June 28, 1914: The Start of the War Century.
One hundred years ago today, a young man named Gavrilio Princip – a terrorist or freedom fighter, depending on whom you ask – shot and killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand and essentially set the course of the century that followed it. The fallout from this murder started the War to End All Wars, but actually should be called the Mother of All Future Wars.
Out of WWI came the mistreatment of Germans that would allow the Nazi’s to take power and ultimately start WW II. Out of WWI came the beginnings of the modern-day Middle East. Out of WWI came the Communists (which also took Russia out of WWI), the “enemy” who, along with the U.S., kept the world under the threat of nuclear annihilation for the better part of the Twentieth Century. Millions of people dead for king/god/country, all because of a chance encounter between an angry kid with a gun and an aristocrat on holiday.
In Bosnia, where there was an elaborate ceremony reenacting the assassination and the trial of Princip, many Serbs are boycotting the ceremony. According to The Guardian, they claim that it is because they see it “as an attempt to link the first world war and the later conflict which saw the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia – and to put them blame on them.” Slobodan Soja, a Bosnian Serb diplomat and historian, is quoted saying, “It would have been impossible to bring everyone [Serbs, Muslims, and Croats] together on June 28 in Sarajevo.”
The deeper ethnic and religious issues at the heart of that assassination a century ago still persist in the hearts of the people today. What have we accomplished?
The victorious Allies in WW I drafted the lines of the Middle East after WWI and then redrafted them after WW II. Now, a vicious terrorist group is storming across these made-up countries to seize the land they see as their birthright (although it certainly helps that it also has an ocean of oil beneath it).
And through it all, it seems to fall on America’s shoulders to clean up the mess.
Photo: Gavrilo Princip’s arrest, Author: Unkown, via Wikicommons