Readers who’ve been with me for a while might remember my long digression on “The Great War” some years ago here:
We’re now approaching the 100-year anniversary of the beginning of that war. As with any such round number coming around, there might be quite a few essays about it circulating soon. Let’s see if I can get a jump on them.
The U.S. made a pretty big deal last year about the 150-year anniversary of Gettysburg, and I guess that’s to be expected. Europe and the Commonwealth can be expected to make a much bigger deal about the Great War than Mercans will. It’s a more relevant
thing to them, for some fairly obvious reasons. So maybe I’m filling a little gap here, just for my friends, pointing out this watershed in Western history.
The basics are covered in that earlier digression, but let’s expand a little. In fact, let’s just jump over a few centuries.
The early eighteenth century had a great war in which the question to be decided was: “Will France control western Europe?”
The early nineteenth century had a great series of wars over the question: “Will France or Britain dominate the western hemisphere?
The early twentieth century had The Great War, a contest over “What state, or alliance, will control most of the world?” As it developed, the question became, “Will Europe survive this at all?” Those questions were so big they required a whole additional war twenty years later.
In the early twenty-first century, the questions are: “Will the planet be habitable a century from now?” and “Does anyone in our government have any shame left at all?”
So, as I sit here looking at my grandfather’s dogtag from WWI, let’s just think of the world then and now, and see where it leads us. Continue reading