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The Foul Tornado: On the centenary of World War I (Outstanding Read)
The American Spectator ^ | July/August 2014 | Peter Hitchens

Posted on 07/14/2014 12:17:39 PM PDT by mojito

To say that that the First World War was the greatest cataclysm in human history since the fall of the Roman Empire is to put it mildly. The war destroyed so many good things and killed so many good people that civilization has not recovered and probably never will. Long after it officially ended, it continued to cause millions of deaths and tragedies, most obviously during its encore performance of 1939-45. But it did not stop even then. Many of its worst consequences came during official periods of peace and are unknown or forgotten, or remain unconnected with it in the public mind.

The loss cannot be measured in cash because it was paid in the more elusive coin of faith, morals, trust, hope, and civility. The war is the reason why Europe is no longer a Christian continent, because too many churches supported it. Pointing to the poverty and scientific backwardness of the pre-1914 world is a false comparison. Who is to say that we could not have grown just as rich as we are now, and made just as many technological and medical advances, had we not slain the flower of Europe’s young men before they could win Nobel Prizes, or even beget and raise children?

The astonishing thing is that so many conservative, Christian, and patriotic people have yet to understand the damage this event did to their causes. It is at least partly because we can barely begin to imagine the world that we lost.

(Excerpt) Read more at spectator.org ...


TOPICS: History; Military/Veterans
KEYWORDS: britain; germany; ggg; greatbritain; peterhitchens; ww1
I've read a number of pieces on the centenary of the Great War, some of them very good. This one is the best, and most thoughtful. A must read.

h/t The Z Blog.

1 posted on 07/14/2014 12:17:39 PM PDT by mojito
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To: mojito
WWI was nothing more than dying empires gasping for breath and trying to remain relevant.

If the U.S. would have stayed out of it, the Great Powers would have battled to a draw and none of the other problems would have occurred later.

2 posted on 07/14/2014 12:22:17 PM PDT by Extremely Extreme Extremist
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To: mojito

Bump for later.


3 posted on 07/14/2014 12:32:35 PM PDT by PapaNew
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To: mojito

Thank you for posting this. It’s the best article on the subject I’ve yet come across.


4 posted on 07/14/2014 12:32:58 PM PDT by Publius ("Who is John Galt?" by Billthedrill and Publius now available at Amazon.)
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To: Billthedrill

Ping.


5 posted on 07/14/2014 12:33:22 PM PDT by Publius ("Who is John Galt?" by Billthedrill and Publius now available at Amazon.)
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To: mojito
Thanks Moj, interesting read.

I would critique the statement that churches lost respect because they supported the war. Paul Johnson wrote that the war was universally popular among intellectuals, academics and the elite as a 'great cause' to defeat the Hun. So it wasn't the church only.

6 posted on 07/14/2014 12:38:18 PM PDT by virgil283 (When attacked by clowns go for the juggler)
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To: mojito; boxlunch; ransomnote; IChing; Bratch; laplata; chiller; Anima Mundi; ebiskit; ...

Bookmark and Bump.


7 posted on 07/14/2014 12:48:03 PM PDT by conservatism_IS_compassion ("Liberalism” is a conspiracy against the public by wire-service journalism.)
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To: mojito
Bump for later.

There is simply no getting around the fact that WWI was totally unnecessary and set in motion geopolitical events that are still affecting the world today.

8 posted on 07/14/2014 12:52:50 PM PDT by wagglebee ("A political party cannot be all things to all people." -- Ronald Reagan, 3/1/75)
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To: mojito

I am a fan of Rudyard Kipling, who was very much alive and writing during the Great War. The same cannot be said for his son, who died on the Western Front serving as a young officer in the Irish Guards. Kipling spoke of the agony of his generation at what they had wrought:

The Children

THESE were our children who died for our lands: they were dear in our sight.
We have only the memory left of their hometreasured sayings and laughter.
The price of our loss shall be paid to our hands, not another’s hereafter.
Neither the Alien nor Priest shall decide on it. That is our right.
But who shall return us the children ?

At the hour the Barbarian chose to disclose his pretences,
And raged against Man, they engaged, on the breasts that they bared for us,
The first felon-stroke of the sword he had longtime prepared for us -
Their bodies were all our defence while we wrought our defences.

They bought us anew with their blood, forbearing to blame us,
Those hours which we had not made good when the Judgment o’ercame us.
They believed us and perished for it. Our statecraft, our learning
Delivered them bound to the Pit and alive to the burning
Whither they mirthfully hastened as jostling for honour.
Not since her birth has our Earth seen such worth loosed upon her!

