Some time ago, Inkwell called to your attention a piece on ‘the roots of European appeasement’ in the Weekly Standard by David Gelernter.
The thesis of the piece’which bore the subhead, ‘It’s the 1920s all over again”was that it was the trauma of World War I that has made Europe unwilling to fight.
Max Boot takes up a similar theme today in a piece in the L.A. Times. He notes that World War I seems, in retrospect, a senseless war.
Boot compares the motives and suffering of World War I with the motives and suffering of the Civil War:
‘There was much suffering between 1861 and 1865, of course,’ writes Boot. ‘but there was also a nobility that comes from fighting over large issues that admit no compromise: One side sought to preserve slavery and destroy the Union, the other to destroy slavery and preserve the Union. It is hard to discern any issues of comparable magnitude in all the bloodletting that occurred between 1914 and 1918. The pointlessness of it all overwhelmed me as I traveled in northern France, going from Verdun near the Meuse River to the Somme near the English Channel. On these fields, the youth of France, Britain and Germany fell by the bushel in 1916.’
But the current generation is the generation of 1989 and the fall of the Soviet Union.
‘Their political sensibility was shaped by the end of the Cold War,’ writes Boot. ‘Though they will celebrate the 60th anniversary of D-day on Sunday, World War II ‘ a struggle between good and evil ‘ no longer speaks to them. World War I exemplifies their vision of warfare: cruel and senseless. They do not want to fight alongside the United States, in Iraq or anywhere else; they see nothing worth fighting for.
‘It is a great mistake they are making, but an understandable one. Walking around the neatly tended graveyards of Verdun or the Somme, it is easy to see why Europeans would want to forget about war. But has war forgotten about them?’
They may not be willing to fight, but, as the headline of Boot’s piece notes, ‘Bemoaning war’s senselessness will not stop an enemy.’