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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

The Guns of August 1914- and what the pundits were saying

Exactly 95 years ago this week, World War One broke out.

I’ve been busy trawling old newspaper archives and the internet to see what the commentariat/blogsphere/and various public figures were saying in what was arguably the most momentous week of the 20th century.

Here's a selection of what I've found.

If I find out that the stories of Huns raping nuns and bayoneting babies are not true, I will never believe another thing that I am told by our government. Well, at least not for another 89 years.
Sir David Aaronovitch, The London Times.

Let’s be under no illusions as to whose fault this war is. The Serbs. And in particular, one man: Slobodan Milosevic. Of course, leftwing apologists for Milosevic and Serbian aggression will point out that Milosevic will not be born until 1941 and so couldn‘t possibly be held responsible for World War One. What nonsense. It was Milosevic’s plans for a ‘Greater Serbia’, which inspired Gavrilo Princip to shoot Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Slobo was to blame (he was to blame for World War Two and the Spanish Inquisition too), and I‘m going to draw up his indictment right now.
Professor Mark O’Attila (Not the Hun) Hoare, European Director of the Andrew Jackson Society.

Let us be under no illusion as to what is at stake in this war. If the forces of civilisation do not prevail then the whole continent of Europe will be taken over by the fanatical Islamists who are hiding beneath the Kaiser’s cloak. A victory for Germany would be a victory for Islam. And then there’s those Turkish weapons of mass destruction….
Dame Melanie Phillips, The London Spectator.

What joy to be alive at this magnificent hour. Thousands of people going off to die for freedom and democracy. I would love to enlist for the front, but sadly I am in a reserved occupation (I’m a V.I.B. a Very Important Blogger)- so instead of fighting the Hun like those plebs and public school types, I’ll be blogging 24/7 on developments.
Mike Blogger.

I cannot believe that war does anything else but debase and demoralise mankind.
George Lansbury, anti-war politician and editor, The Daily Herald.

Once again sections of the so-called left, such as George Lansbury, have shown their depravity by opposing the war and becoming apologists for German fascism and totalitarianism. This is a war all those who claim to be on the left should support. It's hard to think of a more progressive cause.
Sir Nicholas Cohen, political pundit.

I’m supporting the war because my statistical analysis reveals that it will be over in a few weeks- with a quick victory being as probable as a Woolwich Arsenal victory over Clapton Orient. And if I’m wrong, it’s not my fault because you can’t judge the quality of a decision by its outcome.
Sir Daniel Finkelstein, chief leader writer, The London Times.

The lights are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.Sir Edward Grey, Foreign Secretary.

What an awful bore.
Noel Coward.


vladimir gagic said...

Wonderful post. The style is as good as the substance.

Ironically, for the past two decades both Serbs and Arabs have been slandered by the same pens. Maybe that is because the old Yugsoslavia, and the new Serbia, has always been very friendly with Arab countries. I feel a certain kinship with Arabs in general and the Palestinians in particular.

Also, yesterday was the 14 year anniversity of Operation Storm, in which NATO and the Americans were hand in hand with the rampaging Croatian army butchering its way through the Krajina. But of course, I am sure bigots like Hoare think the Krajina Serbs deserved to suffer through the larget ethnic operation since WW2.

I am also very glad you are calling out Hoare and you see him for what he really is. I have never read a single complimentary statement about Serbs by Hoare and other Serbophobes unless its a reference to a Serb quisling like Jovanovic or Biserko. Why the patholigical hatred of Serbs by people like Hoare, Simms, Vulliamy and Hitchens? Unlike the scores of Serb hating journalists running wild, I can't recall a single professional Hutu hating journalist or politician. We are such a small and insignificant country, the hatred is very bizarre.

General J. McTrousers (retired) said...

DENIER! Neil Clark plumbs new depths and finally shows his true colours; Milosevic didn't start WWI? Does he ever read the papers or watch tv? Even leftist supporters of the Palestinians (in e.g. Counterpunch or Palestine Chronicle) regularly include Milosevic in their ad hoc illustrative list of all-time greatest monsters. Shame on you, sir. Shame on you.