Nor was their agony brief, or once only imposed on them.
The wounded, the war-spent, the sick received no exemption:
Being cured they returned and endured and achieved our redemption,
Hopeless themselves of relief, till Death, marvelling, closed on them.

That flesh we had nursed from the first in all cleanness was given
To corruption unveiled and assailed by the malice of Heaven -
By the heart-shaking jests of Decay where it lolled on the wires
To be blanched or gay-painted by fumes - to be cindered by fires -
To be senselessly tossed and retossed in stale mutilation
From crater to crater. For this we shall take expiation.
But who shall return us our children ?


9 posted on 07/14/2014 12:57:53 PM PDT by centurion316
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To: mojito
“Germany in 1914 hardly cared about Britain at all, and quite reasonably could not understand why London entered the war. It was more or less incomprehensible. To this day it is hard to see any British interest that was served, and dozens that were damaged.”

I'm not so sure about that. Up to the first war, there was a race going on between Germany and England.

All over the world, navies were switching from coal to oil power. In nations where resources were available, dreadnoughts were replacing coal burning ships at an incredible speed. The militarism of Germany could not be ignored by a country like England whose security and stability owed SO much to it's navy.

Kaiser Bill HAD to be contained and for the most part, the Imperial Navy was kept off the major oceans. German dreadnought's were more or less bottled up in the northern ports and German submarines were challenged when and where ever the British navy could find them.

It was do or die for the Brits. The British hung on by a thread for a very long time and finally won out.

10 posted on 07/14/2014 12:58:58 PM PDT by SMARTY ("When you blame others, you give up your power to change." Robert Anthony)
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To: conservatism_IS_compassion

BTTT


11 posted on 07/14/2014 1:14:37 PM PDT by E.G.C.
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To: mojito

I just ordered the book on Aamzon! Thanks for the suggestion!


12 posted on 07/14/2014 1:23:25 PM PDT by MeganC (Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.)
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To: mojito
Very interesting. Author makes compelling point that Europe and the civilized world in general would have been very different without the Great War. I an imagine a sort of genteel steam-punk world.

He is spot on in identifying 1914 as the start of a long war that went on until at least 1989; perhaps we are still in the midst of it.

I read “Catastrophe” he cites about the first few months of the War - the book ends with the soccer truce of Christmas 1914.

A possible different take - that Europe was not so calm before the War - is contained in “1913: The Year Before the Storm.” This book does an excellent job of detailing the turmoil already present in Europe, particularly in the arts, that served as a type of omen, at least in retrospect.

Fun fact from “1913”: in January 1913, Hitler, Stalin, and Freud were all living in Vienna and took walks in the same park.

13 posted on 07/14/2014 1:26:36 PM PDT by Martin Tell (Victrix causa diis placuit sed victa Catoni.)
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To: mojito
And so many of the belligerents were grandchildren of Queen Victoria.
14 posted on 07/14/2014 1:29:53 PM PDT by Ruy Dias de Bivar (Sometimes you need more than seven rounds, Much more.)
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To: centurion316
In tiny Spring Lake Cemetery in Prior Lake, Minnesota, there is the grave of a young man lost in WW 1.

His name was Walter J. Scherer, a private in the 130th US Infantry. Born 1893. Died 1918 in the Argonne Forest.

At 25, he hadn't time to make any sort of mark in history. I used to walk through this peaceful silent city and wonder what sort of man he was, his life cut so short.

15 posted on 07/14/2014 1:42:11 PM PDT by Eric in the Ozarks (Rip it out by the roots.)
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To: mojito

Excellent article!


16 posted on 07/14/2014 1:58:28 PM PDT by Shery (in APO Land)
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To: SMARTY
Hitchens has a point of view, which I think I'm summarizing fairly, that Britain exhausted itself needlessly in WWI (and then out of necessity in WWII), trying to prevent German hegemony on the continent, and he lays out his case thoughtfully and with considerable merit.

The problem with this view is that it runs counter to Britain's foreign policy on the continent since Tudor times, which was that Britain would resist the creation of a Continental hegemon, because a hegemon in Europe would be in a position to thwart Britain's mastery of the seas on which her colonial empire was founded.

It's true, as Hitchens states, that Britain stayed out of the wars of German unification. But the chauvinistic and bellicose Germany of 1914 was seen in many circles as an aggressive power (which it was) that had become unmoored from Bismark's judicious realpolitik. Germany had come to be viewed as the most serious challenge since Napoleonic France.

With support from the US, Britain prevailed (sort of), but Hitchens asks whether it was worth the tremendous cost. Which is a question forth asking, even thought it can never be answered.

