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So, where on Earth will World War III start?

Saturday, July 19, 2014 - 12:01 am

Most weeks, we can go happily about our business while ignoring the rest of the world, confident nothing “out there” matters to us. Then there are weeks like this one, when the world seems to be falling apart and nobody knows quite what to do about it.

Question of the week: Where is World War III going to start?

It might be in the Middle East, where Israel just expanded its retaliation against Hamas missiles from air and artillery strikes to a full-force ground invasion into Gaza. Hamas, badly outnumbered and hopelessly outgunned, seemed to have no strategy behind its strikes except to provoke Israeli retaliation, which would kill a lot of Palestinians and spark world outrage. Alas, the strategy is all too successful.

Or perhaps it will be near Russia, where Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian militants have been fighting for control. A Malaysian airline was shot down over Ukraine this week, and all 298 people on board perished. There were accusations and counter-accusations about who shot the plane down, and world reaction ranged from shock to outrage.

There are two schools of thought about America’s apparent impotence about these and other troubled parts of the world. One is that we paying the price for President Obama’s inattentiveness to world affairs. The other is that it’s a rapidly changing world beyond anybody’s control, and if the leaders of other nations can’t or want do anything, what can we do alone?

Question not answered: When the world does fall apart, who will pick up the pieces?