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The Tragic Futility of World War I
The Atlantic ^ | BURT SOLOMON

Posted on 07/28/2014 9:21:30 AM PDT by Borges

If you find human behavior discouraging today, consider what happened a century ago. A Martian might have gazed down upon Europe in 1914 and seen a peaceful, prosperous continent with a shared culture. Pretty much everyone had enough to eat. The English listened to Wagner, Germans savored Shakespeare, Russian aristocrats mimicked the French, Mozart and Italian opera were loved by all. Then, Europe imploded.

(Excerpt) Read more at theatlantic.com ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society
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1 posted on 07/28/2014 9:21:30 AM PDT by Borges
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To: Borges
The English listened to Wagner, Germans savored Shakespeare, Russian aristocrats mimicked the French, Mozart and Italian opera were loved by all.

You could travel from London to Vladivostok without a passport, and your money was good everywhere because it was redeemable in specie. Yep. They blew it up.

2 posted on 07/28/2014 9:24:10 AM PDT by SeeSharp
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To: Borges

I was thinking about that - Germany and Austria were, in a lot of ways, the center of culture, music and art. Those never really came back after WWII. 1914 was the end of the Classical Era in a lot a ways.


3 posted on 07/28/2014 9:33:28 AM PDT by Fido969 (What's sad is most)
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To: Borges

What we’re seeing in the middle east is a result of the breakup of the Ottoman Empire and the insanity that was the Versailles treaty redrawing borders the West knew nothing about redrawing.

I watched the WWI documentaries Saturday night on History and the airship show was the most educational piece on the subject I have ever seen. Very entertaining history.

I have to say it’s amazing just how much evil has spawned out of a war that even I don’t know as much about as I wish.


4 posted on 07/28/2014 9:40:22 AM PDT by PittsburghAfterDark
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To: Borges

World War I was going happen anyway because the race for foreign colonies and the massive arms buildup by the UK, France and Germany was going to come to a head sooner or later.


5 posted on 07/28/2014 9:40:27 AM PDT by RayChuang88 (FairTax: America's economic cure)
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To: Fido969

In America, the cliche of the music teacher with a German accent in every city was pretty much true. After war broke out, German culture lost some of its prestige and Russian composers like Tchaikovsky started to played much more.


6 posted on 07/28/2014 9:42:01 AM PDT by Borges
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To: SeeSharp

The author AJP Taylor in the intro to one of his books “English History 1914-1945” described life in England at the eve of the Great War as what a libertarian would describe as almost a utopia. All that ended with the Great War.


7 posted on 07/28/2014 9:42:40 AM PDT by C19fan
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To: Fido969

Sir Edward Grey, at the time British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, is said to have remarked at sundown of the literal eve of the German invasion of Belgium “The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our life-time”.

To be more accurate, he should have said “We shall not see them lit again in the lifetimes of our grandchildren’s grandchildren”.


8 posted on 07/28/2014 9:45:12 AM PDT by DuncanWaring (The Lord uses the good ones; the bad ones use the Lord.)
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To: Borges

The writer artfully skates around the cause of the war - naked German aggression - and instead pretends that war was just in humanity’s DNA.

Yes: it was a futile war. German and Austro-Hungary launched their war of aggression and the rest of Europe had to spend blood and treasure to defend themselves.

Nobody gained from it, in the same way George Zimmerman gained nothing from defending himself - except that he defended himself and his way of life as best he could.

There’s no shared collective guilt for WW1. It’s all on the Kaiser and those who allied with him.


9 posted on 07/28/2014 9:48:12 AM PDT by agere_contra (Hamas has dug miles of tunnels - but no bomb-shelters.)
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To: agere_contra

You could make a case that if the Kaiser had won the world would be better off today. No Nazis in Germany and possibly no Bolsheviks in Russia.


10 posted on 07/28/2014 9:49:31 AM PDT by Borges
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To: C19fan

One of my favorite historians.