17 posted on 07/14/2014 2:05:09 PM PDT by mojito (Zero, our Nero.)
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To: mojito

Bookmark for later.


18 posted on 07/14/2014 2:12:22 PM PDT by Nowhere Man (Mom I miss you! (8-20-1938 to 11-18-2013) Cancer sucks)
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To: mojito

later


19 posted on 07/14/2014 2:23:19 PM PDT by TalBlack (Evil doesn't have a day job.)
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To: Eric in the Ozarks
In tiny Spring Lake Cemetery in Prior Lake, Minnesota, there is the grave of a young man lost in WW 1. His name was Walter J. Scherer, a private in the 130th US Infantry. Born 1893. Died 1918 in the Argonne Forest. At 25, he hadn't time to make any sort of mark in history. I used to walk through this peaceful silent city and wonder what sort of man he was, his life cut so short.

I have two Great-Uncles who died in their middle to late 20s from the lingering effects of mustard gas attacks in WW1.

Neither ever married, recognizing their recurrent health problems were terminal (not a diagnosis, just personal observations on their part according to their siblings).

20 posted on 07/14/2014 2:32:18 PM PDT by ExSES (the "bottom-line")
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To: SMARTY

The Boer War presaged the end of the British Empire, but WWI doomed it. Britain spent its future on the Great War, and was finally exhausted by WWII. America’s Boer War equivalent was Vietnam, which demonstrated to the world that we were not invincible, and two decades of war in Southwest Asia have taken our treasure and our resolve but left our enemies standing for another, bigger round. Only the devil is truly satisfied by war.


21 posted on 07/14/2014 3:09:33 PM PDT by Always A Marine
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To: Eric in the Ozarks

I had a similar experience when I toured Eton. On the walls around the courtyard are the names of the WWI dead from that venerable school. I was appalled by the sheer number and horrified that they were all close to my age, 18, 19, 20. So tragic.


22 posted on 07/14/2014 3:20:50 PM PDT by pbear8 (the Lord is my light and my salvation)
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To: Eric in the Ozarks

Walter J SCHERER
prairiegirl.familytreeguide.com/.../Scherer
Notes : Walter sailed for France on the 14th. of May 1918, with the 33rd. Div., 130th. Inf. Company K. He was killed in action in the Arrogone Forest, Oct. 14, 1918 ...

Looked his name up on Google and got this hit, but the link is no longer active.


23 posted on 07/14/2014 3:29:44 PM PDT by exit82 ("The Taliban is on the inside of the building" E. Nordstrom 10-10-12)
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To: mojito
" It was a hopeless and dangerous delusion of Napoleonic grandeur, well-symbolized by the absurd scarlet and blue uniforms, perfect targets for German guns, in which legions of French soldiers rushed to their deaths in mad, suicidal attacks in August 1914."

"Le pantalon rouge c'est la France!"

I thought Barbara Tuchman's "Guns of August" was an excellent read about WWI (which is where I first saw the quote about red pants).

24 posted on 07/14/2014 4:23:28 PM PDT by Flag_This (Liberalism: Kills countries dead.)
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To: exit82
Thanks for looking up Walter Scherer and filling in a bit of his history.

My dad was born in 1906, thus too young for WW 1 and almost too old for WW 2. Yet, he volunteered for service in the AAF, flying C-46s over the Hump in the China-Burma-India Campaign.

Japan had over one million troops on the Asian mainland, taking large swaths of territory from the Brits and French who had colonized the nations. Sadly, we sowed the seeds of Europe's blunder in SE Asia and another 58,000 + young men were lost, like Walter Scherer...

25 posted on 07/14/2014 5:13:59 PM PDT by Eric in the Ozarks (Rip it out by the roots.)
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To: pbear8
I had a similar experience when I toured Eton. On the walls around the courtyard are the names of the WWI dead from that venerable school. I was appalled by the sheer number and horrified that they were all close to my age, 18, 19, 20. So tragic.

Yep. They should send the kings, presidents, czars, parliaments, congresses, politburos of nations to fight one another. All nations would benefit.

26 posted on 07/14/2014 5:19:11 PM PDT by Sirius Lee (All that is required for evil to advance is for government to do "something")
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To: Sirius Lee

Indeed. And the illegals should be housed by politicians/enablers.


27 posted on 07/14/2014 5:52:24 PM PDT by pbear8 (the Lord is my light and my salvation)
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To: mojito

bfl


28 posted on 07/14/2014 6:11:10 PM PDT by Skooz (Gabba Gabba we accept you we accept you one of us Gabba Gabba we accept you we accept you one of us)
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To: mojito

Thanks for this post.


