Thursday, January 19, 2012


I have watched thousands of hours of documentaries about WWII. There are series using previously unknown color movies, series about attempts on Hitler's life, about Hitler's early life, about Hitler's last days in the bunker, about Hitler's secret weapons, about the development of the concentration camps and about the roving special murder squads (Einsatzgruppen). I have also seen movies about WWI, such as "War Horse" where the scenes of fighting in the trenches are done with Steven Spielberg's special ability. Also, the movie about Rudyard Kipling's son who died in the trenches. The more I see the more I realize that WWII was a continuation of WWI.

Certainly this was the motivation of Hitler and millions of other Germans, to reverse the defeat of 1918 and make it a victory in 1939. Those 21 years were merely an interlude, a short interval before the ignominy of defeat could be transformed into the glory of victory. Germans of all stripes believed intrinsically that they were superior to all other races/groups, certainly to the Jews, a convenient and powerless minority, and they could not understand nor accept that the Jews were somehow cleverer than them and that the British somehow managed to defeat them. It was all a huge mistake, the kind of mistake that arrogance cannot accept. Hitler was the ersatz Kaiser that the German people yearned for. Back to the past. That was why Hitler insisted on using the very carriage in which the German surrender was signed in 1918 to have the French sign their capitulation in 1940 and in the same place.

Maybe we should rename these world wars WWIa and Ib. Hopefully there will never be a WWIc, because the powers of Europe, Germany, France, Britain, have overcome their inter-European rivalries and moved on to bureaucratic games like the EU and the Eurozone. That should tie them down for a while. But in the wider world the wars have seemed tame, local conflicts such as Korea, Vietnam, Iraq (twice) and the Middle East Wars, the Suez Campaign (1956), the 6 day War (1967), the Yom Kippur War (1973), the Lebanon wars (1982 and 2002) and so on.
These have killed fewer and fewer people as the sophistication of the war increased. Can a war that kills less than 100,000 people be called a real war. Its amazing that the wars of the Arabs against Israel have produced so few casualties (and yet the Arabs call them Nakba and "genocide'). Now the Iran-Iraq war (1980-88), that was a real war with ca. 1 million casualties and little more sophistication than artillery and poison gas.

Will there ever be a WWIII, a real all-out war that includes most of the nations of the world? Probably not, but if there ever is to be one it will probably involve Islamist fundamentalists, trying to take over the West and destroy its culture. The development of Iranian nuclear weapons could be the causative act of that war, especially if the Sunni and Shia join together. But, happily they hate each other more than they hate even Israel, so maybe an attack on Iran won't have such dire consequences. Remember the causative factor of WWII was the arrogance of the Germans over the defeat of Germany in WWI; the casuative factor of WWIII will probably be the arrogance of Islam over their perceived inferiority to the West.


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