A War to End All Wars?

By most accounts, the summer of 1914 began as a pleasant one.  However, military planning and political maneuvering behind the scenes over the previous quarter century had created a vast Rube Goldberg contraption designed to plunge the European continent into total war.  Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire was just the first of ten million casualties in the first World War.

For more than four years, the ground was churned by trenching tool and explosive, trampled under the weight of a dozen national armies and – sadly – provided the final resting place for more than ten million men.  Today, the ranks of the seventy million men who served from around the world have been reduced to six.  Only one – Great Britain’s Harry Patch – actually served in the trenches.

So, the soldiers are almost gone, the ground has healed, but our world is still shaped from the so-called War to End All Wars.  Tanks, flame throwers, aircraft (and thus anti-aircraft weapons) were developed in that war and used in the Middle East conflicts that had their origins in that conflict almost a century ago.



  1. don’t forget the use of chemical weapons too. Also there are some that believe that World War II wasn’t really a “second” war but a continuation of the first. Having the Armistice act as a “ceasefire” while all the participants re-armed for 20 years.

  2. I find this expression “war to end all wars” curious. They have the same one in French: “la der des der”. Some see in it a prophetic expression in reference to Isaih 2:4: “And He will judge between the nations, And will render decisions for many peoples; And they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, and never again will they learn war.” To anyone with a more convincing explanation, I’m all ears.

  3. There are a lot of references to “swords into plowshares” that I can think of. I think the idea of “The War to End Wars” was due to World War I’s technological advantage over military tactics. The resulting carnage was so horrific (there were a million casualties in the Battle of the Somme, for instance) that people thought war might become outmoded. I don’t know for sure; it’s an interesting thought. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Expect much more as we approach 2014 and the 100th Anniversary.

    The Iraq war always seemed the final chapter to the way of 1914-18. The final accounting too the dissolution of thee Ottoman Empire. The US’s final accepting it’s share of the mandate for the wreckage the Ottoman’s left, after we failed to follow Gen Harbord’s advice and accept a mandate from the League of Nations for Armenia.

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