29 posted on 07/14/2014 6:13:00 PM PDT by EternalVigilance
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To: Sirius Lee
Yep. They should send the kings, presidents, czars, parliaments, congresses, politburos of nations to fight one another. All nations would benefit.

I can only imagine the House of Representatives battalion under the command of Major Boehner. They'd file a lawsuit against the enemy and surrender.

30 posted on 07/14/2014 6:17:31 PM PDT by Colonel_Flagg ("Compromise" means you've already decided you lost.)
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To: conservatism_IS_compassion
Thank you for this post.

My paternal grandfather enlisted early in 1915. He spent most of the war as a prisoner of war. His regiment was the famous "Buffs". The Germans were being slowly starved themselves by the blockade and thus prisoners suffered. He died when I was only four years old and I never knew him. He never really recovered, nor did his country enable him to ever work steadily afterward.

31 posted on 07/14/2014 6:19:32 PM PDT by Peter Libra
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To: Eric in the Ozarks
I used to walk through this peaceful silent city and wonder what sort of man he was, his life cut so short.

You may have this information but there is a very fine and detailed record of Walter in Ancestry.com

Somehow I was intrigued and checked it out. There he was in various census. Born Eagle Creek, Scott, Minnesota - the 1910 census tells us of his parents. Jacob 59 yrs. and Kate 47 yrs. A farmer with his own farm. Kate born in Canada and Jacob born in Illinois. Both their fathers ironically were born in Germany.

Walter is 17 yrs. and has five siblings all younger. His letter written as a soldier while training in Texas is shown. Also a photograph in his uniform. The telegram telling of his remains being returned is shown. A bit of a ramble on my part, but thought it might interest posters on this thread.

32 posted on 07/14/2014 6:31:37 PM PDT by Peter Libra
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To: mojito

The negative influence of WW I can never be over-stated.

It ushered in the absolute destruction of so much that was civilized, and paved the way for so much that was barbaric, that we can still see the effect every time we stroll through an American city.


33 posted on 07/14/2014 7:20:59 PM PDT by Jack Hammer
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To: mojito; Oldeconomybuyer; RightField; aposiopetic; rbmillerjr; Lowell1775; JPX2011; NKP_Vet; ...
+

Freep-mail me to get on or off my pro-life and Catholic List:

Add me / Remove me

Please ping me to note-worthy Pro-Life or Catholic threads, or other threads of general interest.

34 posted on 07/14/2014 7:24:33 PM PDT by narses (Matthew 7:6. He appears to have made up his mind let him live with the consequences.)
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To: mojito

Ping


35 posted on 07/14/2014 7:58:17 PM PDT by IChing
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To: Peter Libra
Spring Lake feeds into upper Prior Lake, Minnesota and only recently has this area become part of the Minneapolis metro. As recently as the 1950s, it was served by a gravel road from Burnsville, Savage and Edina, across the Minnesota River.

I-35 was the first “improvement” from north to south, then the often flooded old Ferry Bridge across the Minnesota River at Savage was replaced with a new four lane span that moved Prior Lake from a 4th or 5th tier suburb to 5 minutes from I-494.

Walter J. Scherer probably never dreamed that homes on the little “perched” lake would command annual taxes of $10-$12,000 annually but they did when we lived there.

In many ways, PL is still a small town on the edge of the countryside. There was corn planted just a few blocks from where we lived in 1999-2000. Dairy cows would wander into the lake on hot summer days and it was not unusual to see one of the local farmers whistle the cows up in the late afternoon for milking.

36 posted on 07/14/2014 8:04:32 PM PDT by Eric in the Ozarks (Rip it out by the roots.)
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To: mojito

The Bastille Day parade featured contingents from all the Alllies during WWI. Somehow I see it fitting that the French, who set the bar for class and joie-de-vivre as far as I am concerned, commemorate such a human tragedy in this way.


37 posted on 07/14/2014 9:43:35 PM PDT by RitchieAprile
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To: mojito
In the first war, Britain had to challenge the Germans (ie. the German Navy) or else lose its colonies. It became an arms race that was the granddaddy of them all and which did NOT exclude Japan, the US, Italy, etc., though THEY modernized on a little smaller scale (at first).

A strong (stronger than Britain's) German Navy meant a German challenge to English control of the seas. The British needed to trade, administer colonies, communicate, and to maintain a standing in world politics despite its small land mass. They couldn't do that without a world class navy.

The Kaiser kept on enlarging and modernizing his navy and was a threat to Britain the whole time. The British HAD to respond or lose it all. No effort against Germany in WWI could be needless for the Brits.

