Thursday, July 31, 2014

Stephen Walt on WW I Reminds Me of the Dangers of a Free Lunch

Stephen Walt is one of my favorite—possibly the favorite—political scientists. In “It's Not the Guns of August -- It's the Trenches of October,” he asks why WW I lasted so long, and gives what to me seem to be a well-considered, fully worked out and concise answer. But I take issue with his following claim.

“…the only country that emerged from World War I in a stronger position than in 1914 was the United States of America.”

Wrong. So did Japan. If anything, “it fought [even further] from its own territory, and its losses were extremely light compared to the… major combatants [including the United States].”

This is not trivial, since this experience—or lack thereof—helped Japan willfully ignore the fact that imperialism had passed its consume-by date. 

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