The Urgent Lessons of World War I

The past weeks should have been a remarkable occasion to reflect on history, on the magnitude, costs, and legacy of what was once commonly known as the Great War, the most cataclysmic single war in Western history—ever up until that point or at least since the fall of Rome and easily one of the worst and most lethal in world history.

And yet reflection on the war and its horrific costs and legacies has been woefully lacking. Whether it was due to questionable political and behavioral decisions during centenary commemorations that overshadowed the remembrances, a news media that sorely lacks competency in this type of historical examination, or a combination of reasons, something vital was missing: sober reflection that takes a measure of history, of its impact on the present and potential effects on the future, and on the many millions of lives cut short in conditions few of us could even imagine, let alone endure.

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