While listening to a podcast the other day, I overheard three statements that caught my attention. The first was that World War I started because no one wanted to lose face. The second statement was that recent events between the US and China (or US and Russia) have led them down a war path based on this same principle. Finally, the conversation turned to the possibility of an EMP, likely resulting from a conflict between the two nations, rather than a nuclear bomb.

These statements sparked a debate in my mind and prompted me to do some more research to explore these claims further. I wanted to understand the context behind these statements and whether they were true. With a lot of internet time, listening to an audiobook, and downloading several PDF books, I’m more educated though still pondering the statements.

The first statement about World War I caught my attention as I had never considered this perspective. I learned about the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and how that was a primary event leading up to the war. However, the idea that no one wanted to lose face and that the desire to maintain national prestige and power could have played a role is familiar. The book “The War that Ended Peace” by Margaret MacMillan has some interesting information. She suggests that the complex web of alliances and egos between the major powers of the time, including Germany, France, Russia, and Britain, all contributed to the escalation of the conflict. Reading that list in light of today’s conflicts and news stories does cause me to pause and reflect.

The second statement, about recent events between the US and China, and I’ll include the US and Russia, also intrigued me. There is no doubt that tensions have been rising between the US and both countries. There are the everyday issues of trade disputes and territorial claims in the South China Sea and adding to it Balloon-Gate with whether China sent them, or they drifted off course added to it. There are more issues around Russia and the Ukraine war. I also ponder this though the idea that the nations are headed down a path to war based on the desire to save face I find speculative. The US, China, and Russia are all nations with national pride, and avoiding being seen as weak could undoubtedly be a factor in international relations. I don’t see direct war being in any country’s interest, though a proxy war could certainly be a consideration and one we need to be leery of.

Finally, the idea that an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) is a likely result of a conflict between these countries is a topic of debate among experts, for which I did find multiple references. An EMP is a burst of electromagnetic radiation that can disrupt or destroy electronic devices, including power grids, communication systems, and transportation networks. Some experts argue that an EMP attack is a more likely scenario than a nuclear strike because it is easier to carry out and has the potential to cause widespread damage without the immediate loss of life. I’ve been part of building NBCE shelters for this type of threat and believe it’s not out of the realm of possibilities. Though I see it more likely as a terrorist threat than something a country listed would pursue directly. There is considerable national pride on both sides and many cultural differences. Though I believe each country can see the economic impact of such a device, I don’t see any country as a direct source of this.

These three statements I overheard led me down a path of research and contemplation. While there may be some truth to each statement, many factors and perspectives exist to explore. These are complex issues with international relations and war, and they need to be met with an open mind and a willingness to consider multiple viewpoints. Only then can we truly begin to understand the intricacies of the world around us.