Or a tall, cool glass of flammable water?
If anybody is interested in further reading on the subject, I suggest they take a look at Gundy v. United States, 139 S.Ct. 2116 (2019) https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/588/17-6086/, especially Justice Alito’s concurrence and its implications.
Knowing two Americans who just moved their young families to European countries for more stability, I’m struck by how much the hype doesn’t match what is observed. I guess that is just the theme these days – hype over reality.
This phrase “self-satisfied gooberocracy” is such a perfect description. Thanks for the laugh!
John, first time poster.
“ Mister N, if they ever do get a proper military back, yes. I suspect the Poles have that very much in mind…”
Another possibility destination for Poland’s growing army is Ukraine, especially as the Ukrainian economy & government continue to erode. I suspect as this continues, a partition of Ukraine might be an increasing possibility.
Once more, Poland, from the Baltic Sea to the Black!
The British military may be “a shadow of its former self,” but those Royal Marine lads gave us Yanks a jolly good thumping in this year’s Exercise Green Dagger:
(Yes, it’s real. Several U.K. news outlets have reported it. But good luck finding U.S. media mentions of this story.)
First Afghanistan, now this. One would almost think the American empire is rapidly becoming a paper tiger.
I don’t envy the dilemma faced by anyone today planning to strategize or build a durable military force for the future. Trilemma, actually. A tale of Silicon, Iron, and Wood.
“Silicon” represents precise high-tech (but expensive and fragile) weapon systems. “Iron” represents WWII style forces (motorized and otherwise) dependent on large numbers and replaceability for ongoing effectiveness. “Wood” (in honor of the word origin of “sabotage”) represents all forms of subversion designed to interfere with an enemy’s war aims without direct confrontation, from embargoes to propaganda to guerilla tactics.
Silicon is, as it was designed to be, devastatingly effective against Iron. Cluster bombs effortlessly obliterated WWII-style mechanized columns in Desert Storm. You’ve written of the likely fate of carrier fleets against hypersonic missiles. I believe Silicon war philosophy started with the Cold War project to defend western Europe against the claimed enormous numbers of Soviet tanks, and for all its problems I wouldn’t bet on the dumb Iron regardless of numbers in a head-on clash with a fully operational Silicon force.
Of course Silicon also has known weaknesses. Being fragile and complex and expensive, it’s vulnerable to a spectrum of countermeasures including economic and political ones as well as jamming and hacking. It’s also, as we’ve seen, ineffective at pacifying occupied territory. Wood beats Silicon. Iron is not completely immune to Wood, but far less vulnerable to it, and more effective against it. When it’s not over-extended, Iron beats Wood.
(By the way, silicon is a rock, paper is made of wood pulp, and scissors are mostly iron.)
We anticipate that in an age of decline, Silicon will no longer be viable. But Iron will face limits too. Where are the mines and foundries that can crank out the raw materials for three Liberty Ships and 350 airplanes every two days, today? Maybe in China, for a while. And we haven’t see a wartime Silicon production economy attempted. It wouldn’t look much like our current limited production of brand new proprietary designs almost as an afterthought to the profitable endless cycle of innovation and testing. (This is not the same scenario as Germany’s secret weapons near the end of WWII or the Clarke short story “Superiority” where the innovation is ongoing during wartime.)
In short, Iron scales down more readily for lower tech and more limited resources, but Silicon might not go away on the schedule your generals plan for. Some bits and pieces of future military history might end up resembling the battles in fantasy fiction, where the courageous warriors ride forth but the unexpected appearance of dragons or ancient wizardry decides the outcome. Unless your Ents and Hobbits can sabotage them first.
Re the discussion on fate of the Union
I’m definitely in the camp of “break-up,” though the extent of that break-up is an open question. To my mind, there is no way the current Union survives the century, as the empire that has held us together dies off. Now, the break-up could be anything from full-scale dissolution (a la Twilight’s Last Gleaming) to a handful of states/regions going their separate ways (e.g. Texas). If we can get some constitutional reforms in place that decentralize federal governance back to something closer to the original intent, then I’d say we have a better chance of retaining more of present Union (although in a looser confederated form). Lacking such reforms, I’d argue that the odds of greater, rather than lesser splintering increase significantly. I’d not be surprised if the present arrangement fails to make it to the tricentennial in 2076 (which I could theoretically live to see).
Something to bear in mind, too, is that succession could be de facto long before it becomes de jure, so keep an eye out for states ignoring federal dictates with impunity. Not something that’s right around the corner, but certainly a situation that could develop over the next several decades.
I never quite get the argument that Europe has delusions of grandeur because of its size. Russia is enormous but has a horrendous climate as do a lot of the central Asian countries. The Mediterranean zone in the south of Europe has what is widely regarded as the best climate on earth. The majority of the rest of Europe has a mild climate and doesn’t suffer from extreme weather events, earthquakes or sit over a super volcano. It’s the best real estate on the planet and is worth far more than large swathes of stepe, desert, rainforest or mountains.
You have replied several times that immigrants may bolster Europe’s fighting forces. Makes sense to me and now I wonder if that is the reason the U.S. border has been opened. We also have an ageing population.
@Tidlosa #107 – a half-Swedish Pole named “Waza.” Any connection to the old Swedish Vasa dynasty?
There’s no shortage of flash-points for a war across the globe, not just in Europe. War has often been used as a distraction from other problems, and….to say the least, most countries have plenty of other problems today besides the issues that are worth a war.
Most of my knowledge around war is WWII. One thing that seems to stick out about that conflict is that after 50-80 million casualties, the participants essentially returned to their previous borders and began rebuilding. By the mid 1950s things were better than before the war for many. The US had the luxury of morphing from the “arsenal of democracy” to the main economic provider of goods, and the standard of living in many countries increased dramatically as cheap energy and other resources were exploited for the one-time party known as modern industrial civilization.
With the Long Descent picking up speed, it seems to me the next round of wars will have a much more lasting effect with respect to changes – with fewer people, lower standards of living, and perhaps…maybe just perhaps…a focus on some of the less material pleasures in life.
“I guess the most likely thing to happen in Spain is not external war but, alas, the eternal curse of Spain, civil war. ”
To Hwistle-Manuel: As Spaniard me too, I also fear the popssibility of civil war (see maybe Catalonia or/and social unrest in the future?); however there is always the Moroccan menace to Ceuta and Melilla or even Canary Islands…That menace could be “soft” (menacing with massive induced migration “peacefully”) or military directly in some years from now.
A while back you mentioned the possibility of Saudi Arabia imploding. There’s a number of wobbly middle-eastern states, some of which don’t like each other.
A large conflict in the Middle-east that sprays refugees in all directions much worse than 2014 is also a possibility. This would result in big problems in Europe too, as quarrels over the refugees and how to cope could crack the EU in two. Or possibly unite it, if the numbers are so large that every nation says no, too much, and turns every ship back in the Mediterranean. That’s likely to lead to conflict within countries as well, since there’s big divisions within countries as well as between them and people feel very strongly on both sides of the issue.
My wife is half Catalan-American; two of her four grandparents were born in Catalunya, and left the Iberian Penninsula as soon as they could manage it in young adulthood, but kept in contact with their kinfolk back home. To judge by those of her kinfolk whom we have met, her entire extended family is fervently anti-Monarchist and anti-Catholic. (Indeed, her grandfather joined a Masonic lodge while still a young man in Barcelona, at a time when being a Freemason was a criminal offense in Catholic Spain.) As such, they are also, under present conditions, fervent Catalan nationalists, who hope to pull Catalunya out of Spain altogether.
From time to time my wife has to things to say about Spain, where she lived for most of a year back in the days when Franco still ruled. Usually they are quite harsh things.
She is convinced that if both the Catalans and the Basques ever withdrew from Spain completely, the economy of the remaining provinces would soon collapse to the level of an impoverished third-world country. And both the Catalans and the Basques, as she sees it, are simply waiting for an opportune moment to shake the dust of Spain off their sandals forever. The current strength of the Spanish army and police force is the chief obstacle to full secession, and that strength, she thinks, is irreversably weakening.
Well, the army always was a refuge for the poorest. Roma could make motivated, even unrestrained, savage soldiers, but they lack discipline and their loyalty is only to their kind.
I noticed differences between them across our borders, our seem more aggressive. And as you mentioned they do have a really bad reputation in all EU countries.
They are indigenous…sort of…but.
I find one thing really interesting. In Arad were I live we have now a small population of Sri Lankan immigrants. They really seem to get along with the Roma.
Something draws them close to each other. Related to their S asian origin?
One thing that I think will prevent large scale conflicts, or make them much less violent.
Is that the young male population in all EU countries is getting really soft as time passes.
Obesity, internet addiction, zero physical activity, total disregard to their community, withdrawal from relationships …All this is widespread. In all the EU
We are getting in the Japanese Hikikomori territory really fast. I seen this trend even in Roma or second generation Arabs.
in Europe we know that Hungary must retake their land and people, as Kosovo must go back to Serbia, Bosnia is a hot issue, but I don’t think any European country will support any military solution in those matters. I do hope, they have plans to sort out those questions diplomatically as soon as they arise – as soon as the US packs their things and leave.
Ukraine is a mess, the Russians created that mess, the Russians will sort it out when given a chance. The war in western Europe will be internal, the UE supported by europeans of first or second generation, against the nationals, the nomads against the settled and it is not going to be pretty. I do suspect UK is not above this matter.
>as far as Europe is concerned, conflict is the default state, occasionally interrupted by peace
Europe from my observations, everyone has their little corner they’re supposed to stay in. As long as everyone sticks to their assigned corner, it all tends to be a placid and boring place. But it’s also a crowded place and there are only so many corners to go around.
I don’t think they like to fight and the whole “stay in your corner” has evolved over the centuries to keep the peace but it only works if everyone does it. You get one group that decides not to, and you get yet another war.
What role do you think Switzerland will play in Europe’s future wars? It currently seems to have a good balance between staying out of things and being involved, and it seems to have a fairly sound military. But I don’t know what effect climate change will have on it.
Sorry for the length of this comment, but I don’t see any way to say this more briefly:
The future of Ukraine is a complicated question. After Kievan Russia was destroyed by the Mongol-Tatars in the 1200s, there eventually sprang up two other states, each of which claimed to be the sole legitimate heir of Kievan Russia: one was the Grand Duchy of Moscow; the other was the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The Orthodox Church in each of these states also claimed to be the sole legitimate Orthodox Church in the land, and each had its own hierarch, the Metropolitan [Bishop] of Kiev and all Russia. And each of these two states was strong enough militarily to defend itself against aggression by the other.
The boundary between the two states roughly aligned with one of the principal boundaries between the various dialects of what was still a common spoken language, called Old East Slavic by Slavic historical linguists. As all political boundaries do, it strengthened the differences between the dialects on each side of the divide, so that eventually the Old East Slavic langauge split into two closely related languages, the ancestor of Russian (on one side of the boundary) and the common ancestor of Ukrainian and Belarusian (on the other).
Now the single most important cultural boundary in the Western Part of the Eurasian continent, at that time, was the boundary between Roman Catholic Christendom and Eastern Orthodox Christiandom. As it happened, the Southern part of that boundary began on the coast of the Adriatic Sea, ran roughly between what is now Croatia (on the Catholic side) and Serbia (on the Orthodox side), split in two to go around Bosnia (which was neither Catholic nor Orthodox in those centuries*), passed between Hungary (on the Catholic side) and Romania (on the Orthodox side), and cut right through the middle of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, ending at the Arctic coast.
[Footnote: Bosnia was heretical in the eyes of Catholics and Orthodox alike, part of a movement than began with the Paulicians in the East and ended with the Cathars in the West. Once the Ottomans reached Bosnia, most of the heretical population seems to have embraced Islam rather than aligning itself with either half of a divided and persecuting Christendom.]
Until the very late 1300s the Grand Dukes of Lithuania were Pagans, but they somewhat favored the Orthodox Church over the Catholic in governing their land. This balance of power changed after the Union of Krewo in 1385, which initially was a simple treaty of union between the ruling dynasties of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Kingdom of Poland. Grand Duke Jogailo, born and raised a Pagan, accepted Catholic baptism and married Queen Jadwiga of Poland, uniting the two sovereign dynastes. After this, it was the Catholic Church that was favored somewhat over the Orthodox in the Grand Duchy. (There was also a large Muslim population in the Grand Duchy at that time, which used the local Slavic language in its worship, but wrote its texts with the Arabic alphabet. The entire Lithuanian situation was extremely complicated.)
Later on, new political developments cut a new boundary between what are now Ukraine and Belarus. (Once again the new boundary ran right through a single East Slavic dialect, and eventually split it into two spearate dialects, North Ukrainian and South-West Belarusian.)
During those centuries the Crimea was chiefly Islamic, and most of its inhabitants were Tatars. Eventually it was conquered and colonized by Imperial Russia in the 1700s. Only in the 1950s did Khrushchev detach the Crimea from Russia and annex it to Ukraine, for reasons that do not much matter here.
So, as I remarked at the beginning, the cultural history of Ukraine is uncommonly complex, and its unity as a nation rests on a far shakier basis than does that of either Poland or Russia. Left to its own devices, it might eventually create a national egregore and become more unified. But it will not be left to its own devices. One possible outcome might be a division into a Western and an Eastern half, allied respectively with Poland and Russia.
But Russia is incomparably stronger than Poland, and the Russian national egregore has insisted since the days of the Grand Duchy of Moscow that Kiev and its territories are the legitimate ancestral inheritance of Russia alone. So the annexation of Ukraine by Russia (possibly in the guise of a client state), by military force is political means prove insufficient, is by far the likeliest outcome.
And — I very much regret to have to say this — any interference by the US or NATO with that outcome would seem to very many Russians in positions of power as a hill worth dying for, maybe even worth launching a Third World War with nuclear weapons. This is my take, alas, on the most likely Next European War.
And the greatest strategic challenge facing the US diplomatic and military establishments will be to keep as far away as possible from any conflict over the future of Ukraine.
@ gaiabaracetti #148
I suspect that the reason so many people talk about abandoning their communities and emigrating if things get bad is because they don’t actually have communities anymore. They’re not part of the local structure, have no idea who lives down the street, don’t have close family nearby, and so on.
This is not to say the grass will be greener on the other side of the ocean. It won’t be, particularly if the immigrants don’t become part of their new community because they don’t know how to become part of a community in the first place.
Community means getting along with people you don’t like because they live on your street.
In a time of war, be like the ancestral shrew in the time of the dinosaurs. Be small, look insignificant, carry out necessary activities during the less sociable hours.
Europe has been an interesting place these past few months. Britain continues to persist in the delusion that it’s still an imperial power and throws increasingly loud tantrums when other nations don’t indulge its demands. Poland has passed a law which directly challenges EU supremacy in its courts. This is fundamental to EU membership and arguably a bigger threat to the project than Brexit. And the EU has responded by threatening to…withhold some funds. It turns out the idealistic pioneers of the EU project never imagined a scenario where a member state did not participate in good faith, and neglected to build in any kind of legal avenues for controlling (or removing) such.
We also enjoyed a short but painful energy crisis, caused by a whole combination of factors including lower-than-expected provision from renewables and a woeful lack of gas storage infrastructure. When the pinch started to be felt, Europe turned to Russia to bolster their stocks, and Russia shrugged ‘Nyet.’ Not out of malice (although I’m sure they were delighted to have us over a barrel) but because they don’t have any spare capacity themselves. Even as the long Russian winter approached their stores were low, and China, India and other nations had already contracted for any spare supply. (We’d been pushing those nations for years to get off coal, and in the process had inadvertently made rich, powerful countries our direct competitors for natural gas. Quite the own-goal there.) The sharp end of the crisis has passed, but I notice the eye-watering price of petrol and home heating not reduced.
The European Central Bank (ECB) are one of the few central banks not raising interest rates to try and control the rampant inflation we aren’t pretending to deny as ‘transitory’ anymore. The reason is obvious: they would implode into a debt crisis within the fortnight if they did.
Yet war is unimaginable. That is one difference between now and the early 20th century. Then, it had been undeniable for years that war was coming, if not when and how, and some even welcomed it. This was the age of empire, with a widespread belief that war forged strong nations and strong men; they had yet to be introduced to horrors of mindless machine slaughter in the world wars. Today, few think war is anything but awful, and believe it belongs in faraway places with unpronounceable names. They wouldn’t send their sons to fight, even if the sons were fit and healthy enough to do so (and we are not.) War will come, but I don’t think it’ll come in the shape we’re used to. Drones are cheaper than soldiers and guerrilla tactics harder to fight than tanks. And I don’t know how closely any of you follow developments in cyber, but modern worms and viruses are highly sophisticated, well-funded and potentially devastating. They and will of a certainty be used as weapons in the next conflict. All our ‘smart’ net-reliant technology will seem a lot less smart then.
>>You’ll be amused to know that in the deindustrial novel I’m writing right now, the EU embraced the Great Reset and turned into the Soviet Union 2.0, complete with secret police and a Stalin clone in the newly created position of General Secretary of the European Secretariat. One of their secret agents is one of the villains…<<
What! When is this hitting the shelves! Take my money!!!
Dissolution of EU & elsewhere
What will make this descent very different from any previously experienced is the current height we are descending from WRT energy.
Were I a leader of a warband or leading an invasion, the two simplest items to subjugate current humans in western civilizations are electricity and water. NYC wouldn’t last a week with water and power off – barely have to fire a shot. The same holds true for ANY city.
Take out cellular and internet – those fully reliant on cellular or internet are instantly isolated. Electricity removal means food spoilage of large portions of the food supply. In places where milk has to be refrigerated (no gamma irradiation allowed) – all babies are in trouble unless they are on the breast; all meat is gone that is not freshly killed or caught.
Current society is hypercomplex and interlinked with many points of failure. It does not take someone with a 250 IQ to figure out how to subjugate people. You take over and control what they must have to live – same as in the old days of siege towers, only now sans the towers. As the invader or conqueror, you have a home to go back to – the target city or country infrastructure is thus not important for you and yours, except to the extent taking it out inconveniences you – your job is to subjugate and occupy or loot.
As an example – how many readers have actually lived in a tent for more than a week? How many even own an oil or gas lamp (batteries don’t last long)? How many could shoot or trap even small game, then start a fire and cook it? These sound like the simplest of things, and are things we read about in fictional novels routinely – yet how many have actually done these things? This is the difference in this descent – so many have zero survival knowledge due to the amazing conveniences that distributed energy has allowed us all. So many have no clue how to kill and dress an animal, much less store meat without refrigeration. How many people even have an inkling how to churn butter from cream? Milk a cow? Make cheese?
Previous societies had this type knowledge embedded in their local existence. There was general ‘know how’ for many things that have become distant and specialized today. The scene in Castaway where Tom Hanks finally manages to start a fire comes to mind.
I have faith in gradual descent, as most people will cling as hard as they can to the current system – much less and they are quickly lost. But take out the power and things instantly drop back to the late 1800’s. Even if it happens locally, most people are unprepared.
Just some thoughts since the topic progressed to EU dissolution, which would mean other places would also be ripe for something similar.
AJT, yes, I’ve been watching all of that. The Polish-Belarusian border is headed toward Iron Curtain levels of edginess, I think.
Bei, I don’t think there’s any way Bosnia can survive as an intact nation for long, and partitioning it is one way things could definitely go. As for the other map, funny.
Sammmy, so noted.
TJ, I ain’t arguing.
Kel, a country can get involved in a war whether they want to fight or not. I don’t imagine many Poles wanted a war in 1939, after all.
Clark, oh, you can find more recent examples than that. Central Europe was Celtic three millennia ago, and before the Celts showed up, people who spoke languages related to Berber lived all through western Europe. (There are noticeable traces of their language as substrates in all the Celtic languages.) Europe has had many migrations into it over the lifespan of our species, and doubtless it will have many more.
Rita, thanks for this! I knew that in general but wasn’t familiar with some of the details.
Zeroinputagriculture, I suspect that the next major war will be a mix of horrible surprises from effective new military technologies and horrible surprises from the failure of ineffective new military technologies. Especially in the Western world, military procurement has become little more than a welfare program for gigantic corporations, and there’s a long list of projects churned out under those conditions that haven’t even been able to measure up to the demands of peacetime military activities. War is much harsher on technologies, and I expect a lot of high-tech gimmick-systems to fail catastrophically when they have to be used in a serious war.
Dermotok, mediocrity in government is one of the classic hallmarks of a culture in decline. I hope at least some European cultures come through this, but I have my doubts.
Hackenschmidt, as I’ve pointed out repeatedly already, you seem to be forgetting about all those young immigrant men in European cities — or all those young men in various parts of the world who would be happy to sign up to fight for pay. It’s really odd how many people are stuck on a single misapplied demographic notion here.
Info, now go read up on the process of warband genesis during the decline of civilizations. Less capitalization might also help, for that matter.
Simon, oh, I’m not arguing at all. It’s purely a matter of when the US pulls its troops out of Europe, not if it does so. I think it’s quite likely that if the EU does get an army of its own, its first major use will be to try to force recalcitrant Eastern European nations to accept whatever harebrained edict comes out of Brussels — and it seems rather likely to me that the EU will get its clock cleaned. As for immigration, no question, that’s a flashpoint issue, and yes, war’s an option there as well.
