Guest Post: Why 2014 Doesn’t Have To Be 1914

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Mira Rapp-Hooper via The Diplomat,

In a recent Brookings Institution essay entitled “The Rhyme of History: Lessons of the Great War,” historian Margaret Macmillan argues that there are strong and haunting parallels between today’s geopolitical landscape and Europe of 1914. Pivoting off the well-know Mark Twain adage that history does not repeat itself, but does rhyme, Macmillan suggests that the one-hundredth anniversary of World War I encourages us to reflect on the “valuable warnings” of the past. The actual and potential conflicts in the year ahead are many, and some of the same structural forces that lead to the Great War a century ago will be prevalent in 2014.

Macmillan is an eminent historian (her book, Paris 1919 is a must-read), but analogies between 1914 Europe and the world today should not be drawn hastily. World War I continues to preoccupy scholars and pundits alike, in part because it was so destructive, and in part because there is still no consensus on why exactly it occurred. With the centennial of the conflict approaching, we can expect to see 1914 references made a great deal — particularly with respect to the power transition that is currently in progress in the Pacific —  but we should remain duly skeptical of this tempting parallel. Many of the conditions that were present in antebellum Europe do indeed prevail today.  Whether these forces actually raise the risk of war is far from established, however, and the expectation that they do may itself increase the chance of conflict.

In her Brookings essay, Macmillan identifies several conditions that were present in Europe before the Great War that, she argues, also raise the risk of conflict today.  The first of these conditions is globalization and its unintended consequences. In both 1914 and at present, there existed the common assumption that the world was becoming too interconnected to resort to war — conflict would be prohibitively costly. But, Macmillan points out, a hundred years ago as now, those who preached interdependence often ignored the fact that globalization can lead to job loss, foster intense localism and nativism, and provide a breeding ground for radical ideologies and movements (including those that employ terrorism). Globalization, Macmillan warns us, can also heighten interstate rivalries.

Related to this is a second trend — rising nationalism and sectarianism. Once trapped in interstate rivalries, leaders may seize upon nationalism and bitter historical enmity to appeal to their publics. In 1914, the predominant antagonisms were the Anglo-German and Russo-German rivalries; today they include Sino-American and Sino-Japanese competition.  Third, Macmillan reminds us that tightly-knit defensive alliances may encourage conflict or cause it to spread. In 1914, Germany saw itself as inextricably bound to Austria, as France did to Russia. Today, she warns, the United States could easily be drawn into war in either the Middle East or East Asia by its alliance ties.

Finally, Macmillan warns that “World Policemen” may be forced into retirement, leaving a vacuum of instability and uncertainty. By the early 20th century, the British clearly could not sustain the demands and costs of their empire. Likewise, Macmillan avers, the United States will not be able to preserve hegemony indefinitely. Even if it its reach is primarily confined to Asia, the most obvious challenge to U.S. influence will come from a rising China, and crises or conflicts may break out unless the dominant powers can establish a stable international order.

Macmillan is hardly the first to point to these conditions as potential precursors to conflict. With respect to China’s rise, analysts have argued frequently that Washington and Beijing’s national security interests put the two countries on a collision course. Some have gone so far as to insist that this clash is inevitable But in her comparison of the international conditions that preceded the Great War and those that prevail today, Macmillan fails to address one truly crucial question: Why did the forces of globalization, nationalism, interlocking alliances, and power transition combine to produce war in 1914 specifically?

The prevailing patterns that Macmillan identifies as historical rhymes may all be thought of as permissive conditions to conflict: these forces may have helped to pave the way to the Great War’s onset, but none alone was the immediate cause of war in 1914.  Moreover, these forces were almost certainly present in Europe prior to that fateful year. Why, then, did they not combine to produce a major war when Austria annexed Bosnia in 1908? Why did they not stoke the Balkan Wars of 1912 and 1913 and produce global conflagration then? If we are to accept that any specific set of conditions caused the First World War in 1914, we must also be able to explain why those forces did not produce war earlier or later, or why conflict could not have been avoided altogether despite their prevalence.

