What Started WW1 ?
Recently a guy at work asked me what started WW1. I said the mass armies of Europe and their quest for power and influence. Then I was sent a link on the lead up to the Gulf War and one brave girl at Britain’s world wide listening post, who tried to get some of the backroom dealings into the public record. A recent article by Susana Mas of the CBC writing about the Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and “Ripples” in Defence and Foreign Policy got me thinking. What this really right? There are probably no right answers but some thoughts follow.
Then I thought – what really started it was the nibbling around the edges of the Ottoman Empire which has not been resolved Turkey lost its place in Europe in 1913. An arms deal that would have provided ships to Turkey was cancelled and that gap was filled in part by two German ships named the Goeben and Breslau to Turkey. Turkey was superceded in the Middle East when Allenby rode camels through the front gates of Jerusalem and Damascus, they had lost Arabia, what we know as Israel, Jordan and Syria and Iraq. This created another vacuum that saw the rise of the Saudi’s post WW1. There was turmoil then and the same turmoil exists today. An example of the long term nature of this is the Syrian part of Turkey and its links to the 30s and 40s.
From the modern era when “useful idiots” emerged to all manner of protests of western involvement in the affairs of the non western world its been a recurring theme. Even at the end of the Cold War the earnest women of the Greenham Common Cruise Missile base protests carried the altruistic flag of the Kingdom of “Ifonly”. The West is bad and we even today we see them pursuing Cecil Rhodes but who hits on Robert Mugabe who won re-election 2 years ago. Who today remembers the hand over to Robert Mugabe by Prince Charles and Lord Carrington ?
And what I wanted to conclude was (now you know why I never wrote books – these ideas fly in and out of my mind constantly) that with the fall of the Ottoman and Russian Empires it has taken a long time for nations to sort out what are their responsibilities in a greater world beyond their five hundred mile buffer of grassland (Ukraine and Poland for example).
The sorting out continues and my guess is it will go on for another 50 years east of Suez. Really? And again – The Daughters of Greenham Common call on the government to repudiate a contract with the Saudi Government for military equipment. Can what we call rough, extreme interpretations of a non western religion be persuaded that they’ve followed the wrong path?
As chance would have it I am working through the God’s Terrorists, a book I received for Christmas. You really get the sense of a very long timeline and a universal script of an Eastern outlook vs. the West.
So where did this all start? I think the nibbling was well underway in 1913 after the Balkan Wars and accelerated with the non delivery of contracted ships to the Ottoman (Turkish) Navy. Recently we saw a similar case where France cancelled two advanced warships to Russia.
Before the rise of the United States in December 1941 – other hands were all over the Middle East notably Mr Sykes and Monsieur Picot.
And where are the Goeben and Breslau today? I think they are still leading the west on a merry chase, perhaps they live on with the new Egyptian vessels that Russia could not get?