Metamorphosis, thank you. Today’s privileged culture is indeed fixated on the goal of insisting that it has nothing to learn from history — if they learned anything from history, they’d realize that they’re making a classic set of disastrous mistakes that will likely leave them dangling from lampposts…
Stuart, the question to ask is why there’s a shortage at all, and the answer has nothing to do with Brexit and everything to do with the unwillingness of corporations to provide adequate pay and conditions for their workforce. Change that and the shortage will go away in a hurry.
Marco, why do you think France will invade? Simply because that’s what France usually does when it gets militaristic? (That’s quite true, of course, but is there more to it than that?)
PumpkinScone, er, I think you need to reread a book or two about the fall of the Roman Empire in the West. That “whimper” involved a lot of wars — civil wars among contenders for the imperial throne and wars with those “new migrants” were a regular feature of the centuries leading up to (and following) 476 AD. Europe still has resources — consider the ongoing disputes about brown coal mining in Eastern Europe — and the struggle to control those and to maintain and extend power in the power vacuum caused by the failures of the EU will likely be a fertile source of wars as we proceed.
Bogatyr, funny, that didn’t seem to help the British, the Soviets, or the Americans! The difference, of course, is the redefinition of empire that reshaped global politics beginning in the 16th century. Empires before then were a simple matter of allegiance, and everyone knew how the game was played. The local empire sent an army to a kingdom on its borders; if the imperial forces won the battle, the king became a vassal of the empire and paid a certain amount of tribute, but the local administration was generally left in charge. You can do that with Afghanistan. Once you adopt the policy of reshaping the local economy and society tol maximize wealth extraction — and that, of course, was the British, Soviet, and American approach — that was quite another matter.
Marko, I don’t know the Swiss situation well enough to speculate, but it might work. Nobody knows much about pre-Roman Europe, since there aren’t written records! As for thirty years of explosions, that’s an interesting point, and quite plausible…
Martin, a look at late Roman history might be helpful here. The population might be hostile, but if there are enough of your fellow “desert flowers,” and they know how to fight and the population doesn’t, why not simply stay and take over? It’s a tried and true recipe in the twilight of a civilization, you know.
Mawkernewek, the possibility of blundering into a long war is very real. Consider a scenario in which the EU organizes a joint army, and sends it into Poland and Hungary to try to force them to abide by edicts from Brussels. The Poles and Hungarians fight back, hard. Antiaircraft and antimissile technology turns out to have advanced far enough that many of the EU’s military assets can’t function, and the fighting devolves into trench warfare. The EU refuses to back down, and the Poles and Hungarians aren’t willing to give in. The EU starts bringing in mercenaries from North Africa, while Poland and Hungary get whole units of “independent contractors” from Turkey. France and Greece respond by going to war with Turkey and open a second front in the Balkans, and it’s game on. Three years later there’s finally a peace treaty, but how much of Europe is left?
MichaelZ, I think it’s quite possible that one way or another most of Europe will be Muslim in a century. Yes, this could accelerate things quite a bit.
1Wanderer, talking about history is not the same as learning about it — as your insistence that Afghanistan and Vietnam have nothing in common demonstrates. The US elites who sent our troops into Afghanistan thought that, too, which is why they made all the same mistakes and ended up with the same result. As for the rest, I’d certainly encourage those of my readers who are interested to check your claims and mine as well against as many sources of information as they like — and, of course, to see what actually happens as events proceed.
Hwistle, Europe for the last thousand years or so has been one of the world’s most warlike regions. It’s not accidental that you guys conquered the planet!
Czech, thanks for this. It’s intriguing that you should compare the current situation in Europe to the “Lost Generation” of the 1920s. Er, what happened in the decade that followed the 1920s?
Chuaquin, interesting. Thanks for the (very significant) data point!
Justin, thanks for this.
Jay, well, yes.
Robert, that wasn’t me, that was Info. That does seem to be what he’s suggesting, however.
Collapsenik, that seems quite plausible to me.
Gaiabaracetti, er, very large numbers of Europeans came to the US right after the First World War, and then again just before and just after the Second World War. During the wars? You couldn’t get a visa out of the combatant countries, especially if you were of age either to fight or to work.
At the risk of saying the obvious can I describe a quick possible scenario, based on your post?
– European demographic decline continues (maybe with pharmaceutical help) with more immigration from Africa and Middle East causing more “no go zones” in large cities
– Most countries manage to turn into pseudo-medical religious states, copying the worst of the communist and fascist states of old.
– A crisis too many (oil, coal, gas…) causes internal rebellions.
– Corrupt totalitarian govts are quick to think of a great new idea: a war to distract the masses
– Small border problems quickly escalate. As the war rages on, high tech gear is destroyed or useless without gas
– (Optional) Could we get a repeat of the 30 year war, where nothing is ever settled, ceasefires come and go and most of the native population ends up starving to death or killed?
– The mercenaries and immigrant youth used as cannon fodder start to realize they hold the levers of power. One by one, countries fall to military coups.
– The pseudo-medical religious totalitarianism is replaced with a more honest religious totalitarianism. Unbelievers are killed or converted.
– The estimates (from Ugo Bardi and others) are that less than 20% of the population post Roman collapse were actually roman, 80% were “diversity hires”. Yes this applied even in Italy the core of the empire. Could we expect the same for Europe in, let’s 2150?
your own comment contains an example of how Europeans have NOT learned from history.
“The liberal internet has been consumed for years now with fears that we are in for a re-run of the 1930s, with the rise of extreme right-wing political parties everywhere. I’ve read at least three articles this week on the subject, including one this morning. ”
So what happened is, instead of learning from history, the propagandists are using the fear of a strawman (right-wing, nazi, trumpists etc) to stoke fear and destroy any resistance to the new nazi-style authoritarian government.
Tell me, how many comparisons between covid hysteria and nazi hysteria have you read in the MSM? And the similarities are there. Do you know that Germany and most other European countries have suspended the constitution and are governing by decree? Do you know that is illegal to protest pseudo-medical tyranny but it’s ok if you “protest” government supported causes (lead by wanna be insane dictators like Greta).
I am sorry but I am with JMG here – most people don’t learn from history. Did you expect a guy on TV saying “I am a nazi and I am taking over?” One of JMG’s old posts describe a future possible takeover by a dictator that uses the shamrock as a symbol.
Honestly I can see your point, makes sense.
Been having a strong reaction to a song Sabaton has in their Album, Great War, by the title Flanders Fields. Now mind you my knowledge on WW1 history is rather limited, mostly because it’s hardly talked about compared to WW2, but it’s perhaps a call from the past to pay attention.
Europe i think isn’t going to go down in a blaze of glory, rather it’s going to get smothered and some Europeans will let out a squeak before being consumed by the consequences of their leaders actions. Theyve been lulled to sleep by Marxist ideologies telling them all is ok, that they have power, and the time for change/progress is NOW etc. When in reality theyre reliant on everyone else around the world and the government’s especially have lead the people to believe they have it good. Of course the Europeans I’ve encountered always bragged about things of which would drive America into bankruptcy, seriously “annoy” the working class, or put more people at risk of being harmed all in the name of the better good of many. Always forgetting that America isn’t them and mostly does not want to be them. Of course they’ll use just about every excuse to get America involved in the conversation, gaslighting and guilt tripping. Some do understand , and they’re usually the ones that take some interest in the philosophies, cultures, and the history of what makes America, America. And they also understand that they’re being destroyed from the inside out starting with the ridding of the native languages, beliefs and practices.
That being said America is no saint either and culturally has lost its respect for life and personal responsibility on a similar level as well. The difference is that it took America a vastly shorter amount of time to acknowledge or correct wrongdoings and rid bad ideas in the best way we could in comparison to hundreds if not thousands of years in the rest of the world. America is a rather capricious country and it has capricious citizens and that’s the thing that many countries and elites seriously underestimate, especially when a considerable amount of people who live here have a history of being screwed over one way or another.
That’s my two cents, at least part of it….
@ JMG – yes i should clarify. When i said ‘liberating’ the Baltic Russians, I had the Ukraine model in mind; carve off strategic chunks with Russian-majority populations, and leave the rump state to both wither on the vine, and act as a warning to Europe what might happen next…
“She is convinced that if both the Catalans and the Basques ever withdrew from Spain completely, the economy of the remaining provinces would soon collapse to the level of an impoverished third-world country. And both the Catalans and the Basques, as she sees it, are simply waiting for an opportune moment to shake the dust of Spain off their sandals forever. The current strength of the Spanish army and police force is the chief obstacle to full secession, and that strength, she thinks, is irreversably weakening.”
This is a common, understandable, assumption among Catalan (and to a less degree Basque) nationalists. Sometimes it might escapes to them that the economic power of their capitals (not so much regions/nations) is intrinsically linked to be part of Spain. I doubt we will see an independent Catalunya (much less a Euskalherria) in our time and, if it happens, I wonder how long will they last as an independent country (This certainly will be a first in the history of Catalunya, having been a part of Hispania before they were a part of Frankia before they were a part of Aragon before they were a part of Spain, but will see…)
I can see Ceuta and Melilla back in Moroccan hands in the mid to distant future (it does actually makes sense). Canarias… no idea: it’s a far place from Iberia once flying becomes a difficult way of travelling…
To me the most worrying thing at present is the current government obsession with re-writing our recent history: the government coalition and their true opposition (I’m think Vox rather than PP) are far too close to the political scenario during the 2nd Republic, and we know how well that ended…
“As usual, they wanted the US to do the work for them, so we would carry the costs and they would reap the benefits.”
It should be noted that during the late 90’s at least in Germany there was a sincere movement towards the end of the NATO and the construction of a different treaty with the inclusion of Russia ongoing. The SPD explicitly campaigned with this and from then leading figures like the former minister for defense Rudolf Scharping you could hear things like that it’s time Germany stops to act as aircraft carrier for US operations. That was the reason why I voted for them, in my then young naivety. It took Scharping and his lot just one visit to the US (in fact it was the first one right after the ’99 federal election) and you never ever heard anything in this direction from “respectable” sources anymore. I think for quite a while the United States have been rather happy that most European leaders stuck so very deep in their arse. At least, if they stick in your arse, you know that they don’t stick in anybody else’s. Angela Merkel knew this perfectly well, even before she succeeded Gerhard Schröder as chancellor:
I hope the image isn’t too rude for this forum. It was taken in 2003 at the famous (at least in parts of Europe) carnival parade in Mainz and was a reaction that then opposition leader Merkel condemned chancellor Schröder for opposing the Iraq war (which was possibly the only right thing that Schröder ever did during his years in office).
Looking back, I think the late 90’s have been the moment when Europe faced a real possibility to take a turn towards sanity. But just as the US didn’t take that turn when it was their time, Europe shied away from it, too. There we are, and I have to admit that I came to the same conclusions like you when thinking about the future of Europe. It’s too early for open hostilities between major European countries, but I think in the course of the next 15 to 20 years it might be inevitable. By then, every suffering, every pointless death and all the destruction that the generations before us endured will long be forgotten. I can remember my grand-father, who fought during WW II in France, Africa and at last Russia alike very well and I can still feel what I sensed in him when he talked about the war. Back then I was a kid and could not understand but now I know it was dread and despair, what I felt. And for some weird reason I seem to be able to feel the dread of war and when I do, it shakes me to tears – although I have never witnessed any war, at least not in this life. Can “green” Annalena Baerbock, who is – together with her “green” party – drumming against Russia remember or even feel such things? I very much doubt so.
By the way, regarding possible roads to war: It’s been a while since I read it, but if I remember correctly, the Lisbon treaty has a clause that allows EU states to aid other members with police / military forces to crush insurgencies. I think it’s quite easy to spin a plot from this that leads to open war in central Europe.
All in all, thanks for this. In many regards very spot-on and depressingly accurate.
Your scenario of how a general war could break out in Europe reminds of an incident from last year, where France and Turkey very nearly came to blows. A French Navy frigate stopped a merchant ship the French suspected of smuggling arms into Libya, whereupon two Turkish Navy frigates intervened and announced the ship was under Turkish protection. They trained their fire control radars on the French frigate and threatened to open fire if the French didn’t back off. It triggered a major diplomatic incident.
It’s worth noting that while most European countries have drastically cut back their military forces since the end of the Cold War, Turkey has maintained a huge standing military, the second largest in NATO after that of the US. They are expanding that military into a world-class, high tech fighting force, complete with state-of-the-art drones and missiles, which have been used with devastating effect by the Turks and their allies in recent wars in Syria, Libya and the Caucasus.
Anonymous Millennial @ 149, IDK about the CDC but here in NY state it was the (former) governor who imposed and I believe enforced an eviction moratorium. They guy might be corrupt, as are most NY politicians, but he did know how to act when necessary. The lady who replaced him is useless.
gaiabaracetti @ 148, what you have stated about those who stay is exactly the reason why many of us Americans, including JMG himself, have chosen to remain in the US. Maybe the Republican govt. which we are almost sure to get in 2024 can be persuaded to impose restrictions if not an outright moratorium on a. immigration and b. foreign ownership of American real estate and natural resources. The Republican nabobs won’t like it; they like the domestic servants, the cheap labor, and the payoffs, but protectionist policies might be what they have to do to get elected. Meanwhile, the wokesies are going down with the good ship multiculturalism.
Martin Grandaunet @ 134 ( I hope I spelled that right. My cut and paste function is currently hallucinating). I have been wondering the same thing. What happens when, as you say, the subsidies run out, it gets cold, heating costs rise, there are no more escalators to high status PMC make work jobs for selected members of your community? I heard JMG say on a podcast that trained troops nearly always can defeat gangs, and I doubt, though I can’t know, that European govts. would hesitate to use them.
VERY OT: but a serious straw in the wind – need not publish, but FYI: the lightweight center-left comedian “everybody* trusted” – whose specialty was mocking the yokels in the hinterland – is apparently not woke enough, nor seriously scared of Trump enough – for his former base/
*For some values of ‘everybody,’ of course. Like, “we’re ‘everybody, who are YOU?”
Why whould France invade Nortwestern Italy?
1) These last years, France has agressively bought italian assets: Banks, enterprises, properties. Most of the italian industrial and financial sectors are now in French hands.
2) Most of the italian Left is made by people who have strong ties with France: People who studied in Paris, have french origins, or has worked in French companies.
3) Northwest Italy was originally part of the Duchy of Savoy, a French-speaking country which is now divided between Italy and France (with a tiny bit in Switzerland). Some areas in the italian part of the Duchy of Savoy still speak French.
4) The presidential candidate, M. Eric Zemmour, has said on TV that “northern Italy should be French: we are the same people, we have the same archiecture and the same spirit. And France is a strong country with a strong army: the small italian cities could never resist our army, and we could never resist the temptation to invade”.
I suspect that the next major war will be a mix of horrible surprises from effective new military technologies and horrible surprises from the failure of ineffective new military technologies.
One of the scarier and creepier examples of the former was when the Azeris used Turkish made kamikaze drones to hunt down and kill individual Armenian soldiers on the battlefield. Imagine being chased by a quadcopter, while desperately trying to find a place to hide or trying to shoot it down with your rifle before it hits you and explodes. They even have ones with .30 caliber machine guns mounted on stabilized robotic arms instead of explosive charges that can be reused. The newer versions of these drones are equipped with facial recognition software and can be programmed to track down high value targets like enemy generals and government officials. It’s been reported that several Syrian generals were killed that way during the Turkish air campaign against Syrian government forces last year.
Millennial, the only way the US will come through the current crisis as a single nation is if it manages some massive constitutional changes — a bunch of new amendments at the very least, and possibly a new constitution altogether. The issues you’ve mentioned are only one end of a whole series of dysfunctions that have to be addressed, or the country’s simply going to come apart the way the Soviet Union did.
Denis, the privileged classes in the US have always idolized Europe, so this doesn’t surprise me at all.
Rkka, several people have suggested that now, so I think a good case could be made that at least the western end of Ukraine — the part that used to be Poland before the last war — may be headed for that destiny.
Troy, oh, the individual British soldier is very nearly as good as he’s ever been. There are just too few of them, with inadequate hardware. I read about that exercise, btw; the Brits won because they figured out that attacking the US headquarters and the high-end weapons systems would leave the Yanks flailing and unable to function. The managerial caste here has just about succeeded in getting rid of the culture of inspired improvisation that used to make the US so effective in war, with predictable results.
Walt, funny! Brilliant, but also funny.
David BTL, I wish I could disagree.
Devonlad, spoken by a true European! Most people from other parts of the world look at Europe the way you look at their homelands, you know…
Pam, good! You’re paying attention.
Drhooves, only west of the Rhine did borders remain intact after the Second World War. Large parts of Germany were absorbed by Poland, and large parts of Poland were absorbed by the Soviet Union. That’s to say nothing of the dismemberment of the prewar Japanese Empire — did you know that Korea and Taiwan were both under Japanese rule long before the fighting started?
Pygmycory, that’s also a potential shock for the near future.
Elodie, interesting. Thanks for this!
SMJ, I don’t know. I’d have to research the Swiss economy quite a bit more before making any suggestions.
Robert, many thanks for this excursion into deep history! It has occurred to me more than once that the EU might be stupid enough to try to incorporate Ukraine, and provoke a Russian military response. I hope we stay out of it.
Scotlyn, excellent advice.
Zergonipal, many thanks for the overview and the data points. The fact that war is unthinkable in western Europe does not mean that they’ll be exempt from it, however — just that they won’t be prepared for it.
AV, thank you for the enthusiasm! It’s not quite half written — about 35,000 words so far. Right now the main character, Jerry Shimizu, a tough but quirky Japanese-American “fixer” for the boss of an offshore habitat in post-sea level rise America, is about to have a wary conversation with a visitor from New Washington who might be an agent from the US government’s officially-nonexistent intelligence agency — the new constitution, you see, bans any such agency due to the abuses that took place under the old constitution. Across the Atlantic waits the EU, under its dictator Patrice Malinbois, under whom you will own nothing and be very happy, and if you don’t demonstrate how happy you are in the approved way you’ll get dragged away to a prison camp. What does this have to do with the string of armed robberies Jerry has been investigating? Who is the half-seen figure who’s been tailing Jerry? Who is the mysterious young woman with a photographic memory who’s appeared in town, seemingly out of nowhere? And what does any of this have to do with the Merlin Project — or is that just a scrap of folk mythology borrowed from a forgotten twentieth-century science fiction novel? Stay tuned… 😉
Oilman2, all these are extremely important points.
NomadicBeer, that’s among the plausible scenarios.
Copper, I wish I could disagree.
Ben, gotcha. Yes, that’s entirely plausible.
Nachtgurke, many thanks for this. Yes, the counterinsurgency clause would be one very likely way for things to happen; imagine the EU imposing an unelected government on a European country by some combination of political and economic pressure, and then declaring that any resistance to that government was an insurgency — even if the resistance included the national armed forces and was headed by the elected government…
Galen, I had that incident in mind. France and Greece have now signed a mutual-defense pact aimed at Turkey; now we’ll see if France expands its military accordingly…
Patricia M, funny. Thanks for this!
Marco, fair enough! And since France almost always starts out an era of military adventurism by invading northern Italy — 1494, 1521, 1551, 1792, and 1859 are the ones that come to mind — it makes sense.
Galen, the Turks were frankly idiots to show off what they could do in a war that small. By now every nation with a military worth mentioning will have the same capacity, and countermeasures will be a top research priority. The first nation to figure out a way of using directed electromagnetic pulses or some other similar gimmick to fry circuitry at a distance is going to have an immense advantage…
DBL #154 said:
Something to bear in mind, too, is that succession could be de facto long before it becomes de jure, so keep an eye out for states ignoring federal dictates with impunity. Not something that’s right around the corner, but certainly a situation that could develop over the next several decades.
They’re already dipping their toes into it now and I think it’s going to grow. According to RT they dug into the latest covid mandate white house releases and the wording does seem to give the Admin wiggle room to mandate vaccines on businesses with less than 100 employees too. I don’t think they’ll go that far but the wiggle room is there if Biden gets sold on the idea by his cabinet.
I remember one White House aide saying in response to the Texas Governor countering with his own pre-emptive ‘anti-forced vax mandate’ to Biden’s. The aide said on the record, “Federal law trumps state law.”
I sat there for a moment in surprise because I thought it was obvious that state law trumps Federal law in all areas that are not specified in the Constitution as the exclusive province of Federal law. If it’s not in the Constitution or Bill of Rights then State law trumps Federal law. Or at least that was the original intent by the Founders as I understand it.
I’m just gobsmacked that D.C. elites’ understanding of governing these days means they get to be the Brussels of the U.S.