11 posted on 07/28/2014 9:50:39 AM PDT by ops33 (Senior Master Sergeant, USAF (Retired))
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To: Borges
The opening paragraph of Barbra Tuchman's "The Guns of August", on the funeral of King Edward of England in May, 1910:

So gorgeous was the spectacle on the May morning of 1910 when nine kings rode in the funeral of Edward VII of England that the crowd, waiting in hushed and black-clad awe, could not keep back gasps of admiration. In scarlet and blue and green and purple, three by three the sovereigns rode through the palace gates, with plumed helmets, gold braid, crimson sashes, and jeweled orders flashing in the sun. After them came five heirs apparent, forty more imperial or royal highnesses, seven queens--four dowager and three regnant--and a scattering of special ambassadors from uncrowned countries. Together they represented seventy nations in the greatest assemblage of royalty and rank ever gathered in one place and, of its kind, the last. The muffled tongue of Big Ben tolled nine by the clock as the cortege left the palace, but on history's clock it was sunset, and the sun of the old world was setting in a dying blaze of splendor never to be seen again.

Four years later, their armies were killing each other at the rate of 10,000 men PER DAY, kept up for over four more years.

12 posted on 07/28/2014 9:51:56 AM PDT by DuncanWaring (The Lord uses the good ones; the bad ones use the Lord.)
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To: SeeSharp

Take away the hero-worship of the military culture fostered in the German principalities, and petulant, foolish children like Kaiser Wilhelm II would never have come along... or, having existed, would not be able to lead their continent into the first-ever war on an industrial scale.


13 posted on 07/28/2014 9:51:56 AM PDT by Oberon (John 12:5-6)
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To: Oberon

The Prussian mentality came to dominate all German speaking cultures in the wake of the Franco-Prussian war of 1870.


14 posted on 07/28/2014 9:54:41 AM PDT by Borges
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To: Borges

There certainly wouldn’t have been any Nazis - because if Germany had won WW1 then central Europe would have been ruled by a totalitarian state a few years earlier than it was.


15 posted on 07/28/2014 9:55:45 AM PDT by agere_contra (Hamas has dug miles of tunnels - but no bomb-shelters.)
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To: Borges

Yes - that is a useful point about Prussian militarism.


16 posted on 07/28/2014 9:58:28 AM PDT by agere_contra (Hamas has dug miles of tunnels - but no bomb-shelters.)
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To: Borges

It may have been futile, but an utopia was not thrown away. The author ignores way to much to be taken seriously.


17 posted on 07/28/2014 10:08:12 AM PDT by Henry Hnyellar
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To: Oberon

You raise a solemn historical parallel.

As you so truly say: Kaiser Wilhelm was a petulant man-child. Also - as shown by the Harden–Eulenburg affair - a surprisingly large portion of his ministers and courtiers seem to have been homosexuals.

Fast forward one hundred years: the greatest war machine on earth is once again in the hands of a petulant man-child, surrounded by homosexuals.

What could go wrong!


18 posted on 07/28/2014 10:08:44 AM PDT by agere_contra (Hamas has dug miles of tunnels - but no bomb-shelters.)
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To: Oberon

I tend to blame the Russians ever so slightly more than I blame the Germans. But your point applies just as well to them.


19 posted on 07/28/2014 10:10:36 AM PDT by SeeSharp
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To: agere_contra
if Germany had won WW1 then central Europe would have been ruled by a totalitarian state a few years earlier than it was.

The Kaiser's Germany was in no way a totalitarian state. It was in fact more democratic than Britain prior to the war. The Kaiser and the military controlled foreign policy, but the Diet controlled most everything else. Contrast that with Britain where a few hundred families controlled the entire empire and the Parliament was just a rubber stamp.

20 posted on 07/28/2014 10:15:59 AM PDT by SeeSharp
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To: RayChuang88
World War I was going happen anyway because the race for foreign colonies and the massive arms buildup by the UK, France and Germany was going to come to a head sooner or later.

Well it didn't break out between the UK, France, and Germany. It broke out between Germany and Russia, using the conflict between Austria and Serbia as a pretext. The other powers joined the war in progress.

21 posted on 07/28/2014 10:21:30 AM PDT by SeeSharp
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To: SeeSharp

Germany’s ultimate target was France.

See the von Schlieffen Plan.


22 posted on 07/28/2014 10:25:05 AM PDT by DuncanWaring (The Lord uses the good ones; the bad ones use the Lord.)
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To: SeeSharp

Based on the published war aims of Germany and the actual Treaty ending the war with Russia, it was more draconian than Versailles.


23 posted on 07/28/2014 10:26:00 AM PDT by AU72
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To: Borges

Technology was exploding at the time, if not for WWI we would probably have flying cars by now.....


