TW Viewpoint | Don't Think It Can't Happen Here

July 1, 2022 | Stephen Jokela

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Much of the world has been watching the invasion and destruction of Ukraine by Russia these few months. Despite the buildup of forces on Ukraine's borders beforehand, many did not think it would actually happen—a quirk of human nature. Could something similar happen in your country?

Thousands have been injured or killed in the Russian invasion of Ukraine, including civilians. Tens of thousands have lost their homes and property except for the few possessions they could carry. Well over a million buildings have been destroyed, including schools, hospitals, and residential buildings.

Whole cities have been leveled and the infrastructure destroyed by bombs and missiles and shelling. The economic toll of the damage is tens of billions of dollars, and it will take years and many billions more to rebuild what was destroyed in such a short time.

Millions of refugees have fled Ukraine for the safety of nearby nations like Poland, Germany, Romania, Moldova, Slovakia, and others. It is heart-wrenching to watch wives and children say goodbye to husbands and fathers who will stay and fight for their country, not knowing if they will see each other again.

This is how we begin 2022. Sadly, it is just another verse in the long song of human history.

Western nations watched the buildup of Russian forces on the border of Ukraine for months and took little action. Perhaps it was wishful thinking that the Russians would not invade and that their assurances of "war games" would prove trustworthy. Human nature wants to think something bad won't happen, or that "if we ignore it, it will go away." Human nature is often in denial. We delude ourselves—then sudden destruction is on our doorstep.

Only a few short years ago the suggestion of a large-scale conflict between two modern nations would have been met with scorn.

Could Western nations see similar conflicts? Could our significant buildings be bombed? Could missiles destroy our power plants, government buildings, schools, and hospitals? Could our nations be destroyed?

Americans, in particular, have been led to believe that the United States military is the most powerful, without equal in the world. They may think that they, more than any other nation on earth, are safe from any threat and can repel any attacks against them, and that it just won't happen there. Just because something may seem unimaginable does not mean that we are not vulnerable to a series of poor decisions combined with taking our safety for granted and ignoring warning signs of impending danger.

Numerous examples throughout history demonstrate how those who think they are invincible are mistaken, and how great empires who thought themselves unassailable fell to invaders. The Babylonians thought their walls were impregnable. Babylon fell in 539 BC to Persia. A simple diversion of the Euphrates River opened a door through their walls. After that, the Persian Empire fell, and in turn the Roman Empire—and its various resurrections—also fell.

What about the leading nations of today?

Don't think it can't happen.

Adapted from "Don't Think it Can't Happen Here" by Roger Meyer.

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