World War I: Learn­ing the Les­sons

Uzbekistan Today (English) - - WORLD -

The First World War is an event from the dis­tant past. It is recorded as one of the blood­i­est and largest-scale con­flicts in hu­man his­tory. It be­gan on 28 July 1914 and ended on 11 Novem­ber 1918. As many as 38 states were party to the war.

If we briefly dis­cuss the al­leged causes of the First World War, some his­to­ri­ans say that grave eco­nomic con­tra­dic­tions de­riv­ing from the in­ter­ests of al­liances of world pow­ers es­tab­lished at the turn of the cen­tury were un­der­ly­ing rea­sons be­hind the con­flict. It is also worth not­ing that there prob­a­bly ex­isted the pos­si­bil­ity of a peace­ful set­tle­ment of these dis­agree­ments. Still, con­scious of their mount­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties, Ger­many and Aus­tria-Hun­gary moved to more de­ci­sive ac­tion.


On 28 June 1914, Europe rushed into the First World War: in Sara­jevo, a Bos­nian Serb mem­ber of Young Bos­nia, an or­ga­ni­za­tion seek­ing an end to Aus­tro-Hun­gar­ian rule in Bos­nia and Herze­gov­ina, killed the heir to the Aus­tro-Hun­gar­ian throne, Arch­duke Franz Fer­di­nand, and this as­sas­si­na­tion served as ca­sus belli for World War I. Aus­tria-Hun­gary de­clared war on Ser­bia, but later on the Aus­trian-Ser­bian front turned out to be one of the most pas­sive the­aters of hos­til­i­ties. A month into the as­sas­si­na­tion, on 28 July 1914, the first day of the war, Aus­trian ar­tillery fired at Bel­grade, but oc­cu­pied it only in De­cem­ber. And not for long.

Only af­ter Bul­garia joined the war on the side of the Triple Al­liance did the ter­ri­tory of Ser­bia get com­pletely in­vaded. Bul­garia had its own stake in this con­flict – re­venge on the Serbs for the Sec­ond Balkan War of 1913, which the Bul­gar­i­ans lost.


Dur­ing the war, the ques­tion was ad­dressed by the US Pres­i­dent Woodrow Wil­son thus: “Ev­ery­one has been look­ing for the rea­sons why the war be­gan, but can­not find them out. Their search is in vain; they will hardly find the real causes. The war did not start for any one rea­son; the war be­gan for all causes at once.” Yet from “all causes at once”, his­to­ri­ans feel in­clined to­ward the ma­jor fac­tor, namely, the clash be­tween the Bri­tish and Ger­man em­pires. The former was the lead­ing world power at the time and tried to main­tain the lead­er­ship, while the lat­ter sought to re­vise the sta­tus quo and se­cure a greater role for it­self.


At first, the con­flict was not called the world war. For a month or so, it was con­sid­ered Euro­pean, although ini­tially it had been clear that the war would be waged across colonies. How­ever, on Au­gust 23, 1914, the war on the side of the En­tente (Bri­tain signed al­liance agree­ments dur­ing 1904-1907 with France and Rus­sia, thus form­ing the En­tente) was joined by Ja­pan, which ex­tended mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions to China and the Pa­cific Ocean. But the war fi­nally spread to the whole world in 1917, when the United States of Amer­ica en­tered it on the side of the En­tente, fol­low­ing which 15 Latin Amer­i­can states also de­clared war on Ger­many and her al­lies, although these 15 coun­tries prac­ti­cally never par­tic­i­pated in the war, nor did they re­ceive any ben­e­fit from the vic­tory.


When asked why the end of the war is cel­e­brated in France, the an­swer is ob­vi­ous: be­cause it was in France on Novem­ber 11, 1918, that an ar­mistice was signed, in ac­cor­dance with which hos­til­i­ties ceased on the western front.

The most es­sen­tial con­se­quence of World War I was that it laid the foun­da­tion for the Sec­ond World War. In Ger­many, the de­feat of 1918 and the per­ceived harsh con­di­tions of the Ver­sailles Peace Treaty on the coun­try gen­er­ated a strong re­van­chist mood, which in 1933 brought Hitler to power.

Thus, the cen­te­nary of the end of the First World War is not a hol­i­day, but rather, as his­to­ri­ans sug­gest, a re­minder that a peace built on the dic­tates of some and the hu­mil­i­a­tion of oth­ers is not an en­dur­ing peace.

There­fore, the meet­ing of the heads of dif­fer­ent states and the re­minder of the fragility of peace be­came, ac­cord­ing to the French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron, served as the main pur­pose of the cer­e­mony ded­i­cated to the 100th an­niver­sary of the of­fi­cial end of World War I, which took place last Sun­day in Paris.

The lead­ers of more than sixty na­tions at­tended the cer­e­mony, dur­ing which the French Pres­i­dent “re­vived” the eter­nal flame at the Tomb of the Un­known Sol­dier. The del­e­ga­tion of Uzbek­istan headed by the Se­nate Chair­man Nig­mat­ulla Yul­da­shev took part in the cer­e­mony along­side sec­re­taries gen­eral of the UN, An­tónio Guter­res, and NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, as well as pres­i­dents Putin and Trump. The Uzbek of­fi­cials were in­vited to a gala din­ner on be­half of the Pres­i­dent of the French Repub­lic Em­manuel Macron in honor of the heads of del­e­ga­tions at the level of heads of state and gov­ern­ment.


Dur­ing the event or­ga­nized in the fa­mous Musée d’Or­say, rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Uzbek­istan held brief con­ver­sa­tions with lead­ers of a num­ber of par­tic­i­pat­ing coun­tries, in­clud­ing the French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron and the Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel, who wel­comed the fun­da­men­tal, pro­found and dy­namic re­forms car­ried out in Uzbek­istan.

Em­manuel Macron highly ap­pre­ci­ated the re­sults of the visit by Pres­i­dent of the Repub­lic of Uzbek­istan to France on Oc­to­ber 8-9 this year and stressed that it proved truly his­toric and the talks were break­through, al­low­ing to take the bi­lat­eral re­la­tions to a qual­i­ta­tively new de­vel­op­ment tra­jec­tory. “I re­call our re­cent meet­ing with Pres­i­dent Shavkat Mirziy­oyev with warmth and hope for the fur­ther en­hance­ment of our co­op­er­a­tion for the ben­e­fit of the peo­ples of our coun­tries,” Pres­i­dent Macron said.

The French leader ex­pressed hope that all the agree­ments reached dur­ing the visit, pri­mar­ily in the trade and eco­nomic sphere, will be im­ple­mented in the very near fu­ture and in full.

Al­ready in­vited by the head of Uzbek state, the French Pres­i­dent re­it­er­ated his readi­ness to visit Uzbek­istan.

The Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel noted that Ber­lin is in­ter­ested in fur­ther­ing the co­op­er­a­tion with Uzbek­istan and stated that the forth­com­ing visit by the Pres­i­dent of Uzbek­istan to Ger­many will lay a solid foun­da­tion for the de­vel­op­ment of friendly re­la­tions be­tween our two na­tions and open a new page in bi­lat­eral re­la­tions. “I look for­ward to meet­ing the Uzbek leader to dis­cuss the cur­rent state and prospects of our re­la­tions as well as top­i­cal is­sues of in­ter­na­tional and re­gional na­ture,” Chan­cel­lor Merkel pointed out.

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