24 posted on 07/28/2014 10:26:41 AM PDT by mowowie
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To: DuncanWaring

“We shall not see them lit again in the lifetimes of our grandchildren’s grandchildren”.

.
How can any country survive after importing all those bearded barbarians and making them part of their “culture”.


25 posted on 07/28/2014 10:27:26 AM PDT by 353FMG
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To: agere_contra
if Germany had won WW1 then central Europe would have been ruled by a totalitarian state a few years earlier than it was

I hope you're not equating the Kaiser's Germany with Hitler's Germany. Because they are 10% the same and 90% different.

26 posted on 07/28/2014 10:34:56 AM PDT by Leaning Right (Why am I holding this lantern? I am looking for the next Reagan.)
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To: SeeSharp; agere_contra
The Kaiser's Germany was in no way a totalitarian state. It was in fact more democratic than Britain prior to the war. The Kaiser and the military controlled foreign policy, but the Diet controlled most everything else. Contrast that with Britain where a few hundred families controlled the entire empire and the Parliament was just a rubber stamp.

I was also going to respond to agere-contra's comment by pointing out that there were no totalitarian states in the world before World War I. Even Czarist Russia was more authoritarian than totalitarian.

However, after war broke out Germany experienced what was called "the Spirit of '14": a patriotic fervor that led ultimately to a totally mobilized society often referred to as "war socialism." After about 1916 Hindenburg and Ludendorff were the virtual dictators of Germany, but not in the same sense as Stalin, Mussolini, Hitler, or the Militarist Japanese later were.

It's virtually impossible for an American (and I'm including myself) to understand the old monarchist system of pre-war Europe. And World War I delivered the coup de grace to the monarchies (the first blow, however, was the French Revolution).

The Kaiser was no innocent, and he was in many ways a petulant man-child, but he was no Hitler or Stalin. He was very anti-Semitic, but his government never persecuted Jews (other than keeping them from advancing far in the military).

27 posted on 07/28/2014 10:40:37 AM PDT by Zionist Conspirator (Throne and Altar! [In Jerusalem!!!])
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To: agere_contra
Interesting read:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harden-Eulenburg_Affair

28 posted on 07/28/2014 10:44:23 AM PDT by texas booster (Join FreeRepublic's Folding@Home team (Team # 36120) Cure Alzheimer's!)
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To: DuncanWaring
Germany’s ultimate target was France. See the von Schlieffen Plan.

That's a bit superficial. Germany's aim was to win the war and defeat her enemies. France had to be included in those plans because the French had a treaty with Russia.

As it happens, von Schlieffen was wrong anyway. The Russians were over the border and into Prussia within two weeks. The whole premise that France had to be defeated first because Russia could only be deflected was totally wrong. France was not defeated, but Russia was, something von Schlieffen had thought was impossible.

29 posted on 07/28/2014 10:45:49 AM PDT by SeeSharp
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To: agere_contra

Kaiser’s Germany was not a totalitarian state.


30 posted on 07/28/2014 10:57:47 AM PDT by Fiji Hill
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To: SeeSharp
You should read Rohl on this. Specifically: "The Kaiser and His Court: Wilhelm II and the Government of Germany"

From 1897 onwards the Wilhelmine Germany was run as a functioning monarchy with power concentrated in the hands of the Kaiser. Far more concentrated than it was - for instance - in England.

Look at the colossal concentration of monies in the Imperial court. The court of Kaiser Wilhelm II had a state revenue of over two million marks annually: more than the Reich Chancellor, the Reich Chancellery, the Foreign Office, the diplomatic corps, the consular service, the Colonial Office and the Reich Justice Administration put together.

Meanwhile - the British paid only a quarter of that for a court which was the center of a world empire.

The Kaiser, the royal family, the Kaiser's circle of friends, the imperial entourage and the court formed the heart of the German system: and the military and junkers were in lockstep with them. Just look at the absolute power the Imperial Court maintained over the military: both army and navy. No military man could criticize the Kaiser's policies and keep his post. And the Kaiser filled the courts with generals.

Meanwhile German civil government's contact with the almighty German court was through a sycophant Chancellor who served at the Kaiser's pleasure.

This was the system - a system wholly in the shadow of the Imperial Court and powerless to amend that balance democratically - that you apparently believe was a freer state than Britain.

