August 4, 2014
It Was 100 Years Ago Today
That Germany invaded neutral Belgium. Germany had already occupied Lichtenstein (which was also neutral), but that didn't create as much brouhaha.
Completely by coincidence, I'm reading The Guns of August by Barbara W. Tuchman which I picked up because, like most average Americans of my generation who are not history majors, I wasn't taught much about World War I because history books just needed to touch on it in order to establish the basis for all the calamities that beset us through the rest of the 20th century right up to Iraq and Syria today. We heard about Sarajevo, skipped to the Americans declaring war, then skipped right to Versailles.
The Guns of August focuses on only the period from late July to September in 1914, the time during which multiple nations combined to produce one of the greatest clusterfucks of all history. Immense ignorance, bigotry, and prejudice combined with rigid 19th century views on warfare and new technology in a grand exercise of utter pointlessness.
I haven't finished the book, but I'm to the point where the Germans are just 40km outside of Paris. The only clear heads in the entire book are: Winston Churchill, King Albert I and the Belgians. Everybody else (and I mean everybody) went into the war with their heads up their asses, kept them there, and wondered why their shots always missed. The Russians - the effing Russians - had the biggest army in the world, but they had no plans for supplying the army and no plans for troop transport once they got outside the mother country's borders. So they went as far as they could walk and then got wiped out by the Germans. France appreciated the effort.
It has always seemed to me that when you call someone a military genius you are really only saying that they are barely competent.
Posted by: Eric at Aug 4, 2014 1:24:57 PM