Thoughts On Veterans Day


As we mark Veterans Day here in the United States, it is worth remembering that, for the rest of the Western world, today marks the end of what may very well be the most pointless war in human history

The war in which millions of educated and working class men sacrificed their lives to fight over the remnants of a Europe that was still ruled by Hohenzollern’s, Hapsburg’s and Romanov’s —Middle Age Europe’s inbred contribution to insanity.

And what were they fighting over ? The same stupid battles that Europeans were fighting 100 years previously when Napoleon raged across the Russian frontier. Only this time, they were doing it with tanks, planes, and mustard gas.

It was massacre writ large and insanity on display for four long years — and it all started when some guy got shot in Sarajevo.

And yet, somehow, the boys of America ended up in the middle of this mess that the Royalists and Europeans has created. Rationally, there was no reason we should’ve been there and yet we were led by a man convinced that he could remake the world in America’s democratic image.

Sound familiar ?

That didn’t work out so well back then, as people unlucky enough to live in Europe in the 1930s and 40s can attest. Not to mention the men who the United States sent back to Europe in 1941.

So as we remember Veterans today, and thank them for their service, perhaps it’s time to think about how we can stop creating so many gardens of stone in so many corners of the world in the name of misplaced idealism.

  • southernjames

    IMO, it is a bit simplistic to assert that Wilson’s motivations in 1917 and W’s motivations in 2003 were the same. No matter how good it may feel to do so.

    But for Germany’s open submarine warfare combined with the its efforts to bring in Mexico against the US, we MAY not have entered WW I.

    Unless you are arguing that those incidents were merely used by Wilson as a pretext to jump in and go after Saddam…er, the Kaiser.

    It was not WW I and Wilson’s desire to “remake” Europe in our image, that led to the tragic decades of the 30’s and 40’s. 180 degrees to the contrary, it was the mishandling of events, most notably the handling of defeated Germany, AFTER WW I, that led to the rise of German Fascism.

    Then, in sharp contract to the 1920’s, in the 1940s, it was America BEING involved and taking the LEAD, in a most American-like manner, in managing post-War Western Europe, that led to Europe NOT being in a continual and chronic, non-stop state of warfare, for perhaps the longest number of continuous decades since the Roman empire.

    Western Europe has temporarily stopped behaving like Western Europe — once due to Julius Caesar and Co., and once due to Harry Truman, George Marshall and Co.

    Hows about we just honor our veterans on veterans day instead of pissing in our cereal about unnecessary wars, that have everything to do with civilian politicians and nothing to do with the veterans we are honoring. Same thing for Memorial Day. There are still 363 other days available. I guess your next post will be to bitch about Viet Nam?

  • Doug Mataconis


    Germany’s submarine warfare in the Atlantic was a direct result of the fact that Wilson was openly violating the United States’s proclaimed neutrality and providing aid to Britain and France. If you were at war and a country that claimed to be neutral was, in fact, aiding your enemy, what would you do ?

    The Zimmerman telegram has pretty throughly been shown to be a German hyperbole that was exploited by the Brits to get the US into the war. Practically speaking, there was no way that the Germans could have done anything with regard to Mexico or the Southwestern United States.

    You are correct in pointing out that it was the post-WW1 settlement that was largely responsible for the conditions that led to WW2. However, you neglect to mention that the Treaty of Versailles, and most especially it’s most punitive conditions, came directly from Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points speech, given ten months before the war ended:

    Had the US stayed out of WW1, as it should have, the Europeans most likely would have come to a resolution on their own akin to the settlements that ended the Napoleonic Wars. Would it have worked ? Who knows, but it could not have possibly been any worse than the hell unleashed on Earth by Woodrow Wilson’s naive attempt to remake the map of Europe.

    As for honoring veterans, I would submit that calling attention to the unwise decisions of Presidents, Prime Ministers, Kings, and Generals that forced them to die in wars they didn’t need to fight is one of the highest honors we can give them. Maybe it will prevent there from being future veterans of future misguided wars.