And after winning World War One a victorious Kaiser and his allied military combine would have ushered in a still more absolute despotism, a greater over-mighty state.

This at least would have been the fruits of a quick German victory - the one they planned for in 1914.

Hope this was helpful.

31 posted on 07/28/2014 11:00:09 AM PDT by agere_contra (Hamas has dug miles of tunnels - but no bomb-shelters.)
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To: agere_contra

I have company: Good night guys.


32 posted on 07/28/2014 11:05:47 AM PDT by agere_contra (Hamas has dug miles of tunnels - but no bomb-shelters.)
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To: Borges; Allegra; big'ol_freeper; Lil'freeper; shove_it; TrueKnightGalahad; Cincinatus' Wife; ...
Can Obama be far behind in starting the cycle... all over again?
33 posted on 07/28/2014 11:16:30 AM PDT by Bender2 ("I've got a twisted sense of humor, and everything amuses me." RAH Beyond this Horizon)
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To: DuncanWaring

“Germany’s ultimate target was France.”

Germany’s target was to back Austria’s claim against the Serbs in the hopes that Russia (Serbia’s protector) would stay out.

When the Russians began mobilizing, the German War Plans went into effect. There was no changing it. The main attack would fall on France since it was presumed that the Russians would take many weeks, or even months, to mobilize and that would give Germany time to take down Russia’s main western ally.


34 posted on 07/28/2014 11:17:03 AM PDT by Tallguy
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To: Borges
Seems King George was chomping at the bit as well:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2706589/Find-reason-war-Germany-Shocking-letter-documents-King-George-V-urged-foreign-secretary-justify-conflict-two-days-outbreak-First-World-War.html

And then there's the long view which sees WWI as the inevitable outcome of many centuries of European history:

Spengler: Musil and meta-Musil: The inevitable World War I

(The Metamucil reference in the title must've been irresistable for Goldman.)

35 posted on 07/28/2014 11:22:28 AM PDT by Moltke (Sapere aude!)
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To: agere_contra
You should read Rohl on this. Specifically: "The Kaiser and His Court: Wilhelm II and the Government of Germany"

Yes. Smearing the Kaiser and Germany has been a cottage industry for a century now. He was a very mediocre man, but not a diabolical mastermind.

From 1897 onwards the Wilhelmine Germany was run as a functioning monarchy with power concentrated in the hands of the Kaiser. Far more concentrated than it was - for instance - in England.

That is a very misleading statement. The Kaiser ruled in his own right after he dismissed Bismark, but his powers were mostly limited to foreign policy and internal security. Most of his attention was focused on melding the various German states into one Germany. The Britain empire, by contrast, was entirely run by a small clique who set policy on everything.

The court of Kaiser Wilhelm II had a state revenue of over two million marks annually

Germany also had the worlds first and at that time only national social security system, which is where the largest part of Germany's annual budget went.

heart
lockstep
absolute power
No criticize
almighty
sycophant
Kaiser's pleasure
shadow
absolute despotism
over-mighty state

LOL! Out Satan!

36 posted on 07/28/2014 11:46:05 AM PDT by SeeSharp
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To: Zionist Conspirator
after war broke out Germany experienced what was called "the Spirit of '14": a patriotic fervor that led ultimately to a totally mobilized society often referred to as "war socialism."

Sure, but that wasn't unique to Germany. Similar measures were implemented everywhere, including the US.

37 posted on 07/28/2014 11:53:36 AM PDT by SeeSharp
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To: SeeSharp

“...a patriotic fervor that led ultimately to a totally mobilized society often referred to as “war socialism.”

The siren call of which has animated all political thought since, giving rise to the human abattoir of the last century.

I fear it cannot be reformed and we must have it collapse around us. This won’t be fun.


38 posted on 07/28/2014 12:11:54 PM PDT by headsonpikes (Mass murder and cannibalism are the twin sacraments of socialism - "Who-whom?"-Lenin)
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To: SeeSharp
after war broke out Germany experienced what was called "the Spirit of '14": a patriotic fervor that led ultimately to a totally mobilized society often referred to as "war socialism."

Sure, but that wasn't unique to Germany. Similar measures were implemented everywhere, including the US.

That is very true.

39 posted on 07/28/2014 12:52:52 PM PDT by Zionist Conspirator (Throne and Altar! [In Jerusalem!!!])
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To: wideawake

You may be interested in this.


