19 July 2014

The Economist explains: “Why the first world war wasn’t really”

The first action of this first global conflict involved a young officer whose name may be familiar to some readers. On May 28th 1754 a small group of soldiers from the British colony of Virginia, under the command of a man called George Washington, engaged a group of French troops who were interloping from New France (i.e. Canada) into territory the British considered theirs. Instead of peacefully repelling them as he had been instructed, Washington ended up killing several of them, including their commanding officer. This campaign in North America then continued, with both sides in alliance with local Indian nations, until, two years later, Britain’s ally Prussia attacked the small German state of Saxony, bringing Saxony’s ally Austria, and thus Austria’s ally France (and therefore France’s enemy and Prussia’s ally, Britain), into the conflict. It is a sequence of events eerily similar to the way that in 1914 an attack by Germany’s ally Austria on the small Balkan state of Serbia brought in Serbia’s ally Russia, which then threatened Germany, which then declared war on both Russia and Russia’s ally France. G.C.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War. Or is it the 260th anniversary?

The participants of the Seven Years' War
All the participants of the Seven Years’ War:
  • Great Britain, Prussia, Portugal, with allies (blue)
  • France, Spain, Austria, Russia, Sweden with allies (green)

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