Biden’s Royal Edicts (I’ve called them that tongue-in-cheek to relatives) are having the same hornets nest of anger up-spiraling in many states as Brussels Royal Edicts are having in Central and Eastern Europe.
on a different topic:
I think it was pretty amazing what Germany pulled off with the EU. They finally did via economics and trade pacts what 2 world wars failed to achieve. An imperial EU-wide wealth pump into Germany similar to what the U.S. has done to Latin America – with I note the same results of destitution visited upon their fellow EU citizens as the U.S. wealth pump did to Latin America. I keep wondering when the day will come when they have as many or more African and Middle Eastern migrants as France does – maybe more. All that wealth makes a mighty tempting target. Plus they don’t have the economic drag (yet) of having a metastasized, parasitic intermediaries, MIC pork barrel jobs program like the U.S. I can see the Latin America-and Sinn Fein style ads now – Boko Haram aus Deutschland…
If I remember correctly, England still has an excellent canal system. I think they were still building some canals while the railroads were being developed, so there’s some fine, Victorian engineering involved. That should be incredibly helpful.
JMG RE: your response to Galen
The drive to jam frequencies is in full gear and has been for some time. Not necessary to fry the circuits if the signal controlling the drone is interrupted. This is a Russian specialty already, and so it spreads rapidly across countries in short order.
I have a friend who has already made a freq jammer for drones, as their controlling links are within specific bands. The device powers through all frequencies across a single second and then repeats as long as the trigger is engaged. I recently saw it drop 3 different types out of the sky. Looks like a raygun with a dish on the end of the barrel ala Flash Gordon. Built in Garage USA ffs…LOL
If a hobby guy can do this, then military is doing it in spades.
I think this is why Russia and China have been working on drones with programming to seek and destroy without a link. Just send them out able to detect a specific mass and temperature and put a round through it – or movement and mass and temp.
Paintball teams have had robots that will put a splat on anything that moves within their range and vision – for over a decade. Powered by 12VDC cam and servos and compressed air – unattended and automatic area denial in the game.
People have no idea the mayhem and death that automated systems will deliver. Tje paintball system above could be adapted for an AR in a day…or just hook a HV air rifle instead of the paintball gun…
Archdruid and company,
Happy Diwali to you all!
One nation that is following Turkey’s lead in the use of attack drones in Russia. The Russian Navy has announced plans to equip its frigates and corvettes with not only hypersonic cruise missiles but large numbers of kamikaze drones as well. Russian admirals see kamikaze drones as being particularly useful for fire support during amphibious operations because the drones can loiter overhead for extended periods of time while using their onboard sensors to locate targets, then attack immediately when one is spotted either by the drone or by another friendly unit. They can carried and launched with only minimal modifications to the ship, such as a small catapult or launching area that doesn’t take up much room.
The Russians are developing a wide range of other drone types, including supersonic stealth drones with the ability to carry heavy payloads and act as controllers for other drones, and the Status-6 nuclear torpedo. One of the things the British are particularly concerned about with new Russian drones is their ability to conduct massed swarm attacks, a capability the Turks and their allies have already demonstrated in recent military campaigns.
The currently intensifying civil war in Ethiopia could well turn into a regional war which then sucks in the Americans, EU, Russians, Chinese, Turks, Egyptian, Kenyans, Iranians, Somalis, Israelis, ISIS, Al Queda, and the Gulf Arabs. The Horn of Africa is getting to resemble the Balkans pre WWI.
All the ingredients for major trouble are present there: religious conflict, over-population, famine, ethnic conflict, a very serious dispute about water rights (the filling of the Great Renaissance Dam with its effect on downstream nations is a major irritant to Sudan and Egypt).
For those with an ironic sense of humor, the fact that Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed holds a Nobel Peace Prize is grimly amusing.
This brings to my mind the central theme to a less-remembered series of books by Upton Sinclair, the eleven Lanny Budd novels, which ran from just before the Great War to the beginning of the Cold War (about 3 million words). Lanny saw it all.
More than anything else, the tension between people who had inherited riches and those that aspired to them—or just wanted to be more regularly fed—generated just about every conflict, to Lanny’s eyes. People weren’t citizens of this country or that, per se, because the wealthy valued “class over country.”
Pushing this theme to your essay about today, according to political economist Mark Blyth, France and Germany have used the EU to funnel riches to their countries from the newer (or poorer) kids on the European block, resulting in a highly unstable banking sector with wealth based too much on sovereign bond debt that, because of the Eurozone, can never be repaid. Hence, no options other than austerity are allowed by the economic powers that be, democracy be damned (as Yanis Varourfakis discovered in Greece).
Should the PIIGS decide to default, though, the French and German central banks would be wiped out to the tune of over 200% of their respective country’s GDPs. What was it Herbert Stein said about systems that can’t go on forever?
I highly doubt the Supremes will give the WaPo their doomsday scenario here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/10/29/supreme-court-just-took-case-epas-authority-its-decision-could-undo-most-major-federal-laws/ But if they do, the nondelegation doctrine, applied, would undo a very large amount of the current federal government without actually needing to touch the Constitution, and it would give the states’ rights side a great deal of what they want or claim they want along the way, as well as offering ample chaos to distract from most any other events. Hmm. Still seems unlikely they’d want to cause that much upset of the status quo.
Reading your revelation that you are writing a fictional account of the future EU, I understand better where you are coming from. Now while I don’t share your vision of a future totalitarian EU, I don’t pretend to know the future and won’t try to mess with your writing plans. I do think your dislike of today’s EU has coloured your vision of Europe’s past.
Your account implicitly compares certain aspects of the past with an alternative history line.
– “The Concert of Europe then turned into one of the primary driving forces behind the next round of European wars.” So some other arrangement would have prevented World War 1 and 2? Which one?
– “The relations between these oddly assorted entities rarely ran smoothly, and the resulting clashes quite often ended up on the battlefield, driving some of history’s most brutal wars.” This is a defendable claim, but again: would a strong centralized monarchy in the heart of Europe, such as envisioned by Maximilian of Habsburg, Charles V and Wallenstein have led to more peace? Would a collection of a few well-defined nation states of the size of the Netherlands, Denmark or modern Austria, some of them Protestant, some Catholic, been more peaceful?
– “That fracas began when Louis XIV of France wanted to extend his power into the near-vacuum across the Rhine, and England realized that if it allowed this to happen it would be next on the menu. War after war followed…because the quarrelsome fragments of the Empire weren’t strong enough to withstand French armies on their own.” Would a strong monarchy along the Rhine have had a peaceful relationship with France (or with England, for that matter)? Louis XIV was quite eager to wage war on the Netherlands, the richest and most modernized state in Europe at the time.
– “A clumsy mess of international treaties got slapped into place to try to maintain the peace in Europe, and those treaties proceeded to become the main cause of another round of wars.” Germany’s treatment of France in 1871, in the absence of international treaties, ensured that the enmity between the two countries was the one constant of European politics over the next 43 years, the driving force behind the alliances that would clash in WW I. Would a “vae victis” treatment of Germany by France in 1919 have prevented the next war?
I don’t understand here what your alternative history line is. Surely not a pan-European empire, since nobody ever achieved that. Is it a collection of mid-sized nation-states? A confederation on the US model?
To come back to the beginning, people believed, and many still believe, in the EU as a force for peace because so many alternatives have been tried out and weren’t any better: domination by Ottonians and Hohenstaufens, weak central monarchies, domination by Spain, domination by France, equilibrium between the 5 powers, domination by France (again), domination by the “Holy Alliance”, equilibrium between the Great Powers (again), League of Nations, domination by Germany… I don’t see why the EU would come in for particular criticism, though it is possible that it will be as powerless as the preceding arrangements in preventing war in the long term.
Drhooves, I’ve always said that history is mostly sex and violence, yet schools manage to make it boring!
Public schools were designed to make Deplorables sufficiently literate that we could read simple instructions, such as would allow us to work on assembly lines. Now that there are very few assembly lines in the US, maybe public schools are also outdated here? After all, people come out of 12 years in public school with diplomas they are unable to read.
One comment on birth rates:
The birth rates below replacement level in almost all European countries already include the children of recent immigrants. Even counting the “many young men of foreign origin”, the fraction of young adults in the population is still at historical lows. As far as I know, the only country that complained of a lack of men of fighting age before WWII (and actually before WWI) was France.
Armies composed largely of foreign mercenaries hired abroad for fighting in Europe are of course a possibility. Halsall’s “Barbarians and the Roman West” sees the split between the Roman civil identity and the Roman military identity in the 4th century as a major reason for the breakdown of the empire.
I can’t imagine the EU would send military forces into Poland and Hungary to bring them into line in the near future, more likely I think that it could be a crisis that could cause the EU to fail politically, and the next step after that would be the various states dividing into two or more mutually hostile blocks of allies. They then wage economic warfare against each other, with escalation to actions such as sabotage / drone strikes against the power grid of a rival. this could be happening on a low level for a while and everyone would be at it, sometimes even against supposed allies. Trouble is at some point, the power gets taken down over a large area and in such a way as not to be quickly fixable and causes serious enough consequences to result in a shooting war.
David, by the lake (no. 154) “…keep an eye out for states ignoring federal dictates with impunity.”
This already happened with marijuana.
gaiabaracetti (no. 148) I expect to stay in Taiwan for the foreseeable future, but if we do have to flee, my first choice of destination country would be Armenia, which has at least as many problems.
Michaelz (no. 137), I agree that Islam could be beneficial to the future of Europe. In fact, the civilizational separation between Europe and MENA is something of an abberation.
PumpkinScone (no. 131), Russia may have lots of territory, but the USSR had more defensible borders, some of which Putin would surely like to return to. Also, Frankfurt would make a better military target than Brussels, it seems to me.
Clark (no. 120), there was a line almost like this in a 1980s issue of the X-Men, arguing for putting mutants in concentration camps.
Today’s Europeans going to war with other European countries? Sorry, but that IS preposterous.
Unlike previous generations of Europeans who were raised with a respect for the military and the expectation they would be carrying on generational grudges against neighbouring nations, most western and central Europeans today are a combination of greying leftists, corporate drones, pacifists, tik-tok binging blue-haired LGBT+, bureaucrats, woke, office workers or videogame-playing incels; comfortable and raised from the cradle against nationalism or the military and to be good consumers, watch football and drink beer. If they have any political activism in them, it’s not to rectify borders, it’s about climate change or anti-racism. You couldn’t form very many battalions from their ranks.
So far the France-Germany couple, the core of the EU, is still tight. The French and British having a fishing snit is the kind of rabble-rousing tabloid minor squable that used to occur between the Brits and the EU.
There ARE some areas of tensions; as other commenters have mentioned there is a rift between eastern Europe, the Visegrad group esp. (Poland, Hungary, Czechs and Slovaks) and most of the rest of the European union. At worst they would leave the EU. It is possible that France and/or Italy would elect a populist government that would try to stop the mass migration from MENA, and that could draw some stern lectures about European values from the rest of the EU (in addition to considerable domestic frictions) but who would be left at that point?
Turkey has been extremely interventionist in recent years from Syria to Libya to Azerbaijan and I could see a true hot clash here, with Greece for instance, but that’s curiously the one country you don’t mention.
I was interested to find out that quantum physics either needs to be believed in or is anthropocentric!
Why? If the lack of humans to observe the event makes the event forbidden (due to quantum) and it hasn’t stopped many an extinction of species in the past then either Lord Quantum needs to be (kind of) understood / believed in to leap into action (if only the dodo physicists had been more advanced!) or Lady Quantum doesn’t care about dinosaurs or Atlanteans, or Lemurians or Tasmanian Tigers or various Ameranid tribes but only current humanity.
Does this mean that quantum physics, among its other effects, is also a proof of human exceptionalism?
Panda, that’s one of the constitutional issues that will have to be settled, in favor of state law, if we’re going to have a United States in the future.
Oilman2, oh, I know about the frequency jamming. The ability to fry circuitry is essential if you’re going to stop the autonomous ones, which as you’ve noted are the next logical step, already being taken. And of course, think of everything else in modern warfare that depends on functioning electronics!
Varun, and a happy festival of lights to you as well! We could all definitely use a triumph of light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance…
Galen, given how efficient Russian cruise missiles turned out to be during the Syrian war, that’s a cause for serious concern, at least to all of Russia’s potential enemies.
Walter M, I’ve been watching the situation in Ethiopia with considerable concern, because of course you’re right; the Horn of Africa could go up like a crepe Suzette at any moment and, um, one missile lobbed at (say) the Aswan dam could cause mass death on a scale I don’t think anyone has taken into account.
Jim, now there’s a blast from the past! You’re right that it’s highly relevant, of course, becase we have the same kind of transnational privileged class today, being just as stupid as they were the last time around.
BoysMom, as far as I know the Supreme Court hasn’t ruled against an extension of the power of the executive branch since 1936, and I’d be astonished if they were to start now. Still, here’s hoping!
Matthias, funny. No, I didn’t imply an alternative history line, and I don’t propose to come up with one for you to snipe at, either. What I’m saying is that the EU is unlikely to be any more successful at stopping Europeans from killing each other en masse than any other arrangement has been.
Aldarion, most European countries in the 1920s and 1930s were worried about low birth rates and put a lot of energy into trying to increase their military age population; Italy and Germany were at least as active in that field as France.
MawKernewek, depends on what happens to the EU. I could very easily see it responding to pushback by becoming more dictatorial.
Jean-Baptiste, you sound exactly like the people in 1913 or so who insisted that it was completely impossible for Europe’s nations to go to war with one another. Yes, I know a European war is unthinkable. That’s one of the reasons I think it’s likely that they’ll blunder into one.
Australian, well, there’s that. 😉
Patricia Mathews (#157)
Yes, I was referring to this guy:
He was king of Sweden for a short while, and also of Poland-Lithuania far longer. During the Russian “Time of Troubles”, Polish-Lithuanian troops actually took Moscow!
In traditional Swedish history writing, Sigismund is one of the bad guys (he was a Catholic), but today, his opponent Karl IX is usually seen as the bad guy instead, due to his brutal authoritarianism, considered bad even by 16th century standards.
Ethiopia´s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed got the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019. The same year, many activists and media outlets wanted a certain Greta Thunberg to get the prize.
Now, I know that Greta isn´t very popular around here, but…they *really* *really* *really* should have given her the prize!
Say what you will, but it would have enhanced the popularity of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee (it´s Norwegian, btw, not Swedish) among “all the right people”.
Abiy Ahmed? Not so much. I assume it was really a way to express support for his “color revolution” against the old guard TPLF. It might turn into one of the biggest fiascos in the history of this poor prize (and there are others).
And while “Facebook Kremlinology” might not be the best way to guess at geopolitical developments, I did notice that Facebook deleted comments by Abiy in support of the Ethiopian army (that is, his own army). Does this suggest that Facebook, which takes orders from the Biden admin, have gotten a new order to abandon the pro-American ally in Ethiopia?
There have been comments made about how unsuited the European population is to go to war mentally, culturally, physiologically etc…and this may very well be true.
But when the food runs short, the lights flicker, the barbarians seem to be howling on the horizon and the mental attitudes of living in abundance have to shift to those of living in scarcity and the choice is now between my and my family’s lives and those who will take what we need to live rather than who should the excess go to … well things can, have, and will change rapidly.
Changing to fight back or becoming the helots for your new masters – either one is living in a different world to the one they are perceiving themselves to be in.
I am sure someone around here has mentioned certain elements of society that are valuable no matter who is is charge …
Before the European Union was the Common Market, which Britain joined after a great deal of agonized discussion in January 1973. I arrived in London that February, a very innocent young man with a short-back-and-sides haircut from conservative South Africa where Playboy, in fact anything sexual, was banned, and smoking marijuana got you ten years in jail.
Wandering around London at random I found myself in Chelsea and noticed something unusual. The doorways of the apartments opened directly onto the street and many of them had business cards pinned to the frame. I went up close and read a few. They said something along the lines of “Miss Lulu, French mistress. Very strict lessons.”
I was impressed at their entrepreneurial spirit. Because obviously, British businessmen needed to learn French in a hurry now that they were in the Common Market, and would prefer a teacher who was strict rather than someone lackadaisical.
I think maybe I was mistaken.
Are you a Hungarian? I am curious.
Hardline nationalism is a mixture of yearn for the glorious past and the utopian fantasy future. Well get our country to their largest historical extent possible and well live happily ever after.
Not so fast. (Romanians have similar fantasies BTW)
Lets say there will be a conquest of this land by Hungary. and they wont stop till the Carpathians. Romania is crushed and will learn its lesson (wont happen)
Putin interfered ONLY in areas with large Russian population.
Here its not the case anymore. A lot of changes happened since the world wars.
Romanians are a vast majority here, except Szekelyfold.
With al this land all Hungarians combined would be close to represent a little more than half of population. What then? All these millions of Romanians will just sit and obey Budapest? Or well make a new Hungarian-Transilvanian empire, with the second capital in Cluj?
More probably peaceful neighbors suddenly will turn to each other troughts and you’ll make a gigantic mess kin to a never ending civil war.
What about the Szekelysz?
They ARE a different kind of Hungarians. and they live in a sort of enclave. There is NO connection to mainland Hungary, they are all surrounded by Romanian majority. I can see them cheerfully welcome Budapest in the beginning, but I wont be surprised at all if in decades they will want to secede to make their own little country. They would be a pain in the ass for Budapest, I am not sure they really want to deal with them.
The drunken amoeba analogy made me laugh, its really funny. But its so true.
The European amoebas wont stop drinking anytime soon.
JMG, of course many Europeans left Europe in the last century. I think the reasons for leaving were mostly economic though. Many were ready to fight a resistance against the Nazis rather than even trying to flee. Quite a few had also voluntarily gone to Spain to fight against fascism, in the hope of defeating it everywhere.
I of course could be wrong, but wouldn’t the fact that such a big proportion of Jews fled to Israel, North America, Switzerland or Asia show that flight, however hard, remained an option even during the war?
Teresa (and Bei Dawei), I think you’re right but it’s not just about community. I think that Europeans (and Asians too) have two things that the US (and Canada) don’t, namely a very long continuity in history and a linguistic and cultural diversity that is autochthonous and so far unbroken. I’ve lived in Canada, both Vancouver and Montreal, and I was amazed at how little changed with such an enormous distance (I’m excluding the First Nations from this). Also, everything seemed so new!
In Europe, even moving 50 km can be a major uprooting, and often involves learning a new, completely different language. You also feel the weight of history on you and all that it meant to those before you. I could be wrong, but I think that in Europe the sense of belonging is very strong and that includes not just one’s immediate community, but also a political-cultural entity however defined. That can create deep loyalty.
I also think that not leaving a place that really needs you is a good ideal to live by. We always use the expression “forced to leave”, but there’s almost always a choice, however difficult.
NomadicBeer, it is *not* illegal to protest against the vaccines or lockdowns in Italy. There have been many protests of different magnitude. Only in some cases they have been denied permissions, but mostly they’ve gone ahead and still do regularly.
@Jon Goddard 187
England has a somewhat reduced but fully functional canal/river system that is currently mostly used for leisure and to a certain extent, cheap housing. You can rent a 6 foot wide narrowboat and navigate it from (for example) Godalming in the south all the way up to Liverpool in the north, although the journey takes many weeks given that max speed is 4 miles per hour. I’ve done short sections with the family and it really is a very pleasant and eye opening experience – particularly once you’ve adjusted to a rather slower pace of life. You don’t need a license or anything. In theory you can just turn up at the marina and head off with a 27 tonne boat. I’m a coward – I did a bit of training first.
One rather nice development since WW2 is that some of the lost canals are being restored by volunteers with a small amount of public money and a great deal of their own time and energy. So the system may eventually rival it’s peak which would have been around 1814 or so. I suspect the almost accidental survival of this transport system will turn out to be hugely important in the future.
If you want to see what it is like, there are some dedicated channels on Youtube, Cruising the Cut and Minimal List give an excellent and highly accurate impression.
I have been having another think about what you are saying in regards to another European “Great War” and I think I have come up with the perfect analogy. It will be a mixture of South Africa/Rhodesia/Fall of Rome.
I sort of have to concur with other commentators on here. I cannot see the French and Italians lobbing artillery shells at each other. The days of flag waving nationalism are pretty much over when it comes to Europe.
But a future war is damn inevitable. I think it will evolve something like this:
1) More migrants enter the EU creating more problems. Eventually independent enclaves start propping up, declaring indepdence.
2) EU starts to unravel and collapse due to mounting economic challenges. A U.S default would pretty much gaurantee this to happen. Or another debt crisis.
3) There could be mini-spats over certain resources but not enough to draw it out into major conflicts. Instead the main focus will be on trying to keep the new migrant declared republics from leaving.
4) More people start going East for safety.
5) Due to a shortage of troops, African and Middle Eastern mercenaries eventually are conscripted to fight against migrant held enclaves. Basically a shoot out between two sides.
6) Eventually it becomes too much of a problem for European governments as the money runs dry. Mercenaries turn on national governments, leading to their very own survival. New republics are setup.
7) Some governments try to pull an Ian Smith and hold onto power. Minority white units along with majority mercenaries try to hold onto power but this dwindles with each year.
8) Others make threats and dig in but give up and flee, like the Afrikaners. Nationalists and Patriots refuse to fight for what they feel is not their land and flee East.
9) More independent territories, more ransacks ala the sack of Rome.
10) Russia and Poland along with other EE powers decide to do some “peacekeeping” and take certain territories that they can control and fortify the borders. European refugees heading East like those Syrians have been doing. Russia and EE take in those migrants due to “favourability”.
