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Comprehensibility of Wars

Reader comment on item: [Appeasement Explains] Why Europe Balks

Submitted by Joseph Somsel (United States), Jan 28, 2003 at 15:16

One line quoted in your piece doesn't ring true:

"The First World War is far more comprehensible than the Second, which is 'too big for the mind to grasp.'"

This is counterintuitive to me. WWII was the result of megalomanical ambitions that proved unsubstantible - I think I can grasp what motivated Hitler and Japan although not their decisionmaking. WWI was the incomprehensible war, since it was sparked almost by accident, like an avalanche - the decisions were comprehensible (treaty obligations and whatnot) although not the motivations.

That said, "Old Europe" does indeed seem to be retreating into the policies of the 1920's. Yet their fundamental motivation seems to be to thwart the US in any exercise of its power not directly related to their own self-interest. Sure, France would beg the US to save it yet again if attacked. But lacking that, it's most central objective seems to be to to diminish US power.

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