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Tuesday, 1 July 2014

End of war

Tuesday, July 1st., George Street, Hanover Square, London.

David Lloyd George, Vittorio Orlando, 
Georges Clemenceau, and Woodrow Wilson
Peace with Germany was signed on Saturday. So, the end of "the war to end all wars" - a likely prospect. Regrettably, wherever there are people so there will be conflict, and given a critical mass of people there will be war.

On 28 June 1919, Germany reluctantly signed the Treaty of Versailles as part of the Paris Peace Conference in the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles – exactly five years on from the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the spark that had ignited the First World War. However, the conditions in the treaty were so punitive upon Germany that many believe the Versailles Treaty laid the groundwork for the eventual rise of Nazis in Germany and the eruption of World War II.

Where does it all begin? History has no beginnings for everything that happens becomes the cause or pretext for what occurs afterwards, and this chain of cause and pretext stretches back to the palaeolithic age, when the first Cain of one tribe murdered the first Abel of another. All war is fratricide. There is therefore an infinite chain of blame that winds its circuitous route back and forth across the path and under the feet of every people and every nation. So, the people who are the victims of one time become the victimisers a generation later, and newly liberated nations resort immediately to the means of their former oppressors. The triple contagions of nationalism, utopianism and religious absolutism effervesce together into an acid that corrodes humanity's moral metal. 

I heard an ambassador answering questions this morning about the likely response of his nation to an apparent terrorist attack. He indicated that 'action' would be taken so as to punish the perpetrators, by which he meant not the actual people who carried out the attack but their host population. It was put to him that by responding to violence with violence only perpetuates the conflict. His response was to draw a distinction between his democratically governed nation and the terrorists. It strikes me that his government are democratically elected terrorists.

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