But the nincompoops surrounding the 84-year old emperor in Vienna thought that this was an opportunity to win an easy victory, and delivered an ultimatum to the Serbs. The Russian Czar, surrounded by dukes and archdukes, wanted to help his fellow Slavs and mobilized his army. They probably did not know that according to a military plan prepared long in advance, in this case the German army had to attack and conquer France, before the cumbersome Russian army could complete its mobilization and reach the German border. The German Kaiser, a disturbed child who never grew up, acted accordingly. The British, who never liked to be governed by people who were too clever, rushed to the aid of poor France. And so it went.
Could all these leaders have been complete fools? Was Europe governed by an all-pervading idiocracy? Perhaps. But perhaps there were reasonably intelligent people among them. Is it just that power not only corrupts, as Lord Acton famously pronounced, but also stupefies (in the sense of making people stupid)?
In any case, I have known in my life so many normal people who, upon assuming power, did so many utterly stupid things, that the latter must be the case.
I WISH I had the will-power to resist telling again the classic Jewish joke about the Turks, which I quoted immediately after the Mavi Marmara incident.
It's about the Jewish mother in 19th century Russia, whose son was called up to serve in the Czar's army in the war against Ottoman Turkey. "Don't overdo things'" she entreats him, "Kill a Turk and rest. Kill another Turk and rest again, kill..."
"But what if the Turk kills me?" the boy interjects.
"Kill you?" responds the mother in horrified surprise, "But Why? What have you done to him?!"
Kill a Turk and apologize...