Indeed, in the copious literature on World War I, scholars have attempted to dissect these important counterfactuals. Some argue that the structural conditions that Macmillan identifies really did make a European conflict inevitable — interlocking alliances, the Anglo-German power transition, nationalism, and other factors meant that war would have occurred in 1915 or 1916 if it did not in 1914. But other analysts insist that the Great War was the immediate result of assassination of the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand. If he had not been killed in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914 — or if he had been shot and lived — the great powers might have avoided war, not just in that year, but in perpetuity. If an idiosyncratic event like the Archduke’s assassination is the key to explaining the war, however, it is not clear how much credence we should give to other underlying factors. Macmillan’s background conditions for conflict may be insufficient to bring about a war, and indeed, may not even be necessary. And if this is true, then the parallels that can be drawn between the onset of the First World War and geopolitics today may be impoverished at best.

So is this a simple warning that decision makers should approach historical analogies with caution? It is that, but also more. Among the many causes of the First World War that international relations scholars have identified was the widespread belief in European capitals that a great power conflict was highly likely. Combined with prevailing military technologies and strategies of the time, this assumption led statesmen to think that they would be advantaged if they struck first, rather than waiting for an adversary attack that was sure to come in due course.  By overemphasizing historical parallels, we risk convincing ourselves that conflict is imminent, when in fact it remains eminently avoidable. If we were to combine Macmillan’s warnings about economic interdependence, nationalism, alliances, and power transitions, for example, it would be tempting to flag the next fracas over the Senkakus/Diaoyus, where all of these forces are clearly present, as the new Sarajevo. Combined with great power military strategies that may be escalatory, conflict anticipation via analogy could produce disastrous results indeed.

With the one-hundredth anniversary of the First World War fast upon us, and a power transition manifestly under way, Macmillan’s essay will certainly not be the last analysis to draw connections between 1914 and present-day geopolitics. Indeed, there is surely value in paying heed to the similarities and differences between the two eras. By listening anxiously for historical rhymes that portend major conflict, however, we risk deafness to the multitude of factors that make the challenges of the present day unique, and soluble far short of war. A rhyme, after all, is a correspondence of sound, but not of meaning.

Here’s to wishing the world a 2014 that is considerably more peaceful than the centennial it will mark.


Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Iocosus's picture

Unlimited printing, unlimited carnage. End the Fed.

Jannn's picture

Sun Zhaoxue: US Intends To Suppress Gold To Ensure Dollar’s Dominance

NoDebt's picture

Not sure if anyone noticed but there's already damned near a World War going on already.  It's just happening by proxy so that things don't get "messy" in any of the coutries with significant wealth and infrastructure (which are the ones waging the war in the first place).

satoshi101's picture

War is  Peace,... get with the program, we have been in a permanent state of war, ... since 1776, ... its called American Hegemony, aka "USA manifest destiny". Any other viewpoint would be illogical.

Only women and children who sit at home eating chocolate in heated rooms believe the paradigm that the USA is a nation of 'good'.

"WAR IS A RACKET" - smedly butler, most decorated US Marine in history

War in the USA has always been BUSINESS, the business of killing.

Back in the 1920's 'racket' used to mean ones business, ... "What is your racket"?

Just like today BTC is a 'racket'.

screw face's picture

Moar bullcrap please........see #FUKU

JohnnyBlaze's picture

Can someone please explain this to me.

If the US/China is massivley supressing gold price how is there still supply?  Logic tells me if the price was manipulated downward to the extent people claim we would see a shortage.  Supply and demand.  Same goes with silver.  If silver is being supressed by JPM at such a massive rate why the fuck is there still supply.

Is there a logical answer to this.



DogOfSinope's picture

Supply of paper gold. Not real gold.
All we do here on ZH is posting silly and not particularly serious comments while passing time waiting for those paper gold holders to come to collect their gold.
Then, things will get serious.

logicalman's picture

Things will get VERY serious.


spinone's picture

If there's so much supply, why is it taking Germany 7 years to get their gold back?

satoshi101's picture

I can explain but the ZH will ban anyone who tells the truth. Truthiness is not allowed on this forum. Fact.

