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.
Russia has been massing troops on its border with Ukraine. Russian president Vladimir Putin apparently believes that Europe is in utter disarray and assumes that President Obama remains most interested in apologizing to foreigners for the past evils of the United States. Putin is wagering that no tired Western power could or would stop his reabsorption of Ukraine — or the Baltic states next. Who in hip Amsterdam cares what happens to faraway Kiev?