Remembering World War I: European leaders should spend one week in simulated trench warfare, instead of going to banquets and giving noble speeches filled with hyprocrisy

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Newspapers Republishing Articles from 1914

Some of the leading European newspapers are republishing articles, originally published in 1914, regarding the run-up to and beginning of World War I one hundred years ago this month.

See

Germany

Die Zeit (Hamburg)

Die Welt (Berlin)

Südeutsche Zeitung (München) Latest story, Münchner Neueste Nachrichten vom 5.8.1914: “Achtung! Russengift”, Süddeutsche Zeitung, 5. August 2014 (19:14 Uhr).

Franfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (Frankfurt. Todayś story, “Heimfahrt durch Frankreich:
Nach der Kriegserklärung bahnt sich eine deutsche Journalistin ihren Weg durch Frankreich. Die Verbindungen ins Reich werden gekappt. Ein Wettlauf gegen die Zeit, den die Autorin am 4. August 1914 in der Frankfurter Zeitung schilderte,” Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 4. August 2014.

Great Britain

The Guardian (London). Latest story, “How the Guardian reported the first world war: England declares war on Germany, ” Originally published in the Manchester Guardian on 5 August 1914. The Guardian, August 5, 2014.

United States

Leading U.S. newspapers have also published retrospective articles, though not on a daily basis as in Europe.

Commemorations of the Centennial of World War I

European leaders and royalty have been popping up in first one place and then another to commemorate the beginning of the war, offering noble words about the lessons learned.

The festivities celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Allied landing in Europe on June 6, 1944, have also formed part of the series of celebrations, banquets and speeches this summer.

Many of the speeches are filled with noble words while the policies of the governments represented by the speakers remain filled with hypocrisy, pacificism and appeasement in the face of Russian invasion of the Ukraine and its purported “annexation” of the Crimea.

By their silence on the question of rolling back the Russian invasion of the Crimea, these governments reveal, even after the imposition of the first “stage three” sectoral sanctions against Russia, that they are not willing to stand up and take forceful action to reverse Russian aggression, and to halt the wave of virulent xenophobic nationalism and aggression that has swept Russia as a result of the operations of Vladimir Putin’s war propaganda machine.

Suggestion: European Leaders Should Spend One Continuous Week in Simulated Trench Warfare

The Observer respectfully suggests a different kind of paying respect to the millions of human beings who perished in World War I, while honoring some of the lessons learned from that experience.

The suggestion is:

European leaders should each, and together, spend one continuous week in trenches designed (with modern audio visual technology) to reproduce the experience of trench warfare as fought during World War I.

Then we might see at least a curtailment of the hypocrisy signified by the combination of noble words and pacifist actions.

François Hollande’s Hypocrisy: Noble Words, Actions of Appeasement

Then we might see French President François Hollande shamed enough by his decision to deliver two Mistral-class attack warships (with theater command-and-control software and capabilities) to Russia, to withhold his noble words about what the world should or should not do in the face of aggression. One of the warships is to be named “The Sevastopol”, after the city on the Crimean peninsula which is the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet. Sevastopol, we should not forget, is–under international law–located in Ukrainian territory that is under Russian military occupation as a result of the latter’s invasion of the Crimea in late February, 2014.

While initial plans were to base these warships in the Far East on the Pacific, there is nothing to prevent them from being based in Sevastopol, where their usefulness as helicopter carriers and command-and-control centers for aggrssive military action might be far greater. One suspects that the original basing plans may have been related to the political acceptability in Europe of the original purchase.

Moreover, at this very moment the Russian invasion is continuing with irregular forces in the eastern Ukraine, as Valdimir Putin masses troops on the border in a menacing threat of invasion.

See Hollande’s comments on August 4, 2014 at Liège, at a conmemoration of the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I:

(Use Google Translate for text in other languages)

Meurtrie et niée dans sa neutralité, lors des deux grands conflits du 20ème siècle, la Belgique connait la valeur de la paix. Parce qu’elle est elle-même la réunion de plusieurs communautés, elle sait aussi l’importance du compromis. C’est la double raison pour laquelle la Belgique s’est engagée, avec ferveur, dans la construction européenne. L’Europe, c’était pour la Belgique et pour l’ensemble du continent, l’idée folle – mais la guerre était bien plus folle encore ! – de créer un modèle de coopération et de progrès.

