Sheldon Richman on the Great State Crime That Was World War I


First Allied shot fired in WW1
Australian War Memorial

This week marks the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War, the four-year bloody nightmare that claimed 16 million lives — 7 million of them noncombatants — and wounded over 20 million people. That would have been bad enough, but the conflict was merely Act One in a much bigger war. The "peace" settlement vindictively branded Germany uniquely culpable and imposed border adjustments that made Act Two a virtual certainty. The so-called Second World War, which began after the 21-year intermission from 1918 to 1939, claimed at least 60 million lives, at least 19 million of which were noncombatants. With so much having been written in the last century, writes Sheldon Richman, what gets overlooked is that the war is the clearest possible lesson about the omnipresent danger of government power.