OK here it goes.

We're in DEFLATION and all that can be sold other than what is NEEDED will be sold, you cannot eat, fuck,or sleep in gold.

People need food & oil they will go UP, and that what is NOT needed will go down. It's called DEFLATION. We're in a world depression that started in 2008, and will last for many years, ...

The real question is why this fucking paradigm that "THE FED CONTROL THE WORLD, and GOLD?", I think its because ZH narrative going back to RON PAUL is that the FED is evil, ... yeh sure but so are lies and misinformation. The FED controls the world is the narrative that advertisers see fit in this forum for FEAR is what drives the sale of ETF-GOLD and worthless ilk, aka BTC.

Fear of the FED is 100% BULLSHIT.

Fed never did control shit, other than over the counter money rate between banks. But RP/ZH narrative is that the FED is omnipotent, ... I call it a bullshit narrative.

Gold is being sold in the west to eat, and the asians are snapping it up, but this is not news, as they have always been buyers.

DogOfSinope's picture

If one can't eat, fuck or sleep in gold, would you argue that one can eat, fuck or sleep in paper (payed as gold) better? There's one potential thing that one will be able to use "paper gold" for once the holders realise that it's leveraged 90:1, but I'm afraid that it's a bit rough and not absorbent enough. ;-)

Also, why doesn't US simply sell all gold from Fort Knox now, while it still has some value, instead of covering budget deficits by printing (diluting) dollar?

BTW, you really think that being able to print trillions of World reserve currency out of thin air equates to "no control"?


nope-1004's picture

Nice try dude.  But the fact is, and can be shown quite easily, that physical gold investment in the West is less than 0.01% of all investments.  It's not even "owned" in the West, let alone your asinine claim that it is sold in the West to eat.

Your ignorance about the level of physical gold investment as a function of all investments as proof that price is falling is really really infantile.

The FED directly controls the futures price of GOLD.  Volcker is on record saying such, found here:

I actually googled the phrase and the ZH article came up second (Kudos to ZH).

So learn a bit first, so you don't sound so dumb.  Open market interventions and printing money out of thin air obviously dilute existing dollars in supply, which is inflationary, which is gold friendly.  This is a very basic monetary law that the FED is hell bent on trying to fool the masses into believing otherwise by directly and unlawfully intervening and dropping the futures price of gold.  They've managed to fool you, but many here aren't buying the bullshit.

The FED is engaged in white collar criminality every hour of every day, a crime that the average person would pay dearly for if done just once a year, yet nothing is done to the FED and the thousands and thousands of market manipulations done annually.

Gotta love this free market thing, hey?


Ghordius's picture

"Truthiness is not allowed on this forum. Fact."

check your facts better:

first, check what kind of comments really ban you from this forum, and why. 

then, check what the completely unrelated definition of thruthiness is, and why this makes your comment ridiculous

in short: truth does not ban you from here. certain kinds of thruthiness, put in a specific way, will. and you know what? I prefer truth

theprofromdover's picture

It is a kind of black market in reverse.

The 'official' gold market is the black market. They don't have any gold, they just have loads of duplicate receipts saying the gold is being held in store for them, and they own it as long as they don't ask to see it or take it away. I think it is being reported that there are 90 'ownership' receipts for every single ounce of actual gold. JPM and the other crooks are trying to slowly deflate that giant bubble, and stupidly think they can suppress the price of this 'paper' gold down to a level where 89 of these 'owners' will sell their piece of paper just to get out of a dying trade. But they can't really drop the gold spot price below what it costs the gold mining companies to dig up the gold and process it.

Which is where they are now.

Unfortunately, that is only part of the story.

The Federal Reserve are also desperate that physical gold does not become a viable alternative to the dollar -as the de-facto world currency. If that happens, the US Empire is over, in a millisecond. So they do not want a rising price for gold. Up til now, worldwide oil has been traded using dollars. Gadhaffi tried to start selling it for gold, and look what happened to him (and it was for no other reason). Iran and China strted to do the same thing, and surprise, surprise, up came the old chestnut about Iran's 'imminent' nuclear capability. When the Russians laughed in Obammy's face, they then tried the Syrian / Iran provocation. That failed with Kerry's incompetence. So at the moment, all the Wall St / Fed. axis can do is squash the price of gold and keep it to volatile for consideration as a currency.

