The War That Never Ended

From Gates of Vienna. (via commenter annk)
All the other “what ifs” echo down the decades from the days after the war. All those pivotal events, and the personalities that shaped them. Woodrow Wilson. The Fourteen Points. The Treaty of Versailles. Churchill’s hiccup. The Freikorps. The Weimar Republic. The inflation of 1923. The rise of the Labour Party in Britain. The Great Crash. Gustav Stresemann, Paul von Hindenburg, and Adolf Hitler. Ramsay MacDonald, Stanley Baldwin, and Neville Chamberlain. Guernica. The Rhineland. The Maginot Line. Blitzkrieg.

The dismemberment and distribution of the remains of the Ottoman Empire by the French and the British fashioned the Middle East as we know it today, with its artificial borders, ethnic fractures, rival ruling houses, and continuous fratricide. Oh, and the oil — whatever you do, don’t forget the oil.

The destruction of a substantial portion of an entire generation was followed by a similar round of butchery inflicted on the next generation. A cohort of the strongest, most resourceful, and most courageous young men was wiped out — twice. The damage to Western culture inflicted by these events can scarcely be reckoned. The world before 1914 is all but unimaginable to those of us who never knew it.