One person's thoughts may change the world
From all accounts, WWI ended in 1919. I think….
Signed at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference, the Treaty of Versailles — the formal agreement that ended World War I — stripped Germany of its colonies overseas and the region of Alsace-Lorraine (now part of France), placed restrictions on its military and levied punitive damages for supposedly starting what was, at the time, the most destructive war the world had ever seen.
Back then Europeans were still living by the “Queens Rules”. You started it, so now you have to pay for it, so they said. But, as historians have noted, all it did was seed the fuel for WWII, which was even a more destructive war. But, that is only from the European perspective. To the Arab world, WWI has been a running war, a continues battle, one which has been highlighted by Aljazeera, the Arab channel that gives a different perspective of war, who started it, who were the players in it, and motives. The History Channel, while very informative, has given the public history through European and American eyes. Rarely have they given the perspective of the Arab or Chinese or Japanese world.The Japanese, who were on the allies side during WWI, were ignored during the Treaty of Versailles, thus fueling their anger for being ignored.
I am not going to try to pontificate all of the Arab view as Aljazeera is trying to do, because it varies, but, it also gave the Ottoman empire perspective as well as customs and traditions that made it a 400 year empire, which was quite long. Its empire span from most of the inner ring of city states circling the Mediterranean, and also as far east India. In addition, as it was nearing it’s demise, it was trying desperately to come into the 20th century, at the same time, exporting positive things about its manufacturing capabilities, which were not the truth of a country well behind the new industrialized world.
But the Ottoman empire, was sick, loaded down with debt, declared bankruptcy, and sided with the wrong parter in WW1. Or, did they? The Ottoman’s sided with Germany, mainly because of their treatment from Great Britain. The Germans came to the aid of the Balkans, mainly because of territorial dispute, alliances, and nationalism. The British were already occupying Egypt, mainly because of the route of the coveted Suez Canal. Great Britain needed that passage for a quicker route to their “territory”, India. The Ottoman’s were angry with the British. The Brits occupied Egypt, which was Ottoman territory. By siding with Germany in World War I, they thought they would be able to get their land back, and some payback from British treatment.
Before 1914, the European continent had seen plenty of war. Ugly, gory, sword, spike, bow and arrow, Calvary war for sure, but not total war, not yet. War was still fought in traditional places of battle where armies met instead of using the concept of total war. War was used as a means of ‘taking’ things, like gold, land, treasure, or ideological such as the great crusades. War was a money grab, similar to the greatest money grab of all, the great recession of 2008. War was also very expensive, from arming the farmers to go out into battle and also to maintain a professional army.
The British at the time was still in empire mode, and the richest country in the world. Its empire was one quarter of the world’s land surface. One quarter of the world’s population lived in the British empire, Britain had the largest navy in the world, to keep trade routes open and safe for good going from one point of the empire to another.
Germany was second. But a close second. It had a large manufacturing base, and was the dominant force economically on the European continent.
Many think France was third, but actually it was Russia. Russia was big, lots of underdeveloped resources, many people, but with many different cultures and languages.
Austria-Hungary was 4th. Poor France, regulated to 5th place. Austria-Hungary was a union of two separate countries, a patchwork of different cultures and people, similar to Russia. Hard to govern.
France. Viva La France! My goodness, most of its colonies were in Africa, and Indo-China, which was warring quite a bit. As you can see, all this is interrelated because when the French fell in Indo-China, guess who picked up the flag? You guessed it, the United States, which wasn’t a real factor in the world yet from a military perspective. The United States had also given up its ‘manifest destiny’ proclamation. That ended with its influence of the Philippines from Spain.
After the bloody gory artillery, tank, and machine gun war of WWI, the world wanted payment, still thinking in the terms of “getting something” and they came up with war reparations, and the fall guy was the richest on the European continent, which was Germany. Let the Germans pay for it. Let’s divvy up their colonies. Let’s exclude our ally the Japanese from the negotiation table. Let’s prime the pulpit for another round of war, WWII. The United States boomed during the brief time period between the great wars at first. Then the Stock market crashed under heavy speculative investing, with “Other people’s money”. This global depression exasperated Germany’s position, their Mark was worthless on the global market, and grave rise to a more radical leader, Hitler. Hitler was kind of like ISIL, given rise based upon unobtainable economic and social conditions. They both want totalitarian rule. They both want land, and the expansion of it. Hitler’s Gestopo wore black, just like ISIL. Hitler wanted to build “The bomb”. ISIL is content in just obtaining one.
About 10 million people died in WWI, which is less than WWII but the startling fact remained, many more civilians died, and armies were willing to fight a war of attrition. But the introduction of planes, tanks, machine guns, gas, and fanatical leaders changed everything. It also fed the fuel for WWII. But, WWII ended up only an extension of WWI, and, in many ways, extended the fighting in different ways now that we are well in the 21st century. Korean war, Vietnam war, The six day war, Afgan conflict with the defunct USSR, Iraq wars are all an extension of WWI. Here are some of those trends:
In a joking way, I use to blame the Ottoman’s for all of the WWI aftermath. But really, it was the demise of the empire, and not the empire itself that has lifted the veil of the woman covered from head to toe. I’ve simplified this but, for good reason, it’s too fuckin’ complicated to blog without loosing your attention. I’ll be writing more on this as the year goes on. So, WWI the war to end all wars, never ended…