The world is always troubled. So why have fighting in the Gaza Strip and troop moves in Pakistan dominated the news? How disobedient these heathens are, after the Pope just called for peace.

The dead-quiet week between Christmas and New Year's is the perfect time to rattle sabers, knowing they will dominate headlines. Journalists in the West, having gorged themselves on carols of peace, are primed to report on the shock of war.

Even though these wars are not particularly shocking. Pakistan and India have been shooting at each other across a Kashmiri glacier on and off for decades; a mere movement of troops to their common border, while attention-getting, is not particularly notable. And not long ago, Israel was engaged in an actual war in Lebanon, compared to which the rocket launches and airstrikes in Gaza don't amount to much. The deaths, while horrible, are not more horrible than the many that preceded them. Gaza is in agony, but, sad to say, its agony is an eternality.

There will be handwringing about the many challenges that face President-elect Barack Obama, who sits, literally powerless, in Hawaii, isolated in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. But are these challenges really any worse than what has gone before? They make a handy tale of overcoming the odds after Obama takes office next month. But a troubled world is not news. It is just the world.