Saturday, June 28, 2014

One Hundred Years

One hundred years ago today several shots were fired and a bomb thrown in a town I cannot even spell without help. Sarajevo. (That was my third attempt.) Gavrilo Princip, someone you never would have known had he not done this, (I did not even try with his name) killed the Archduke of Austria-Hungry, everybody got mad, and, long story-short, World War I started.

There were, of course, two sides, two alliances of countries. Germany, and Austria-Hungry, and on the other side France, Britain, and later America, along with all of the etc. nations.. But at the beginning, in the massive sweep of the original version of the German Blitz, as the armies prepared to tear across the French, Dutch, and Belgium country sides, the British deliberated their response, should they go to war or not?
A high official from Britain was speaking to a top French opposite number, and asked how many British soldiers would be useful to France in the war, without Britain officially joining it. They were, he said, considering a plan of limited action. Without hesitation, the French man responded “One, and we would take very good care to be sure he was killed.” He guessed, probably rightly, that if one British soldier had been killed, a thousand more would have been sent running by the public outcry to avenge him.
As Baghdad in Iraq stands, but stands perilously, threatened by ISIS, a group so militant, that Al Qaeda itself refuses to join up with them. America has sent or is still sending 275 “military advisers” to the area, for the defense of a city we won and then left.
It is interesting to think now of what that all but forgotten French leader said a hundred years ago now, in the great chess game that spiraled into the First World War. Mankind does not change very fast. One hundred years on from the “War to End All Wars” and we are still fighting. And one hundred years on we are still trying to use limited action. Will it work this time?
We may have to check the news next week to find out. In Britain, a hundred years ago, when the people of London did that, after the attempt at “limited action” they awoke to the London Times announcing that the “World is at War.”

Andrew C. Abbott

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