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One Thing Led to Another

On this day in history…28 June 1914…Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, was assassinated in Sarajevo.  His wife, Duchess Sophie, was also killed.  The thing that I’ve always wondered is how the assassination of one guy start a world war.  I can understand Austria-Hungary declaring war on Serbia because of the assassination, but why would that start World War I?  It seems odd to me.  So when I was checking into it I found this site (http://firstworldwar.com/origins/causes.htm) that said that the war started because one thing led to another.  I did not write the following I copied it from the page: 

One Thing Led to Another

So then, we have the following remarkable sequence of events that led inexorably to the ‘Great War’ – a name that had been touted even before the coming of the conflict.

  • Austria-Hungary, unsatisfied with Serbia’s response to her ultimatum (which in the event was almost entirely placatory: however her jibbing over a couple of minor clauses gave Austria-Hungary her sought-after cue) declared war on Serbia on 28 July 1914.
  • Russia, bound by treaty to Serbia, announced mobilization of its vast army in her defense, a slow process that would take around six weeks to complete.
  • Germany, allied to Austria-Hungary by treaty, viewed the Russian mobilization as an act of war against Austria-Hungary, and after scant warning declared war on Russia on 1 August.
  • France, bound by treaty to Russia, found itself at war against Germany and, by extension, on Austria-Hungary following a German declaration on 3 August. Germany was swift in invading neutral Belgium so as to reach Paris by the shortest possible route.
  • Britain, allied to France by a more loosely worded treaty which placed a “moral obligation” upon her to defend France, declared war against Germany on 4 August. Her reason for entering the conflict lay in another direction: she was obligated to defend neutral Belgium by the terms of a 75-year old treaty. With Germany’s invasion of Belgium on 4 August, and the Belgian King’s appeal to Britain for assistance, Britain committed herself to Belgium’s defense later that day. Like France, she was by extension also at war with Austria-Hungary.
  • With Britain’s entry into the war, her colonies and dominions abroad variously offered military and financial assistance, and included Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand and the Union of South Africa.
  • United States President Woodrow Wilson declared a U.S. policy of absolute neutrality, an official stance that would last until 1917 when Germany’s policy of unrestricted submarine warfare – which seriously threatened America’s commercial shipping (which was in any event almost entirely directed towards the Allies led by Britain and France) – forced the U.S. to finally enter the war on 6 April 1917.
  • Japan, honoring a military agreement with Britain, declared war on Germany on 23 August 1914. Two days later Austria-Hungary responded by declaring war on Japan.
  • Italy, although allied to both Germany and Austria-Hungary, was able to avoid entering the fray by citing a clause enabling it to evade its obligations to both. In short, Italy was committed to defend Germany and Austria-Hungary only in the event of a ‘defensive’ war; arguing that their actions were ‘offensive’ she declared instead a policy of neutrality. The following year, in May 1915, she finally joined by siding with the Allies against her two former allies.

One thing led to another.  Ok that I understand.  Been there.  Done stupid things without thinking.  This ‘one thing led to another’ idea gets a whole lot of people in trouble on a daily basis.  But seeing nations on multiple continents get sucked into ‘one thing led to another’ really makes me want to put my hand up and say “Hey, leaders.  Take a minute to stop and think.  Is what you are about to do worth the cost?  Have you even counted the cost?” 

I guarantee that the powers that be did not consider that upwards of 20 million people (military and civilian) who would be killed, wounded or be missing in action.  They didn’t count the cost of the widespread carnage that the war would leave or what it would do to the next generation, including a young man named Adolph Hitler. 

The lesson from this, my friends, is to stop and think.  Count the cost and consider what you are doing on a daily basis.  Where are your choices leading you?  Your choices matter.

Imagine if Emperor Franz Joseph had worked with Serbia to punish those few guilty of Franz Ferdinand and Sophie’s deaths rather than declare war on Serbia…

 PS Also on this date, exactly 5 years after Franz Ferdinand’s assassination, the Treaty of Versailles was signed ending the Great War aka World War I.

PSS Whether you agree with conflicts and wars or not, our veterans deserve respect.  Don’t take out your opinion on someone who chose to stand and serve our nation.  There’s no honor in disrespecting veterans.  To you veterans, I say thank you.  You have always had and always will have my respect.  God bless you and your families and all you do for us.

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