It is currently fashionable to use the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War for all sorts of comparisons reaching from power dynamics in East Asia to the Euro Crisis. As the Ukrainian crisis coincides with the 100th anniversary of the First World War, there is also plenty of opportunity to think about differences and similarities of developments between the July Crisis in 1914 and the escalating situation in Ukraine. (See for instance Julian Lindley French’s analysis.)Sponsored Ads
For discounting any immediate parallel between now and 1914 (or 1939) it suffices to say that the nuclear revolution has made a direct clash between the United States and Russia unlikely and that there is no willingness whatsoever among “post-heroic” Western publics to “mourir pour Donetsk.” However, irrespective of the tenuous Russian-Ukrainian ceasefire last Friday, some attributes of the poisonous atmosphere in the run-up to the Great War can also be detected today:
Despite all the talk about “learning from history,” the Ukrainian crisis reveals that fundamental mechanisms in international crises remain as they were one hundred years ago. Whilst this tells us something about the lack of willingness to learn from the past, are there lessons to learn from both crises? I think there are.