Right now I’m reading Barbara Tuchman’s seminal book on World War I, The Guns of August. I ordered it after I talked here about the difference between European and American attitudes toward war and the effect of the Great War upon them. While I’m just getting started, I do think that there’s much we can learn from World War I when thinking about the current state of the world. What has struck me most so far is the similarity between people who are eager for war today and those who were eager for war a century ago.
In American schools, we learn almost nothing about World War I, or at least I didn’t, in college or in high school. Everybody knows that World War I was triggered by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the crown prince of the Austrian empire, by Serbian nationalists. What I did not know was that Europe was poised for war for over a decade prior to that and that the fallout from the assassination was used by the German empire to pick a fight with Russia and France.
I’ll leave any comparisons to you.