This week marks the centennial of the outbreak of World War I. WorldPost contributors such as Walter Russell Mead and Artyom Lukin have asked whether events in 2014 parallel those of 1914. Here, seven scholars from the Belfer Center at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government offer the historical lessons they see.
Only a few years ago, most western observers believed that the age of geopolitical rivalry and great power war was over. Today, with Russian forces in Ukraine, religious wars exploding across the Middle East, and territorial disputes leading to one crisis after another in the East and South China seas, the outlook is darker. Serious people now ask whether we have moved from a post-war into a pre-war world. Could some incident somewhere in the world spark another global war?
Consider the First World War, the first Great War, a war without precedent and supposedly impossible nowadays. The lad who pulled its trigger was Gavrilo Princip, a teenage Serb, a Bosnian Serb one might say, a Pan-Slavic conspirator against the Austro Hungarian Empire, a Yugoslav, an activist, a terrorist, a patriot, a national freedom fighter... what a lot of names he has.