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War to End War Primes Future Wars

Without Woodrow Wilson’s entry into a European war which he had promised not to enter, the British, French and Germans would have had to settle for a negotiated settlement to the war. Author John Mosier wrote (in The Myth of the Great War): “The Americans buried their dead, built their monuments, and went home (not in quite that order). Then they forgot entirely about the war. The War Department spent the next seven years doing a disappearing act on the casualties, and did so with such success that few Americans realized the magnitude of either losses or the victories.” Wilson’s intervention cost the lives of 117,000 American men, and laid the foundation of a future war.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com


War to End War Primes Future Wars

“What, if anything, was achieved by this Armageddon? The German, Russian and Turkish empires were diminished; the Austrian altogether destroyed. Hungary shrank; so too did Bulgaria – and Great Britain, which by stages lost most of Ireland. New states were formed: Austria and Hungary went their separate ways; the Serbs achieved their goal of a South Slav state – called after 1929 “Yugoslavia” along with the Croats and Slovenes (as well as the Bosnian Muslims); Czechoslovakia, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Finland became independent.

France reclaimed Alsace and Lorraine, lost in 1871. She and Britain also enlarged their colonial empires in the form of “mandates” of former enemy possessions: Syria and Lebanon for France, Iraq and Palestine for Britain, who had committed herself to the creation of a Jewish National home in the latter.

In the British War Cabinet’s concluding meeting before the Versailles Conference, Edwin Montagu had commented drily that he would like to hear some arguments against Britain’s annexing the whole world.

America, however, rivalled Britain as the world’s banker; it stood on the brink of global economic supremacy. As President Wilson’s vision of a “new world order” based on a League of Nations and international law was realized, if not quite in the utopian form of his dreams. Little heed was paid to the pretensions of Japan, which laid claim to Shantung, another German relic, as its share of the spoils.

Perhaps most remarkably, the Romanovs, Habsburgs, and Hohenzollerns were toppled (the Ottoman Sultan did not last much longer); republics took their place. In that respect, the First World War turned out to be a turning point in the long-running conflict between monarchy and republicanism; a conflict which had its roots in eighteenth-century America and France, and indeed further back, in seventeenth-century England.

Russia’s descent into civil war might have seemed like the achievement of Germany’s original war aim: to knock out the military threat in the East. But all the other combatants (the Germans included) came to regret the triumph of Lenin . . . [but] it gradually dawned that Soviet Russia had the potential to be an even greater military power than Imperial Russia . . .

The victors of the First World War had paid a price far in excess of the value of all their gains; a price so high, indeed, that they would very shortly find themselves quite unable to hold on to most of them. All told, the war claimed more than 9 million lives on both sides, more than one in eight of the 65.8 million men who fought in it. In four and a quarter years of mechanized butchery, an average of around 6,046 men were killed every day.

With the Kaiser triumphant [had America not entered the war], Adolf Hitler could have eked out his life as a mediocre postcard painter and a fulfilled old soldier in a German-dominated Central Europe about which he could have found little to complain. And Lenin could have carried on his splenetic scribbling in Zurich, forever waiting for capitalism to collapse – and forever disappointed.”

(The Pity of War, Explaining World War One, Niall Ferguson, Basic Books, 1999, pp. 433-436; 460)


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