Tuesday, November 13, 2018

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: A Different View Of World War I

As might be expected, much is being written at the centennial
commemoration of the end of World War I. The moment of the
armistice began with an indelible set of “elevens” (11:11.11 a.m.
on 11/11).

The armistice was agreed to about six hours before, and it was
immediately communicated to all the belligerent parties who then
proceeded to kill thousands of soldiers on both sides needlessly over
the next few hours ---a fact so typical of the useless slaughter of men
in that event we now call “The Great War.”

I have suggested for some years an alternative interpretation to the
duration of World War I. It is my contention that, on that November
day in 1918, the clock mysteriously did not strike “12” --- not at noon
and not at midnight. Hostilities might have seemed to cease, but in
reality they did not. World War I did not end. Instead, it was only the
beginning of a modern “Hundred Years (plus) War” which continues
to this day.

My contention is not just based on just the fact that another world
war followed soon after, then a “cold war” and a Korean war, a Viet
Nam war, a Middle East war --- and now a terrorism war. No, my
contention is based on the facts that each of those subsequent
conflicts arose out of the real and specific consequences and details
of a war that began with an improbable bullet which killed the heir
to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian empire in a Balkan city street.

The paper treaty and the attitudes of the victors held back the hands
of the clocks from striking “twelve” and a new day. Each of the wars
that followed was in a significant way determined by that war’s
battles, issues, and the treaties and borders which were intended to
settle its conflicts. These insinuated themselves into developments in
colonial Africa, colonial Asia, the Far East, North America, and of
course, Europe itself, including Russia Even the island continent of
Australia came of global age in World War I, joining her British
Empire colleagues in the unspeakable slaughter on distant battlefields.
The future superpower China, no longer an imperial state, drifted into
chaos as the victorious European powers and their then-ally Japan
crowded in for influence and territories. Obscure Bedouin sheiks
were made kings of haphazardly bordered new states in the remnants
of the defeated Central Power Turkish empire. Armies of the victors
remained to try to salvage a tottering czarist empire after the
armistice, but only enabled a new kind totalitarian state that would
play a central role in the century’s continuance of the Great War to
the present day.

My case for the new Hundred Years War is not at all abstract  nor
imaginary. It’s all there in the unnecessarily created ethnic, religious,
language and cultural conflicts begun worldwide in 1914. In fact, this
war, technically begun because a chauffeur made a wrong turn on a
crowded Serbian city street, has cost hundreds of millions of lives;
directly changed the course of a billion persons, and  now involves
indirectly virtually the whole human race numbering almost 8 billion.

A wrong turn indeed.

Copyright (c) 2018 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

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