I’m listening to The Modern Scholar: World War l: The Great War and the World It Made, lectures by the late John Ramsden that demonstrate we should not entirely give up on the lecture method of instruction. On the 100th anniversary of the war it is still somewhat hard to believe that Germany invested so much in a war with such modest aims, i.e., obtaining economic hegemony over central Europe. During World War I, according to Ramsden, Germany didn’t have a grand plan to conquer most of Europe and rule the territory directly. They wanted to dominate trade and politics. In listening to the lectures about the millions of lives wasted it finally occurred to me that Germany has finally achieved its war goals of 1914. It just took 100 years and the Germans’ main weapon was working harder and being more organized than their neighbors.
[Separately, I wonder if historians will look back 90 years from now and ask “Why did the Americans waste so many lives and so much money in Iraq and Afghanistan if they did not have a goal of direct imperial rule?”]