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The shot that ignited a worldwide
That seems to be the case now in the Crimea. For a long time the peninsula had been a part of Russia. Then, in 1954, the leader of the Soviet Union, Nikita Khrushchev, a Ukrainian himself, presented the Crimea as a gift to Ukraine. It was mostly a symbolic gesture, since both Russia and Ukraine belonged to the same Soviet state and were subject to the same oppression.
But the main point is that the people of the Crimea were not consulted. There was no referendum. The majority of the population is Russian, and undoubtedly wishes now to return to Russia.
IN THREE months the world will “celebrate” the hundredth anniversary of the shot in Sarajevo – the shot that ignited a worldwide conflagration. It may be helpful to recount again the chain of events that caused one of the most destructive wars in human history, a war that consumed millions upon millions of human lives and destroyed an entire way of life.
The shot that started it all was quite accidental. The assassin, a Serb nationalist, failed in his first attempt to kill a quite insignificant Austrian archduke. But after he had already given up, he came across his intended victim again, by chance, and shot him dead.
In 1914, Great Britain, shocked by the invasion of Belgium, hastened to the aid of its French ally. Italy, Japan, and others joined the fray. So did the Ottoman Empire, which ruled Palestine. World War I was underway.
Who wanted this terrible war? Nobody. Who took a cool-headed decision to start it? Nobody. Of course, many national and international interests were involved, but none so important as to justify such a catastrophe.
No, it was a war nobody wanted or even envisioned. The flower of European youth was destroyed by the sheer stupidity of the contemporary politicians, followed by the colossal stupidity of the generals. And in the end, a peace treaty was concocted that made another world war practically inevitable. Only after another awful world war did the politicians come to their senses and make another fratricidal war in Western Europe unthinkable. A hundred years after it all started, it is well to remember.
CAN ANYTHING like this happen again? Can an unintended chain of foolish acts lead to another catastrophe? Can one thing lead to another in a way that incompetent leaders are unable to stop?
I hope not. After all, during these hundred years, some lessons have been learned and absorbed.
Ted Rudow III, MA