This year, 2014, marks the 100-year anniversary of World War 1, the so-called “war to end all wars” or “The Great War.”
The numbers (provided here) are staggering to contemplate and it’s hard to wrap one’s mind around it:
- Some 60,000 British soldiers died in a single day, on July 1, 1916, in the Battle of the Somme.
Comparatively, since 2001 with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan up to the present day, 5,281 American troops have died. While 5,281 is obviously nothing to scoff at, the numbers are just unimaginable.
- 37 million people, soldiers and civilian alike, perished from World War 1.
After World War 1, the Spanish flu hit in 1918.
- Estimates put the death between 50-100 million people, as a result, globally.
(I know the Spanish flu has nothing to do with the government or war, but statistically and more importantly, from a human perspective, it’s wild to think about how many people were dying between these periods of time.)
World War 2 would start over a generation or two later and it was more deadly.
- By the close of WW2 in 1945, another sixty million people around the globe, again, soldiers and civilians alike, would perish. The Soviet Union in particular took heavy casualties. China as well from Japan’s invasion. Not to say anything either of Germany’s Holocaust or the U.S.’s nuclear bombs and firebombing on Japanese cities.
And that’s just the two major wars. This doesn’t count Stalin’s purges of his own citizens or Mao’s or the other genocides throughout the 20th century. Some historians seem to think we’re on a path to duplicating the events that led up to WW1. Some would counter that the international, diplomatic structures in place along with the various treaties and basically, the power of the United States, could never allow something like WW1 to occur again.
We would be foolish — absolutely foolish — to assume similar events could not arise that led to global war before. The same nationalism, fear and propaganda reign supreme. The same disputes between religious sects over arbitrarily imposed boundaries reigns supreme. The dick-measuring between superpowers reigns supreme.
And the difference, if global war broke out this time, is the very real possibility of nuclear warfare.
The State reigns supreme. And war is the health of the state and the death of the individual.