Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Longest War

In my veterans day post, I wrote a couple paragraphs about how I believe that Europe has never really recovered from World War I:

"Britain, France, Belgium, Canada, Australia, Russia... and on the other side Germany, Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary (and the remains of the holy roman empire), Turkey (and the other ottomans)... an entire generation of young men in Europe were lost to the most futile, worst run war, in modern history.

In four years, 18 million men died (or went missing, which is mostly the same thing), and 22 million men were wounded.

In fact, Europe has never recovered from this greatest of historical mistakes. It was the direct aftermath of world war one that lead to world war two; which created the postmodern European culture that is slowly being destroyed from without and within by self hatred, depression, defeatism, socialism, and Islamic fascism..."
A reader commented that I was perhaps being harsh, and that europeans were probably just as happy as Americans are... which I also disagree with; but more importantly he missed my larger point. Though honestly it's not his fault since I wasn't being very clear about it.

I have a political theory, that I've been working on for quite some time, and have spoken about at great length in other formats (usually long conversations with other military and political history geeks).

The theory is, roughly, this:

Western civilization has been engaged in what is essentially a single long and continuous war; with periodic truces, breaks, and returns to conflict; since at least 1618, with the 30 years war.

This single long war has been generational, and transformational, in its nature and impact. It has shaped every aspect of western civilization since it began. All the major political developments in our civilization since that time have either been initiated by this war, greatly strengthened by it, destroyed by it, were in reaction to it, or were otherwise significantly effected by it.

The 17th through 19th century wars of European dominance and succession were clearly related to the 30 years war. These wars led to the early liberty oriented revolutions (which were essentially reactionary to the excesses of the jockeying for european position). They also led directly up to napoleonic wars (which are properly taken separeately from the small "local" wars of the time), the crimean war, the boer war, and the various austro-hungarian-prussian wars of the middle to late 19th century (and indirectly the U.S. civil war, which was almost inevitable given the compromise that went into the formation of the United States).

These of course clearly led into world war 1, which further led into world war 2, the cold war, the korean and vietnam wars, both gulf wars, and even the "war on terror"... which is actually in itself a direct aftermath of world war 1, and the crimean war before it.

Essentially, I consider the 30 years war to be the first "world war" of the modern era (meaning the post renaissance period); and that all major conflicts since are strongly related to it.

Now the problem with a blog format in discussing this theory, is that I would need to write something on the order of 100,000 words to completely cover it... and perhaps 40,000 just to set out the bare outlines and minimum necessary filling in.

That said, I bet there are a bunch of my fellow military and history geeks reading this and thinking "he's crazy, and here's why" or "he's onto something, and here's why". With them, I can use shorthand; because they know what I'm referring to, and the context behind it.

That would be a very fun conversation for us geeks to have (and it has been, many times over) but it would most likely bore the pants off of most of my readers.

Also, I'd love to write it, and I may; but if I do it is going to have to be written as an honest to god book.

No-one may want to publish it; it is after all a somewhat obscure branch of military history and political science; but it deserves to have a book written about it anyway.