"Russia sends troops to North Korea border as tensions escalate...A report from primemedia.RU claims: ‘Railway trains loaded with military equipment moving towards Primorsky region via Khabarovsk have been noticed by locals.
A military official added: ‘The movement of military equipment by different means of transport to southern areas is being observed across Primorsky region over the past week.’
The movement comes only a day after Russia and the US clashed at the UN over a UN security council statement, drafted by the US, which condemned North Korea’s latest failed test."
Not totally confirmed yet, but that's all we need- another superpower being sucked into the morass Trump has created by his grotesque mishandling of North Korea's government. North Korean leaders have been acting in the same belligerent manner for decades, and every previous President, even the village idiot George W. Bush, has managed to respond in an adult manner. No more, I guess.
We do not have quite the same entangling web of treaty obligations that we saw in the runup to World War I, but I do not think I am being unfair to see a similar phenomenon, where a number of world powers are being dragged into what should be a regional matter of little concern outside the area. We can see, I think, North and South Korea as Bulgaria and Romania in 1914, countries of small consequence, but whose long standing alliances with the world's great powers are risking a cataclysmic collapse into violence.
I would like to say a little more about this comparison. I have spent a lot of the last decade reading about the runup to World War I, going back to the unification of Germany in 1871. I now believe that the war was not, in the end, about the Balkans at all, but about the death throes of European colonialism. Until 1871, there were three "great powers" in Europe; England, France and Russia. England and France had far flung colonial empires, and Russia had everything east of the Urals, as a sort of internal colony. The unification of Germany began a game of musical chairs, in which four countries now competed for the colonies of three. This caused tensions to rise dramatically, with numerous colonial struggles, such as the Agadir crisis, the struggle for European colonies and trade centers in the Pacific, or the fighting between England and France over the Sudan, bringing the world closer and closer to the cliff edge. The Balkan crisis was really about colonialism too, with the "great powers" struggling over territories that were slipping away from the decaying Ottoman Empire. There were two Balkan wars in the period before World War I. We in the West tend to hear about nothing but Serbia and the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, but things were far more treacherous in Romania and Bulgaria. Romania was primarily a Catholic, Western oriented country, and Bulgaria had a population of Slavs, primarily in the Orthodox church, who had natural associations with the Slavic, Orthodox country of Russia. When the Ottomans began to lose their control over the Balkans, the two countries turned to their natural allies, and a ready made conflict of big countries was provided.
Here's a map of the Balkans from just before the Balkan wars; sorry that it's not in English, but I think it's easy enough to identify the countries involved:
What I have said in the above paragraph is a great simplification of the complex conditions that led to World War I, but I think it does show how great powers were sucked into what should have been a local affair. We have, I think it is safe to say, a very similar alignment on the Korean peninsula today, with the Western powers being naturally aligned with the Capitalist South, while Russia and China have both historical and political connections with the North. So, when Austria attacked Serbia, which by all rights it should have conquered in weeks, and then utterly muffed their invasion, in the greatest military blunder of the twentieth century, the resulting quagmire drew countries one by one to the aid of their smaller allies, and, as they would say at Scotland Yard, Bob's your uncle.
If Trump does decide to launch an attack against North Korea, as he is so obviously hungering to do, does anyone have the confidence that he could go for the quick kill? An attack there that stretched out to more than a few days could easily draw the great powers into the struggle, with the most catastrophic results. And Trump's obsession with appearance over substance would almost guarantee that whatever action the US took would collapse quickly into military catastrophe at least as great as that which overcame Bush's Iraq aggression, which incidentally was the greatest military blunder since the Austrian invasion of Serbia, with the possible exception of Hitler's fumbling the attack on Stalingrad.
So, there you have it. If you wanted to write a novel about the start of World War III, there's a perfectly believable plot line for you. Will it happen? Probably not, because the worst rarely does happen, but it has happened twice in the last century or so, and that is without a patently mentally incompetent leader to lead the world into the abyss. We'll see how it all goes.