July ’14: the centenary of World War 1 arrives in a little over a year.
How should it be recalled?
As tragedy? The massive bloodletting of the Somme and other battles appears as simply tragic. As folly? The generals and their pointless offensives point in that direction. As conspiracy? The assassination that precipitated the war was a secret conspiracy by Serbian Intelligence. As normality? War was a normal part of life, as was great power conflict, regrettable perhaps, but unavoidable. As glorious victory? Rarely seen in this light, but the Allies in the end learned how to win, particularly with more effective artillery. As singularity? It could be interpreted as a leap to total war, the turning point that put the world on the ladder to destruction, cataclysm, and potential nuclear annihilation. As anomaly? Perhaps instead it was an aberration that merely interrupted the growing war aversion and war avoidance in the liberal states.
From today’s vantage point WW1 increasingly looks like an anomaly.