On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918 the war to end all wars ended.
World War I cost about nine million soldiers their lives with 21 million more wounded. Great Britain, France, Germany, Austria-Hungary and Russia each lost a million or more lives in the grueling four and a half years marked by trench warfare, chemical warfare (mustard gas) and the first introduction of the airplane to the battlefield.
To put these losses in perspective, Great Britain’s population dropped below 40 million by 1917 for the first time since 1898. A weakened Tsar Nicolas in Russia was overthrown by communists led by Vladimir Lenin setting the stage for the Cold War which dominated the late 20th century. Germany’s defeat, the terms of their surrender and the rampant inflation that afflicted the German state (Weimar Republic) played a major role in the rise of Adolph Hitler and World War II.
The geography of the world was reshaped. The Ottoman Empire fell, effectively ending a millennium of war between Muslims and Christians in southern and central Europe and nation/states were drawn in the middle east out of its wreckage.
The British Empire which spanned every continent of the world was weakened and effectively collapsed in the decades following World War II.
America entered into our first European war, turning the tide against the Germans and became a major power on the world stage.
In the United States, we currently celebrate this day as Veteran’s Day. Originally known as Armistice Day, this is a day to celebrate veterans and remember those who fought to defend freedom.
But it is important that we also remember World War I on this day, as it is an even more important reminder of the danger of stumbling into a century defining conflict.
World War I set the tenor for the entire 20th century, today we can learn a very important lesson from it as it was also known as an inadvertent war.
The war happened even though none of the countries involved really wanted war. It was ignited by a series of competing alliances in Europe being triggered by the killing of the Archduke Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary by a Serbian. This led to countries allied with the Austro-Hungarian empire fighting those with treaties with Serbia (through their treaty with Russia) fueled by a domino-like effect of alliances with hostilities starting in 2014.
The United States entered the War in 2017 after re-electing President Woodrow Wilson on his campaign brag that he was the man who kept us out of war. Almost as soon as the votes were cast, Wilson was the man who got us into the war, and America turned the tide toward Great Britain and France against Germany.
Today, the world faces the potential of an even more devastating inadvertent war. A war that would be truly global and exponentially more destructive than the first or second World Wars.
Ukraine sits at the middle of this powder keg.
Russia attacked Ukraine in an attempt to regain territory, wealth and prestige lost after the fall of the Soviet Union. Russian allies include Iran, North Korea, China and most probably its vassal states around the world most likely including many communist states in South and Central America like Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Peru, Bolivia and most probably Colombia, and Brazil with the recent dubious election of a communist leader. It can also be presumed that the drug cartels and their soldiers who have infiltrated the United States would ally with China which is its primary fentanyl supplier. Ukraine’s allies are the remainder of Europe, the United States and those allied with the U.S. against Russia and China from the Cold War including Japan, South Korea and Australia.
A truly global war that would pit men against men on every continent where no one would truly be a civilian untouched by war on their doorsteps could throw us back into a new dark-ages.
All with the battle for control of the northern shores of the Black Sea as the potential catalyst.
There are no easy solutions to the war in Ukraine. Russia attacked a sovereign nation. A nation that they vowed to have peace with just three decades prior in order to have nuclear weapons stationed in Ukraine returned to Russia for destruction. America signed on as a guarantor of that peace and now it is broken.
Europe is plunging into the cold months of winter with its green agenda and subsequent dependence upon Russia for natural gas. The environmentalist policy of energy dependency embraced on the continent that led to Russia holding an energy cudgel over their heads is now creating a worldwide oil and natural gas price spike with waves effecting the entire globe. Bloomberg writes that the results of having to buy natural gas wherever they can find it could create scarcity, black outs and increased energy poverty in the world’s poorest countries leading to increased starvation and death from other causes.
The Ukrainian War is complicated with ramifications that go far beyond this country the size of Texas, and it is time that Americans have an honest national discussion about our policy rather than shouting down anyone who cautions against knee-jerk escalation as being Russian propagandists.
Knee-jerk escalation is what gave us World War I as nations warred against one another for reasons that seem inconceivable today.
It is likely that the U.S. Congress will be asked to send billions more of support and arms to the Ukrainian government in the weeks and months ahead. It would be nice if someone thought to have a real discussion with the Biden administration about their exit strategy and contingency actions that need to be taken to strengthen our nation to deter what seems like an increasingly inevitable war between an emboldened China and its allies and the U.S. and ours.
Rather than depleting the West’s military capability to meet Ukraine’s needs, Congress might just consider how to strengthen our capacity to meet the growing threat across the Pacific.
Rather than drawing down the Strategic Petroleum Reserves and blind worship at the altar of the environmental lobby, Congress needs to insist on a domestic energy production policy which grows our refining, pipeline, fossil fuel and coal production to restore energy independence for national security purposes.
And rather than continuing the expansion of our $31 trillion national debt, Congress needs to roll back the massive regular government spending increases which have been put in place over the last two years. If the world economic system is broken by war, this debt will be the noose around America’s neck.
Finally, an inability and unwillingness to defend our own borders is the most obvious short-term knife at the throat of America’s ability to meet the 21st century national defense challenges. Failure to close our border to illegal alien trafficking now is effective surrender in the years ahead.
We just had an election.
Republicans will be in control of the House of Representatives and possibly have a one-seat majority in the Senate. It is time that whoever is the Speaker of the House lead an honest strategic plan in conjunction with the Biden administration and the Senate to use the power of the purse to prepare America for the war that approaches in the hopes that through strength it is avoided.
Hopefully a new start in Washington, D.C. will lead to rational planning and discourse over the future of our nation rather than demonization of those who dare ask if we are repeating the errors that led to World War I.
We can learn a lot from the first World War. On this day, which reminds us of that much forgotten war from a century ago, let’s hope modern politicians remember its lessons.
Rick Manning is the President of Americans for Limited Government.
Cross-posted with The Daily Torch
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