“All war is a symptom of man’s failure as a thinking animal.” – John Steinbeck.
Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated on June 28, 1914, but the German invasion of Belgium commencing the hostilities of the Great War did not begin until August 4. By October 19, the war bogged down into trench warfare in the first battle of Ypres that lasted over a month.
Just as with the unprovoked U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, the offensive force in 1914 did not expect the level of resistance it encountered.
George W. Bush’s clownish declaration of “Mission Accomplished” on an aircraft carrier less than two months after the U.S. initiated the war in Iraq will go down in history, exemplary of the depth of stupidity of people who make such deadly decisions to invade foreign lands, subjecting all to unspeakable pain, degradation, utter destruction and death in the process.
In fact, miscalculations – more than competent strategic thinking – more often than not define the course of wars, which is why sheer force of numbers is usually required to secure an outcome, even if only temporarily.
We, today, in 2014, the 100th anniversary of the Great War’s launch, it being the most devastating setback to humanity’s progressive advance on record, find ourselves mired in the psychologically diseased aftermath of that war – that war in its two phases known as World War I and World War II – not surprisingly gripped by confusion and inertia and about as far from being able to settle mankind’s problems short of yet another monstrous war as ever.
How quickly have the noble sentiments and aspirations of the great architects of our democracy receded behind this last century drenched in blood?!
Amid the chaos, the proverbial inmates have taken over the asylum. Certifiable crackpots have claimed ownership of the word “patriot,” and never is the national anthem played without accompaniment by symbols of deadly military force. This is the American experiment turned on its head.
Nutcases threaten to blow the heads off of innocent children seeking asylum in the U.S. and are holding the nation hostage to unprecedented levels of gun violence in the name of the Constitution. No one challenges their claim to the title “patriot,” yet they are about as far from anything resembling the process that produced the American Revolution as, well, Rush Limbaugh is from George Washington.
Now, crazed savages with surface-to-air missiles are on the verge of shutting down the global economy simply by declaring holy war on anything that moves through the skies. Has anyone figured out just how dangerous the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 really is to us all?
Too few seem to care that U.S.-backed sovereign nations like Israel are now claiming the right to self defense with buckets of the blood of the youth of their subject populations.
Behold, the “Mission Accomplished” of our George W. Bush – the kind of pathetic miscreant in high places one must laugh at if only for holding back tears – has brought us the gravest threat yet, ISIS, a “caliphate” in the Middle East with the resources, territory and manpower to realize bin Laden’s wildest dream, the power and influence of a sovereign state operating openly to plot the destruction of anything that is not loyal to Islamic sharia law.
Blame this all on the events of the summer of 1914? Perhaps so. That’s when humanity blew up almost everything that represented its best hope for moving beyond the utterly savage.
The very sinews of civilization were ripped from their source in that war, and peace has never seen a serious option since. Sixteen million were killed on the highways and byways of civilization in that Great War, and in its second phase, World War II, another 60 million, 2.5 percent of the world’s population, were killed with the aid of more sophisticated and deadlier weapons.
None of these “deaths of necessity” had to happen. None. All were the result of political decisions, like the decision to invade Iraq. That’s how incredible it is. Can there yet be any hope that such decisions will ever cease?