Monday, March 10, 2014

The Great War Redux?

You do all know how WWI started, right? We're coming up on the Centennial. Let's not commemorate by starting up again.

Competing nations were building navies and armies for advantage in world commerce, particularly in controlling colonies around the world. A game of treaties went on. Then, some Serbian Nationals (ethnic Slavs, remember) shot the Archduke of Austria which ruled the Balkans in those days.

Talk about dominoes - The Austro-Hungarian Empire cracked down on its little Serbia, Russia defended its cousin Serbs against Austrian aggression, the Kaiser was allied with Austria-Hungary, France was allied with Russia to help protect it from Germany, England was the protector of little Belgium and allied with France against the Prussian ruling Germany. And we had the war that didn't quite end all wars.

It was a pointless war with millions of lives destroyed, countless, starving refugees, and whole economies and empires crashing. To what end? I'm not broken-hearted about empires crashing, but the lives!

And the Soviet Union wasn't exactly a step in the right direction after the oppressive and backward Tsarist Empire of Russia. Vengeful reparations on the losers led to economic and political turmoil helping along the Great Depression and the upstart Austrian corporal who failed as an artist - and as a human being. (Why is it always a corporal?)

The US went in in 1917 to make the world safe for Democracy and that didn't exactly happen either. Maybe it was because our hands weren't so clean after invading a few Central American countries on behalf of American Fruit Company, brutalizing insurgents in our new colony of the Philippines, stealing Panama, and sending troops into Cuba a few times.

Now, we have NATO up against the Russian border and Putin (wasn't he a KGB corporal?) invades the Crimea in Ukraine to protect Russians and Russian interests. Putin is an international criminal and he wouldn't be the only one to ever get away with it. I'm not saying he should, but there are so many options short of provoking the world into a war that likely would end all wars as well as anyone left to war against nothing left.

And Putin invades a peninsula that is full of Russians, the naval base for their fleet, and in his own neighborhood. He hears condemnation from the US and must think about what we were doing invading Iraq half-way around the world. I don't sympathize with Putin, but I have never understood why we went to Iraq either. It was wrong - always was, and always will be. And so is Putin.

I do request this: with all the turmoil, let's allow diplomacy to work. Negotiation and possibly sanctions are much better than bullets or nuclear missiles. It doesn't help either for the former half-governor of Alaska and others to enjoy watching Putin wrestle bears (apparently on TV from her own house and not from her porch) while continuing her disrespect and personal attacks on the Constitutionally elected President of the United States in this time of international crisis.

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