And this is no time for flippancy, while OUR BOYS are being killed in Afghanistan by the truckload. Whatever reservations we have about the war we must SUPPORT THE TROOPS. I think we could learn something from the way the nation pulled together over WWI; I think it's time for a ROCK AGAINST TREASON and perhaps some celebrities setting a trend by handing out WHITE FEATHERS to dissenters and backstabbers.

neil craig said...

I have found it amusing that one of Wilson's 14 points, the basic principles that WW1 had to be fought for & would ensure peace ever after was that Serbia have a seacoast.

To be fair this wasn't an undying humanitarian principle people were to die for in 1914 - not till America joined in. I guess that makes all the allied leaders part of the joint criminal conspiracy that the Serbs are supposed to be guilty of.

Adam said...

Nice piece. I had a good laugh!

Steven said...

Wonderful post Neil. And you hit the nail on the head Vladimir. Hoare is a pathological and professional anti-Serb (there are many) who is fighting many wars in his mind. So many that he has probably lost count. The other day he made fun of Nebojsa Malic of for (get this) defending Serbia. Oh, how laughable Marko. Nearly as laughable as demanding that we pick up our guns to fight for Georgia - Marko excluded of course.
That is the striking thing about these neocons. Unlike the generation that grew up on the Spanish Civil War, not a single one of these think-tank sponsored big mouth layabouts have volunteered to fight "the good war". Dying for one's beliefs is so passe. It's always someone else job.

MAH's intolerance (and the only reason I spend time criticising this brave armchair commando here is because he refuses comments on his website) is legendary. He has a complex about Croatian collaboration with the Nazis so he is determined to prove that Serbs during WWII were just as bad. Unfortunately, the figures do not bear this out. What a sad figure.

He also has a useful idiot Portuguese friend called Sarah Franco who decided that Serbs are descended from a race of vampires (see the truly awful "Cafe Turco" website). The clueless and eurotrashy Franco, who is now emigrating to Norway presumably on a tip off about Serbian mass graves in Scandinavia, endorses open debate as long as it excludes criticism. I was promptly deleted when I pointed out that her beloved Kosovo was the world center of prostitution. Truth hurts the neocons.

I have a dream. I am on a transport plane above the Swat Valley and assembled in front of me are Kamm, Hoare, Hitchens, Geras, Cohen, all decked out in parachutes and survival rations. I salute them and boot their arses out of the plane one by one sending them on their way to glory but not before assuring them that they are dying for the noble cause of democracy and civilisation.

DBC Reed said...

Re Sir David Aaronovitch.Tricky business WW1 atrocity stories.Iain Overton claims to have substantiated the Crucified Canadian soldier episode.His Tv film on the subject also showed Belgian war memorials with children under one yr old listed.Not that this proves much.More than likely there was a fair amount of rape,killing prisoners in cold blood ,killing civilians ,especially in the early more mobile period of the war,when German troops grew panicky from being shot at by franc tireurs,civilians taking pot-shots as they were marching , standing around smoking etc.
THe both sides were honourable men
drawn into a tragically unnecessary war idea is probably just as mythical.

Robin Carmody said...

Like the "Rock Against Maastricht" concert that Bill Cash planned but which never came to fruition (a pity - it would have forced certain people to admit precisely which side they were on), "ROCK AGAINST TREASON" would, alas, be a far more fitting use of rock music - far more in line with what it generally means culturally - than Rock Against Bush ever was, or than Rock Against Racism would be today.

Anonymous said...

General, you just keep reading and watching mainstream media, there is everything you need to know.
Don't bother to contact people who know because they were there such as Canadian General Lewis McKenzie or ambassador in Yugoslavia, James Bisset.
Just keep watching BBC, NBC, CNN or whatever and let us all know once they find WMD in Iraq. OK?


Robin Carmody said...

Anonymous - Jock has very obviously got his tongue in his cheek! Read his more serious postings ...

louis said...

