Wednesday, April 11, 2018

The Syrian Missile Crisis

I remember reading the classic Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis as an undergraduate, thinking how it must have been to live through those frightening days in October 1962. At the time, life as a student in Örebro seemed so incredibly peaceful in comparison.

Fifteen years later and the world is again pushed to the brink of great power conflict. Following the chemical attack in Douma during the weekend, Trump has tweeted himself into a corner as Russia promises that it will shoot down any incoming missiles and attack their launching platforms if its personnel is threatened. Such retaliation, be it the sinking of an Arleigh Burke guided missile destroyer, would give rise to a nearly unstoppable spiral of escalation. After all, there were some very good reasons as to why Obama stepped back from his famous red line in 2012.

What is striking about all this is the normalcy of this Wednesday in Umeå. In the morning I went for a diabolic run of 6.66 km, overstretched some chest muscle, briefly thinking that I was having a heart attack, walked through the sunshine to work, completed my Formas grant application, supervised my thesis students, picked up the kids at the preschool, listened to the other parents small talking about the weather and their plans for the weekend, cooked some Thai food with lots of ginger and lime, and now, wrote another blog post.

Of course, just as with the Cuban missile crisis 56 years ago, cooler heads will most likely prevail (even if Trump seems to be doing his uttermost to get rid of anyone remotely sensible among his advisors) and I will fly down to Tel Aviv with Ally in nine short days.

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