How to Start a World War

Most of us in the United States learned all the wrong things about the start of World War I and World War II.

In the case of the former, we learned that it began because of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand by a Bosnian separatist by the name of Gavrilo Princip. While the assassination was, in fact, carried out by that individual, there is historical evidence to suggest that most Austrians cared very little either about the event itself or the Young Bosnians group behind the event. Instead, the Austro-Hungarian Empire used the event as an excuse to blame Serbia rather than Bosnia. In other words, since Austria-Hungary was hell-bent on attacking Serbia, they were happy to seize on any casus belli that came along, even those whose facts were distorted.  See, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Austria-Hungary#1914:_Coming_of_World_War

In the case of World War II, we learned that it began on September 1, 1939, when Germany invaded Poland. Though literally true that Britain and France declared war two days after that event, this date ignores the importance of Neville Chamberlain’s earlier policy of appeasement that forced Czechoslovakia to hand over the Sudetenland to Germany, thereby emboldening Hitler to annex Austria before invading Poland. (And Spirited Reasoners wonder whether that explanation goes far enough, because there is evidence to suggest that Hitler might have decided to invade all of Europe even if he and Chamberlain had failed to reach an agreement.)

Garry Kasparov, the former world chess champion, formerly of Russia but now living in the United States, has opined that Vladimir Putin is determined to drive the world toward a much wider war than the one we are currently watching. The thrust of his argument is that if Putin senses himself losing, he will lash out in even bolder fashion, perhaps through the use of nuclear weapons.  See, https://www.kasparov.com/garry-kasparov-on-the-russian-war-on-ukraine-anderson-cooper-360-cnn-march-4-2022/ If Mr. Kasparov is correct, then every day the West delays in confronting Putin militarily is a day in which Putin’s will to use nuclear weapons increases exponentially.

Mr. Putin appears to have painted himself into a corner. He cannot possibly “win” the war without destroying the Ukraine in the process. Nor can the West permit the war to end in any sort of limited manner that would serve as a reward to future acts of aggression by tyrants in other parts of the world. His only hope at this point is to succeed in conquering and subduing the brave people of the Ukraine, after which the West will (he believes) eventually tire of economic sanctions.

The role of the United States must be two-fold: support the Ukraine with military and humanitarian assistance for as long as they continue to resist, while continue to ratchet up economic sanctions aimed at punishing Putin’s aggression. The question on the minds of Spirited Reasoners is how long Putin will decide to keep his war within the boundaries of the Ukraine.