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Tuesday October 10th 2017Tim Candler9

 

     Whichever way you look at it, the First World War was more of an accident than a well thought out plan. The Great Powers had their perennial quarrels. Territory, Empire, Trade. The business class had strong ties to a government's ability to secure raw materials, political advantage and entrepreneurial opportunities. Everyone thought their own military was the best in the world, couldn't possibly be defeated, so anything like a war would only last for a couple of months at most. One threat led to another and Bang it was kind of too late to even think about saying something like "I'm sorry I behaved like a moron, why don't we all have a cigarette break, a cup of tea and start again." Instead, four years later when stalemate was achieved at the cost of millions of lives, the Armistice pretty much set the conditions for the Second World War.

 

Past

     The point is, had I been alive and of age and more sociable and living in Vienna on Sunday June 28th 1914 I might well have been enjoying a glass of wine, chatting to friends when news came that an heir to the thrown of a minor royal family had been shot in some godforsaken part of the Balkans. No doubt one or other of my friends might have been able to give me some boring gossip about Archduke Ferdinand, and I might have made some incredibly witty joke about the difference between archdukes and archangels, entirely unaware that six months later I'd be up to my neck in mud somewhere in France being shot at and being expected to shoot back, or maybe I'd have been sent south to serve my country by killing off one quarter of the population of Serbia. The Third World War isn't going to be like that, there'll be no Biggles, there'll be no Bulldog Drummond, instead those of us who aren't instantaneously vaporized will have to hang around watching our hair fall out, our skin blister into suppurating sores, waiting for our body organs to fail while our leaders shout and scream at each other over the last cup cake in the fading light of their underground bunkers.

 

 

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