by Peter Freyne
Hey, remember winter?
Cool down. It'll return. Like history, winter has a way of repeating itself.
You know, the longer I live, the more I realize the glaring flaw in this little type of primate that I am - the inability to overcome the inability to live under primate leadership that tells the truth and is committed to making peace, not war, its top priority.
And history provides endless lessons, doesn't it?
I had a bunch of Vermont political balls in the air inside the "Freyne Brain" this morning, but then Ol' Garrison Keillor's magnificent Minnesota mind absolutely blew me away with his Writer's Almanac on VPR.
World War I - we all learned about it in school, right?
Today is both the anniversary of the event that started World War I and the day that the treaty was signed that officially brought the war to a close.
The event that started the war was the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife by a Bosnian revolutionary on this day in 1914 in the Bosnian city of Sarajevo.
One month after the assassination, Austria used the event as an excuse to declare war on Serbia, even though the nation of Serbia had nothing to do with the assassination. Germany chose to back Austria in its attack. Russia chose to defend Serbia. France entered the war against Germany. And when Germany invaded Belgium, Great Britain got involved as well, having pledged to defend Belgium from any invaders. That series of alliances led to the largest war ever conducted in history at that point. About ten million people died in the next four years of fighting.
The enormous bloodbath we call "World War I" [first of dozens?] officially ended on this June day in 1919 with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles.
It redrew the maps of Eastern Europe and the Middle East.
Four fallen empires [the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the German Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and Tsarist Russia], were dissolved and their global territory redrawn.
It was done in private by three men: Woodrow Wilson of the United States, Georges Clemenceau of France, and David Lloyd George of Great Britain. Among the countries created by the Treaty of Versailles was Yugoslavia, which collapsed into civil war in the 1990s, and a country every American has now heard of - Iraq.
Just about every major European or Middle Eastern conflict in the last few decades can be traced back to the decisions made in 1919. One of the people paying close attention to the conference was a young Southeast Asian kitchen assistant at the local Ritz Hotel named Ho Chi Minh. During the conference, he submitted a petition appealing for the independence of his home country, Vietnam. But the petition was ignored. So even the Vietnam War can be traced back to the Treaty of Versailles.
French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau would later say, "It is much easier to make war than peace."
Now fast-forward to the present day and listen to Major General Rick Lynch explain what his U.S. fighting men and women have been doing over the last 12 days, claiming "control" of all of 6 kilometers of ground along the Tigris River on the south side of Baghdad, Iraq.
The straight-talking professional soldier compared his troops task to "playing three-dimensional chess in the dark."
Hear General Lynch for yourself here.
Bottom line: Lynch and his fighting men and women deserve better leaders in the White House and on Capitol Hill. Just like the soldiers of my generation did when they told us if we didn't stop the Communists in Vietnam they'd be in California next!
Instead, we've got Russian hockey players from the Land of Lenin in the NHL and the governor of Vermont, a Republican, just returned from a trade mission to Red China.
You tell me.