Seeds of World War Still Ex­ist

The Day After - - CONTENT - By Su­Nil DANg Feed­back on:re­[email protected]­terindia.com

The World War I was also called ‘Great War’ be­cause no one could con­ceive that there would ever be an­other one. But there was. At the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month i.e. on Novem­ber 11th, the world marked the 100th an­niver­sary of the armistice that ended First World War. The global con­flict cost an es­ti­mated 9 mil­lion mil­i­tary lives, ce­mented the United States as a world power, re­shaped his­tory and al­tered the global or­der. The world came un­done dur­ing those years. And if it was ever re­ally put back to­gether, it was put back to­gether dif­fer­ently wear­ing the wounds of World War 1that we con­tinue to live with to­day.

In the 1942 movie clas­sic Casablanca, the French po­lice cap­tain Louis Re­nault claimed that he was with the Amer­i­cans “when they blun­dered into Ber­lin in 1918.” If only we had, his­tory might have taken a very dif­fer­ent turn. It took two de­feats to fi­nally sub­due Ger­many, but only one oc­cu­pa­tion to turn it into the lib­eral democ­racy it re­mains to­day. Ja­pan, too, was trans­formed by oc­cu­pa­tion and re-ed­u­ca­tion. It all should have been done at the end of World War I. If it had, there likely would have been no World War II.

But, in Paris, while mark­ing the 100th year of the World War I, it be­came vis­i­ble that seeds that led to that ‘Great War’ still ex­ist. The way, US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump ig­nored the hand­shake with his French coun­ter­part Em­manuel Macron and other lead­ers not ready to set aside their per­sonal ego, gives an im­pres­sion that even af­ter 100 years of the dev­as­tat­ing war, we haven’t learnt any­thing. We are still liv­ing in an ex­pan­sion­ist mode and be­lieve in cap­tur­ing one’s ter­ri­tory by us­ing force and weapons. In fact, Trump’s ar­rival wasn’t as smooth as ex­pected, be­ing dis­rupted by a top­less pro­tester who ran to­wards the US Pres­i­dent’s mo­tor­cade as it was ap­proach­ing the Arc de Tri­om­phe. The woman, who had the words “fake” and “peace” scrawled across her bare chest was even­tu­ally ap­pre­hended by se­cu­rity of­fi­cials.

The US Pres­i­dent also faced crit­i­cism af­ter the White House can­celled a planned trip to the Aisne-Marne Amer­i­can Ceme­tery, 50 miles out­side Paris, just a day be­fore due to “sched­ul­ing and lo­gis­ti­cal dif­fi­cul­ties caused by the weather.”

If Trump was giv­ing a cold shoul­der to the French Pres­i­dent, Macron was not too far be­hind. In a bid to give be­fit­ting re­ply to his US coun­ter­part, Macron took a dig at Trump cit­ing, “Na­tion­al­ism is a be­trayal of pa­tri­o­tism. By say­ing our in­ter­ests first, who cares about the oth­ers, we erase what a na­tion holds dear­est, what gives it life, what makes it great and what is es­sen­tial: its moral val­ues” — which was a di­rect at­tack on Trump’s ‘Amer­ica First’ jibe.

What be­came veiled on Trump by Macron’s ‘na­tion­al­ism ver­sus pa­tri­o­tism’ jibe could have been a les­son for the whole world had he been able to make peo­ple un­der­stand that na­tion­al­ists, and es­pe­cially cul­tural na­tion­al­ists, who be­lieve in eth­nic, racial, cul­tural and re­li­gious su­pe­ri­or­ity over the ‘oth­ers’, have been bad news for the very peo­ple whose cause they claim to cham­pion. It took the Ger­mans and to a lesser ex­tent, the Ja­panese (be­fore Hiroshima-Na­gasaki), the com­plete de­struc­tion of their coun­try to re­al­ize that. To­day, the Nazi Swastika is banned in Ger­many and a Nazi salute is a pun­ish­able of­fence with six months in prison.

So, on the an­niver­sary of the end of the First World War, in which were con­tained the seeds of a much greater de­struc­tion which would ger­mi­nate in the 1930’s only to reach fruition in 1939, cit­i­zens across the world should be wary of tough-talk­ing lead­ers es­pous­ing a vir­u­lent form of self­at­tested love for their coun­try and the peo­ple. A com­mon trait amongst them is brand­ing ev­ery op­po­nent as a traitor. They are also typ­i­cally xeno­pho­bic, an­ti­im­mi­grant and har­bour a unique dis­dain for in­tel­lec­tu­als. They are also mas­ters at hatch­ing con­spir­a­cies to cap­ture po­lit­i­cal power and usu­ally can go to any length to cling on to the same. As In­di­ans liv­ing un­der the BJP rule of Naren­dra Modi, we have to be ex­tra care­ful.

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