Saturday 18 March 2023

How Wars Begin


I re-watched most of AJP Taylor's lectures on How Wars Begin recently and strongly recommend them. I am afraid I saw them when he first gave them in 1978, live without a timer or autocues, something that was absolutely antediluvian then. (I was very young.)

In brief, all the wars happened by mistake, pretty much on all sides except when Cavour or Bismarck were involved. Hitler was not nearly so brilliant as them. As Norman Stone said of the fall of France in 1940, "A Bismarck or a Churchill could control success of this order, a Hitler not".

The Franco-Prussian war in particular was completely unnecessary: an elephant trap, set by Bismarck against the wishes of  his master William I, into which Napoleon III walked. 

Some think Putin walked into a comparable American trap when he invaded Ukraine, but I do not. The State Department did not expect it till December 2021 nor expect Ukraine to withstand the invasion when it happened.

The lecture on the Second World War makes clear the extent to which America provoked Pearl Harbor. 

That is a partial analogy with US policy towards Ukraine from 2008 onwards. 

It does not justify Pearl Harbor or Putin's attempt to topple the Ukrainian government, of course, but may (help) explain both.

(By the way, US Ambassador Joseph Kennedy, retired bootlegger, antisemite and father of John and Robert, said during a game of golf in 1945 with James Forrestal  that Neville Chamberlain told him that 'America and world Jews forced England into the war'If Chamberlain were right that would mean Roosevelt's administration helped bring about the war on both sides of the globe, a remarkable thing for an isolationist government. Did the Americans push England into the war? How? )

The prediction with which Taylor ends the last lecture, that nuclear war will happen, seemed to have been disproved by events till the Ukrainian war began. 

I do not believe Russia will use nuclear weapons, though the fact that the left does not worry about this is shocking, but nihilistic terrorists probably one day will.


  1. This is a fascinating video. Please post more like it.

  2. Today is the 20th anniversary of the utterly ignominious Iraq "war", if we can call it that. Perhaps "completely unjustifiable slaughter and destruction of a nation" would be more apt.