Sarajevo redux or how world wars come about
And the relevance to Israel, Gaza, and the wider Middle East.
On 28 June 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie were assassinated in Sarajevo. Who would know that in only a few weeks the whole of Europe would be at war, leading to the deaths of millions. Are we facing a similar escalation of events today?
Nowadays, we would ascribe runaway events like these to chaos theory, but it wasn’t so in 1914. They were sequenced with the principal actors seemingly unable to stop them. Austria-Hungary called in Germany and together they declared war on Serbia. That brought in Russia, Serbia’s ally, so Germany declared war on Russia. Russia’s ally, France, mobilised her forces so Germany declared war on France, bringing in Britain which declared war on Germany on 4 August. In a little over five weeks from the Sarajevo assassination, all the European combatants had embarked on the most destructive war in all history. It came out of nowhere and was to last over four years.
Central to the escalation was one nation — Germany. Central to the current Middle East crisis is one nation — The United States.
Today, we could be in the early stages of a similar escalation of events triggered by Israeli attempts to eliminate Hamas in Gaza. So far, the progression of events has been subdued, notably to some activity by the Houthis at the Bab El-Mandeb Strait disrupting shipping. Predictably, this is proving difficult and expensive to deal with and shows signs of leading to more intensive attacks by NATO participants on Yemen’s Houthis. But the Houthis are allied with Iran, and Iran supports both Hamas and Hezbollah. Iran is now allied to Russia which is winning the war against NATO in Ukraine. And Russia is allied with China which is claiming Taiwan. It is beginning to rhyme with Sarajevo all over again, but on a global, as opposed to a European scale.
The escalation into a new world war could have further to go than previously, with nuclear weapons in the armouries of most of the combatants. Surely, it would be complacent to think that they will remain as an unused umbrella, never to be deployed. But we can see how developments considered only one step at a time can take us to a very dark place.
Additionally, there is a currency angle today. The First World War was not about currencies, but today the Americans find themselves having to protect their dollar’s hegemony and credibility, something that was not an issue when gold was the money to which all currencies individually referred.
With the United States’ finances already in a perilous state, to embark on a new world war would most likely undermine the dollar’s value and credibility as a currency, achieving one of the Asian hegemons’ objectives at a stroke. The rest of the neutral world outside the narrow western alliance will watch this with interest because many of them owe dollars and presumably would happily see it devalued.
Last week, we saw senior military sources in Britain warn that in the circumstances Britain’s armed forces are insufficient to deal with the potential threat from Russia and that military conscription would have to be considered. Was this just lobbying for more funds by the Ministry of Defence as it periodically does, or was it part of a CIA/MI6 campaign to prepare us for war? Bearing in mind that the US uses NATO to prevent having to call up her own citizens and that the UK Government when asked by the US to jump merely asks how high, then perhaps this call to arms should be taken seriously as an indication that the intelligence services believe that events are leading towards a third world war.