While most people focus on the how dramatic the Paris raids were, or how brave the Parisians in its aftermath, I keep wondering how different, if at all, the current situation is from the months or weeks before previous wars. Or rather, how different the present may feel to us from the way the lead-up to World War II felt to the Germans or the Japanese.
Although there have been many wars since that time, I'm deliberately taking World War II as an example because what today may be leading up to would not be a localized Korean War, or a Vietnamese War, but World War III. And I cannot help but come back again and again to this nagging thought that future generations will wonder how a relatively highly educated world polity could have let a war to end the planet happen.
One of the problems with anticipating the 'next' (or current) war is defining it. For centuries, wars have been between countries. Before that, they were between religions, and long before that, between tribes. The war we appear to have already entered fits none of these categories neatly. It is not a war ''of' civilizations, but a war between several different kinds of cultures: between authoritarian and "freedom-loving" or licentious cultures, which partly overlaps social democracy versus unbridled capitalism, the Judeo-Christian world versus the Islamic world and the North versus the South.
What throws a monkey-wrench into even these broad categories is the fact that, probably for the first time in history, a small group of humans have decided that war is an ideal way to make money, with the added advantage of killing off large numbers of resource-consuming humans on a planet that will soon need life support itself.