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World War I, Madness, and World War III
September 2, 2014
by William P. Meyers

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"And what has hands and is not mad?"
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Historians who are not too nationalistic in their outlook generally concede that World War I was not started by any one country. Almost everyone concedes the war was madness, though various people ascribe the madness to various causes. Despite the academic analysis, most ordinary Americans have a shallow, uninformed view: America and Allies good, Germany and Central Powers bad. Implicit in that view is the misinformation that Germany was a military dictatorship that started the war because Germans wanted to conquer the world. The confusion is partly with what happened in World War II, when Adolf Hitler & friends really did come pretty close to conquering the world.

In our befuddlement it is hard to recall that the world had already been conquered. Allied powers tend to leave out that tiny fact when looking at the World Wars.

Most of the world in 1914 lay in colonial slavery to the British, French, Dutch (Netherlands), Italian, Belgian, and American Empires (especially if you add in Latin American nations run by puppets to the official U.S. colonies of the Philippines and Puerto Rico). Germany had a few colonies. Russia was an empire unto itself. The Ottoman (Turkish) Empire had been falling apart for over a century, and tearing it to pieces was a chief war aim of the British, French and Russian Empires. Japan's empire did not amount to much yet, just Taiwan and Korea.

To get to some points about World War I propaganda and the madness of World War III, the current situation, I'll assert that greed, nationalism, militarism, and imperialism drove all the major players, including the U.S. World War I was started by a common global mad mindset. As to the level of madness, the answer is an estimated 10 million dead, 21 million wounded, and 8 million missing in action. That does not include civilian casualties, though those were trivial compared to World War II, when numerous cities were bombed, firebombed, and vaporized.

Whole books have been written on propaganda in World War I. I'll focus on how poor German propaganda was compared to Allied propaganda. A main propaganda point was that Germany was the aggressor nation because it had invaded "poor little Belgium." But Belgium was neither poor nor peaceful. It was little, but it ruled the Belgian Congo, where some 10 million natives had been exterminated or worked to death in the two prior decades. As a result Belgians were among the richest people in the world. French and British Empire propaganda claimed that German soldiers were systematically killing Belgian children with bayonets. It was simply a lie. But Belgians had two decades of experience killing Congo children with bayonets. That was not propaganda.

Kaiser Ravishes Belgium, World War I cartoon

You just can't believe what your own government tells you. I remember when I was first out of college, during the late 1970s, by night a punk rocker but by day working in a room full of old press association documents in the basement of the Pan Am building in New York City. There was a lawsuit about gender discrimination, and we had to read through every personnel folder of every wire service worker, marking anything suspicious related to the case (we were given guidelines. There were about 10 of us.) Of course a lot of the stuff was from Vietnam, and I did find a consistent pattern. If anyone sent to Vietnam to cover the war between 1960 and 1970 wrote a story that described American war crimes, or showed our "allies" in a bad light or the Viet Cong and their allies in a good light, a message went back. The message said, essentially, if you want to be an international war correspondent, instead of being sent back to cover high school football games in small towns, don't submit this shit. There would be another message going up the ladder, to where the government censored the news service, saying we censored this, so you don't have to.

And yet you need information to make decisions. Well, you and I don't get to make any important decisions. Political machines still pick candidates in the U.S. and then sell them to voters, mostly. The machine politicians get to make decisions. The ones their big doners tell them to make.

But they, the policital, economic, and military establishment, are in a constant state of psychosis, paranoia, and neurosis, feeding on the establishment's own misinformation machine. Has anybody besides me noticed that radical Islam was a minor problem in 1999, but after 15 years of war is a major problem? The U.S. destroyed regimes in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Algeria, Egypt, Somalia, etc. and inspired a whole new generation of young people to join the Jihad, and is probably going to lose most if not all of those states to radical Islam in the near future.

A long, long time ago the U.S. did not like the European powers interfering with us, and so our leaders (whatever their other faults) proposed the idea of non-interference. A nation should not meddle in the internal affairs of other nations. But later, as America grew powerful, the lust for money corrupted our entire business, political, and even religious establishment. We had to interfere in Mexico, the Philippines, Cuba, and later just about every country in the world, so that our business guys could extract wealth from them. Also so that rival powers could be kept away from the carrion.

Now we reap the whirlwind. We may not be able to defeat ISIS. And if we do defeat ISIS, that will just give the anti-U.S. resistance another throw of the dice, and an even more proficient opposition will emerge. Like Roundup unready monster weeds. Ask a farmer at a farm near you. Will they stop with the current generation of monsters, or will they add new pesticides (and gene alterations) to the mix, and start the next round of survival-of-the-fittest weeds?

ISIS is radical Islamic, but other groups are already studying its recipe for success. Like the slavers who used the American revolution to come to power as the United States, and the Leninists who came to power when the original soviets were trying to set up a workers' democracy in Russia, the first ingredient is chaos. If you bring order to chaos, people will put up with quirks like having all men grow a long beard, or spouting quotations from Chairman Mao. And the chaos: that comes from bad government. Like how the U.S. Congress refuses to take care of U.S. infrastructure and refuses to deal with global warming and other creeping ecological disasters. That will bring chaos. Just give it time.

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