For some reason, they don't care what the gold markets are doing in China and India, or that smart people in the West will buy physical gold whatever the fake price. The potential losses to the Wall St Central Banking system must be so collossal that they don't care how much physical buyers profit. -For they assume they can hold the dollar as the world's reserve currency. Not a chance, they printed too many dollars for 40 years.

One phone conversation between Moscow and Beijing would do it. Pray we have our own national banking collapse before then, and we can start afresh on our terms.

JohnnyBlaze's picture

Is the price "fake" if I can go down to APMEX and buy it at that price?  Hell they are even throwing in free shipping.

Also with all the BS and manipulation how do we know what the real mining costs are?  Can we trust those numbers?

The Wisp's picture

Just think how many time the word Gold appears somewhere in the news/press/media on any given day. for something that has no value it sure gets a lot of exposure.. I mean Asparagus is important, but you don't read about it in the news every day

it's like a Hot woman on the dance floor, everybody is paying attention, to what she is doing...

VD's picture

End the Fed, the ECB, the BoE, et al.

lordbyroniv's picture

2014 is actually closer to 1929 using 4th Turning Saeculum analysis.  About 85 years ago.  About the average age of a human.  Oh,..why do we forget?  Its coming...bitchez !!!!  THIS IS THE YEAR !

spinone's picture

In the next few years, if the 4th turning business has any predictive value.

logicalman's picture

Prediction, in a totally rigged market, is only possible for those on the inside.

It should really be called PLANNING.

satoshi101's picture

All the assholes going back to Socrates thought they had it planned,

Then along comes the black-swan,

The real problem is not planning,but  managing the crisis,

Probably most telling in USA today is everytime their is an incident like BOSTON-BOMB, ... its all "Stay in your home", all the while the cops are running around kicking in doors.


The market may be rigged, but in the entire scope of things, that don't mean shit. Wealth is fluid, and 'good' will always run away, and leave the majority with 'bad'.

Now before your very eyes "GOLD" is fleeing the west for CHINA, ...  Next step will be be for china to purchase the worlds strategic petroleum reserves, ... Then it will be really interesting to see 'who is in control'.


DogOfSinope's picture

Actually, It was Plato that had a passion for planning. Sokrates tried to explain that one can't, because the reality is endless chain of intricate feedback loops and that knowledge is always finite (he exclaimed: "All I know is that I know nothing"). That didn't end well for him. He was accused of "corrupting youths" with his ideas and forced to consciously drink a glass of poison.
The rest - well, as exclaimed by many talking heads on MSM, perception is reality. This this is the signature of time we live in.
Of course, sooner or later we will come to realization that perception is perception, reality is reality and the delta between the two is called delusion.

satoshi101's picture

I was referring to the 'time of socrates', as in Greek philosophical government, why do the troll bot's trigger on Socrates and then paste stuff from Plato?


The notion of 'planned coordinated' government goes back to the TIME of Socrates and/or Plato, but they have never been able to avoid the black-swan, or the Mongels, or invaders, or for that matter, once they dilute their currency to ZERO, the bread quits coming to the capitol steps.

Good government planners, ... in the end always lose their game.

DogOfSinope's picture

Actually, planned society appeared minimum 5000 years before Helenic period.

Mongols didn't come to Europe until 1000 years after Helenic period.

Greeks dealt with invaders pretty well. They won the Battle of Marathon against Persians. That one had more influence on how we live today than all wars after (including WWII). In fact, they pretty much destroyed themself in endless and pointles internal wars, mostly between Athens and Sparta city states. That weakened them to the point when they become easy pray to surging Roman Empire.

They never diluted their currency (Roman Empire did on two occasions, but that was much later).