11) Russia refuses to police the entire continent. Too much money and hassle for no gain. They might try to establish some “safe zones” for proaganda purposes.
12) Balkans could explode again due to fears of Islam but Russian peacekeepers keep it from going to over head.
13) Maybe the African/Islamic military decide to attack the East but I expect them too be disorganised.
14) Some European governments (or what remains) raise their fists and start firing shells at other European states, leading to some conflict.
15) At the end of it, Western European states remain in a dark age as electricity, water supplies and other basic essentials go down. It is a warning to the entire world. Some of the African migrants try to refugee in the east, some even to attack but it is blocked.
16) Maybe a French nuke or two is fired in frustration but otherwise it isnt a nuclear event.
And the last premise (for fun)
Migrants continue to pour into Europe but they happily assimilate. Everyone goes green, transgender and wind mills dot the continent. Food is abundant as everyone farms together for the greater good (well the migrants as Europeans are too lazy). Everyone mixes together, creating one homogenous race of “individuals” that develop great new technology to colonise Mars. And we all live happily after with big brother monitering our every thoughts for dissidence, watching everywhere we go so no disruption to the “green paradise” can take place.
I see a tale in the “freedom for Catalonia” dreams…
Yeah, I’m Aragonese…
THe Moroccan menace to Canary Islands would depend on a reliable Moroccan Navy, of course. That is dubious in far future, not in near future…
“that didn’t seem to help the British, the Soviets, or the Americans!”
Hmmm. The article I linked to, which was written by a professional military historian who knows his stuff, specifically addresses that common misunderstanding.
“Once you adopt the policy of reshaping the local economy and society tol maximize wealth extraction — and that, of course, was the British, Soviet, and American approach — that was quite another matter”
Neither the Soviets nor the British were there to do that, in fact. (Short version: Afghanistan is extremely low-value, economically). The British were only interested in keeping the Afghans out of British India and the Russians out of Afghanistan and, after a bumpy start, they succeeded. The Empire lasted a long time after it left Afghanistan; it just didn’t need to be there any more. Likewise, the Soviets were there to prop up an Afghan government which was modernising the economy, giving rights to women, etc, and which was under assault from religious fanatics. They also succeeded, to a greater extent than they are given credit for. As someone has already pointed out, the socialist government of Afghanistan survived for some years after the Soviet withdrawal, and it would have lasted longer if the US hadn’t prioritised undermining socialism over the things that socialism was bringing to Afghanistan (education, women’s rights, that sort of thing). As for the American approach, well, I’ll leave discussion of that to others.
However, like Matthias @194, I hadn’t realised that this about a fantasy novel you’re writing, so that changes the context of the discussion. Nevertheless, I do recommend the article to the commentariat: it’s short, easy to read, and dispels a number of very common misapprehensions about Afghanistan.
It was ever thus. There have always been wars. USA has had fewer at home (that we know of) because it barely has a history. The EU will remain a success until it isn’t. Just as the USA was a success until it wasn’t.
In reference to the first photo in the essay – both in Saigon and Kabu the helicopter is a CH-47 Chinook (S*** hook we used to call them) That model has sure been around a long time.
I saw a comment the other week that the fight among the ruling class now is those who idolize European socialism and those who idolize China’s blend of communism and capitalism. The craziness we are seeing is the fall out of that fight. The idea that neither would work here or would be wanted doesn’t enter the discourse. Seems to agree with your stance of the infighting among the elite.
For those who value autonomy and freedom, they get to fight for it. It’s actually an exciting time to be alive.
Hi John Michael,
Oh my goodness! So many comments. I’d have to suggest that you’ve hit a raw nerve here.
I’ll tell you a story. As a teenager I’d read a bit about European history. It didn’t hold much appeal, what with all the incessant wars over the long years. It speaks to me of a population who continually expanded past their ecological resource base, and had one or two neat tricks for resolving that predicament. It also reminds me of the story of the kid with the hammer who saw everything as a nail. Anyway, down under we’d been drawn into those wars as well, and paid a high price in blood for diminishing returns.
As a young adult I did a bit of travel overseas. Most of my peers went to Europe, as I’m guessing they were paying homage, which is not a bad idea. I chose differently and instead took a look around the local countries, and it wasn’t lost on me how vastly different the cultures are. Sure, there are wars and strife, but the local culture is just different to European culture, perhaps that is because it looks economically poorer to my eyes, and maybe people expect less? I dunno.
It interests me greatly that this country appears to be realigning itself with some of the local powers in the region (US, India and Japan), and not some distant European country. Don’t get me wrong, I have remarkably warm feelings towards the UK, it just doesn’t make much sense that they should exert any great political influence over us down here. Although having the Queen as the head of government is a useful oversight to the politicians should they go too far (the Queen’s representative has actually sacked an elected Australian government in 1975).
Mind you, we’re trying to have it both ways, and I do see a lot of benefit in the AUKUS arrangement. Had to laugh though: American-dominated panel advising government on submarines as Defence eyes US and UK choices for nuclear fleet. As a wild guess, I reckon we’ll end up with the US supplied subs…
Those subs will be quite super nifty at keeping open challenging shipping lanes such as the Straits of Malacca. Like, err, oil and stuff.
Crazy days though. And it is crazy to expect that Europe won’t be at each others throats again in the future. It surprises me to hear that people believe that it could be otherwise?
I stand corrected with regard to birth rates before WW2. In Germany, they started to fall before 1914, then fell precipitously during and after WW1 until the only moderately successful natalist policies of the Nazis (Mutterkreuz).
The population structure in the 1920s seems similar to Brazil’s today: a birth rate below 2, but a huge wave of teens and twens. So both arguments are correct: the low birth rate worried planners, but a high number of young men looked for aggression once unemployment rose.
To my defence, France had undergone the same transition earlier and therefore already had fewer military age men in 1914.
Just wanted to say your responses have been fascinating and you have certainly tested my assumptions!
On your main point, that European governments will use the young migrant men as cannon fodder in future European wars, you probably have a point there, reflecting on it further.
I could see this going two ways, at least in terms of western Europe.*
* Eastern Europe and the Balkans are highly likely to descend into savage nation-state fighting this century, I entirely concur with you there, plus a nasty civil war, I’m sure in the Bosnia region (given their recent history in the 1990s’).
But back to western Europe, I see two scenarios, one more likely (in my opinion) and one less likely but your scenario:
1) Whilst tensions will rise between west European nation-states, the lack of serious territorial disputes avoid a return to actual nation-state war in the coming decades. What does happen, as we go down the Long Descent, is growing tensions within multicultural societies and the rise of populist/nationalist politicians across WE worsened by increasingly severe energy and food shortages.
Rising civil unrest leads to a scenario where the nativist elite either use different factions of Muslim minority men (e.g. using Chechens in France to attack the Algerian migrants/rebels in the cities) or we conscript up say Christian/non-Muslim illegal/legal African men to do the “dirty work” of de facto ethnically cleansing troubled “no go” areas that are in open military revolt against the authorities.
We could also see Russian, South American or even North American mercenaries used by governments in their war against Islamist extremists within their own cities. Maybe, tough east-European/Balkans fighters/special forces are also paid to assist western European militaries and their migrant mercenaries to crush Islamist revolts, sometimes, brutally once enough WE governments are run by nationalist strongmen.
Eventually, some of these mercenary groups might turn on the governments/militaries and carve out their own warlord regions within WE, particularly where is a critical natural resource. Alternative, gigantic waves of migration from the nearly Muslim lands could see increasingly savage civil wars across WE, with complicated warlord groups fighting it out, sometimes with different Muslim armed factions aligning with what is left of the nominal government or potentially fighting with other mercenary groups from outside Europe.
2) This is your scenario, where nationalist nation-states conscript legal and illegal migrant men (predominately Muslims) to fight nation-state wars across WE. The only country, in my opinion, which could do this, I suppose is the French, who may attempt to re-create a Greater France. The young Muslim migrants, to prove their loyalty to the Republic, are pressed into military service.
France could easily swallow up Luxembourg and take out northern Italy, with the Benelux countries becoming client states of Paris. Potentially, Paris could form a military alliance with Warsaw and carve up Germany.
I’ll be honest, I struggle to see this scenario coming true, but I suppose it is on the margins possible.
“Info, now go read up on the process of warband genesis during the decline of civilizations. Less capitalization might also help, for that matter.”
I based my comment on the online story from one of the survivors of the Yugoslavia conflict and partition.
As for reading up about warband genesis and civilizational decline. I read that the conflict with the Romans over time taught the Germanic peoples how to properly organize their military and how to properly discipline their soldiers. This is especially helped by the fact that the Romans themselves integrated Germanics into their armies. Hence bureaucratization spread to Germanic peoples by cultural diffusion included by fighting Romans repeatedly.
Likewise I read that the trend over time is greater organization emerging defeated weaker organizational forms. And that tends towards greater discipline, bureaucratization and centralization of power. Professionalism is rewarded in group competition.
Gangs defeat lone wolves, armies defeats gangs. The result in the end is new Feudal states before their struggles for power lead to centralized monarchies under a single king.
“…one missile lobbed at (say) the Aswan dam could cause mass death on a scale I don’t think anyone has taken into account.” True, or the Great Renaissance dam itself, as the floodwaters might take out Aswan as well. Going somewhat afield, a small nuke lobbed at the Three Gorges dam would nearly instantly kill tens of millions and leave a huge swath of prime Chinese farmland tainted with plutonium.
>>you’ll get dragged away to a prison camp. <<
I can't wait to read the cute euphemism they've created for their camps.
Dear JMG: You’re right. the unthinkable is not the impossible…
There seems to be a misconception that because a country is filled with woke leftist vegans and video gamers they could never raise an effective military. As a counter point to this idea I would suggest that folks read Andy Ngo’s book “unmasked” about the Antifa’s in Portland. The gist is that over a few years a bunch of young marxists and skateboarders were transformed in to an effective street army ( at least within the rules their opponents were held too). While I realize if they ” took the handcuffs off” the cops would dispatch these black clad vandals with ease, but I have seen with my own eye displays of violence, aggression, military coordination and bravery that are eye opening. I watched a band of these “skate punks” face down and chase off 20 cops and sheriffs in hand to hand combat with sticks, fists and rocks.We have this myth that effective armies are only made up of farm boys who grew up hunting squirrels and watching John Wayne movies but any group of impressionable young people can be motivated to aggression bravery and loyalty with the proper ideology and indoctrination. The most heroic and effective troops in WWII were the 2nd and 3rd generation Japanese Americans whose families were imprisoned in internment camps. A group more isolated from American Military tradition and less motivated by patriotism you could not find.
I just saw this article on the Telegraph:
[inaccurate link deleted]
It starts out by saying: Is Eastern Europe on the brink of another war? It’s about the Balkans., and seems perhaps relevant to this blog post.
Off topic, but I wondered if you would consider discussing China in an upcoming post. I am very confused as some news stations consider China to be the next great Satan while others basically ignore the topic. Thanks.
A data point for you. From BBC Radio 4 morning news program 6.00am – 9.00, they reported a big shortage of taxi drivers in the UK. Less than 50% have returned to work after the COVID lock downs, which is causing a big problem for the night time economy. Causes are a combination of drivers retiring (drivers are on average well above the median age), and drivers losing their cars during lock downs, as no work meant no car payments. In the UK taxi drivers own their cars, no car equals no taxi service. Lastly but not least, the PMC class in recent years has made obtaining a license to drive a taxi expensive, bureaucratic, and a test of endurance. So expect no quick remedy to the situation of new drivers rushing to sign up. Plus taxi driving was not that well paid before COVID, that might be changing!
The 2 items to consider globally in the event of conflict are water and electricity. Water is simply necessary. Electricity is necessary for modern weapons and most anything we consider ‘useful’ other than a horse.
Azerbaijan garnered several water sources and hydroelectric plants from Armenia this year in their brief war. This expansion of territory was not about oil, as Azerbaijan has plenty. It was about power and good water and hurting the Armenians. Baku is well known for how ghastly it’s local water is.
Dams cannot be moved, and they are difficult to defend. 3GD is impossible to defend if someone wanted to risk removing it – can see it from orbit. When one considers that the grand age of dam construction was 50-100 years ago, vary many dams are no longer what they were simply due to rebar and concrete and shifting soils across time.
I would say to keep an eye out for this, but the Azeri-Armenian conflict already shows this happening if one simply reads a bit.
Indeed, and you know well how long for we Aragonese have been hearing this tale…
Un saludo, paisano
@Patricia Mathews #157. Sigismund Vasa was the son of Swedish king John III and Katarina Jagellonica, and was himself king of Sweden 1592–1599 and Poland 1587–1632. He was ousted by his protestant uncle Charles IX after the battle of Stångebro 1598. The Poles got their revenge at Kirchholm 1605, but at the end this didn’t matter much; Charles remained king and Sweden protestant.
Wow, it appears Europe has fallen so far that, like California, its sole remaining claim to grandeur is, basically: “at least the weather is nice!” Of course, I mean that as a friendly ribbing, from someone in a less-than-perfect climate who occasionally feels a tad envious of that 🙂
But of course, the historical record seems clear: the mildness of a region’s climate is a relatively unimportant factor, in terms of a given region’s ability to support a powerful and advanced human civilization. While the river valleys of Mesopotamia, the Indus, and the Yellow were flourishing with early civilizations, those of the Thames, Rhine, and Seine were backwaters. And they’ll return to being backwaters when the future great cultures of the Volga and Ohio river valleys come to power.
All things considered, though, a quiet backwater with a nice climate isn’t always the worst place to be 🙂
Speaking of Russian drones, here is an interesting article that I just came across.
A couple of take-aways from the article that come to mind:
1) The newer Russian drones are being designed with anti-drone countermeasures in mind. There are almost certainly other countries doing the same thing.
2) The Russians are seriously looking at using small, cheap kamikaze drones such as the Lancet-3 as “aerial minefields” to defend against enemy drones. This would be a logical extension of the advanced anti-missile defenses the Russians have been developing, ranging from battlefield air defense systems like Pantsir, Tor and Sosna to the S-500 ABM/ASAT/ultra long range SAM system. I would imagine those “aerial minefields” could also be used as a effective defense against ground assaults and swarm attacks by enemy speedboats and other small naval vessels.
Meanwhile, in the border between Poland and Belarus…
They are playing a strange game!
AustralianDreamer’s comment that nobody wants to fight when their bellies are full is valid. As supply lines break down, any corner of the Earth could become incentivized to take, at force, what their neighbor has. And since Europe is so diverse (and close together) it is easy to demonize people not too far away. I think this is the overarching point of this week’s post.
Tidlösa, they could surely have found someone better than the spoiled darling of the Davos set!
AustralianDreamer, thank you for this injection of common sense into the discussion.
Martin, okay, that was really funny. Thank you.
Gaia, in my younger days I talked to people who fled Europe after the Second World War, and I know plenty of people whose parents and grandparents got out of Europe at various points in the twentieth century. Economics played a role — it was true from colonial times to the end of the twentieth century, though it’s not really true any more, that social mobility and job availability in America were such that poor people from elsewhere could do very well here — but rarely the main role. At least as important was the hope of living someplace where you weren’t defined forever by who your grandparents were, and of course not having to worry about being invaded and shot by the people fifty miles away…
Ksim, except for the last bit, it’s a plausible scenario!
Bogatyr, a fine bit of snark. Of course the Soviets weren’t out to change anybody’s economic system, and heaven forfend the thought that the British ever tried to extract wealth from their colonies!
Paddy, granted, but I’d point out that the US government has lasted considerably longer under its present constitution than any country in Europe, except for Great Britain, and over that nearly 250 year period, the number of wars on US soil has been, shall we say, a little deficient compared to Europe’s score!
Christopher, and for good reason. It does a good job. It’s the same reason that the main US and Russian strategic bombers are lightly upgraded versions of the planes that did the same job fifty years ago: despite the mythology of progress, the law of diminishing returns applies to technology just as much as it does to anything else, and the Chinook, like the B-52 and the Tu-95, do the job as well as it can reliably be done.
Denis, it is indeed!
Chris, the AUKUS agreement is an important watershed, not least because it marks the point at which the US finally gave up on Europe as a bad deal. I hope Australia can rise to the challenge of becoming its own country and not simply an appendage of the UK!
Aldarion, I’m not arguing about France — but you’ll notice that a shortage of young men didn’t keep them out of either world war.
Forecastingintelligence, your second alternative isn’t what I’m suggesting. Rather, consider what wold happen if the powers of western Europe get involved in the wars in the Balkans, or elsewhere in Eastern Europe, and fail to achieve the quick victory they expect. The war won’t be in their own backyard, at least at first. Only after, say, Turkish forces make large gains in the Balkans and cross the Adriatic to invade southern Italy might French forces come into the Italian peninsula…
Info, good. In other words, the groups of young men you characterize as gangs can very quickly take on the discipline of military units when it suits their fancy. Nor did the transition from feudalism to centralized monarchy happen all at once; warband culture became standard across Western Europe by 500 AD, and it was right around a thousand years later that centralization under monarchy really took off in most of Europe.
RPC, bingo. It astonishes me that so few people notice just how horrific a weapon of mass destruction a large dam can become — and you don’t need nukes to do it. A single conventional warhead of adequate power would do the job.
AV, oh, you mean the Reorientation Centers? 😉
Chuaquin, thank you for getting it.
Clay, that’s a good point. Young men are young men, irrespective of their current ideology.
Lydia, unfortunately your link leads to Gmail, not to the article.
Pam, I’ll consider it.
Philip, thanks for this. I’m not at all surprised — a lot of people who were forced to stop working at low-paying, miserable jobs by the Covid shutdowns have decided not to go back. It’ll be interesting to see if anybody draws the obvious conclusion, and changes the low pay and miserable conditions…
Oilman2, a very useful point. We’re not quite to the point where wars will be fought for food, but it’s on its way.
Galen, smart of them.
Chuaquin, a very old game. War is coming.
A couple of memories:
Me trying to needle a German colleague:
“Who won the war?”
“I admit we came second. But we’ll do better next time.”
“We’ll do it without the Italians.”
An elderly English lady told me she had toured Germany with her mother in the late 1930s. When I expressed surprise, she explained that the Germans were very proud of how they had managed to develop their country after being devastated by WW1, and to show it off they promoted cheap tourism and welcomed all comers. She said the two of them had a wonderful time, everything was neat and clean and new, and the service was excellent. But when they returned to England they got worried. “We looked at our old railways, all crooked and higgeldy-piggeldy, and our narrow little roads, and wondered how could we ever compete with the Germans and their modern straight railways and beautiful roads.”
Happy Panda #186
“Brussels of the US” ..
Humm … I’m gonna run with that portion of your quote a bit, and modify that as another rallying cry against progressive tyranny being emitted from D.C.: “Let’s Go Brussels ‘West!”
War, what is it good for?
I actually ask that sincerely in the context of the collective and individual’s involvement in The Great Work.
Is it just a distraction to be avoided if at all possible? i.e. we should actually be looking at all the scenarios being discussed here and really thinking how to deal with them before the first stirrings of war happen, no matter how unrealistic that might be.
(‘Absolutely nothing’ would be an answer of course to the first question if yes answered the second.)
The US only has 250 years without many wars if you fail to count the wars against the Native Americans. These were pretty much ongoing from the arrival of the first European settlers until the Civil War provided a distraction, then occupied the US Army between the end of the Civil War and the end of the 19th Century .Remember that the Bureau of Indian Affairs was part of the War Dept. until 1849.
One might also consider that state governors have control of the National Guard in their states. While the NG is usually used to help after natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods, there is also a history of their use against strikers and in riots (Watts for example)–in other words class warfare was armed warfare in many cases.
Another very vulnerable dam is above the Iraqi city of Mosel. The engineers there are in an ongoing battle against eroding rock and any lengthy interruption in the pumping of concrete could end in its collapse. Closer to home–there are equally vulnerable dams in the US.
JMG-I paid attention in school but l’m pretty sure this post taught me more about European history than 12 years of public school. I’ve been reading your work for years. At this point, I’m confident in stating that your depth of knowledge is kind of absurd. Like a supercharged Ken Jennings…with a beard, and a love for nature.
I consider we will see strong “centrifugal forces” for separation/secession in this and the next decades inside many countries, the case of Catalonia is an example where the nationalistic drive was exacerbated by the economic crisis. The Catalonia case is similar to what is happening in the North of Italy vs the South, or Bavaria vs East Germany, or the Coastal states in USA vs the Southern states, as is described, for example in this article:
“New Mexico receives $2.83 for every tax dollar paid, followed by Mississippi at $2.50 and West Virginia at $2.43. Alabama comes next, with $2.17 for every dollar paid”, but “New Yorkers paid $23.7 billion more in federal taxes than the state received in federal spending in the 2019 fiscal year.”…. so “In what has become a familiar and troubling story for the Empire State, New Yorkers send significantly more to Washington than we get back”
So I think the main message that the supporters of the independence in Catalonia suggest is the following “we are maintaining with our hard work the lazy, fascist, backward spaniards that sucks our economic blood like parasites, specially the people from Andalucia and Madrid; without them we would be much richer, more than Switzerland”. Or something similar.
