The past hundred years have been the most bloody in all human history. When historians 500 years from now, look back at our time and much of the 20th Century, how will they classify or explain our time? I think they will view it much differently than we do today. I think they will see the major conflicts of our time as aftershocks of the Great War.
The First World War turned the world upside down. Millions of the Western world's best and brightest were killed, and many more suffered from the physical and psychological affects of one of the most brutal wars in human history. The war was the end of the colonial period. After the war, many of the European powers gave up and granted independence to most of their colonies. It brought an end to empires and monarchies, and created new political systems. Every major conflict since, can be traced back to WWI.
It forever changed the way war was fought
When the war started, the nations involved were still using tactics from the Napoleonic wars. Wave after wave of best and bravest marched in formation wearing brightly colored uniforms, as they were massacred by machine gun fire. Look at the photos of the soldiers and their informs when the war starts. They look like they could have come out of the Napoleonic era. Four years later, the uniforms and tactics had drastically changed. WWI brought into being the horror of chemical war. It was also the first time the air plane and tank were used.
The role of the United States
Before the Great War America had largely followed the council of George Washington and avoided entangling alliances. We had stayed out of the many European wars of the 19th century. Since that time we have been involved in conflict after conflict.
Before the war, the theories of Marx were nothing more than intellectual fantasy. The European monarchs were firmly entrenched. During the war Russia took a beating on the eastern front. The army was already demoralized by a humiliating defeat in the Russo-Japanese War. This combined with extreme economic hardship laid the foundation for revolution. It was the perfect storm to create the worst kind of desperation. I am convinced that if the war never occurred, Lenin would have not come to power. He certainly would not have received funding from the German government. Indeed, the spread of Communism as an operational form of government, can be traced back the hardships of the Eastern Front of WWI.
Like Russia, Germany was devastated by the war. The Kaiser was forced into exile, and the new government was forced to agree to the terms of the Versailles Treaty. This was an ill-conceived attempt by the French and English to punish Germany for the war. The political and economic effects of the treaty would create the kind desperation that would allow the rise of the Nazi ideology.
The Great War created the man that we know as Hitler. Before the war he was a nobody, a failed artist drifting from place to place. When the war started he chose to enlist in the German army. From all accounts, he was a good soldier that fought well. When news of the Versailles Treaty was released, Hitler was laying in a German military hospital recovering from a gas attack. When he heard the news he screamed out loud for several minutes. He wrote in Mein Kampf, that it was at that moment he decided he would become involved in politics.
Como? Yes, our current problems with Islamic fundamentalism can be traced back to WWI. Before the war the Middle East was dominated primarily by the Ottoman Empire. By the end of the war the Ottomans were no more. England and France divided up most of the region. Both nations did a poor job recognizing tribal and religious boundaries. There was no Iraq or Kuwait prior to the war. They divided up the nations in way that would help them control the vast oil wealth of the region. To insure this control, they appointed royalty that would serve their interests. Many of the Royal families put into power were tyrannical in nature. In fact, it was opposition to the king of Egypt that leads to the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood. This group would later branch out into many terrorist organizations, such as Al-Qaeda.
After the war, the English rewarded the Saudi royal family for their help in fighting the Ottomans, when they redrew the maps. It was from Saudi-Arabia that Wahhabist Islam was spread using the riches of the vast Saudi oil wealth.
I must break you.. - ..studied mechanical engineering at Cornell University (where he took an astronomy class taught by Carl Sagan) and graduated with a BS in mechanical ...
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