Does anyone in their right mind take Marko Atilla the Hoare seriously? He would blame the Serbs for the Khumer Rouge if he could, I remember reading a post by him saying the Italian wars of unification in 1859-1861 were the reason for the 'greater Serbia' idea. And maybe Ms Philips should be reminded that Turkey is Israel's biggest regional ally.

Robin Carmody said...

Hoare is also the man who opined that Serbia had "grown up" as a country, become a "proper" country, joined the "real world", etc., etc., because it now had a McDonald's. Eating at McDonald's in Belgrade filled him with a sense of pride, apparently, a feeling that at last Serbia had become a modern, mature society. McDonald's is to him the ultimate measurement of a country's civilisation.

Why do we even let people like him travel to countries other than the USA? (I believe he is British - not that I really care.) The single biggest problem facing Britain itself is people on all sides who have exactly the same idea of what makes a "proper", "modern" society.

DBC Reed said...

There is apparently a well-researched book by Horne and Kramer called "German atrocities 1914" which describes not isolated killings etc but the systematic destruction of whole towns like Louvain/Leuven and several villages leading to a mass refugee exodus of I million Belgians.The authors appear to contend (in the numerous accounts/reviews of the book there are on the Net) that there were n't any franc tireurs ( at least not in the organised bands that there were in the previous Franco-Prussian War).In short the idea that the German atrocity stories were a myth is itself a myth.It might have helped
if stories like the shooting Edith Cavell had been given long-term credence because this would have countered the arguments of appeasers that the two great nations should never fight each other again and should concentrate on sorting out the lesser breeds without the Law .When news of Nazi atrocities came in ,there was general disbelief because the 1914
atrocities had been effectively neutralised.
Dunno if there is any general significance to all this : just that huge atrocities can be covered up like the attacks on Serbs in the Krajina;the ethnic cleansing by Kemel Ataturk which is still being denied.

Steven said...


"Eating at McDonald's in Belgrade filled him with a sense of pride, apparently, a feeling that at last Serbia had become a modern, mature society."

I can definitely believe it. That's a neocon for you. They are only comfortable when surrounded by American trash culture. That's what they mean by self-determination; the right to ape the United States.

Neil Clark said...

thanks for all who have commented.
Steve/Robin- yes, the neocons won't rest until every country in the world is the same- a Starbucks and Macdonalds on every corner, a totally privatised economy in which every major asset is owned by global capital and every country has the 'right' foreign policy.

Anonymous said...

Smashing article, Neil. 3 more lads killed yesterday in Afghanistan. The carnage of Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan isn't enough for neocons, they want Iran bloodied. This recessions works in their favour in so many ways, including provision of more cannon fodder for their wars because our kids can't find jobs because neocons outsource them. Cheap labour, cheap lives.


Neil Clark said...

Hi Tina,
Many thanks. It's great to have you back commenting- I hope all is well with you.
Sadly, what you say is absolutely true: cheap labour, cheap lives.
It's always someone else's children who do the dying- not the neo-cons' of course.

Anonymous said...

Cheap lives.... jobs and cheapened lives....

I was watching on our American TV, just the other evening ( and only briefly as it was all I do bear) a REALITY show called "Carrier".

This show is supposed to be giving us an appreciation of the lives and sacrifices of our servicemen and women and their families.

Mission accomplished....

I tuned in and came upon a scene where a lovely,young and very pregnant wife is telling her young handsome husband, who is serving in the US Navy, that she can no longer bear his job as it keeps him away too long on deployments and she is going home to Mama.

Well, he is crying like a baby and so is she as she leaves him....she goes out the door and then there appears with the young sailor- husband, sitting on the floor of the apartment balcony, a fellow sailor. He is the husband's buddy on the carrier.

Well, the young husband is crying and saying he wants to quit the navy and he does not care if he has to go to work long hours at MacDonald's, even if he has to make barely enough money to survive, he just wants to be with wife and the baby...

His friend is trying to reason with him and says, "well you cannot quit and if you could there are NO JOBS even at McDonald's so what can you do?"....

The young sailor husband just crys and crys...

AND SO DID I. I had to turn off my TV.

The US Govt. rots from its head...

Bring back the guillotine!!!