38 posted on 07/15/2014 4:14:18 AM PDT by SMARTY ("When you blame others, you give up your power to change." Robert Anthony)
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To: mojito

Thanks for the great article.


39 posted on 07/15/2014 5:52:29 AM PDT by ThomasMore (Islam is the Whore of Babylon!)
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To: mojito

“it was going badly and had no military, diplomatic, or economic purpose.”

Woah up there, old Hoss. You wrote above, “Germany started the war because she wanted and hoped to gain enormous prizes through a swift victory, first over France and then over Russia.” Establishing a world in which that sort of thing is not allowed is a good and sufficient purpose.


40 posted on 07/15/2014 12:30:13 PM PDT by dsc (Any attempt to move a government to the left is a crime against humanity.)
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To: Eric in the Ozarks

“flying C-46s over the Hump in the China-Burma-India Campaign.”

I’ve heard you could navigate that route by the wreckage of downed aircraft.


41 posted on 07/15/2014 12:38:19 PM PDT by dsc (Any attempt to move a government to the left is a crime against humanity.)
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To: Peter Libra

Very interesting indeed.


42 posted on 07/15/2014 12:39:52 PM PDT by dsc (Any attempt to move a government to the left is a crime against humanity.)
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To: dsc

His first C-46 featured Nationalist Chinese stars on the wings. A later airplane had Army stars. He was a civilian pilot, like a dozen others in this outfit. He wore an Army Air Force uniform with the CBI patch but without rank insignia. He was referred to as “captain.”
He identified the C-B-I as the ‘bump on the butt” of the Allied war effort since nothing of great importance happened during the campaign. It was a temporary patch job, driven by the fall of the Burma supply road to the Japanese. One can make the argument that American, Brit and Chinese forces held over a million Japanese on the Asian mainland vs moving them to defend against the island campaign. I don’t think Japan had the marine capacity to move them and, in any case, the chow was better than what the Japanese troops on the little islands could scavenge for themselves.


43 posted on 07/15/2014 1:28:49 PM PDT by Eric in the Ozarks (Rip it out by the roots.)
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To: Publius
Many thanks for the ping, and apologies for my three-days-late vacation delay.

A brilliant article, I think, although I suspect Hitchens of an overly nostalgic view of the stability of the staggering Austro-Hungarian empire. Franz Ferdinand was, after all, the last best hope of the thing breaking up gracefully, and had a wall full of hopeful maps to prove it. It was not to be, and the matter had to be settled in a spray of blood inconceivable to the radicals - Princip was only a tool, after all - who envisioned another Europe without considering the price carefully enough.

I am of two minds with respect to the likely results of a German victory. On the one hand, one could hardly imagine a more autocratic approach to government than that of the Hohenzollern, and how that government would have dealt with the centrifugal explosion of its Austrian neighbor is a little hard to project ending happily. On the other, it is an interesting game to imagine the victorious government of the Kaiser left to deal with the dissolution of its principal ally's empire, an exercise left to the United States some three decades hence with the dissolution of the second British Empire and the colonies of France in Indochina. It may be charity to proclaim that we did manage to muddle through it, but we are where we are. I suppose it could have been worse.

That both Germany and Russia have, as they always have, territorial ambitions in the European arena is an observation that is as painfully obvious as it is painfully cliched. The specific ambitions seem to me to reek of Great Powers ambitions: control of the Black Sea and access to the Mediterranean on the part of the Russians; on the part of the Germans, the administrative and economic domination of its neighbors from Greece to the North Sea. Both Peter the Great and Frederick the Great would have understood. This return to the Great Powers approach to geopolitics is a direct result of the fall of the Soviet Union and the oh-so-sincerely desired retreat of United States foreign policy from accused (on the part of the Left) imperialism to accused (on the part of the Right, and with cause) incompetence and disengagement. History, or more precisely human folly, repeats itself: it is the world the radicals thought they wanted and the rest of us are going to have to deal with it.

44 posted on 07/18/2014 9:02:01 PM PDT by Billthedrill
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To: mojito

thanks! I’ve been looking for something new on WWI


45 posted on 01/25/2015 10:11:37 PM PST by cycjec
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To: Flag_This

Blood red pants, bright blue shirts, and NO helmets (at least in the beginning). No one knew what type of hell they we about to unleash. August 1914 has got to be the most horrible month in history.


46 posted on 01/25/2015 10:32:01 PM PST by Benito Cereno
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To: cycjec

Try Dan Carlin’s podcast, Hardcore History. He just finished a brilliant series called Blueprints for Armageddon.


47 posted on 01/25/2015 10:45:04 PM PST by Benito Cereno
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