No government (or anyone, on that matter) would be able avoid black swan by it's definition. One can not avoid unknowable. 

Do you get your facts from Narnia or just make the shit up as you go? ;-)

max2205's picture

And what difference does it make.....

y3maxx's picture


...Singlehandedly, Obama nearly started WW3 on his own just a little while back with the US Fleet staring at the shores of Syria.

satoshi101's picture

I cannot imagine any analogy so far off.

2014 is 1938 PURE and SIMPLE, 2008 was 1932

USA is NAZI Germany, The masses will start to flee between now and 2016, and the world will not take them.

The rich left the USA long time ago. Now only the poor remain.


This story is just to focus on the FED, which is quite meaningless in itself, you should focus on the new currency, and the IMF, and where they're taking us, how we got here is a done deal.

Iocosus's picture

Those Chinese ghost cities.....there's definitely a better reason behind those than the illusion of perpetual growth meme.

22winmag's picture

Maybe... but NAZI Germany certainly didn't have 400 million privately-owned firearms floating around in the hands of a relatively informed, relatively broke, and relatively pissed off population.


Get your popcorn ready.

A Lunatic's picture

If by popcorn you mean bodybags, then yeah........

satoshi101's picture

Popcorn in the coming post 2014 USA will mean 'toasted corpse'

Ever seen what an Israeli/USA phosphorus missile/drone does to children? Make them look just like popcorn, without the butter.


Lednbrass's picture

The U.S. military (and particularly the actual trigger pullers and fighting troops) is absolutely NOT representative of the general population though- regionally, culturally, and ethnically it is very lopsided. When push comes to shove, it will matter.

satoshi101's picture

This is WHY you need to study the BONUS BOYS, and SMEDLY BUTLER,

During WWI men were promised a bonus to enlist, they didn't get the money, they marched on WASH-DC, and they were killed in mass, by soldiers.

The WWI vets were the most highly decorated men of their day, and they were murdered by the young MIL,

If you think for a moment that the YOUNG MIL of today, will fail to kill on order, then you fail to understand USA history,

If told to KILL the US citizen, just like KENT-STATE the issue is not will the soldiers kill civilians the issue is can you stop them from shooting once everyone is dead?

22winmag's picture

Get a grip. The Bonus March was simply a civil protest that got broken up... not a life-or-death, winner take all, SHTF event with the fate of the nation at stake. 

Lednbrass's picture

Yes, I know, Eisenhower and MacArthur made their bones in those days against the Bonus Army. It's why they got the jobs they did in WWII. However, the Bonus Army also wasn't particularly well armed or it would have been a different outcome. Actually the bonuses were not awarded at enlistment at all but several years after the war, but not redemmable for a couple of decades.  The dispute was over how long they should wait as the Depression was not ending and they wanted the money.

Would the current military go after the population if told? Yes some undoubtedly would, in some places- particularly in large cities because such areas produce few soldiers and fewer actual fighting troops. The small town  and rural areas that produce the soldiers in large numbers will have considerably less to worry about.

Kent State? Hippy urban college kids getting shot by decidedly non hippy non urban National Guard types, which is in line with my point.  The US population is far from homogenous and so is the military today. The areas that produce the soldiers have less to fear from their own than the large urban areas do. They don't see most dwellers in the U.S. cities as "us", they're most definitely a "them".

This is the last link I have handy, I'm sure there is a more recent DoD report but if you really drill down into who actually makes up US land forces it's an eye opener.

satoshi101's picture

Is this even up for debate?

There was a POLL taken just a few years ago with all new recruits, "If called upon to shoot USA citizens, would you do so?", the Majority said yes, those that said no were rejected.


The Gooch's picture

They forgot the second half of that question. 


satoshi101's picture

In America today people with power are no longer accountable. This means citizens have become subjects, an indication of social collapse.

This isn't YOUR AMERICA anymore, ... Long ago american cops and soldiers didn't rape and beat little white girls in USA streets and didn't knock the teeth out of grandma.

Anybody that defends TODAYS US Cop's or Military is an asshole.

