Could Another World War Happen?

Monday, August 04, 2014

A picture taken in the year 1916 shows French soldiers moving into attack from their trench during the Verdun battle, eastern France, during the first World War. (ARCHIVES/AFP/Getty)

New York Times columnist Roger Cohen examines how World War I shaped the world today and whether a conflict on the scale of World War I could happen again. After looking at Syria, Crimea, Gaza, and the South China Sea, his conclusion is: yes, easily. His article “Yes, It Could Happen Again” is in a special issue of The Atlantic, "World War I: How the Great War Made the Modern World"—a collection of pieces by some of the greatest writers of the time, along with new takes on this war, and how it shaped the world.


Roger Cohen

Comments [15]

Prometheus from Caucasus

Yes, but today's, even non-nuclear, weapons systems are so sophisticated, accurate and powerful that it will be over very fast, days. Imagine the Iranian's slamming a sunburn anti-ship missile into a U.S. carrier and it going to the bottom. A 2003, $250M war game said this was highly likely. Submarines never to be seen again. The cost will make the first WW adjusted for inflation look like a bake sale.

Aug. 06 2014 05:39 PM
R.S. from Morningside Heights

Regarding Cupcake from Brooklyn's question on further documentaries on WW1, I strongly recommend another wonderful and endlessly fascinating BBC/PBS documentary called "The Great War and the Shaping of the 20th Century." It's a social history of the war and much like the Ken Burns documentary on the Civil War, it draws from a wealth of letters, poems, and oral interviews with the soldiers and civilians, as well as the standardly quoted politicians and news accounts of the time, to add complexity and depth to the subject.

Aug. 05 2014 11:11 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

The reason why Iran should not be allowed to go nuclear is because of the NPT. It is a signatory and hence has no right to produce nuclear weapons. Israel, India and Pakistan did not sign the NPT and therefore have the right to develop nukes. And the NPT is one of those UN treaties that we pushed back in the late 1960s.

And we helped Kosovo break away from Serbia and this justified Russia's taking back the Crimea from the Ukraine. As for the Gaza situation, this is the result of the US meddling in Israel's business, pushing a "two state solution," and having demanded Israel accept Hamas to run in elections in Gaza. US policies since Clinton have exacerbated the tendencies towards dissolutions of states and hence internal wars.

Aug. 04 2014 01:56 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

Yet another "What if" book. Another example of the nonsense our colleges put out. I myself needlessly wasted years of my life to obtain a BS degree in History. And for what? What a waste of time. But I'd rather feel like a waste than to write "what if" fiction prose and other lies for entertainment purposes.

Aug. 04 2014 01:41 PM

Accidentally hitting an airline...Outrageous!

Deliberately targeting UN Shelters....*meep*

Aug. 04 2014 01:41 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

Yet another "What if" book. Another example of the nonsense our colleges put out. I myself needlessly wasted years of my life to obtain a BS degree in History. And for what? What a waste of time. But I'd rather feel like a waste than to write "what if" fiction prose and other lies for entertainment purposes.

Aug. 04 2014 01:40 PM
Steven from Bklyn

I think that all that Obama meant when he said the use of chemical weapons in Syria would cross a red line was that he would be unequivocal in saying that it was bad.

Aug. 04 2014 01:34 PM

Blah, blah, blah... in essence more domino theory BS.

Aug. 04 2014 01:32 PM
Cupcake from Brooklyn

There was a wonderful BBC documentary called 37 days (the 37 days leading up to the declaration of WWI) shown at the Paley Center this weekend. Could you recommend books about WWI to follow up on that documentary?

Aug. 04 2014 01:32 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

Anything is possible as long as our species remains in charge. The sooner we put artificial intelligence and robots in charge of things, the better off our species will be in the long run. As a species we have repeatedly proved that our incompetence is far greater than our intelligence but thankfully more competent AI is starting to take over. AI pilots our planes most of the time, while incompetent humans accidentally shoot them down. Soon our automobiles will be totally automated hopefully taking humans out of the that loop too. The more robots and AI take charge, the safer the world will become for our species. Robocops may soon the police work as well.

Aug. 04 2014 12:25 PM

Why is the first World War called the first world war? (We know that at the time it was called The Great War) Why weren't other multi-national conflicts - The French and Indian War, The Napoleonic Wars and others - not considered world wars?

Aug. 04 2014 12:24 PM

True facts :

A 1950 Rutgers student (on the GI Bill) paid $1250 tuition for FOUR YEARS here in New Brunswick.

A 1981 Rutgers student paid $1,170 PER YEAR for tuition.

A 2014 Rutgers undergrad (in state) will pay $10.954 + $2,679 in fees.

Tuitions are tracking GDP growth, where incomes are not. This mistake is going to cost us.

Aug. 04 2014 12:19 PM
Steve from Rockville Centre, NY

Armies throughout the world have greatly shrunk since the Cold War and they now rely more on technology than manpower. In any large scale war that technology would be expended within weeks, if not days, leaving countries with only a small number of foot soldiers who'd be incapable of projecting force.
Barring any mass mobilizations or nuclear holocaust, another WW1 is not possible.

Aug. 04 2014 11:15 AM
oscar from ny

Yes of course when your leaders are only leading their devils, old geesards who have nothing left to do but die so they brainwash the incompetent and the law goes out the door, no one to rescue the weak, for they are even weaker and they moap around blah blah..I mean I do here what they do over there...this world still belongs to these devils and only Jesus will kill them and while them off the face of the universe for and ever..amen
PS: but the war will come from the east.. The beast over there who has no god and becomes even more vile, this one covets the land and kingdom..this guy actually thinks he's the messiah and all his ppl like children hold on to him like a son to a father..only they don't know that this devil is only driving them to hell..this one comes in peace but he is a ferocious devil bent on bending the in America they're scared of him..the politicians blame the blacks the poor the Hispanics themselves but not one goes against these devils because they have so much wealth and power and nuclear arms that were left off only with WNYC..

Aug. 04 2014 11:13 AM
Ed from Larchmont

In her seven (or nine?) apparitions at Fatima in 1917 Mary told the three shepherd children (Jacinta, Lucia, and Francisco):

"The present war [WWI] will soon end, but if mankind does not stop offending God there will be a worse war ... War is a punishment for sin ... Then the Holy Father will consecrate the world to my Immaculate Heart and a period of peace will be granted to mankind."

That Consecration took place in 1984, the world conflict (US-USSR) ended in 1989, and in 25 years there has not been a world-wide conflict. These 25 years, which end this year, could have been that period of peace.

(But Mary continues " ... in the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph.")

Aug. 04 2014 08:06 AM

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