I am currently reading a book by the well known and respected historian Margaret MacMillan titled The War That Ended Peace - The Road to 1914. In general it covers how the stupidity, greed, hubris, male machismo, stirred up patriotic pride, businesses and politicians all could foresee events taking shape towards WWI and in most cases looked forward to it. It was to be a test of manhood, nationalism and a way to win over more resources (essentially through the grabbing of colonial territories from other nation-states) and to weaken other states to essentially do as one bids.
At the turn of the 19th-20th centuries, there were conflicts arising between European empires. The British, French, Germans, Austria-Hungary, Russia, and Ottoman empires were facing off not just in Europe but also overseas for control of colonial space and resources. They all had severe internal problems that they thought a major war would help resolve by rallying the populations in favour of the governments of the day. Different regions of each empire was vying for independence (e.g. the Irish from the British) and each empire was vying with each other over European territories (Alsace-Lorraine, Poland - which didn't exist at that time, Croatia, Herzegovina, the Danish province of Schleswig-Holstein and on).
The situation's familiarity with today is considerable. The empires were all interrelated at several levels. The top level was that of the rulers who were all of a kind, being mostly cousins, nephews, and uncles of each other. Inbreeding perhaps had something to do with the arrogant stupidity of the bunch, but there perhaps was just enough new blood in from slightly lower ranks that kept outright cretinism away from the rulers. Just as today, these leaders met with each other, and it is the historical record of all their different writings that provides a glimpse into the mostly warped personalities of the leaders as they manouvered for power and control.
The businesses, corporations and banks of the era, while perhaps not as integrated as today under our current global financial system of international privileges, worked together and competed with each other within their own countries and with other countries and for influence in the many colonial regions of the world. At that time the emphasis was on China, Africa, and the slow decay of the Ottoman empire and as with today, the lesser peoples of the world essentially had no say in how they are governed or ruled by the colonial leaders of the day. Today it is much more of a financial colonialism developed through the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization, the Bank of International Settlements, and other institutions of the Washington Consensus looking for global hegemony. Of course, and it should be obvious, that this is all supported by the no longer invisible fist of the U.S. military and its NATO minions.
The 'balance of power' for WWI consisted of the Triple Entente (Britain, France, Russia) and the Triple Alliance (Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy). Neither the Entente nor the Alliance were solid having their own areas of conflict, both financial and territorial.Today there is one "super-power" but that 'superness' is being balanced by the not much lesser powers of Russia and China - which if combined, as they are being pushed into an alliance by the arrogant and deceitful actions of theU.S. - would make a bipolar nuclear world.
The conflict holds true in our modern era, as NATO is being manouvered by the lies and hubris of the U.S. into opposing the independence of the Donetsk Republic and the Lugansk Republic in Eastern Ukraine. The stupidity and timidity of the European leaders is quite stunning as they kowtow to the wishes of U.S. foreign policy as it struggles to maintain its global hegemony, especially with the US$ as the global reserve currency supported by oil.
The sanctions being applied to Russia will certainly harm Russia, but it would appear that the counter sanctions are already having a strong negative effect on the EU's economy. This is particularly bad for Germany, the putative leader of Europe, as it has many billions of dollars in trade with Russia and has about one third of its energy requirements filled by Russian oil and gas. Their economy is currently at best stagnating - and as official figures are usually padded to the upside, more than likely they are settling into another recession along with the rest of the EU.
The CBC news this morning (Saturday, August 30, 2014) presented the story of the EU/NATO leaders meeting in Brussels along with the neonazi government leaders from western Ukraine. The rhetoric about war and sanctions and about the evil of the Russian intentions - the latter which to my mind sounded much more like the way the U.S. empire operates - was astounding - and so much like the garbage that preceded WWI. The demonization of the 'other' is always a tactic used by the powers that be in order to control their own masses.
Indeed as the economies of the western financial world falter - more correctly as the global economy falters under the weight and imbalances of the huge monetary printing and global consumption debt - local governments will do their utmost to retain power by reinforcing their own internal agenda of policing control, internal surveillance, and the creation of fascist states wherein rule is maintained by the corporate-political-military powers (otherwise coded as the 'rule of law').
If the west continues on its current path, they could, quite predictably, fall into another European war which would of course lead to the last world war, being nuclear. The blame cannot be placed on Putin, nor the Russians, nor the Republics of Lugansk and Donetsk. The main culprit will be the U.S. as it pushes the margins of NATO up to the borders of Russia, and uses NATO globally to fight part of its wars, as in Iraq, and Libya. But the Europeans must also accept much of the blame for being so stupidly cowed by the U.S. propaganda campaign. There must be some large amounts of US$ insecurities spread around NATO and the EU, and perhaps much personal information stored by the NSA/CIA that allows the U.S. to ride roughshod over their European minions.
Russia is being threatened at its very borders by the incursion of NATO into neighbouring countries in order that they can assist the U.S. with its pattern of global hegemony. That pattern is of course as already described, a mix of military might backing up financial controls of various kinds.
Can we learn from history? Apparently not so far. The situation being created by the U.S-NATO-EU alliances are equally as bombastic, stupid, arrogant, conceited, and retarded as those of the various monarchs and dictators that ruled Europe a century ago. Let us hope and work towards the alternative of no war and the very real wishes of the different peoples of the world to live peacefully and independently without external threats to themselves and their resources.