From the earliest age, boys were taught never to hit a girl. In those days there were no reports of police beating up teenage girls and women or body slamming the elderly. To comprehend the degeneration of the American police/military into psychopaths and sociopaths, go online and observe the video of Lee Oswald in police custody in 1963. Oswald was believed to have assassinated President John F. Kennedy and murdered a Dallas police officer only a few hours previously to the film. Yet he had not been beaten, his nose wasn’t broken, and his lips were not a bloody mess. Now go online and pick from the vast number of police brutality videos from our present time and observe the swollen and bleeding faces of teenage girls accused of sassing overbearing police officers.

In America today people with power are no longer accountable. This means citizens have become subjects, an indication of social collapse.

satoshi101's picture

You need to study history.


The Germany was armed to the teeth, HITLER banned guns, but only the Jews, Gypsies, ...homo's,

Most interesting is that the USA 1968 gun control act was a 100% copy from the 1932 NAZI germany gun control act. FACT. 

[ Forgotten by most is that SCHUMMER, & ILK have been using Nazi law from the 1930's all along to implement a New Nazism in the USA ]

Brown-Shirt germans never lost their guns,



What I see in the USA is that certain groups will be disarmed, but the most violent assholes the cops, mil, judges, system, gubmint they will keep their guns, ... only the little people ( not work for gubmint ) will lose their guns.

Never forget that the USA is MORE NAZI than NAZI. That the USA brought HITLER to power.


Lednbrass's picture

You should indeed study history.

During the Civil War that broke out in Germany during 1919-20 the Weimar government confiscated pretty much all private weaponry that they could; only the Freikorps and Red Army which were fighting each other in the streets of nearly every city had weapons.

Gun control in Germany predated the existence of the Nazi party, it is a simple historical fact.

22winmag's picture

I hear you.


The mega troll would have you believe the Bonus March getting broken up somehow equates to millions of armed Americans getting wiped out by the U.S. military in some kind of colossal nationwide SHTF event. It's like comparing apples to oranges and it's not happening.

satoshi101's picture

My point is that 99% of US citizens have never heard of 'bonus boy', yet its one of the most critical events in US history, as its the real reason FDR won the election.

Chief of Staff Douglas MacArthur and President Herbert Hoover Suffered Irreversible Damage to their Reputations after the 'Bonus Boy' Affair.

Most US people think FDR won the election because of the depression, ... or some other bullshit like the stock-market collapse, but the fact was HOOVER was seen by all as the better 'engineer', but people were so fucking pissed off by how the 'bonus marchers' were treated, they voted for FDR. Just a interesting historical fact that most in America, are not aware of.

    The 'bonus boy marchers' on the WASH-DC capital step's were murdered in COLD BLOOD, and this is a story that virtually 99% of the US public has never heard. That was my only point.
satoshi101's picture

HITLER hadn't even came to power in 1919, .. you are the troll.

Only a BOT would spew factoids without reading a comment, go back and read my comment about Hitler's 1932 gun control laws, and then comment.

Lednbrass's picture

No shit, you idiot.

The point is that strict gun control by the central government in Germany was hardly something new or different that the Nazis instiuted. He did absolutely nothing new, mostly just restated existing policy.

Go read some books.

satoshi101's picture

The 1932 gun control law of HITLER, never existed in GERMANY prior to 1932,

In 1968 the USA passed a copy of the law verbatim, albeit translating the GERMAN law to English,  the rest is history.

The frog was boiled and died years ago.


This story is well documented by JPFO, "Jews for the preservation of firearm ownership", ... I highly suggest you learn history. The real history.


PT's picture

400 million privately owned firearms - NONE of which are pointed in the right direction, NONE of which are in range of the perpetrators.  MOST of which will be used against your fellow Zombie instead of those who caused the mess.  If you're lucky then you might hit a drone.

400 million privately owned firearms is a good idea - don't let them go.  But don't forget the other obstacles that need to be overcome.  Oh yeah, and don't forget the aftermath of, if memory serves me correctly, Katerina and the Boston bombing - citizens handing over their weapons, one at a time, to a dozen armoured goons at their door.