I think the message is similar in Bavaria, in Lombardy, or in Coastal US where the Southeners are “milking” the entrepreneurs in NY and California (probably the message it is not as extreme as the case of Catalonia vs the rest of Spain but I think the process is similar).
Of course me, as many many more people in Spain, tired of hearing all that things, if I could, I would give the independence to Catalonia tomorrow, and early in the morning.
With the nested crisis I think the secessions movements inside the countries will be a huge factor of social instability in many countries, and for me in the short term is a more probable cause of war inside Europe than a major war between nations (especially if some foreign powers start to fan the flames), and not only in Europe.
One of books I am currently reading is Space Viking, by H Beam Piper. Obviously, we aren’t going to the stars, but the novel’s combination of high-tech warfare, barbarian warbands, and empire building by ruthless and ambitious warlords amidst the ruins of a dying civilization seems rather apt right now.
Sorry about the failed link. I realized that the article is a “dispatch” which you can only get as a subsciber to the Telegraph, which I am. So I’m copying it here:
By Venetia Rainey,
ASSISTANT FOREIGN EDITOR
KOSOVO | Is eastern Europe on the brink of another war?
That’s the fear of Albin Kurti, the prime minister of the tiny Balkan state of Kosovo.
In an exclusive interview with our senior foreign correspondent Roland Oliphant, Mr Kurti said the tinderbox region – where a brutal ethnic war played out during the 1990s – is now “definitely more dangerous than before”.
He singled out neighbour Serbia – which still claims Kosovo as its own – as behaving like “Germany between the World Wars” and pointed to how its defence budget has skyrocketed in recent years.
Serbian military spending has doubled from $700m in 2018 to about $1.5bn this year, according to Janes Defence Budgets, making it the Balkans’ biggest spender.
Coupled with growing tensions being fomented by Serb communities in the former Yugoslavian states of Kosovo, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro, it’s clear something is afoot in the region.
For Mr Kurti, the real culprit is obvious: Russia.
He believes Moscow is encouraging Belgrade to pursue a “Serbian World” policy by restoring links with Serbs in the six republics that broke away during the bloody disintegration of Yugoslavia in the 1990s.
The savage internecine wars of that decade pitted various ethnic groups against each other, killing around 140,000 people and leaving the region bitterly divided.
If Western governments don’t wake up to the depth of Russian involvement in the Balkans, warns Mr Kurti, that could become a reality again.
Also on our radar: Joe Biden’s trillion-dollar agenda is facing a make-or-break vote today. Check back here for the latest.
Tidlosa @ 203, Facebook does not take orders from the White House; the guy who owns it is one of those who thinks that mere nation states are obsolete.
AV: We’ll all be dragged off to Welcoming Centers of Excellence, and the guards will be very excited to see us. It’ll be awesome!
On a lighter note, a different version of a map of Europe…
@ Mary Bennett #180
They guy might be corrupt, as are most NY politicians, but he did know how to act when necessary.
Acting in the wrong way is far from commendable.
Remember that “private property [shall not] be taken for public use, without just compensation.”. The proper action would be for the state to pay the rent and not to force others to provide housing gratis.
Since 1871, the French had been singing “‘Alsace et Lorraine” (https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alsace_et_Lorraine, run that through Google translate and tell me war was completely impossible) or “La Strasbourgeoise” https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Strasbourgeoise while seething about the “sales boches”. After WWI, it was the Germans who were aching for a revenge, forming goose-stepping citizens’ militia muttering about the german army undefeated in the battlefield backstabbed by its politicians, while the French casually remarked that ‘we all grew up knowing and resigned that we’d have to fight in the next war against Germany’. Maybe you can find some people who said on the eve of WWI that war was *unthinkable*. They must have had a very sheltered life, or were just whistling past the graveyard.
The mindsets nowadays are antithetical. For modern Europeans, to die for the Vaterland is an alien if not contemptible concept. Could Turkey do something rash with Cyprus or in the Eastern Mediteranean, sure. But France and Germany? France and the UK? Poland and Germany? Sweden and Norway? No more likely than Texas and California. There may be mean tweets and memes after the World Cup or Euro and that’s about as bad as it can get.
“Chris, the AUKUS agreement is an important watershed, not least because it marks the point at which the US finally gave up on Europe as a bad deal. I hope Australia can rise to the challenge of becoming its own country and not simply an appendage of the UK!”
I hope the same of us here in NZ (eventually)….
So I did look at a couple of the ingresses as I mentioned in #118.
The Warsaw Aries ingress of 2026 has Mars and the Sun in the 7th, Mars in mutual reception with Neptune in Aries, and five planets including both luminaries in Aries (mind you, this last is true for the whole world)…
I see commenter after commenter assessing that the immigrant riff-raff could be drafted in the incoming Western European wars. It so happened that a (visible minority) French had a vox pop on the topic of: France is involved in a war with another country. Do you fight for France or not? Pretty much everyone involved had a belly laugh at the preposterous thought of enlisting to fight for France. “what do I care about France” “I’m really from Algeria” “I’d flee to the ‘bled'(village back home)” “none of my business what the French do”.
In no-go zones, anything involved with French authorities, the police, firemen, ambulances are often attacked with rocks, fireworks, bottles etc. “Ah but, see, they could be mercenaries!” Unlikely. They already make a living on welfare and the drug trade. Why would they risk being blown to bloody bits for just another sort of government check? “Hmm. Western countries could cut welfare to make it attractive” OK, but THAT you would trigger a war, a civil war.
JMG: Urgent. Can you get rid of the post with the link to gmail please!!
I thought of another area in which US cities have already defied federal law with impunity, more or less: sanctuary cities.
On mercenaries, you guys do realize that they’re already common, right? Russia has the Wagner Group. The USA has Blackwater, or whatever they’re calling themselves these days. France has the Foreign Legion, of course, although that’s not quite the same thing.
Oilman2 (no. 227), the Second Karabakh War was also about Aliyev trying to boost his popularity (even though he’s a dictator), and hoping for a land-bridge with the Nakhichevan exclave and Turkey. (Russia forbade either of them from invading Syunik, but some kind of transport corridor was agreed to in theory. Now Russia wants to link this with a whole web of transport links that it favors.) And Turkey wanting the same thing, in hopes of annexing Azerbaijan. And NATO wanting this too, in order to weaken Russia by giving Turkey access to Central Asia across the Caspian. And NATO also wanting to weaken Iran.
As fond as Aliyev is of Erdogan, he seems to understand that for now, Putin is his real master. I expect this calculus will change in the coming decades.
Armenia also lost a (literal) gold mine.
Pam (no, 225), I vote for “great Satan.” Come on, they’ve gone full Orwell. (*) They’ve got organ harvesting and concentration camps. What more do you want?
(*) But true Orwellianism has never been tried! (rimshot)
email@example.com (no. 223), my Greek friend told me about leftist demonstrators in his country, and their relationship with the police. He says it’s mostly theater, although mistakes get made. Each side has boundaries which it knows it must not overstep. Some of these seem strange to me–for example, the police are not allowed to enter universities, except when invited, because that would be fascism. On the other hand, the protesters know that they can only use certain types of weapons. God knows how all these rules got negotiated in the first place.
RPC (no, 220), would a missile really break a dam like that? It’s a big, solid mass of concrete. I remember reading that even nukes wouldn’t really work against the Three Gorges Dam in China, but maybe the details are different?
Martin Back (no. 205), many years ago, one of the Taiwanese newspapers ran a thundering editorial denouncing mooted plans to legalize prostitution in some limited way. The editor cited the Bible and Confucius to argue that prostitution means social chaos, doom for the family, etc. I was moved to write a letter in response, which they didn’t dare print, noting the large quantity of “massage” ads at the back of their paper.
Tidlösa (no. 203), if people like Greta (or Obama) are going to be getting the Peace Prize, then I suggest they change the ceremony a bit. Put it on TV. Film them all going in on the red carpet, showing off their gowns and robes and such. Announce the nominees one by one, then open an envelope with the winner’s name in it. That sort of thing.
For awhile I think I might have been eligible to nominate for the literature prize. I was thinking about nominating Lauren Faust, the producer of “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.” Or Donald Trump for his tweets. (Hey, Churchill won the literature prize! It’s not that much of a leap.)
In fact the leadersheap of the US made Western Europe as the set of Liberal democracies that it is today. Equality before the law and democracy were born in Europe, but only in certain countries and regions. The Bassin Parisien, the Italian Piedmont and Lombardy and the South, 2/3 of Spain and 1/3 of Portugal. Individual freedom above equality is even more sparse: England, the Neederlands, Danmark and the South of Sweden. The true is that in most Western European countries authoritarian regimes were well tolerated, democracy and some liberalism were accommodated as the result of the WW2. We know the English, the Dutch and the Danes will not tolerate authoritarianism from the EU, the English demonstrated that clearly, the Danes dibn’t accept the euro so far. In fact I wonder about what the Danes and the Dutch fill about the punishments Brussels is directing towards Poland.
We know that the Parisien, Lombardy, Piedmontese, and Italians from the South of Rome will not tolerate inequality. All those are captured by a web of debt that makes look like we are all equals. We see how hard the ECB is repressing that debt hoping that Italy becames to weak to run away. I think that is the whole point of mass migration, a sizable share of the natives are not well suited to accomodate authoritarianism and inequality, the migrants are much better suited for exactly that!
@paleobar: I am not Hungarian, I never said a word about conquest or invasion, quite the contrary, I talked about diplomatic solutions that are already in place to acomodate the parts. I don’t know the extent, but I know there are regions in Romania with majority of Hungarians. If the EU survives there will be little reason to make border rearrangements. In any case, if the question arise and the locals prefer why would Romania fight to keep some hills populated by foreign people?
In Brussels the Hungarian government doesn’t have many sympathies, but the treaty of the petit trianon is know and plans delineated 20 years ago.
@JMG of course the EE are less and less committed with the EU, Moscow is becoming more and more Brussels insurance policy, I don’t think Brussels would dare militar intervention inside EU borders, not until it as a solid foot in the Wester Califates…
Jay, it really depends on the war. Some political conflicts can’t be settled by any other means, and some of those are important — the American Revolution is one case in point. As for how to deal with them, here again, it really depends on the war.
Rita, those were wars with other nations; the Native tribes qualify. We fought quite a few of those more generally.
Nick, thank you. My secret is that I’m profoundly ignorant about football, TV sitcoms, et al… 😉
DFC, I ain’t arguing.
Galen, okay, synchronicity strikes. I just read Piper’s The Cosmic Computer yesterday!
Lydia, thanks for this!
Anonymous, I’d like to see the same map made by someone in Moscow — I’m told Tolkien’s work is very popular there.
Jean-Baptiste, and over in eastern Europe, do they share this attitude you’re talking about? Plenty of people in France and England in, say, 1935 had that attitude, you know, and I don’t think it kept them out of war. As far as Texas and California, I see you aren’t very well informed about affairs over here. We could very easily have a civil war in the US in the next decade or so, with those two states on opposite sides.
BB, I haven’t seen any sign of it yet, but here’s hoping.
Brendhelm, ouch! Does Mars make hostile aspects with anything?
Lydia, I deleted the link. I hope that’s sufficient.
Bei, have you read any of Churchill’s books? He was actually quite a competent writer. His History of the English-Speaking Peoples is worth reading.
JMG – re: your comment to Paddy – “the number of wars on US soil has been, shall we say, a little deficient compared to Europe’s score” – I suppose, it all depends on what you call ‘war’. I suppose 250 years of exterminating Indigenous folks from sea to shining sea, plus annexing part of Mexico and a failed attempt to annex British North America (now Canada) don’t count. Looks to me that the Americans were too busy firing their guns west and north and south to be shooting at each other.
If Europe goes down in flames, what becomes (psychologically) of our own affluent coastal Europhiles? Especially if it ends up Muslim in a reverse Reconqista.
Bei Dawei @ 253, ” NATO wanting this too, in order to weaken Russia by giving Turkey access to Central Asia across the Caspian. And NATO also wanting to weaken Iran.”
What could possibly go wrong? That MacKinder guy has a lot to answer for.
Maybe some equally revered scholar will write a book saying that far from being the fulcrum of history, the area between the Vistula and the Oxus and Jaxartes valleys is home to innumerable squabbling peoples who have not managed to get along or settle on boundaries for at least a thousand years; a wise statesman or woman anywhere else on earth will leave them to it. not worth the life of one Pomeranian grenadier, is that how that went?
@JMG – Fortunately Mars isn’t heavily negatively aspected – he’s opposite the ascendant, and trine Jupiter in Cancer in the 11th. Mars is also conjunct a retrograde Mercury in Pisces, but that’s a loose (5.5 degrees) and mutually separating aspect. Those are the only aspects Mars himself makes.
Neptune, on the other hand, with which it’s in mutual reception, is combust and conjoins Saturn. It is however sextile Uranus, which could bring some unexpected aid to the situation (possibly financial in nature – Uranus at the time is direct in late Taurus emerging from its retrograde back into it after poking into Gemini).
Ron, now notice what Europe was doing to the rest of the world during those same 250 years.
Patricia M, good! You’re paying attention. One way or another, it’s going to be a massive shock.
Brendhelm, then it probably doesn’t mean war. Mars strongly dignified and angular can mean that, but he normally has to have a hostile aspect to clinch the matter.
When I read this BBC article, I thought of this week’s Ecosophian offering.
It’s relevant, bear with me. The first point is good old resource limits. The Netherlands has, apparently, plenty of natural gas to keep themselves warm and cosy for a while. But extracting it has caused the earth to sink, and gives the city of Groningen up to three minor earthquakes a day, which has not made the residents happy. So they’re using less, right? Well no, they’re using more – and just importing it, instead. From… er… Russia.
The article talks hopefully about heat pumps (powered by… what?), biogas and the like, but even the most hopeful ones aren’t claiming it’ll happen by 2050, let alone tomorrow. Historically, access to resources has been a strong contributor to war. Now, given human history we can be pretty sure that if the Russians were to cut off the gas to the Netherlands, well okay they can reduce consumption a bit, but half overnight is a bit more than they could manage, I would expect, and they’d just go ahead and start pumping and let Groningen sink. Not all place have that option, though, and I presume that in a democracy the locals might have something to say about it, too.
Was there a fight over the last tree standing on Easter Island?
@Bei Dawson #198
“ PumpkinScone (no. 131), Russia may have lots of territory, but the USSR had more defensible borders, some of which Putin would surely like to return to.”
Russia relies on a different defense concept now, not requiring so much territorial depth or such a huge army as before.
Basically, Putin & Medvedev traded in their mass mobilization army of millions for a force first envisioned by Masrhal Nikolai V. Orgarkov, Chief of the Soviet General Staff back in the mid-‘80s. Summing his idea up, he said that “Conventional weapons will become equivalent to nuclear weapons, due to their range, speed, and precision.” What he meant is that you get the same target destruction probability by putting a 1,000 pound conventional warhead within 5 yards of your target as you get by putting a 2 megaton nuke within a mile of it. So now Russia has a mostly professional ground force of about 350,000, but with the capability to precisely strike enemy headquarters, airbases, logistics stockpiles, critical economic targets… the list goes on…, with a growing range of cruise missiles, ballistic missiles, & hypersonic missiles, all with conventional warheads, throughout the entire depth of the European Penninsula, from Russia’s present borders.
So I doubt Mr. Putin wants a return to the USSR borders for politico-military reasons, and he certainly does not want to subsidize the Baltics and much more of Ukraine than the Donbas separatists already control.
So, given this new conventional deterrent, and with a firm hand on much of Europe’s natural resource & energy supply, Russia is pretty well situated to ensure that what happens on the European Penninsula stays on the European Penninsula.
JMG (no. 256) “Bei, have you read any of Churchill’s books?”
Not those dusty volumes, but I’m a big fan of “Man Overboard”:
But come on, they didn’t give him the prize for his writing. (Bertrand Russell was another strange recipient. Not that his books weren’t okay, but come on.)
Mary Bennett (no. 259) If they really believed in MacKinder, they should have stayed in Afghanistan.
Anonymous (no 246), the Lord of the Rings is really about the Fall of Byzantium. The orcs are Turks.
Hi John and friends,
You are correct in that Europe does not have the “blood and soil” mindset anymore like it used to have. But remember that itself was just a 19th century creation carried over from Napoleon.
Before that, the major war was about the Republic vs hereditary monarchies (and of course who would rule the roost in Europe). Before that it was about a sucession crisis (such a major war that nobody has heard about). Before that it was religion. Before that about which king was divinely pointed by God to rule whatever. The list goes on and on with Faustian Europe.
So my point is – whatever will be the next war will not necessarily be like the last. Which is where my thesis comes rather in handy. Looking at it, the next and last war for Europe really will be about the survival of Europe as we know it.
Looking at all sides involved, Western Europe is mainly split between four groups (like South Africa). The noisy SJWs (who are connected to the establishment), the Nationalists/Patriots, the average joe who is ignoring this and just trying to get on with life and the migrants who are quite happily segregated in their own communities claiming welfare.
The SJWs wont put up a fight – they are soft bullies. Give them a hard punch to the nose and they will run off. So expect when the fighting starts, they will vanish into the wood work.
The Nationalists/Patriots are already starting to give up. Where as that might still be thunder in the belly in some areas, a lot of them have pretty much given up the ghost and slowly are relocating to Eastern Europe. Their mindset is, “we cannot do anything, we have said everything to be said, so we just want to live our lives without wasting it on politics anymore.”
Average joe just flees anyway.
Now the migrants are the interesting ones. You mention they are all on welfare and doing drug deals. Right, fair enough. But how many of those generous European welfare states are going to continue when the Long Descent really starts to kick in? Chances are, they will fail. Once that happens, I cannot see a long exodus back to their homelands of origin. Eastern Europe will refuse to let them in. So what do they do?
They riot. They loot. They get angry. That is when to maintain order, European governments start to draft them as mercenaries. People will do anything for money. And food.
Eastern Europe is an interesting case phenomenon. What you forget and others on here is that many of the young over here want to have a traditional Western quality of life (good pensions, good houses, good benefits, a nice car, etc). That is what the youth are after, whether it is Poland, Hungary or even Russia for that matter. Mainly though this is being pushed by the growing IT middle class (liberalism always comes from the middle class). Not many of them seek to go and die, rallying the flag.
However, there is a caveat here which differs from the West a lot. They want “a good quality of life”…which does not include welfare seeking migrants. They dont want to pay their tax money on supporting any potential underclass, whether it is the natives or migrants. They dont want to live in South Africa or Brazil conditions (which is where the West is heading).
They have no liberalism or humantarian thoughts like their Western counterparts. They regularly criticise Western mass immigration as “suicide” and think the whole SJW thing is pure craziness (aside from a small minority).
Every decade the West goes crazier, the more it puts off the youth. For example, in the 1990s, they all looked at America and Britain as being the shining examples. After many travelled to these countries and came back, they became disillusioned (bad healthcare, bad political systems, too much crime) so from the 2010s-2020s they idolise Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and Denmark. When these countries start to fail, they will probably be stuck with, “ah crap, we better do it ourselves then and not make the same mistakes”.
With that aside, they will keep the borders closed and only favour immigrants who benefit them. They dont want to become minorities in their own countries either as it leads to tensions. So yeah, no exactly flag waving patriots ready to die for the flag but more conservative still on the big questions.
The only flag wavers are the Serbs, Bosnians, Albanians, Kosovars and Ukrainians. The Slovenians and Croats have pretty much given up on that stuff and prefer to be part of the EU.
Ukraine is like a third world country and want to blame all their problems on Russia. Serbs and the rest never got over the 90s and its still on pause. That said their birth rates are going down and many have gone into IT so its a big question if they will be up for a fight…but probably because I know even their middle classes get involved with “Kosovo is ours!” marches so probably.
The Balkans is weird….always has been. When I picture it, I sort of see a man with a black moustache and a dagger, always swerving around and going crazy. If that is the soul spirit of the land, its a very angry one.
Anyway, energy wise, I am picking up most of this kicks off between 2100 – 2150. I even get the feeling at this time there will be an intelligent Islam forming at this time that seeks to build an empire. I feel it coming from Turkey/Iran. I suspect Europe will become the new battlefield royale for this new empire. So its not going to be allu akbar and shooting ak47s into the air Islam but a cunning one, like a Third Reich.
That is all I feel anyway.
Aye, JMG, the poor Yanks were trying to build an empire with one hand tied behind their back (had to build a nation from scratch, including infrastructure) while the Europeans had the advantage of being already well-settled and could therefore devote proportionately more energy and resources into the blind pursuit of wealth and power via global conquest, subjugation and slaughter. Same damned Faustian spirit; different circumstances.
@ Patricia M: if you think it’s going to be a shock for the American Europhiles, spare a thought for those of us who actually live in Europe…
The implications of the current migration crisis are rarely – if ever – adequately thought out by either side of the debate here in Europe. The fear of being labelled ‘racist’ or ‘xenophobic’ keeps most of my friends – even those who are willing to deconstruct other PMC articles of faith such as gender fluidity or the covid-vaxx – from actually seriously considering the possibility that the heart-wrenching humanitarian crisis of all the poor, poor migrants might be the beginning of the end of everything that we know, and rely upon.
