On very rare occasions, I would talk about the Second World War with my mother, who lived in Rotterdam at the time. Her family lost three homes and all their worldly possessions courtesy of the Luftwaffe and when she moved from the Netherlands to England in the late 1950s, she had almost nothing to bring with her. Perhaps that’s why she didn’t talk about it much. My father, younger than my mother, was aged 10 at the start of the war but he remembered the build up to war. His father, my grandfather, remembered it vividly. It was a long, slow burn throughout the 1930s. One thing was for sure: everyone knew war was coming. It was just a question as to when.
In March 1939, the prime minister Neville Chamberlain visited Germany, advocating a policy of appeasement, returning with the declaration that he had achieved “peace in our time”. A few months later, we were at war. A year later and Chamberlain had resigned, handing over to Winston Churchill. Appeasement had failed, as it always does.
2017 and things feel very different in many ways, but I dear the end result could be the same. This time the enemies are wide and varied. We have a tyrant in Moscow, we have a dangerous and unstable Middle East, we have terrorist atrocities occurring at random times, in Britain we stand on the brink of separating from Europe and the leader of the western world is Donald J Trump. Is it just me who feels we are now in the most dangerous phase in our lifetimes?
If the Middle East is dangerous and unstable, then what is Donald Trump? He is dangerous and unstable on steroids. In just over a week, he has directed a missile attack towards Syria, announcing to a baffled media that he had actually authorised the attack on Iraq and now he has authorised the use of the biggest bomb in the world used against the islamic fascists of ISIS. We may even agree with the motives for both attacks, but I am beginning to worry about who’s next?
China, perhaps, or more likely North Korea? Trump does not appear to be a man who thinks great deal before employing either his tongue or his weapons of mass destruction. I’ll bet he was probably creaming himself with delight at the very thought of the bombing of Afghanistan, knowing that he, little old Donald, had launched the biggest non nuclear weapon in the world. I doubt if he thought about anything else on the golf course afterwards.
I see no sense of direction for Trump or indeed anyone else in the world today, with the notable exceptions of Angela Merkel and Justin Trudeau, and there is certainly no one attempting to moderate his tendencies, certainly not Theresa the Appeaser, that most lightweight of prime ministers, who instead chose to hold Trump’s hand when she visited him. And everything he does, we support it because we are becoming so weak on the world stage, a process which will greatly accelerate as we leave mainstream Europe.
At least in World War Two, the world managed to not destroy itself. Thankfully, if that’s the right word, there was something left to rebuild in 1945. How things have changed today. We used to worry about countries like Pakistan being armed with nuclear weapons and quite right too. Sooner or later, one of its unhinged leaders – and there are enough of them – might decide the time is right to meet up with all those virgins in paradise. But now, the leader of the free world is every bit as unhinged as the maddest people on the planet.
Worried? You should be. Trump does not appear to be a man who has had all that many encounters with deep thought and rational decision-making. Who is to say that sooner or later, he will press the button marked nuclear in his efforts to defeat ISIS, Assad, North Korea and whoever he feels is the bad person of the day? One big bomb is all that would be needed to change the world for a hundred years, maybe forever, wrecking the lives of everyone on the planet.
I feel we are nearer to Armageddon today than ever before. This makes the Cuban Missile crisis look like handbags at ten paces. More than ever, we need men and women of vision and influence to stop the march to oblivion. I felt far safer when Barack Obama was president and even, though it hurts to say it – David Cameron at his side. This could all end peacefully and my fears won’t turn into reality. Trump in the White House suggest that they might and we should all be fearful about that.