Spring 1914, Europe enjoys the good times brought about by the industrial revolution and the first globalization. The French dubbed the period: "the Belle Epoque". Yet, an assassination turned this memorable time into a nightmare. On June 28, 1914, Franz Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria and heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, is killed by a Bosnian nationalist, Gavrilo Princip. Then, events unfold precipitously:
July 23: Austria-Hungary sends an ultimatum to Serbia. Serbia's response is deemed unsatisfactory.
July 28: Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia. Russia mobilizes.
August 1: Germany declares war on Russia.
August 3: Germany declares war on France.
August 4: The United Kingdom declares war on Germany.
In a two month span, Archduke Franz Ferdinand's assassination unexpectedly created a chain of events which triggered World War I.
Fall 1962, after a rocky start Cuban-American relations are at a standstill in an unsettled Cold War environment. On October 14, 1962, A U-2 flying over western Cuba obtains photographs of missile sites. A new cycle of events unfolds:
October 22: John Kennedy addresses the nation regarding the Cuban crisis. US military forces are placed on high alert.
October 24: Soviet ships, en route to Cuba, reverse their course except for one.
October 27: An American U-2 is shot down over Cuba killing the pilot, Major Rudolf Anderson.
October 28: Khrushchev announces over Radio Moscow that he has agreed to remove the missiles from Cuba. In return the US agrees to the withdrawal of US nuclear missiles from Turkey ending the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Kennedy and Khrushchev had unexpectedly looked into the nuclear abyss. They did not like what they saw. Today, we know that Valentin Savitsky, one of the Soviet submarine captains, was set on firing his nuclear missiles. Vasili Alexandrovich Arkhipov, his second in command, convinced him not to do so. (1)
21 st century: East-West relations are cooled but stable.