I have consoled myself with the possiblility that a cooling period caused by gulf stream failure or reduced solar activity (I am, for the record, an open-minded agnostic on the causes of climate change) could cause the Völkerwanderung to drift elsewhere; or that a newly energised Eastern European/Russian culture could take the role of the Huns and Goths, prevent the Islamization of Europe, and install themselves as the new aristocracy. I make no comment on how plausible either of those scenarios are, but what’s for sure is that neither of them are particularly pretty in themselves.
Whatever happens, it will probably be messy. My homeland of Albion may not look anything like the country that, for all its many faults, I have known and loved for all of my life. The trauma that this will generate for my countrymen gives me pause for reflection, and casts a sombre shadow during a time of already ample gloom.
Via my American father, I have the option of applying for residency in the US or whatever successor states may emerge. I may have to take that option in the future. I understand those who say that it is better to stay and fight to make your region a better place, but history is rarely kind to that kind of inflexible idealism. Better to let history take its course, in my view, and maintain pragmatic and flexible as much as one can.
Every time someone posts a comment about how some particular population or demographic will never fight because they’re too effete, docile, divided, preoccupied with other interests, or unskilled, it reminds me of a comical eighteenth century song written to mock some of those apparent characteristics of a certain people. That song starts, “Yankee Doodle went to town…”
Ok, JMG. There could be war in some years from now, with or without NATO help.
Let’s see more stuff (and photos) about the Polish-Belarussian border:
It’s really looks like a warzone border…and things are getting hotter.
It’s amazing how the borders and countries have been changing in the last 2.5 millenia…
Look at this map:
The European historical waltz…
Meanwhile, near Ukrainian east border…
“Welcoming Centers of Excellence”
LOL! I can’t wait! It’ll be awesome. I hear the guard are superfriendly. Save me a seat at the 2 minutes of hate.
p.s. I see we’ve fallen into gallows humour. I’m not sure if that is a good or a bad sign.
@ Bei Dawei #264: Regarding Churchill: he wrote: “History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.”
I have read his 6 volume History of the 2nd World War. One of his best known quotes from his time as Prime Minister was: “If Hitler invaded hell, I should make at least a favourable reference to the devil in the House of Commons.” According to his writing, Churchill said this on an evening when he was much the worse for drink. Luckily for him, his butler remembered it and repeated it the next morning.
Treaties entangle nations now as in 1914. Any warfare that is not designed to escalate to nukes is warfare designed to self-limit. But self-limitation in warfare yields defeat when confronting a foe sufficiently desperate. _Not_ having nukes is therefore a strategic advantage; the combatant without them can credibly threaten to do their worst, but the combatant who is burdened with those accursed hell-toys cannot credibly so threaten. Therefore the USA military’s string of defeats since 1945.
I’m saying that it’s physically impossible for us to observe the whole of a nuclear war; so by quantum logic, the universe’s wave function will act retroactively to keep that event virtual rather than actual. That almost sounds reassuring, but the universe is under no obligation to balance its books in a way agreeable to us. The Backfire Effect is mostly an intensified Murphy’s Law, targeting nuclear systems for random retroactive destruction. For your own safety, stand nowhere near the target of a Backfire.
That is the _quantum_ theory of Backfire. The _classical_ theory of Backfire is that humans can partially foresee the future, by reason and intuition, and that we have a survival instinct. Therefore humans tend to sabotage doomsday systems, either by motivated treachery or by demotivated incompetence. Quantum and classical Backfire are experimentally indistinguishable, due to quantum weirdness and human deviousness.
Metamorphosis Not Metaverse #128:
The cyberpunk science-fiction writer Rudy Rucker told me that he felt a shunt.
Interesting data point! Don’t want to start a long OT discussion here but, one thing:
Grady accuses Jon Stewart of being “willing to overlook some light racism here and there (racism that was not exactly real, as long as ‘real’ was defined by a white person)” for having defended Juan Williams and Rick Sanchez…
Is…Grady aware that the person Rick Sanchez was fired for “being racist against” was…Jon Stewart? (He’s Jewish.)
Hackenschmidt, thanks for this — I didn’t have to bear with you, the moment I saw the link I knew it was relevant. Of course they’re “replacing” natural gas with heating methods dependent on electricity, and yes, importing it from Russia — don’t ask, either, how much energy went into manufacturing those heat pumps et al. and how much carbon was burnt in the process. “Green energy” in this sense amounts to “burn the carbon somewhere else.” Are there alternatives? Sure, but they require (whisper this) lifestyle changes…
Bei, he was quite a decent writer. So was Bertrand Russell, for that matter. Of course other factors were also involved, but they always are.
Ksim, of course they want a Western lifestyle. Most people do. Are they willing to fight to get it, or to hang onto as much of it as they can get? I think so. As we move further down the slope of decline, and poverty becomes steadily more widespread, I suspect some flags will come out and get waved, just as they did in the 1930s…
Ron, exactly. It’s popular these days to blame the US and only the US for what every Faustian nation was doing because the US is the temporary global hegemon just now, but if you glance back a century or so you’ll find that every European country that had colonies was engaging in behavior that was at least as bad. Take a little while sometime to read up on how Belgium treated the native people in its Congo colony, just for one example!
Walt, true enough! Interesting that that song should be getting attention again just now…
Chuaquin, yep. Here we go.
Paradoctor, exactly. Nuclear weapons are an effective way to guarantee national survival, but they also hinder the nation that has them.
Bei Dawei @ 265 Europeans might believe in MacKinder. Joe Biden believes in winning elections. I don’t think he has ever lost one. Like anyone else with half a functioning brain, he can see that the American public wants no more overseas military adventures and restrictions on if not outright suspension of further immigration. Immediately after being inaugurated, he announced that the USA would no longer be supporting the KSA adventure in Yemen which allegedly peace-loving Trump had been doing. He sent his new CIA director–not, notice, either of the Secretaries of State or Defense–to Israel to inform its’ government that the the USA is not going to invade Iran for them. Among other reasons, I think he retains vivid memories of the disrespect with which the Israelis treated Obama, of whose administration Biden was a part. Now we are out of Aghanistan and, we are being told, very soon Iraq as well. I think it is the European capitals of which JMG spoke who are still living in Mackinder induced fantasyland.
Ksim @ 266, the SJW types in your country might be wimps. Here, they are expert infiltrators, backed by banking money. That is why they can have the kind of influence they do while not being able to win an election for dogcatcher in most jurisdictions.
How the European Map Has Changed Over 2,400 Years: https://www.visualcapitalist.com/2400-years-of-european-history/ – an animated map covering the last 2400 years or so.
What, sweet little Belgium? The country that makes yummy chocolates? Oh, they wouldn’t hurt a fly, would they? Would they? Indeed, Belgium’s treatment of the Congo appears to me as if the country felt that it was so late in joining the “Empire Game” that they had to try extra-hard at it! I don’t think anyone can top Joseph Conrad’s concise and accurate summary of the Congo under Belgium’s thumb (in Heart of Darkness): “The horror! The horror!”
As for giving the USA a kick once in a while, remember that I am Canadian, so in order to keep my credibility as a loyal and patriotic Canadian citizen, I’m obligated to lash out from time to time. 😊 It is especially obligatory since I was born and raised in the heart of United Empire Loyalist country and am burdened with a deep dark family secret – one of my grandparents was American (The horror! The horror!). Feel free to give Canada a kick from time to time in the spirit of friendly rivalry… God knows it deserves a good thrashing!
Are you sure that europeans will be “fat, wealthy and comfortable” in 2050s? 30 more years into collapse?
I would think that life here and elsewhere will become increasinly uncomfortable, poor and unfattening (if that is a word) by then and maybe much sooner.
JMG Said, ” Europe’s a peninsula with delusions of grandeur”
Peninsula whose habitants conquered most of the planet, forced our ways and modes of thinking on all Nations, no matter how ancient or sophisticated, and plundered the world in a way no other people ever had and likely never will.
Also, we did build pretty impressive civilization. Or at least our ancestors did.
Pretty well for a peninsula filled with hairy barbarian latecomers.
Of course, in the coming years, decades and centuries, and now already, we get to pay for the deeds of our fathers. (And for the deeds of our own)
Such is the way of a people in decline. Depleted and decadent race, doomed to wither, though maybe not die quite yet.
Not that we are alone in this. Whole humanity will pay and is already having to pay, for building the the Tower of Babel that is the industrial civilization.
Although we did start that. Oh well..
Hi John Michael,
Gas, yes I’ve heard of this thing. Spoke to someone the other week who has access to firewood (very few people do down under – most have to pay for it and it is expensive and supply can often dry up with little to no notice) and they told me in all seriousness that they were intending to remove their wood heater from within their home. When questioned further, it turns out they have a split system and gas furnace, so they’re OK I guess, maybe…
Just received another insurance bill. This one went up 17.4% on last year and may have been the smaller of the insurance increases this year. Another one earlier in the year went up 20%. It’s an alarming rate of exponential increase. A bit of curiosity in that regard often leaves me wondering who is quietly letting those bills drop off the radar.
You wrote, ‘It really depends on the war…’
Think I’m just starting to appreciate this and after further meditation on the subject a link to a book by the former war reporter Sebastian Junger popped into my view: http://www.sebastianjunger.com/tribe-by-sebastian-junger
In it he argues that even though modern society has created a kind of protected paradise, many are missing something fundamental to meaning – a belonging. On from this, quoting a part of the blurb:
‘It explains the irony that for many veterans as well as civilians, war feels better than peace, adversity can turn out to be a blessing, and disasters are sometimes remembered more fondly than weddings or tropical vacations.’
I can see as the inevitable downslide continues, a more tribal-like way of life and occasional war is likely to offer attractions in lieu of, and more hopefully alongside (longer term), spiritual considerations.
@Ksim: I have read your comments with growing amazement, but since I don’t know much about Russia or about the future in general and even less about visions, I have kept my peace. Now that you mentioned a “Brazil situation” for Europe’s future, I thought I might weigh in, since I lived for many years in Rio de Janeiro and was assaulted more than once.
In my opinion the high levels of violence in Brazil are due to its extreme inequality, which in turn results from:
1. The enormous numbers of people enslaved in Africa and brought here (many more than to the USA), who upon abolition were left completely in the lurch without a Homestead Act and without public education to speak of.
2. Small landholders being forced off the land during the military dictatorship in the 1960s and 1970s and flooding the capitals, which were unable and unwilling to provide decent housing. The resulting favelas, in the absence of the state, turned to informal organizations that over time morphed into mafia-like structures.
Other important contributing factors are
– cocaine being flown and driven in enormous quantities from the producer countries to Brazilian ports and on to Northern consumers under prohibition, while the Brazilian state copied the USA’s ill-fated “War on Drugs”.
– the incomplete transition to democracy after 1985, which left the highly militarized police created by the dictatorship in place – in Rio de Janeiro state, about one third of all violent deaths are perpetrated by the police itself
– speculatively: maybe poisoning from leaded gasoline as has been proposed in the USA – the crime wave peaked in the 1990s in Sao Paulo, but continues to rise in the poorer Northeast.
I cannot see any single of these factors applying now or in the future to Europe, Eastern or otherwise. Since you foresee a “Brazil situation” in Europe, I suppose you explain Brazilian violence in other ways than I do.
Northeastern Europe (Visegrad group) might get pissed enough to slam the door of the EU, but start wars with other european countries: what? Which? Germany? Russia? No way! Southeastern Europe I don’t know enough to comment, things may be different over there.
I am just completely floored that, of all places that have conflicts in a planet Earth where the post WWII order and rules are unravelling, you’d have a column on war in western/central/northern Europe. Taiwan is, of course everyone’s #1 concern. Africa is as unstable as ever. Ethiopia is in the midst of a civil war. The entire Sahel is reverting into age-old conflicts between northern muslim nomads and southern farmers in Mali, Niger, Burkina etc. Libya, Syria still aren’t settled. The war in Yemen still rages.
Algeria is barely functional as it is. It is getting into a fight with Morocco. In case this de-escalates, Algeria remains another petro-state that can barely keep social peace with its oil revenues… that are about to fall off a cliff, ensuring more unrest, more migrants, more destabilisation of western Europe.
Regarding Texas and California: oh I have read plenty of stories about red america seceding from blue america. Enlightened America vs Jesusland, or Real America vs the degenerates, depending on the perspective. Meh.
In the 2020 presidential elections, Texas was a very pale red at 52% Trump, and democrats extrapolate that Texas may very well soon flip blue. Dallas voted democrat more than Santa Barbara, and Austin more than LA. Tennessee is very red, but Nashvile and Memphis very blue. And it goes the other way: Washington state was very blue, but much of the state outside Seattle was red; same with Chicago and Illinois.
The granularity on a state level is all wrong. The US divide is not so much state vs state, its big cities vs the rest. How is a civil war of Austin and Seattle and Chicago and Nashville against their surrounding countryside supposed to look like? Texas seceding for Team Red would be facing secessions by all its major cities, while the west coast states joining Team Blue would see everything around them joining the enemy. I think even secession proponents, deep down, realize this, and the idea will therefore remain escapist fantasy, a kind of civil war porn.
@ DFC #241
“In what has become a familiar and troubling story for the Empire State, New Yorkers send significantly more to Washington than we get back”
I always hate these statistics… they reflect financialization & consumption, not production.
@Bei Dawei #253
would a missile really break a dam like that?
If demography is history, the US is in for an historical change. Fewer than 50% of all live births are white, and if what they say about the vax is true, it will soon be much fewer. In a couple of decades’ time it will be a rather different Uncle Sam administering the Pax Americana with his big nuclear stick behind his back.
I think America will become far more inward-looking and cease to care much what happens elsewhere. And when the cat’s away, the mice will play, as they say, on many a day. Expect a big realignment in global political relations, accompanied by increasingly desperate attempts to cope with climate change and resource shortages.
Regarding Europe, it has always been the aim of Britain to ensure the balance of power, hence the shifting allegiances in an attempt to prevent any one state getting too dominant. I imagine Russia has the same aim, hence I don’t expect a major East-West war, but rather North-South minor wars, at least in the near future. In the far future, who knows? Too many variables.
Since Russia is really key to much of what’s being discussed here, Paul Robinson, a professor at the University of Ottawa who specialises in Russian studies and military history has written a very good article on Russia’s direction in the post-Cold War world here.
For those who can commit the time to listening to just under an hour and a half of well-informed expert discussion, the Simone Weil Center for Political Philosophy have a panel talk on YouTube on the topic of “What is Russia’s National Idea?“
Its funny you should mention about flag waving but I do remember when Russia first annexed Crimea in 2014. My wife at first was astonished and rather excited about it, as was the rest of the family. People in Russia, both young and old, were super patriotic and quite happy to wave the flag.
It was only when the sanctions started to bite and food prices started to soar that the flag waving sort of stopped. But aside from the pro-Western liberals who think it was a mistake, the majority of Russians never question Crimea as being a source of economic woes. They always point the finger at “Putin and corruption” but they never do at Crimea.
I think this just goes to show how patriotic they still are about it…
Now regarding Europe, I think that I have said pretty much what I want to on the war side of the subject. I don’t think I have anything else to cover. It could turn into something none of us even truly recognise (as is Europe) but we shall see.
What I am interested now is the aftermath out of all of this. We have discussed Eastern Europe and Russia quite a lot these days. I want to turn the attention to something else – post war Europe and what it will look like this time.
As we know, it is going to be majority Arab and African. It is pretty much inevitable at this point. But what comes after?
We have discussed a dark age but will the continent be divided between new competing nations? Will it unite into a new caliphate? Or could it be something else entirely? It is something that I have wondered.
Interesting note to make on this – when Turkey and Iran were conquered by the Muslims, the remaining natives converted to Islam and became prominent figures at the top of the heiarchy. If you look at the elites in Turkey and Iran, they always look white and European over the masses of the people. Even Khomeini was a look alike for Sean Connery…
My point is – it would not surprise me if any remaining native Europeans did the same in a future Islamic Europe too.
Hey JMG, something’s in the air, even the Guardian are bumbling in on the act. 😉
And on from that Guardian article, and being more serious, as war sadly often warrants, the release of ‘The Darker Angels of Our Nature –
Refuting the Pinker Theory of History & Violence’ does look very timely alongside your essay this week.
While the original post focused on possible future wars between European states, with the possible (though not necessary) employment of foreign mercenaries to pad out the armies, many commenters have focused on the possibility of civil war with immigrants. Since the model usually mentioned is the demise of the Western Roman empire, I would like to cite some paragraphs from the recent work by the archaeologist and historian Guy Halsall, “Barbarian Migrations and the Roman West”. The background is that, while some number of foreign (barbarian) warriors undoubtable served in the Roman army, archaeologists have found no foreign artefacts in the places where history books locate the Visigoths, Ostrogoths and Vandals, i.e. there is no archaeological evidence that entire populations composed of men, women and children brought their ways of life into the empire. Halsall discusses the material evidence at length; I cite here some of his interpretation of the evidence.
It is widely believed that the army was largely made up of barbarians and so represented an ‘advance guard’ or ‘fifth column’ in the history of the migrations… The army was, as it had always been, a community of its own, developing its own set of identities. What is interesting, for our purposes, is that in the late Empire these identities were so clearly constructed around ‘barbarian’ imagery… Whereas the late Republican or early imperial army was a vehicle of ‘Romanisation’, in some respects the opposite was the case in the later Empire; the Roman army adopted ‘barbarism’, even if the latter may well have been a rather artificial Roman creation. When and why this happened is mysterious. One might postulate that it originated in Diocletian’s and Constantine’s reforms, which separated the military and civil branches of imperial service, removing governors from military command and largely ending senatorial involvement in the army…
Some palatine auxiliary regiments took ‘antique’ ethnic titles from within and without the Empire: Cimbri, Medii, Celtae, Latini or Sabini. No one has suggested that Sabines were being recruited into the late Roman army! The argument that ethnic names might have been artificial, inspired by particular barbarian groups’ connotations, is strengthened by further consideration of the context where such bodies of soldiers are found. Other Palatine regiments were named after wild animals or took names that stressed warlike or animal qualities: Cornuti (Horned Ones – probably bullocks), Leones (Lions – though see below), Petulantes (Vicious), Feroces (Fierce), Felices (Lucky), Invicti (Undefeated) or Victores.
All this suggests that the army had created for itself a particularly ‘barbarian’ identity, but one which was a construct, owing much to classical ethnographic traditions. A parallel might be drawn from the types of gladiator used in classical circus games, which included the ethnic stereotypes Gauls, Thracians and Samnites. As a modern comparison we might think of the Hollywood image of the ‘Red Indian’, a mythologised hotchpotch of authentic native American
elements and idealised and fictional components, thrown together regardless of date or geographical origin. Alternatively, and in a more specifically military context, we could cite the Highland regiments of the British army, largely but far from exclusively recruited from the Scottish Highlands but wearing a uniform which was an English idea of what Highlanders looked like, based loosely around traditional costume. The nineteenth-century French army’s Zouave regiments are
perhaps an even better analogy. Deriving their name from the Algerian zaouia, but rapidly recruited entirely from Frenchmen, they wore a uniform which was a French version of North African dress. Both Zouaves and Highlanders derived a ferocious esprit de corps from the distinctiveness, which their ‘ethnic’ costume gave them. This is probably how we should view the ‘barbarism’ of the late imperial army…
Even with these caveats in mind, some points still argue for the military value of barbarian recruits. A barbarian volunteer, especially one with experience in the warbands, might very well have made a better soldier than an impressed provincial peasant, especially if the latter found himself in one of the poorer-quality frontier units. The fact that the ‘barbarian’ units appear in the field armies must suggest, even with due attention paid to the reservations made in chapter 3, that barbarian recruits were held to be of most use in the army’s élite units…
There are almost no instances of barbarian recruits betraying the Romans to their enemies. The handful of exceptions concerns, in all cases, actions against the specific homeland of the soldier in question.
[In] the earliest Frankish law code, Salic law,…the ethnic terms francus and romanus are only applied to free adult males… When this code was issued, Frankish (or Roman) identity, seemingly linked to military service, appears to have been restricted to adult males and therefore, at least as far as Frankish identity was concerned, probably achieved through the performance of military service and the acceptance of a right to take part in the army’s activities (effectively the political assembly). Younger warriors (pueri) do not appear to have achieved a full ethnic identity…
Rituals such as those described in the law codes, and use of the precise legal technical language, were public means of proclaiming such an ethnic identity…Attendance at other assemblies, like the regular meetings of the army in Ostrogothic Italy
and Frankish Gaul (where there was an annual assembly on 1 March), was another. The customs manifested by archaeological cemetery data might have been a further example, as might wearing the costumes and hairstyles mentioned earlier. Most if not all of these aspects can be traced to Roman military precedent. The army had had its own courts and rituals, and, as we have seen, had long been sporting distinctive costumes…
Within the Empire, some Romans had possessed a series of different levels of identity, some of which were consciously non-Roman, and had customs, costumes and behavioural codes to match. This had, nevertheless, not affected their sense of ultimately belonging to the Roman community and of changing their dress and comportment accordingly in other circumstances. This precedent provided an absolutely vital resource in enabling people in the post-imperial west to negotiate the problems involved in renegotiating, or playing down, their Roman identity. Importantly these sorts of precedent had not existed in the third century.
