We are coming up on the 103rd anniversary of the opening of World War I. Here is a summary of the early chapters of Barbara Tuchman’s book The Guns of August - from Wikipedia. It was a matter of miscalculation and alliances that ultimately consumed Europe and dragged the US into the war.
“Outbreak” starts with a short introduction, which briefly mentions the event that triggered World War I. On June 28, 1914, in Sarajevo, Gavrilo Princip, a Serbian nationalist and patriot, assassinated the heir apparent to the throne of Austria-Hungary, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, at 50, and his wife Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg (the former Sophie Chotek), at 46, a mother of three. European-wide diplomacy and military preparations during July are then referenced.
Chapters 6 to 9 commence with August 1914. Discussed and probed are maneuvers by leading politicians, diplomatic affairs, and actions undertaken by various armies, during the opening days of the war, August 1 to August 4. Covered are the Kaiser’s hesitation, the struggle by Russia to ensure that its ally, France, would join in the war, France’s attempts to win a guarantee from Britain of her involvement, and Germany’s ultimatum to Belgium.
Required reading for this morning is AZBlueMeanie’s summary of the situation in Syria, One miscalculation or mistake away from war. We are stumbling toward another world war.
Wars often begin with a miscalculation or mistake after prolonged periods of posturing and saber rattling. We will be told that we have to save face or appear weak, especially by people like Sen. John McCain. So we will stumble into war.
Two events in recent days — the shooting down by a US F–18 of a Syrian Su–22 and the use of ballistic missiles by Iran against ISIS targets — are evidence of a scramble in eastern Syria that’s been gathering pace since the beginning of the year.
The Blue Meanie quotes from CNN reports, the first noting that the Syrian conflict moves into new and dangerous territory. In short:
For now at least the main contest lines up the regime of Bashar al Assad with its allies in Moscow and Tehran against the United States and the few remaining non-jihadist groups still on the Syrian battlefield.
And that after we shot down a Syrian fighter.
The Syrian army and its allies (largely Iranian, Iraqi and Lebanese Shia militia), however, are also closing in on Raqqa. Last week the Syrian military reached areas controlled by the SDF. It was almost inevitable that at some point these opposing alliances would butt heads. So when the Syrian air force bombed SDF positions Sunday, the US came to the aid of its partners on the ground — and the Syrians have one fewer Su–22.
The Pentagon said the action was “in accordance with rules of engagement and in collective self-defense of coalition partnered forces,” but that was not the view in Moscow.
Russia announced Monday that for the second time this year it was suspending its military cooperation agreement with the United States in Syria — an agreement designed to prevent unintended accidents in the skies over this crowded neighborhood. But it went a step further, warning that anything in the air west of the Euphrates River — including coalition aircraft — would be considered a target.
On Tuesday, Australia — a US coalition partner — announced that it was suspending all air operations over Syria.
We are one miscalculation or mistake, one shot down plane over Syria, one nuclear test or ballistic missile launch in North Korea, from stumbling into a major conflict. And we are saddled with an erratic and impulsive man-child for president. Tbis is a dangerous confluence of circumstances.
You see, we are not that far from this generation’s Guns of August.