The last few weeks I have been spending time with friends that I don't often get to see. As whenever old friends get together, we reminisced and caught up with each other. One theme though seemed to permeate each conversation, namely the feeling that something major is going to happen and it will not be a good thing.
By way of background, most of the friends I was with were either military or first responders giving their observations and concerns even more insight.
Some see the arising tensions between Russia and China leading to a potential high-tech attack using either cyber or even electro-magnetic pulse (EMP). The summer months put a great strain upon the power grid and the Eastern Seaboard is an especially vulnerable system. It would not take much for a cyber attack, or even a plain old physical attack, to bring the grid down.
Strong winds back in 2008 left most of the southwestern part of Ohio without power for over 2 weeks. Imagine what a pre-mediated cyber attack might do. No power means no AC or refrigeration. A lack of power shutdowns cell phone towers and computers servers. Food and medicine will go bad. The old, sick and young will face severe health challenges if they can't relief from the heat. Even though hospitals have back-up generators, you can't pump fuel if there is no electricity.
An EMP blast takes the above the scenario and compounds it by shutting down everything that uses solid-state circuitry including trains, planes and automobiles. While it is nice to think of an EMP blast as a declaration of war, if the eastern seaboard is thrown into the first episode of Revolution it won't really matter. No one is going to be able to call-up the Marines and even if they do, the Marines are going to be able to get to where they need to go.
Others see the recent placement of tanks and missiles in Eastern European as a provocative move by Team Obama that is certain to raise the hackles of Mr. Putin. None of my friends see this leading to Russia backing-down, rather it seems to be an ill-planned move to stand-up to Russia only to resulting in escalating tensions.
While executing a poorly thought-out plan to contain Russia, Team Obama is executing and even more tenuous plan with China. One misstep on either side could start a war.
Team Obama ignominiously blames the failure to reign in Daesh (ISIS) on an Iraqi Army that isn't prepared to do what it needs to do to win. The allegation of incompetence completely ignores the culpability of the White House, especially under Obama. Mr. Obama couldn't wait to bring the troops home but in so doing, he created a power a vacuum that allowed Daesh to flourish. Mr. Bush and Mr. Wolfowitz set the stage when the decided to completed dismantle the Iraqi military and start from scratch. The US then is the real reason the Iraqi Army is ill-equipped to fight Daesh.
Team Obama also set the stage for the the ascendency of Daesh by the Obama-Clinton doctrine towards the Arab Spring, especially Syria. Assad seems more entreated than ever and now we have Daesh recruiting Americans to become operatives. Lovely.
None of my friends view these events as signs of stability and peace but rather more chaos and uncertainty. European allies are continuing to rethink their commitment to NATO and defense spending. Japan is becoming increasingly geriatric as one of my friends quipped. Up and coming powers such and China, Brazil and India have written the US off and the US is too mired in internal issues to foster new alliances.
The only thing I would add to this is the 2016 Presidential elections. There is a huge Republican field that has yet to differentiate themselves from one another and Hillary is still trying to figure how to be in front of the cameras without sticking both of her feet in her mouth. No one looking in from the outside is going to be very impressed and I'm not sure most Americans are either.