Saturday 28 June 2014

World War I was not started by a single bullet or by the assassination of Franz Ferdinand.

World War I was not started by a single bullet or by the assassination of Franz Ferdinand.

It is about this time every now and again, upon the anniversary of the fateful beginning of things, that news media love to claim that a single bullet changed the history of the world forever. This approach is not however an entirely honest approach to an entirely complex matter. The assassination of Franz Ferdinand was no more the catalyst of the First World War than September 11, 2001 was the catalyst for the American invasion of Iraq. The American invasion of Iraq was based on the false premise, upon the propaganda, that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. The First World War was created through a similar opportunistic propaganda coup. Just as the September 11 was readily made use of to make war more palatable for the American cafeteria of voters, the powerful empires that went to war, merely used the assassination as an excuse to expand their own overwrought power upon the theatre of the global stage.

Certainly, with tensions stoked high, and alliances between empires holding a ready importance in a world prior to the United Nations, the assassination played a role often overstated in the beginning of the global war. But in truth, it was merely a convenient tool which the allies of the Duke used fully to their advantage.

Could the assassination of John F. Kennedy have been used as a pretext for America to invade Russia? Could any amount of assassinations by radical groups validly be called the cause of a war? What caused the First World War was not a bullet but a premeditated utilisation of a propaganda coup which ingenious opportunists found in the assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand.

A single bullet is never the cause of a war. A single missile, or even a nuclear bomb is never to blame. The cause of the war is the decision of those high up in government to make a war. It is the decision not only of those who go out to war and invade another nation, but also the decision of those others to intervene or defend such nation. The assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand certainly could have further stoked tensions.

Those tensions were already past breaking point. There is a difference between a cause of something and a convenient scapegoat upon which to launch a campaign into the bowels of Hades. A refusal to accept recompense or negotiation, a refusal to lay down arms or find a solution, an attitude aimed at war are far more to blame than the bullet which ended Ferdinand. It was the choice of the nations of the world to escalate a small event and to continue to escalate ever growing tensions, with bullet upon bullet causing the war, each bullet like the ticking of the clock: each bullet continuing the war, each bullet the cause of the war for that moment in time! One bullet did not cause the First World War. A thousand bullets did.

Each bullet drew the war further in. Each charge, each digging of a trench, each launching of an aircraft, each poster for propaganda caused the war. A war is like a fire, it is a hungry thing and does not burn itself. A war must be constantly maintained and carefully stoked at every moment. The natural state of man is not war but peace. It takes courage and resources to fight a war. It does not simply happen. Human beings make a choice to go to war: a brave choice or a foolish choice, a good choice or an evil choice: a choice nonetheless. Archduke Franz Ferdinand did not cause the war. It is the world who decided to go to war, each single individual which fought. Treaties and the words that are of politicians are but that, they are words. It is not words alone or stylistic and useful events, but actions which sustain a war. War is not a natural disaster, it is a human choice. Wars do not naturally happen, people have to make them occur and it is people that are needed to keep the fires of hell well stocked with human remains. The death of one man did not cause the deaths of thousands by chemical weapons and bayonets, and through starvation and disease in the man-made trenches dug by those sacrificed by the empires whose rulers' propaganda gleefully put them there in pursuit of opportunity and loss.

Those who fought and died for their kings and for their countries, for the empires which they held dear: these men caused the First World War and continued fighting it bravely. Their sacrifice is a far more potent cause than the extremism of the wayward assassin. May the men and women on both sides of the devil's own war be remembered with the high and sombre, deep and lasting respect and honour which they no doubt deserve, may they rest in peace knowing that they served their countries whatever the motives of their leaders. It was not the assassination but that which preceded and followed it which undoubtedly was the cause of so many deaths of a plenitude of honourable men and women. May they rest in peace.

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