Editor’s Note: In advance of Code Pink’s Militarism Town Hall which airs 8pm on Veteran’s Day on MNN-FSTV, social historian Iain Boal reflects on the 100th anniversary of the "war to end all wars."
In August 1914, the Kaiser told the mothers of Germany that their sons would be home before the leaves fell from the trees. When the guns fell silent on 11th November 1918, after four years of industrialized mass slaughter, twenty million combatants and civilians lay dead.
The European powers went to war under the fatal illusions that the conflict would be brief, dominated by the cavalry, and light on casualties. In other words, a mirror of combat on the colonial frontiers against unarmed and virtually defenseless communities. Artillery, the machine gun and barbed wire meant a different equation; the armies were frozen in place, leaving trenches and a corpse-strewn no-man’s-land as the iconic images of a war to end all wars.
It was a mechanized conflict that brutalized all it touched. The cruel indifference to human life shown by the Allied high command was evident on November 11th, 1918. Despite knowing that the ceasefire would come into force at 11 o’clock, the generals ordered business as usual on that final morning, and more than two thousand men died pointlessly in the last hours of the war.
‘War is the health of the state’, wrote the New York City journalist and pacifist Randolph Bourne, in his unfinished history of war resistance and conscientious objection. He died in the flu pandemic incubated in the barracks and trenches during the war, and which - it is estimated - killed a staggering 100 million between 1918 and 1920. Bourne foresaw the world of permanent war we now inhabit; he understood that with a standing army and the institution of income tax, all that a ruthless state needed was its citizens not to actively resist. 1/2
MNN and FSTV’s latest production, #CodePink — Town Hall on Militarism, commemorates the 100th Anniversary of #ArmisticeDay. The show focuses on the horrors of war and looks at the effect of redirecting military resources into health care, education, green jobs and other life-affirming activities.
Guest panel includes William Hartung, Director of Weapons and Securities Project at the Center for International Policy; Ann Wright, U.S. Army Colonel and U.S. Diplomat; Angelo Pinto, Senior Attorney with the Advancement Project, and Ciara Taylor of The People’s Forum.
Tune in this Sunday, November 11th at 9pm ET to MNN 1 (Verizon FiOS 33, RCN 82, Spectrum 34 & 1995) or MNN HD (Spectrum 1993)