It seems that as time wore on, especially after the western Empire’s demise, the ideologies of the ruling barbarian groups became more self-confident, moving away from justifications of power by reference to imperial legimitation. This probably also enabled a change from seeing a non-Roman ethnicity as nested within other traditionally Roman forms of identity, in the way that Roman soldiers had viewed the ‘non-Roman’ components or levels of their personas, towards the promotion of barbarian ethnicity to a more dominant position.
CS2 #26 says:
“I thought surely you were going to say the next war in Europe is European countries being forced to mobilize or else get overrun by migrations from the Middle East.”
In my opinion, no nation should be accepting large numbers of immigrants unless those immigrants want to assimilate into their new country’s culture and way of life.
@ Chris at Fernglade Farm – re “quietly dropping the insurance bills”… I have long been of the opinion that the insurance business model increasingly makes little sense in the context of a contracting economy that is also facing an increasing number of natural and manmade disasters. I expect the insurance companies to keep collecting premiums so long as people are willing to pay, and/or have to pay, to comply for regulatory purposes, while doing everything possible to avoid paying out on claims.
In any case, here are some data points. I stopped paying health insurance after the bank crisis of 2008, and have largely lost the fear of illness that an insurance policy assuages. When I stopped driving the car 4 years ago, that was another insurance bill that got dropped. The last insurance policy that we pay on our house can be dropped next year when our mortgage is paid off and no one left to have a say in the matter.
Ksim, yes, remember this already happened in Europe when Arabs and Berbers invaded Spain: the Hispano-Roman, and to a lesser extant Germanic nobility (like the Arab/North Africans, there weren’t a lot of them) rushed to convert to Islam so they could avoid taxes and retain part of their privileges (nothing new I guess…)
Scotlyn, The cheapest quote for auto ins. I could find was around $500 per half year. Fir a retired senior with and almost perfect driving record. I parked the car and decided that $500 can buy really good walking shoes.
To all those who have been inquiring about useful practical skills, you might consider cobbling. There is no shortage of discarded footwear which could be mined for its’ inner parts and, I understand, have not tried it myself, leather workers can all but perform miracles in the art of refurbishing mistreated leather.
given Ukraine’s experience with the USSR, most especially the holodomor, I can’t imagine the Ukranians won’t put up a major fight and throw absolutely everything they can at Russia. They’d still lose, absent the USA and the EU both helping them… at which point you have a huge war with uncertain outcome, other than bad for the ordinary people on both sides. Assuming the USA and EU don’t help Ukraine, or they try and lose, Russia would have control of tens of millions of people who hate and fear them and may find assorted ways to give their new overlords a hard time. How nice for Russia.
WRT Insurance. We pay car insurance because we have too. I also have house insurance only because a fire would be catastrophic. If I had to, I’d drop that coverage and take my chances.
We’re poor enough that our health is covered by the state. If I had to pay, I’d go bare and take my chances. The health insurance we could afford wouldn’t protect us from catastrophe.
As it is, we use as little medical care as we can get away with.
Clean living, decent diet, sleep, exercise, public sanitation: they all help keep the doctor away.
It’s not a perfect solution but nobody gets out of this world alive and what is a perfect solution anyway?
If quantum theory requires observers, could this not as well as explaining why we haven’t annihilated ourselves with nuclear war, but also the extinction of the dinosaurs?
In the Cretaceous, there were no substantial ice-caps, forests grew all the way to the poles. If dinosaurs had become sentient and built a civilisation, which for all we know could have been about to happen as of 66 million years ago, once they started using fossil fuels, they could warm the climate, but instead of starting from where we are, they would be starting from an already much warmer world, and possibly send the Earth into a full humid greenhouse (where water vapour becomes the dominant greenhouse gas) or even a Venus-like runaway, which could have terminated the biosphere entirely.
As it is, starting from an ice-age world, the worst we’re probably able to do is turn the Earth back into Cretaceous world. The quantum wavefunction, in the interest of having observers, attracted an asteroid to the Earth, to kill the dinosaurs off before they started mining coal.
OT, but since Biden’s record at keeping us out of wars in The Sandbox was mentioned, he’s pulled off another victory for what must be done – the new budget, considerably smaller than what the Green New Deal types wanted, is an infrastructure budget, focusing on getting people out there fixing things. Courtesy of the Associated Press, this morning.
It took so long to pass because “the liberals in Congress spent months holding it hostage in an effort to press moderates to back the larger bill [Health, family, and climate change programs.].”
As I told Jean Lamb in Oregon, Biden has (re)discovered what FDR knew, and what the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt knew, but the policymakers on my side of the fence pooh-pooh: You have unemployed workers. You have public works needing to be done (or repaired.) One solves the other. Q.E.D.
Here is what she said about my jubilant email about Biden’s record in getting and keeping us out of war in The Sandbox:
“Well, of course the press ignores everything positive he does—the current meme is Democrats suck and will lose horribly next year, and nothing can be allowed to disturb it. Alas.
“And if Fox gets wind of it, our refusal to invade Iran will mean Biden is Weak and Should Be Replaced by the guy who almost started a nuclear war with North Korea, and then caved and saluted foreign troops.
“I’m glad Biden is doing this, by the way—I just don’t think he’ll get any credit for it.
“Then again, both Obama and Bill Clinton had horrible first years and still got re-elected.
“Republicans crash the economy and when Democrats don’t fix it fast enough, people vote for…Republicans. Whee. ”
She’s a core Boomer. Biden and I are both Silents. 2-4-6-8, who do we appreciate? Seniors!
@ksim, you seem to assume that the conversion of Iran and Turkey was accompanied by large-scale migration.
The Iranian empire was conquered after 636 by a rather small Arabian army. The conquerors were garrisoned, mostly in Kufa, Basra and the Khwarezm, in order to avoid intermixing with the much more numerous natives. Conversion to the conquerors’ faith was initially not permitted. Only after a considerable delay did the native Iranians convert to Islam, mostly between 750 and 900 AD, and they kept their language.
Anatolia was occupied by nomadic Islamic invaders starting in 1071 AD. Those invaders spoke Turkish and traced their origin to the Central Asian steppes, not the Arabian deserts. Again, conversion of religion and language went very slowly – even at the beginning of the 20th century, a large proportion of the population of Anatolia did not consist of Turkish-speaking Muslims.
Furthermore, you seem to draw a line separating whites from non-whites, with pre-636 Iranians on one side and Arabs on the other side. Looking at the world as it is today, which of Seville, Casablanca, Palermo, Tunis, Sofia, Istanbul, Aleppo, Beirut, Cairo, Aswan, Teheran, Lahore, Mumbai, Colombo would you consider white and which non-white? I honestly have enormous difficulties with that question, and ancient DNA data, as fragmentary as it is, suggests genetic gradients were just as gradual in the past as they are in the present.
I wonder if you are conflating the Aryan Iranic language (an auditory phenomenon) with the melanin content of the skin, a visual phenomenon.
Very interesting information about Brazil! Thanks for clearing that up. I hope my comments do not seem too crazy. I can sort of “sense” things such as energy and it helps give me an idea of where things could be headed. I know, it sounds ridiculous and I cannot precisely say “this is going to happen on this very day” or what is going to happen say in 5 years. But i can sort of “feel the trend” on the direction of where things are going.
I can sort of feel what is going to happen this century and into the next but I cannot see any further then that. What I can tell you is that “the big bang” as it were is going to occur probably in the 22nd century. I always sense a lot of darkness in that time.
I do also see some positive green light coming out of Britain in the 2050s too. The rest of Europe? No. Just Britain. Which is weird but I do get the feeling some sort of weird “back to the land” movement will get started there.
I also get the feeling its mainly Europe that is gonna fall where as the UK “holds on” so to speak. There is something about the British Isles and “keep calm and carry on” that always keeps the country surviving…which makes sense because its usually Europe that always has “the big bang” and not so much the UK.
Now as for the Brazil theory – what you have to understand is that there is a growing migrant and also native population of people that are starting to form underclasses. Throughout British cities it is rife. You literally have entire populations of the country entirely dependant on the government for survival. They usually commit a lot of crimes as well.
Honestly, I have been to South Africa and when I came back to the UK, it felt like a mini- South Africa. Lots of segregation, poor areas and rich, the list goes on and on. In some areas, once proud blue collar areas are starting to resemble something out of a welfare dependant mad max scenario.
So what happens when the Long Descent continues and the UK cannot continue to foot the welfare bill? Already they have been cutting it and it is leading people to poverty and struggling to find food. So if that is just the beginning, imagine when they cannot to support the ever growing welfare dependant population, especially amongst migrants?
It is going to lead to huge spiralling crime rates, rioting and in general huge inequality like that of South Africa and Brazil. Europe is basically on that road too and once America is gone, financial pressures kick in and a whole host of issues, oh boy, South Africa, eat your heart out!
Which is surprising because I can sense the UK getting out of this but I have no idea how to be honest as it seems it is on the same path as the rest of Europe. Maybe JMG has a theory or two to offer on this subject as it confuses me….
As for Russia – aside from the rich oligarchs, there isnt the same level of social or economic segregation as in SA/Brazil or even Europe. Russia seems more integrated and everyone “in the same boat” as it were when it comes to economic issues.
You have a very good point here. There is this trend of red counties and blue cities. In the UK it is not quite as pronounced as when we saw with the Brexit campaign, many cities and towns did vote leave where as London was solidly remain.
My own theory is that America is just “getting started” on the division period. I think as the long descent continues, more identities will start to emerge that leads to more separation. As JMG stated, it could start with the states recieving more power and that leads to more identity politics later on.
Money talks and when the money stops trickling down to local levels, people demand their cut of the profit and that is when new movements arise. Just my thoughts.
DaHoj, thanks for this!
Ron, I always give plenty of leeway to Canadians and Mexicans. The strain of putting up with the United States as a neighbor will excuse a lot!
Jas, I’ve noted before that Europeans will rank up there with Mongols and Huns as conquering hordes in the histories of the future. It’s been a wild ride, up with the rocket and down with the stick. I’d be delighted to have the chance to read The Rise and Fall of Europe by some 24th-century historian!
Chris, yep. The wheels are dropping off the entire corporate system, and corporations are responding by frantically trying to push as many costs as possible onto the rest of us.
Jay, I’ve read several of Junger’s books and he’s good. In this case he’s quite right, of course.
Jean-Baptiste, good heavens, do you automatically believe everything the corporate media pushes at you? All you’ve done with these last two comments is rehash the conventional wisdom off the evening news. Er, I’ll try to break it to you gently, but the mass media can be wrong — and very, very often the historical shifts that matter are precisely those that don’t get air time.
Martin, the US is going to have to become more inward-looking, because its imperial era is ending around us and it has a good half century of unsolved domestic problems to deal with. Yes, that means the world is going to be very interesting for a while.
Bogatyr, thanks for this — though I’m far from sure Russia is as central to the issues I’m discussing as you seem to think.
Ksim, it’s precisely because Russia, and for that matter most other Eastern European countries, still remember the value of patriotism that I expect them to come through the approaching era of wars in something like their current state. Your second point is of course valid; given that church attendance in most Western European countries is in single digits, and scientific atheism is busy plunging ever more enthusiastically into a crisis of legitimacy it will not survive, I think it’s quite possible that large-scale conversions to Islam could be fairly common in what’s left of the western European countries.
Jay, thanks for both of these! I’m glad to see whispers of common sense beginning to seep through.
Aldarion, fascinating. I’ll have to see if my local library system has this.
Patricia M, I’m far from sure Biden had much to do with the bill, but it’s good to see the two bills separated and the better of the two passed — though running the country another trillion in debt might not be the brightest move just now.
gaiabaracetti, about the right to protest in Italy –
Ok, now tell me about your other rights. What about the governing by decree? Can you go outside or do you need the govt say so?
I never understood the urge to defend an evil government. That’s not patriotism.
I love Italy (I can understand it enough to read your great writers) but I am not deluded enough to think that it won’t repeat the fascist past if you let it.
So what do you think it’s next for Italy? The would be dictators won’t listen to simple protests and it looks like the police is more than eager to become mercenaries for the totalitarians.
? for all – How many years is a trillion seconds? Remember your estimate or guess.
31,546 years. We were blowing red okra hand prints on cave walls 1 trillion seconds ago. National debt + medicare + SS + other government promises to pay are over 200 trillion dollars…. This does not include private debt.
32,000 x 200 = 6,400,000 years worth of seconds. You can’t even begin to wrap your mind around it.
Hi John Michael,
Is it just my imagination, or is the squeeze being placed on Europe in relation to gas? I note that gas supplies from Africa are also being throttled. You’d have to suggest that memories are long, and opportunities are sometimes taken. For some reason this reminds me of the oil crisis of the early 1970’s.
And I wrote about the intermediation issue today.
my uncle and cousins liked to go on the canals in a narrow boat for holidays. And my grandfather was a lock keeper for a few years. I don’t know all that much about the canals, but I’m glad to hear they’re doing so well. They strike me as something likely to be very useful in the future.
I think you’re quite right that many–far from all!–actual Ukrainians will resist an overt Russian take-over almost to the last fighting man, The holodomor wasn’t all that long ago, and its horrors are still a huge bone of contention for its Ukrainian victims and their children.
However, part of the problem is (IMHO) simply that a very large fraction of the current inhabitants of Ukrainian territory, especially in its Eastern region, are not Ukrainians at all, but Russians or something else; their ancestors weren’t even living in Ukraine during the holodomor. For them, Russian is their preferred means of every-day communication, not Ukrainian–and some of them are barely able to speak Ukrainian.
Another, somewhat older part of the problem is the continuing, very harsh division between Ukrainians who viewed Russia as their liberator from German aggression, and actively supported Russian troops, during WW2, and Ukrainians who saw Germany as their liberator from Russian aggression, and actively supported German troops during WW2.
It really was a Hobson’s choice for Ukrainians at that time: the Nazi soldiers and the Red-Army soldiers were pretty much equally brutal toward Ukrainians during WW2, to judge by what my Ukrainian friends had to say back in my student days in the 1960s, when I was studying both Russian and Ukrainian, and memories of WW2 were very much alive. (And my Russian friends tended toward the older Russian view that Ukrainian wasn’t a proper language at all, but merely a dialect of Russian, and Ukrainians were simply Russians who were perverse enough to deny the undisputable “fact” of their essential Russianness.)
To some considerable extent, this division between pro-German and pro-Russian Ukrainians also aligns with the old geographical boundary (which I mentioned in an earlier post) between Western Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Europe, that ran right through of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Old boundaries die very hard.
In short, Western Ukraine and Eastern Ukraine (to over-simplify) are hardly a unified nation with a single shared egregore. This makes national self-defense very hard, verging on the impossible. As you say, absent Western military intervention, Russia will prevail over Ukraine. Much as I sympathize wirth Ukraine and Ukrainians, I do not want to see any such intervention, as I am firmly convinced it would lead to a third World War–with nuclear weapons!
When I was growing up in the ’50s, I and my age-mates were certain none of us would ever live to have children or grandchildren, that is, that a nuclear holocaust would put an end to all our lives. I still find it very hard to believe that I really am a few months short of 80 and that I really do have children and a grandchild. There was no actual reason whatever for anyone of my generation to take human survival for granted. I regard almost any action as justified if it will avert a nuclear holocaust.
I stumbled across this old article of yours this morning JMG – https://www.resilience.org/stories/2014-10-23/a-pink-slip-for-the-progress-fairy/?fbclid=IwAR04qrvDJlyqoMW4yzim4tiLHhcz9OkA6y5d7YhhGbWZGqh9Y8f7_Z8vZKg
Are you thinking that COVID could be the ‘trigger’ for the phase of collapse illustrated here and for the European wars to be part of that?
I’m assuming this might be too long for a comment, but have you had any thoughts about the possibilities for Australia into the future? How likely do you think we are to see war here? How likely is it that a small young family might survive in tact?
I am going to bac off just a bit on my claim that the US will not break up. I came across a Newsweek article that Megan Markle may run for US President in 2024. https://www.newsweek.com/meghan-markle-president-run-likely-biographer-tom-bower-1580106
Give what a longshot Trump was in 2015, and the lack of viable candidates in the Democratic party, I just can’t rule out she could win. I don’t think it is likely, but if she does win, I am not sure the nation could survive it.
Jean-Baptiste Moquelin, #287. As you noted, most of the urban areas are bright blue while the countryside is deep red nationwide. The other difference is that the countryside produces things, while the cities mostly produce financial products. When the money is worthless and supply chains are interrupted, a large city is the last place anyone with future plans would want to be.
Also, most of the Austin and Dallas population in 2020 migrated from LA and San Fran recently, my brother was one of them.
If they don’t break old voting habits, a seige could easily occur and there will be no shortage of volunteers in the countryside who aren’t very happy with the trashing of their home by uninvited guests.
I’ve spent about 6 years in Europe total, the southern countries aren’t near as suicidal culturally as the north.
@ Chris at Fernglade Farm – I just realised your name links to your blog. As a fellow Aussie I thoroughly enjoy your contributions here and will certainly enjoy your blog.
Hello, interesting post, because I have wanted to comment about this very topic for the last couple of weeks.
Given how the “pandemic” has served as testing ground for martial arrangements, and given the kind of problems we are facing (social unrest, a large disenfranchised population, economic stagnation, sea level rise eating our coastlines and threatening coastal cities, my generation sometimes investing themselves in their career willingly giving up on building a family, sexual scandals plaguing our well-established institutions…), I was expecting that France could easily embrace a military government. Whether through a military takeover (“coup d’état”) or just through the government in place. It doesn’t really matter when you are officially going to war. Against whom, perhaps is not the most relevant question then, since the problems to be solved are mostly domestic.
But now there is the energy situation, there is the little matter of relocalizing supply chains, a lot of our retail system is heavily dependent on fossil fuels: large commercial areas settled in big boxes outside city centers, online retail… And a culture supposedly averse to change but having embraced all the quirks of the digital “just in time” economy. On top of this, an economy structured in a large part around cheap labour supplied by immigration (we haven’t waited for the European Union to supply us with cheap labour) and subsidized by social welfare.
I was seeing war as something all too predictable in the near future, but largely unexpected. I suspect it’s one of those unspoken facts that nobody dares mention in public, and therefore that’s all the more likely to overwhelm our collective psyche. It’s good to have the choice, freedom, etc of feminism, sweating your life into becoming a manager,… but wouldn’t the possibility of living in a functioning, simple and understandable society, dumb as it may be, also constitute a valid choice? Whether it be by disenfranchisement or perhaps too much enfranchisement, we will be easy to lead to war, all too easy…
Then this post made my jaw drop, also because I thought I was just crazy imagining things. And it was a recurring fear I had as a kid. We were told repeatedly about the two world wars, and it was always my fear that the next one would hit us at an age where we would be eligible for draft.
Now a few practical questions, because even though I would totally understand the immediate benefits for society as a system, I still think it’s one of the least constructive ways to solve all of those problems. Any solutions it may bring would be short-lived and lead to said problems mutating or cycling back to us with an even greater force. And individually of course I abhor the thought of being drafted to risk my life so that others may lose theirs.
* How does the city vs countryside divide work in wartime? Nowadays that divide is quite hollow, since living in the countryside usually involves driving to a big supermarket and going to work at an office job in the city.
* How does one avoid being drafted? I guess first it helps to avoid mingling with political movements of any kind, and perhaps to run away from military duty. When the latter option becomes illegal is when it gets interesting. France has never be kind with dodgers…
* What are viable career choices, not to become a manager in a cubicle now, but rather more immediately, to keep one’s household fed while also keeping one’s head without metal forcefully inserted into? Becoming a doctor, for human or for animals, a mechanics or engineer…
* There are the ‘movie script’ options: becoming a high-ranking officer probably implies a fast death in combat, becoming a doctor for the army is perhaps not as risky. Go live in a farm (good if you are 20, without a household, and if the economy is what it was in 1940…)
* Attend your own funerals. It means a long period of wartime loneliness and the survival arrangements afterwards become quite intricate. Also risky from a legal perspective. Doesn’t protect you from violence against civilians either.
The issue here is that we totally lack perspective, both on violence and discomfort (a priviledge of the “first world”) and also on what war could be in the first half of the 21st century. It won’t be anything like the WW2, which was in itself quite unlike WW1. WW3 would be even more dynamic than WW2, would involve cutting the opponent’s supply chains in an even more complex and fast way than it already did in WW2… The social arrangements may not even involve a big army corp with drafting etc, but instead a network of companies (“start-ups” haha) working on warfare technologies (drones, communications…)
Last but not least, a big war usually brings social change and technological change with it. Which means that it’s easy for us to imagine what technology the war would start with (electronics, sattelites, drones) but a lot harder to imagine what technologies would emerge out of it. Especially since this time it will involve a downwards lurch in complexity, and this is not a trend we have been familiar with, lately. Just as war has become unthinkable, so has become reverting to older social arrangements.
