Friday, November 13, 2009

War and Decision

Arnold Kling observes Veterans Day with some thoughts on the political leaders who started and waged WWI, the source of the original Veterans Day: The Great War

The first World War is one of the topics in history that interests me the most. I really think that if more people focused on leadership during that war, the concerns over "market failure" and the faith in political leadership would decline. I challenge anyone to come up with a group of business villains who caused as much death and suffering as the "legitimate" political leaders of 1914.

WWI is fascinating because the post-war world was so different from that of the pre-1914 world. No less than 4 empires (German, Russian, Austro-Hungarian, and Ottoman) fell as a result of the war. The British and French empires were fatally weakened. What we still think of as Old Europe - a world of minor aristocrats, glittering balls, spa holidays in Baden-Baden, etc - came to a crashing halt. And the fascists and communists who came in its wake proved to be worse than the bumbling aristocrats they replaced in the halls of power. Sadly, everyone entered WWI enthusiastically and with eyes wide shut.

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