40 posted on 07/28/2014 12:53:35 PM PDT by Borges
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To: Bender2

Bender he is on his way sadly to tell you on that
He is Kaisher Wilhem here in the US


41 posted on 07/28/2014 1:01:09 PM PDT by SevenofNine (We are Freepers, all your media bases belong to us ,resistance is futile)
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To: Borges

Actually that partly true

If Kaisher did win I think it be constitunarl monarchy both Russia and Germany heading to that part of world what heading to around time of WW1

If you look at character of last Russia Tsar he didn’t want be Tsar I think you could describe him as Russia/English Victoria Gentleman that is influence of his wife Tsarina Alexandra

If you want see good story on Royal families of Europe get DVD the Fall of Eagles came out in 1970s on Masterpiece theatre

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fall_of_Eagles


42 posted on 07/28/2014 1:03:56 PM PDT by SevenofNine (We are Freepers, all your media bases belong to us ,resistance is futile)
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To: Zionist Conspirator

Totally a***hole to his personal family like ransacking his parents bedroom to find incrimating evidence while his father was dying of throat cancer year later his mom was dying of breast cancer


43 posted on 07/28/2014 1:04:48 PM PDT by SevenofNine (We are Freepers, all your media bases belong to us ,resistance is futile)
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To: Tallguy

If Tuchman was correct, the Russians mobilized faster than the Germans expected them to, which required the Germans to divert forces from France to Russia, giving the French a chance to dig-in and make a stand.

By the end of August 1914 the first trenches were dug, the pattern was set, and the Grim Reaper began his 4+ year, 10000 man-per-day harvest.


44 posted on 07/28/2014 3:28:12 PM PDT by DuncanWaring (The Lord uses the good ones; the bad ones use the Lord.)
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To: LS

Ping.


45 posted on 07/28/2014 3:30:55 PM PDT by DuncanWaring (The Lord uses the good ones; the bad ones use the Lord.)
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To: DuncanWaring
I don't quite buy all of Tuchman's reliance on railway schedules but she certainly convinced me that once started, full mobilization was impossible to stop. In fact, nobody appears to have planned for that alternative.

I think the author was a little too sanguine about the general stability of Europe, and the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires in particular, in 1914. These were disintegrating under their proprietors' feet and some sort of storm was clearly on the horizon. It is a pity that Princip killed the one man who had a plan for the peaceful breakup of the former and the ability, after Franz Joseph's death, to carry it through. That might have avoided at least one major issue, Serbian independence. The Ottoman empire had been steadily losing ground in Europe since the high-water mark of 1683, and it was, after all, from them and not the Austrians that the Serbs first won their independence.

What happened, I think, was simply that too many parties had their own intentions for what they thought would be a limited war, and what actually eventuated was quite beyond the imagination, far less the control, of any of them. Europe had seen some pretty ghastly wars before it - the Thirty Years' War comes to mind - but nothing on the scale of the fully industrialized, total war fueled by a technology burst that was WWI. The Armistice that supplied a 20-year breathing spell turned out to be a botched effort but it is a miracle that it worked at all.

All IMHO and worth whatever ya paid to read it... ;-)

46 posted on 07/28/2014 3:57:39 PM PDT by Billthedrill
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To: Bender2

http://www.tentimesone.com/if-world-war-one-was-a-bar-fight/


47 posted on 07/28/2014 8:47:29 PM PDT by Impy (Think for yourself)
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To: Billthedrill

I tend to agree. The problem was, the last serious continental war was the Napoleonic when war tech was far more primitive. By WWI, the tech allowed them, in what would have formerly taken a generation to accomplish, to wipe out a generation in a few short years.

By the time they figured that out, it had already happened.


48 posted on 07/28/2014 9:11:47 PM PDT by Free Vulcan (Vote Republican! You can vote Democrat when you're dead...)
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To: Free Vulcan

It’s been described as “Young men trying to wear-out machine-guns with their chests”.


49 posted on 07/29/2014 8:14:10 AM PDT by DuncanWaring (The Lord uses the good ones; the bad ones use the Lord.)
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To: Zionist Conspirator

Saturday is the 80th anniversary of the death of Hindenburg.


50 posted on 07/29/2014 9:04:54 AM PDT by Borges
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