World War One – Not A War About Nothing

Posted on Sat 08/02/2014 by


Bolt New 01By Andrew Bolt ~

WorldWarOnePaul Kelly attacks the myth that World War I was just a colossal mistake by the leaders of every Great Power – a mere war of choice:

Over time, as British historian Margaret MacMillan says, the idea arose that the Great War “was nobody’s fault or everybody’s (fault)”. From the 1960s, such delusion became a sign of sensibility and sophistication from the educated class. In the end, the story of World War I was carried by the legacy of poets and anti-war cultural practitioners.

The mythology created by the writers and filmmakers becomes its own reality: the war was a terrible blunder, nobody’s fault, a shocking accident that saw millions sacrificed in vain, a case of the common people betrayed by their failed leaders and smug generals. The brilliant Australian film Gallipoli, by David Williamson and Peter Weir, was a modest local version of the genre…

And the conventional answer [on why the world went to war] was pervasive: because of its flawed societies, corrupt empires, imperialist greed, militarist obsessions and self-serving racist and class-ridden elitism. There is a viciou­s sub-text: one empire was as bad as another.

The war, however, was not an accident…

It is a fact that France, Russia and Britain had no pre-war designs on Germany or plans to instig­ate action against Germany…

In his classic account, historian David Stevenson said: “At the root of everything that followed was Germany’s decision to march two million men westward across industrial and rural landscapes that had known decades of peace. The shock it caused to other countries was scarcely less than such an event might cause today.”…

Their objective on the Western Front was a German-dominated Western Europe extending to the Channel. Their objective in the East was a diminished Russia, crippled long-term against a more formidable German position.

At the outset, German forces, angry that Belgium had decided to fight the invaders, torched and sacked the ancient town of Louvain, burnt its historic library, killed hundreds of civilians and transported 1500 civilians back to Germany…

Britain went to war because strategically it would not allow Germany to liquidate France as a great power. Prime minister Herbert Asquith wrote that Britain “cannot allow Germany to use the channel as a hostile base”. Beyond that, Britain had obligations to Belgium’s neutrality…

The… British Empire had compelling reasons for war. This was widely seen at the time by governments and peoples. And not just at the time — the commitment of allied armies and home fronts for four years reflected a basic truth: they believed they were fighting a just cause for principles of freedom. France and Belgium were fighting to save their nations intact. Long before the war’s end, Germany was a de facto military dictatorship.

As time advances, the two world wars will increasingly be seen as different chapters in the same bigger event: a prolonged 30-year struggle over the aspirations of Germany, easily the most powerful nation on the continent, to satisfy its ambitions for power, territory and recognition.

One of the worst distortions of this history – and one of the most culturally influential – was the Marxism-inspired hit Oh What a Lovely War, with so many great tunes:

Andrew Bolt is a journalist and columnist writing for The Herald Sun in Melbourne Victoria Australia.

Andrew Bolt’s columns appear in Melbourne’s Herald Sun, Sydney’s Daily Telegraph and Adelaide’s Advertiser. He runs the most-read political blog in Australia and hosts Channel 10’s The Bolt Report each Sunday at 10am. He is also heard from Monday to Friday at 8am on the breakfast show of radio station MTR 1377, and his book  Still Not Sorry remains very widely read.

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