Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Armistice Day, 2008

Ninety years ago today the Europeans ended their first internecine confrontation of the 20th century.

The Arabs had been promised freedom by the group of Europeans who called themselves the Allies, and had fought on the side of the Allies. The Arabs had not heard the entire promise, which was 'freedom from the Ottomans,' as, after fighting with the winning side, much of Arabia was absorbed into the British and French Empires. Freedom from imperial domination was, for many Arabs, several decades away, and for some Arabs, still hasn't arrived.

The war was many things, and libraries are well-stocked with books examining different aspects. The Allies were democratic, sort of, while the Central Powers were not, and the war was billed as a struggle between disorganised democracies and efficient monarchies (and we might get an Oriental rematch soon between the world's largest Western-style democracy and the world's largest 'People's Democracy').

The Allies had almost all of the raw materials of the world tied up in their mercantile empires, while the main Central Power, Germany, found its attempt to industrialise halted by a lack of raw materials, a situation it hoped to rectify by defeating the Allies and seizing their empires.

But 90 years ago today, the conflict went into remission for twenty one years.