Overall I used to assume that places like Western Europe were already on their way to ‘collapse and avoid the rush’, and would have an easier time dealing with the contractions of fossil fuel supply. Since they use much less energy per capita than the USA, for instance. However true that fact may be, it’s also true that we are still dependent on fossil fuels and globalized supply chains, even if it’s to a lesser degree than the USA.
Nowadays, with the news reports regularly coming in of urban warfare, the alleged economic recovery (which is best evidenced by the supply chain disruptions it creates, even though I naively thought that the economy was precisely about producing the goods it needs for itself), I am a bit less serene about living here. I really hope that collapsing won’t involve war, but here’s hoping.
Bei Dawei (#253), my understanding is that the Three Gorges dam in particular is less tightly attached to its surrounding rock than might be hoped. Note that once the dam is significantly breached, the amount of erosion from the water passing through would probably finish the job, even with concrete.
The fate of Europe is to be become Western Turkestan. The next great eurasian race is alredy present, having appeared in the ancient steppe that gave birth to the last eurasian race. The Turk is the perfect opportunistic colonizer of collapsing civilizations, just look at what happened to the arabs and persians after the anarchy in Samarra, or the exploits of Sebuk Tagin, the Seljuks and after them the Ottomans.
Germany alredy commited the same lethal mistake that the Abbasid Caliph and the East Roman Emperor commited: bringing in turkish mercs, the arabs and the greeks brought tem as slaves and cannon fooder, the germans as cheap proletariat. The turk, in the post industrial/new bronze age collapse will rule from Lisbon to Tehran.
Funny, I barely read any corporate news, and generally shake my head when I do. I mostly read weird bearded guys blogs and other misfits, but then I don’t believe everything they write either, hence my comments.
I don’t know whatever I wrote that is putatively because I got it from corporate media. Is it about Algeria soon to turn into a failed-er state?
I stand by my assertion that the red/blue divide that, I would presume, will cause the war you envision between Texas and California does not fall neatly along state lines but within each and every state. The election results in the US that I gave as indications of where the tribe loyalties actually fall, in cities and rural counties, are facts. I am not aware of a mainstream media narrative about it, but if there is, well, it is conceivable for mainstream media to be right about something every now and then.
I will repeat: if there is any sort of patriotism left in western/northern/central Europe, and it is for now a minority opinion, it is among people worried about extra-european immigration, and these guys are all for solidarity between european nations NOT restarting WWI, not ever, not close. You can’t get a war between nations if no one cares about the home nation or hates the other nation.
NomadicBeer, I am not defending the government. I am simply saying that, if when you said that you are not allowed to protest in Europe against the Covid measures you were thinking of Italy, you said something that was untrue. There have been and are protests that are allowed. As you probably know, during one of those protests a neofascist movement, Forza Nuova, led an attack to the Rome headquarters of the biggest union in Italy. So if there’s a danger of fascism coming back (which I do not believe – there are other dangers), this is some serious dejà-vu. Also, the most extreme right-wing party in Italy is the only one not supporting the government right now (just to be clear, I do not support this government either).
Of course we can go outside. I don’t understand whether that was an actual question.
The government won’t “listen” to the protest, if you are referring to the anti-Green Pass protests, mostly because they are very unpopular. Totally legitimate, yes, but the majority of Italians is not with them. You’re obviously free to disagree with our government’s policy, but if you look at the number of vaccinated even before the Green Pass, you can see which way public opinion goes (and the Green Pass is not a vaccine mandate). That’s one of the reasons, I think, the government is not backing down.
About the police, yes, we do have a police violence problem that needs to be solved. But it is certainly not new, and I think that there are many countries that unfortunately have a much bigger police violence problem than ours. Same about the governing by decree – it much predates Covid. I do not like it, nor do I like that we have a PM who is treated like some sort of saviour and who was not chosen by the people – but that’s the way our parliamentary system works and it’s all perfectly legal.
@BC #313 re: President Markle. With Harry Windsor as First Gentleman. The mind boggles. You can NOT make this stuff up, even in a slapstick satire like “How Much For Just The Planet?” Newsweek has just put The Onion,The Babylon Bee, et. al out of business, along with every standup comic on the planet. (Shakes head to get that image out of it.)
Robert Heinlein in “Year of the Jackpot” is a piker beside this.
I think you’re missing the basic outline of JMG’s theoretical war in Europe, which would not (if I read correctly) be generated out of some WWI-style “Vaterland!”, nationalist fervor. Rather, it would likely erupt between a bloc of nations seeking autonomy from the EU (over hot-button issues such as extra-European immigration, which you pointed to) and those forces that the EU is able to draft to impose its dominance and its dictates (including mercenaries among the migrants). Many large-scale European wars seem to begin in just this fashion–with an empire (Holy Roman Empire, France under Napoleon, Germany in WW2) seeking to maintain or expand hegemony over the entire subcontinent, and battle lines being drawn in response.
Regarding the U.S.: if the dominant political class of a group of states (including Texas) is sufficiently motivated to secede, (or use a Constitutional Convention to break up the Union) and are willing to accept whatever response the ruling elite offers to that action, they’ll do it–and the blue voters of Austin and Nashville (who are a minority in their respective states) won’t have much say in the matter.
Hi JMG, interesting to read your take on the future of European integration. As a Brit, and no I’m not going to talk about Brexit, I found the parallels with my own thinking on Scottish independence revealing. The whole reason that there was a Union between England and Scotland is that the English cannot tolerate a land border with a foreign power that might come under the sway of, or even ally with, a potential enemy (we’re looking at you France). The Union was the way to prevent that from happening by roping Scotland into a common agreement with England. While a lot of people’s understanding of the history seems to be based on Braveheart and legend of Robert the Bruce, they forget the absolutely brutal wars across the Scottish border that were waged for centuries before this union was finalised.
It is almost certain that some of the political right in the UK do know that history and those facts. However, if you find yourself a a dinner party and try and point out that Scotland will not be permitted to be truly independent due to concerns about warfare, invasion and history, you will rapidly find yourself treated as if you were some kind of 19th century colonial empire builder that had just walked in and planted a large flag in the middle of the table and roared, “OK, Africa next!”
@JMG – I didn’t realize that both Taiwan and Korea were under Japanese control prior to the mid 1930s, when Japan ramped up its empiring, and went into China. I did know that Poland and Germany had some border rearrangements (with Danzig always an issue), and Japan lost some of the Kuril islands to the Soviet Union, not to mention the formation of the Eastern Bloc and Iron Curtain in Europe. I traveled through some of the Communist countries in the early 1980s and through Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin, and the differences between the Soviet and Western sides was remarkable.
But I the question I’m thinking about is that with WW2, there was still a growing use of fossil fuels and expanding economies. In conflicts to come, that won’t be the case. In Europe, could that result in greater swaths of territory being swallowed up by “winning” parties (say Luxembourg, Lichtenstein and Andorra), or will the wars result in more smaller states as the ability for larger countries to maintain an empire is decreased? Another example in North America would be the border states between the U.S. and Mexico. Would Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and (at least) southern California stay as part of the U.S., revert back to Mexico, or become independent states? It’s probably safe to say the economic outlook will play a key role (and say, fresh water), but it’s difficult to predict the exact particulars.
One comment around the wider concept of European war. The two great wars of the last century were driven and funded by the intake of Imperial treasury or the desire to tap into that great flow of money. None of the European powers now possesses anything like that level of resources. For a European state to re-arm to level comparable with one of those wars would require massive societal changes including the tearing up of their welfare states, massive tax changes and a re-orientation of the economy towards the military. While that is easily and actually done in the US, it is currently anathema to most Europeans. Particularly the drastic changes that would be required of the welfare state. Even once that is done, there are the further social changes required to produce the militaristic mindset to encourage people to join the military and wage war.
In the short term, instead I see a Europe creaking under increasingly dysfunctional economic states, struggling to cope with the challenges of climate change and under increasing pressure from African and South Asian migration. It is almost certain the Eastern Europe will fragment, leave the EU and fight its bitter little bush wars. Western Europe will deplore these but do nothing because they have neither the will nor the money. Most Western European countries have drained their natural resources over the last two centuries and rely on constant rolling debt to fund their economies now. Many will turn to increasingly totalitarian measures to secure their internal security and their resources will be directed accordingly.
If there is to be war in Western Europe in the mid-term it will start as countries fragment and fail to hold onto their peripheral territories as those regions take matters into their own hands. While there may be some balkanisation, most of those countries have sizeable cores that will continue to identity as their original homelands. The most obvious exceptions to these are the UK, Spain and Italy. Spain and Italy will face the greatest surge of the immigration crisis while also having the weakest core identities and as such could easily fragment, or start to face increasingly bitter civil conflict. Both between immigrant and natural citizens, and between regions that no longer respond to central government.
The UK is a special case as it is 4 separate countries welded together into a single state. Even inside England their are obvious sub-regions that aggravate for a greater share of the joint wealth all to often spent on London and the surrounding region. Whether that holds together depends entirely on what kind of leaders rise up on both sides of the various independence discussions. It could shatter quickly into all 4 separate states, federalise, or come under a dominating English government that starts to look suspiciously like some other totalitarian states, using its internal security forces to force together what could not hold together otherwise. That said, a map of sea level rises leaves the UK looking like the Greek islands in a century, so who’s to say what will be left after that. Salt marsh, temperate swamplands and malaria are the likely defining conditions of a 22nd or 23rd century Britain.
The greatest killers of the 30 years war were famine and disease as the food producing heartlands were devastated by pillaging armies marching back and forth. This time around the pillaging will come from climate change rather than armies. The European response to that will almost certainly define what happens over the next 50-100 years. They may well see that joint action (Franco-German) is necessary to survive, or they may start fighting over arable land and then end up devastating what little is left.
Naej-Neiviv (no. 317) “…becoming a high-ranking officer probably implies a fast death in combat, becoming a doctor for the army is perhaps not as risky.”
It’s actually the opposite.
“In other words, the groups of young men you characterize as gangs can very quickly take on the discipline of military units when it suits their fancy. Nor did the transition from feudalism to centralized monarchy happen all at once; warband culture became standard across Western Europe by 500 AD, and it was right around a thousand years later that centralization under monarchy really took off in most of Europe.”
True. It doesn’t happen over night but that they reinvent the wheel in regards to military organization. And those who rediscover what works ends up winning more often than not and those paying attention end up copying them as much as they can.
Then in the process of organizational evolution. Centralization ends up happening. Similarly China after the breakdown of the Zhou social order into the various feudal fiefdoms
Had 294 years of fighting in the “Spring and Autumn” period where they fought 1211 wars and the thousands of feudal microstates got knocked out one after another.
And 254 years of fighting in the “Warring States” period where 468 wars were fought between the remaining 23 states that survived the “Spring and Autumn” period.
Those periods featured near-constant war that involved more and more massive armies of young men. With warrior aristocrats being replaced more and more by commoners.
Eventually leading to the Imperial System we know as the Qin ushering in the 1st emperor and his bureaucracy.
I can appreciate where you’re coming from with regard to wanting to avoid a WW, and being willing to pay a high price for that. I really don’t want to see a world war, either. But sometimes war comes whether we will it or not, and the only decision we actually have power to make is what part we’re going to play in events.
I do think that there are likely to be some very large wars, or widespread smaller wars in the next few decades. I’m not sure that the main center will be Europe rather than the Middle East, Africa or Asia. Or even North America, although that is hard to really accept. One that worries me is the possibility of the USA tearing itself to pieces right next door to Canada. We’d likely get tangled up in a war between Russia and Europe too. Russia seems a lot closer now that the poles are melting.
Another grand slam from Malcolm Kyeyune.
Meanwhile, in the European east…
I would suggest that in the not so distant future, the events will be governed by the law of diminishing returns.
The Limits to Growth study does not give much margin left for such kind of enterprises just at present day.
This will put a big brake to wars altogether, at leat to full scale and mendium scale wars (between countries, I mean).
The energy to invest in the war endeavour and the perceived benefit from a victory or a defeat, will allways be carefully evaluated by the governing elites, and the result will costantly be dismal. War will be mostly discarded as a way to grab power or richenss.
Is this good? Is this Bad?
Because war is just negated by the looming Big Poverty
Be happy or not, this is the unexpected gift from the unwelcomed impending events.
Just for now, we will have an oil crisis. Then, the dim period. Suffice to say this. We will be too impaired and scared to wage war.
Have a nice day
Just a note: US will just lose only a State in the medium term, that is, Texas.
It will secede from the Union.
The process already started last year, and will take approximately 20 years, I suppose, but it could be earlier.
Have a nice day
Thank you, Galen (#330), for pointing me to Malcolm Kyeyune’s post. UMHO, he had nailed it perfectly. This seems entirely true to me, and will prove decisive as the next few years unspool:
“Instead, the email job caste of America now finds itself locked into a hopeless conflict against people whose work and toil they rely on, but who do not need them to anything close to the same degree.”
If he is right about this–and I think he is–, then Blue America is doomed to become irrelevant and relatively powerless over the next few decades.
Since I do not care for either the Red or the Blue ideology, but am a grim pragmatist, I am not overly disturbed by this. (IMHO, ideologies of any and every sort are lethal toxins to the body politic.)
What Kyeyune’s post brought into sharper relief for me was the loss of trust, in the US, in Federal elections. The Red side has been spending a great deal of energy to push the idea that Federal elections have beemn stolen whenever the Blue side wins. I think that within eight years or so the Blue side will be putting as much energy to push the contrary idea, that Federal elections have been stolen whenever the Red side wins.
When most of the country, Red and Blue alike, regards the results of Federal elections as widely illegitimate, then (IMHO) we will descend into a constant naked struggle for power, where “The strong do what they can, and the weak suffer what they must.”
Just a slight correction: I am willing to pay a very high price to avoid a WW fought with nuclear weapons, not a WW in general. War upon war, all over the globe, seem to me to be “baked in the cake” for the next century or two. There will (IMHO) be no avoiding that future.
Chris, why, yes. Europe has been behaving with, ahem, “arrogance, blustering, and an unwillingness to compromise” toward Russia, as though the latter country isn’t their main supplier of natural gas. The Russians, with that dry Slavic humor for which their literature is justly famous, are reminding the EU why this is an impressively stupid idea. Plausible deniability? They can play that game all winter long, never quite plunging Europe into disaster conditions, but making them pay through the nose and keeping them panicked until warm weather comes again.
Millenial, something’s going to trigger the next round of contraction. For that matter, it’s quite possible that something already has, and the cascading problems with supply chains are a harbinger of a very difficult few decades ahead. As for your question about Australia, I’ve never been there and have very limited knowledge about conditions on the ground, so I’m going to have to pass.
BCV, as I’ve noted before, the folks who write for satire magazines have the toughest job in the world right now. How can you top so stratospheric display of clueless privilege as Her Idiotship’s latest?
Naej-Neiviv, those are important questions. Some of them you can answer better than I can. It can’t be too difficult for you to find out how the rural-urban divide worked out in France during its last three major wars, for example, and it shouldn’t be too hard to find out how young men in France avoided the draft in those same wars — if any significant number of them succeeded in doing so, which is of course another data point worth knowing. In terms of a career, I’d suggest becoming something that will fit you for a job in the Army that isn’t on the front line. A degree in veterinary science might help, because once France no longer has unimpeded access to petroleum, they’ll have to resort to horse transport, and if you can keep horses going in hard conditions, you’ll be a military asset and have a good chance of being back well behind the lines by the time things really get crunchy.
@Naej-Neiviv and whoever else is interested in surviving a military career. Avoiding the draft is dangerous and potentially places you on criminal list for the rest of your life. By far the best way to avoid combat is actually to volunteer for the military but land a rear echelon job before the draft makes it to your area demanding cannon fodder. Easier jobs in the military for non-officers are: catering, logistics, communications, mechanical engineers, military police. If you are officer material also look at intelligence and technical command roles. But you need to be specialised into these roles before the draft comes. The only job for draftees that don’t have political support is meat for the grinder. Even if you sign up for a limited term, specialise and then leave having completed your term, there is a good chance that any draft will put you back into your specialisation.
As a statistical point, the two regiments in the British army with the most medals for bravery per capita are Medical and Sappers (Royal Engineers) – the bridge building engineers. Soldiers from both regiments are expected to get up and do their jobs under fire.
@Gavin Harris #326
This time around the pillaging will come from climate change rather than armies.
“Climate change” narrative mentioned a lot in these comments, yet whatever everyone’s respective position on it is the threats from same are still arguably more theoretical than real and the pace of any resulting change will be — pardon the pun — glacial.
Resource wars will define the not-so-distant future as countries compete for dwindling food & energy supplies.
Wars have emerged during times of contracting fossil fuel supply https://ourfiniteworld.com/2021/05/04/how-the-worlds-energy-problem-has-been-hidden/
When people are plunged into poverty, the ultimate result of declines in energy, then wars often result. I’d guess that poverty is more than capable of stoking a whole heap of nationalism and division – of a type that many commentators here have argued is missing. There isn’t enough poverty yet and people are still having their basic needs met.
Luciano, Western Turkestan? Nah, I’d say it’s much more likely to be the Northern Maghreb. Still, we’ll see.
Jean-Baptiste, that’s odd, then, that you parrot their talking points so precisely! Be that as it may, I’ve made my predictions and you’ve expressed your opinion of them. Now we get to sit back and see who’s correct.
Gavin, I find that logic very compelling, as I’m quite familiar with the history of the Border Counties — I did a bunch of research on that for a forthcoming book. That said, too many people in Britain’s current elite class seem to have forgotten it. You’ll be interested to know that in the deindustrial-SF novel I’m working on just now, the main character spent two years in the US Army just north of Carlisle, helping to defend England against the EU troops on the other side of a fortified and heavily militarized English-Scottish border…
Drhooves, you can assemble a very large empire without a single drop of petroleum or a single chunk of coal; find a good historical atlas sometime and look at the geographical extent of the Ottoman, Russian, and Austro-Hungarian empires. Thus whether there will be big empires or small ones, big states or little ones, will depend on factors unrelated to fossil fuel supply.
Gavin, that’s a plausible scenario. I’m well aware that none of the nations of Western Europe have any interest, or ability, to establish and pay for the kind of huge militaries they had in 1914. I’m far from sure Eastern Europe will fragment, however. It’s equally possible that one or more countries there will aspire to regional-power status, with a large enough military to make it stick, and the result will be unification rather than fragmentation — that has of course happened tolerably often in European history. That unification probably won’t happen peacefully. What do you think the EU will do when the Visegrad Empire, as we may as well call it, decides that Trieste belongs to it rather than Italy?
Info, the equivalent period in European history was between 1400 and 1600, with an equal flurry of wars resulting in the rise of unified nation-states — though Europe’s geography didn’t permit any one state to follow Qin Shi Huangdi’s example. It’s a common process at the end of a dark age.
Galen, he really does like knocking them out of the park, doesn’t he?
Chuaquin, yep. I’m watching that closely.
Pierluigi, that’s not what history shows. Most countries facing steep decline end up with a whole series of wars. You might look into what happened between 400 and 600 in your country, just for starters…
Very late in the cycle, and possibly off-topic – but since the subject of Western Europeans moving to Russia has come up… Andrei Martyanov has just written a post about exactly that.
The last time people were all concerned about conscription, someone bothered to ask the military what it thought, and they’re surprisingly not that enthusiastic on the idea these days. The reasoning goes something like this. It takes time to train soldiers to use many of the tools of war, that amount of time to bring them up to speed keeps getting longer, and by the time they’re fully trained on the tools, their conscription time is almost over. And then all that effort to train them is them lost.
Of course if the whole world gets um, more simple (because it must not because they want it to) then maybe their attitude will change accordingly (give them an hour or two to learn how to use an automatic rifle and then send them on their way). Then again, maybe we go to some sort of neo-feudal knight system where cybernetic supersoldiers stuffed full of metal bits and highly trained for years is what happens. Who knows?
If there’s one thing the deep state did learn from Vietnam (probably the only thing), it’s that if they want to fight a pointless war, they must do it with volunteers or near-volunteers and not conscripts. They’ve been very careful not to draft people since.
I wouldn’t worry about it too much. Either they’re not going to draft you, or if things get that bad, it’s not going to matter too much whether you are or not. And BTW, in WW2, the civilians fared much worse generally than the soldiers did. Something to think about.
In one of your books, ‘Retrotopia’, people set up a maser – a device that sends a beam of microwaves – as a defense mechanism. At last, it’s in production: https://www.forbes.com/sites/pauliddon/2021/11/11/israel-unveils-revolutionary-new-scorpius-electronic-warfare-system/
General Wesley Clark: “There is no place in modern Europe for ethnically pure states. That’s a 19th century idea, and we are trying to transition into the 21st century, and we are going to do it with multiethnic states.”
My opinion is that a few years from now the US will have withdrawn from Europe. When an army withdraws, those who received support from the occupier feel orphaned, and all conflicts that have been frozen in time during occupation suddenly re-appear. That is when things tufn interesting.
As if on cue, NYT is reporting on a dispute that reflects concerns expressed here. I fear that the tinder box in Eastern Europe mirrors the tinderbox here at home: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/15/world/europe/ukraine-russia-war-putin.html
I am convinced that the next European war will start over Donetsk and Crimea.
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