This summer, President Obama was often golfing. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were promising to let the world be. The end of summer seemed sleepy, the world relatively calm.
The summer of 1914 in Europe also seemed quiet. But on July 28, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated in Sarajevo by Gavrilo Princip with help from his accomplices, fellow Serbian separatists. That isolated act sparked World War I.
In the summer of 1939, most observers thought Adolf Hitler was finally through with his serial bullying. Appeasement supposedly had satiated his once enormous territorial appetites. But on Sept. 1, Nazi Germany unexpectedly invaded Poland and touched off World War II, which consumed some 60 million lives.
Wars often seem to come out of nowhere, as unlikely events ignite long-simmering disputes into global conflagrations.
The instigators often are weaker attackers who foolishly assume that more powerful nations wish peace at any cost, and so will not react to opportunistic aggression.
Unfortunately, our late-summer calm of 2016 has masked a lot of festering tensions that are now coming to a head -- largely due to disengagement by a supposedly tired United States.
In contrast, war, unlike individual states, does not sleep.
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