Convenons que l’Europe n’est plus perçue ainsi aujourd’hui. Le risque majeur qui menace, c’est le retour des égoïsmes nationaux, des séparatismes, des replis xénophobes. Il nous appartient donc, et je saisis l’occasion de la commémoration de Liège, d’envoyer un message de paix et de l’affirmer comme une volonté.

J’ai évoqué la neutralité, deux fois bafouée, de la Belgique. Mais aujourd’hui, la neutralité n’est plus de mise. Comment rester neutre lorsqu’un peuple, non loin d’Europe, se bat pour ses droits et pour son intégrité territoriale? Comment rester neutre lorsqu’un avion civil est abattu en Ukraine? Comment rester neutre devant des massacres de populations civiles, comme en Irak, comme en Syrie, où les minorités sont persécutées ? Comment rester neutre quand un pays ami comme le Liban voit son intégrité territoriale menacée ? Comment rester neutre quand à Gaza, un conflit meurtrier dure depuis près d’un mois ?

Nous ne pouvons pas rester neutres. Il y a une obligation d’agir. C’est l’Europe qui doit en prendre les responsabilités avec les Nations Unies. C’est le message que nous devons retenir aussi de cette journée. Nous ne pouvons pas être simplement des gardiens de la paix, des évocateurs du souvenir. Nous ne pouvons pas simplement évoquer le culte de la mémoire. Nous sommes aussi devant nos responsabilités. Ici, à Liège, au mois d’août 1914, il y a exactement un siècle, des hommes ordinaires sont devenus illustres par leur courage et leur vaillance. Aujourd’hui le temps est aussi à être illustre, par les actions que nous sommes capables de mener. Ces hommes, il y a un siècle, au fond de leur cœur, espéraient qu’un jour tous les pays d’Europe seraient rassemblés. Cent ans après, cette utopie est réalité. L’Europe est là, mais l’Europe doit faire encore davantage car la paix n’est jamais sûre. Elle exige une vigilance, un combat, une organisation, une défense de son propre continent.

Voilà pourquoi l’Europe doit toujours être en mouvement, ne doit jamais être lasse et ne doit surtout jamais être fatiguée de la paix.

–Président Franois Hollande, “Allocution au Mémorial de Cointe” (Liège, Belgique), Èlysée, Présidence de la Républicque, Publié le 04 Août 2014

Russia, today, is engaged in ongoing aggression against the Ukraine through special operations, intelligence and irregular forces.

Let Hollande and his peers spend a week in the simulated World War I trenches.

Then let’s hear what Hollande, and Europe, have to say about Russia’s invasion of the Crimea and the Ukraine–and about French plans to deliver Mistral-class warships to Russia while it continues its aggression.

The Trenchant Observer

About the Author

The Observer
"The Trenchant Observer" is edited and published by The Observer, an international lawyer who has taught International Law, Human Rights, and Comparative Law at major U.S. universities, including Harvard, Brandeis, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Kansas. He is a former staff attorney at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States (IACHR), where he was in charge of Brazil, Haiti, Mexico and the United States, and also worked on complaints from and reports on other countries including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. As an international development expert, he has worked on Rule of Law, Human Rights, and Judicial Reform in a number of countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and the Russian Federation. In the private sector, The Observer has worked as an international attorney for a leading national law firm and major global companies, on joint ventures and other matters in a number of countries in Europe (including Russia and the Ukraine), throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Japan. The Trenchant Observer blog provides an unfiltered international perspective for news and opinion on current events, in their historical context, drawing on a daily review of leading German, French, Spanish and English newspapers as well as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other American newspapers, and on sources in other countries relevant to issues being analyzed. The Observer speaks fluent English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, and also knows other languages. He holds an S.J.D. or Doctor of Juridical Science in International Law from Harvard University, and a Doctor of Law (J.D.) and a Master of the Science of Law (J.S.M.), from Stanford University. As an undergraduate, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree, also from Stanford, where he graduated “With Great Distinction” (summa cum laude) and received the James Birdsall Weter Prize for the best Senior Honors Thesis in History. In addition to having taught as a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, The Observer has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University's Center for International Affairs (CFIA). His fellowships include a Stanford Postdoctoral Fellowship in Law and Development, the Rómulo Gallegos Fellowship in International Human Rights awarded by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and a Harvard MacArthur Fellowship in International Peace and Security. Beyond his articles in The Trenchant Observer, he is the author of two books and numerous scholarly articles on subjects of international and comparative law. Currently he is working on a manuscript drawing on the best articles that have appeared in the blog.

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