I've long pondered the meaning of war.
emoment with carl

Remembering a War
April, 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the U.S. entry into World War I. As a historical consultant to the National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City earlier in my career, I’ve long pondered the meaning of the War. In 1913, due to the vast expansion of trade and communications that was occurring, the writer Herbert Quick coined the phrase, “the Good Ship Earth,” to connote humanity’s shared fate. The War ended that first era of globalization. It led to the Depression, Nazism, World War II, and the Cold War. Trying to avoid the mistakes made after World War I, leaders like Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman hoped to re-create the more prosperous pre-1914 era through organizations like the International Monetary Fund, the UN, and NATO. With all of these organizations’ flaws, they contributed to today’s world. Each fall, in my course on peace and war, my students debate the lessons of World War I and its aftermath. Wars are not inevitable. My students are surprised at how often wars have been prevented through wise diplomacy, skillful deterrence, or simple common sense. Wars demonstrate humanity’s intrinsic flaws, but these need not be fatal. Democracy, prosperity, and connections across borders all encourage peace, not war; they don’t guarantee it, but, along with vigorous action towards peace, they’re the best tools we’ve found thus far. We should learn from history, but also believe that we can change it.

 

Enjoy the Moment,

Carl J. Strikwerda,

President


World War 1. Smiling British soldiers enter Lille, France.

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