Rushville Republican

Columns

March 25, 2014

The catastrophe of a century ago

(Continued)

What followed was an Allied counteroffensive called “The Hundred Days Offensive” which began in August 1918 and ended on November 11th – Armistice Day.

The tragic part of World War I, aside from the terrible loss of life, was that the Allied victory settled nothing and set the tragic course for the rest of the century. While few people under fifty know much about World War I, its repercussions can be felt all the way down to the present day, not counting the long string of wars that it produced, including World War II. The course of the 20th century was set by the outcome of the Great War. The Cold War tensions that lasted into the 1970s were a direct result of both world wars – the one world war that lasted from 1914 to 1945. When it was all over and two generations of Europe’s young men had been slaughtered, the Russians, who lost more soldiers and civilians than any other nation, were almost bound to become rivals of the United States for post-war control of Europe.

The development of even more terrible weapons of mass destruction was also a direct outgrowth of both wars and, in many respects, the natural evolution of the next phase of international power politics. So, it’s important to remember that it all started 100 years ago this year. More importantly, it’s important for today’s youth to have a basic understanding of the history of the last century and what can happen when people and nations forget the past. As the great philosopher George Santayana once said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

That’s –30—for this week.

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