The First World War

The madness that saw millions of young people go out to slaughter each other on the battlefields of the First World War started 100 years ago today.

Of course, on all sides, most were motivated by high ideals: to defend their country, to right a wrong, to do their duty. Killing people who had precisely the same motivations. All egged on by the same destructive nationalism and its remorseless logic.

Few, when it started, realised the scale of the forthcoming massacre that would wipe out half a generation across Europe. Many thought they would be home by Christmas, returning as heroes. Instead, all too many perished in the most atrocious conditions.

At that time, of course, there was no European Union, with national leaders meeting six times a year to reconcile differences, with its elected parliament to develop a culture of debate and mutual understanding, with its common market to deepen common interests, with its court to settle legal disputes, with its student exchange programmes bringing young people together to study, not to fight.

For all its faults, the European Union has been a key factor in securing peace in Europe. A return to the old system of rival sovereignties, shifting alliances, with no cooperative framework to bind us together, which some old-fashioned nationalists seem to want, would be a disaster. We must not let it happen.

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7 Comments

  1. Short text, and right to the essential.
    The Union is an example to follow by all those fighting each other in the World.
    I won’t qualify those who want to destroy that example. Not because I am in a good mood but because I cannot find words rude enough to qualify them. Have got children, those ******, have they got grand children, whom they love, they love so much they would like to send them to the battle field?
    If Israel and Palestine belonged to a Middle East “Union” would they be a war in Gaza?

  2. What fancy hype to justify the federalism of the EU by false claims such as this – there were many other reasons why there were no more European wars. This liehas never stopped the EU from actively interferring in the affairs of of other nations.

    Ukraine is just the latest “blood on hands” situation, in which various representatives of the EU political class have done their bit to roll forward the EU zone of interferrence, knowing full well the possibility for mayhem and disaster.

    After all, they have right on their side, so how could they ever be wrong about anything.

    • Could I possibly ask you, dear Bryan, to list here some of the “many reasons” why there are no more wars on the Western and Central part of the Continent ?
      Thanks.

      • Well, there’s NATO for a start, then there is the fact that Germany has never really had an army until very recently…
        There was also the American and British army based in Europe, which aided peaceful cooperation.
        Then we have situation where the UK and continental Europe were not only financially badly damaged after the wars, and unable to pursue major military actions, but everyone was so sick of the idea of another world war it just wasn’t on the agenda.

        • Well, that’s your opinion.Needless to say I am not convinced. As far as “sick” is concerned, I am totally convinced that if it were a reason to stop wars there would no war anywhere!

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