A little more than a week from now, we will observe — or more likely, not observe — a hundred years since the opening bell was rung for the great serial butcheries of the horrible twentieth century. A hundred years, since then, of unprecedented slaughter; makes the Thirty Years’ War look like a walk in the park. But who remembers July 28, 1914? Indeed, who would want to?
Tell me again about progress.
It’s becoming rather difficult to resist the sense that we are once again circling the same drain. And now as then, it’s hard to understand why. Nobody wanted the World Wars — except the people who did; unfortunately, the people who did were calling the shots, then as now.
There was no good reason — no good reason, that is, that ordinary decent people could understand — why the assassination of an inbred Hapsburg halfwit should have plunged the world into an orgy of bloodletting. The shooting-down of an airplane is, let’s say, 250 times better, as excuses go, than useless unloved Franz Ferdinand’s abrupt quietus; but it’s still piss-poor, compared to the consequences.
There’s no good reason — no good reason, that is, that ordinary decent people can understand — why the US and NATO should have decided to stir the pot in the Ukraine, culminating in the February coup; but they did. And now they seem resolved to stay the course. Dial it up to 11. You can’t miss the barely-concealed relief and rejoicing in Washington and on the pages of the New York Times. At last! A casus belli!
Samantha Powers will undoubtedly be happy. Whether Obie will be happy or not is hard to say; he seems so robotic, so calculated, such a creature of contrivance, that it’s hard to believe he has any real feelings at all.
Oh, I know, I’m Eeyoring again. It probably isn’t quite July 1914 yet. This too will pass. Yet it’s hard to resist that good old deja vu. If not 2014, then 2015, or 16.
The depressing thing is that in spite of the Internet, and the human genome project, and Twitter and so on, nothing of consequence has changed since 1914. What’s old is new again.