Sleepwalking to the Next World War

I finished reading the excellent book The Sleepwalkers , by Christopher Clark few days ago.It details how Europe went to war in 1914…a war no one wanted..absolutely no one. Yet four years later 9 million soldiers and 6 million civilians were dead. There are many lessons from this book… easy and fascinating  reading, but one that stands out was simple and very analogous today’s political and military environment. In 1914 the European leaders of the the allies ( the triple Entente)- the good guys- the British,  France and  Russia had woefully weak leaders at the top.

The Russian Czar was a weak ruler, dependent on his wife, a German  who was a spiritual  mystic , dependent on the council of Rasputin, one of the most evil men in history, surpassed only by Hitler, Stalin and more recently, Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas leader. The French PM was Rene  Vivini, a nervous morose man who babbled to himself. The British PM was HH Asquith, who was madly in love with a girl 30 years years his junior,  ( his daughter’s friend) and at times wrote her 3 letters a day, piteously complaining  if he did not receive any. He often wrote letters to her during cabinet meetings. He was once asked by a female friend if he was interested in the war, since he seemed mostly indifferent to it. His letters to Venetia , his love object , were filled with most secret military plans and programs of the British  ( see Letters to Venetia Stanley,Ed Michael Block.) 

Venetia Stanley

Concerning  the military, with one or two exceptions,  the Russian generals were  totally incompetent, oblivious to the terrible losses in casualties. They were moderately successful against Germany’s allies, the The Austrian- Hungarians but totally destroyed by the Germans. Among the French and British, their generals were basically stupid, “donkeys” as they were called, such as Marshal Sir John French and General Douglas Haig  both of whom wasted the flower of British youth in ill conceived and stupidly continued offensives. On the French side , General Robert Nivelle, among a number of mediocre generals, stands out as the most atrociously incompetent. His failed offensive , with massive casualties, led to the French army mutiny in 1917.

Robert Neville

Today we have a similar political and military environment. The European leaders,  the French president Emmanuel Macron, British Rishi Sunak, Germany’s Olaf Scholz are political lightweights, with minimal domestic following, and devoid of leadership qualities in a crisis.  NATO is a bad joke. What is the NATO national anthem? What mother will say I’m so proud of my son dying for NATO?  But most frightening of all is the grotesque spectacle of a Biden thrust into a European leadership role. Never more than a second rate politician, venal, and heavily  affected by developing dementia, he rarely knows where is, let alone understanding the  seriousness of the crisis upon  us. Equally frightening is the coterie of amateur and bungling officials around him. His secstate, Tony Bliken is a  flyweight dilettante, and our  top military leadership is demonstrably  mediocre (at best),  and in their positions by virtue of meeting the requirements of the political hacks who appointed them.  They lack the drive, trust of the soldiers, and the strength of character, to meet the oncoming crisis.

gavrilo Princip. The Serbian freedom fighter/terrorist who fired the shot that enflamed the world.

Soon the overwhelmingly left wing media  will begin the “stop the Bloodshed”  campaign  to pressure Israel in calling off its objective of destroying Hamas. If successful it will be the first step in the inevitable sleep walk to war. The cause of  maintain democracy and freedom as a viable concept is dependent on the destruction of the forces of totalitarianism   as presented by Hamas and the various Islamist gangs. That is not an overdrawn prediction. Israel v cannot afford to lose—losing being an end to the war with Hamas still extant. And we cannot afford another Afghanistan.


Is the GAZA war A replica of the 1914 Serbian affair? Who knows. The leaders miscalculated in 1914 .  Can we trust this conglomeration of Western losers to do better? Is  Western leadership up to the challenge of the Axis of evil?



About Tex

Retired artillery colonel, many years in a number of positions in the Arab world. Graduate of the US Military Academy and the American University of Beirut. MA in Arab studies from the American University in Beirut along with 18 years as Middle East Seminar Director at the JFK Special Warfare Center and School, Served in Vietnam with 1st Inf Division, Assignments in Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt, plus service with Trucial Oman Scouts in the Persian Gulf. Traveled to every Arab country on the map including Iraq, Syria, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco.
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