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1914: It Could Happen Again

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By Bob Bauman JD, Offshore and Asset Protection Editor

During my freshman year at Georgetown University, one of my research assignments was to chronicle the assassination in Sarajevo of Austro-Hungarian Archduke Franz Ferdinand by the Serbian nationalist Gavrilo Princip in June 1914. That was the spark that ignited the Great War.

But my fascination with World War I goes back even further. My father fought in France after enlisting when he was 18 in Baltimore and serving in the U.S. Army’s 29th Division, made up of National Guard troops from Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina.

As a child, I was fascinated by a trunk containing his uniform in mothballs, his service metals and the sepia photos of him and his company.

The archduke’s assassination took place in a corner of Europe, far from where the heavy fighting subsequently occurred. Few people at the time expected that incident in Sarajevo to be followed by four years of human butchery and bloody turmoil. Most people expected wiser heads to prevail.

If history has taught us anything, it is that wiser heads do not always prevail.

Yet, at the same time, history is not necessarily destined to repeat itself either.

In the run-up to the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of that devastating conflict, scholars have indulged in the obvious historical parallel: Is 2014 another 1914? Are we poised for global conflagration?
Today’s Geographical Flashpoint

And, once again, the big question: Will wiser heads prevail this time?

After all, just like 1914, there are two superpowers, one in decline and one ascendant, contending for economic and political dominance — the U.S. and China. There is once again widespread dissatisfaction with the institutions and arrangements governing global affairs, paradoxically and perhaps “delusionally,” combined with a belief that “it can’t happen here.”

There is even a far-off geographical flashpoint — the disputed waters and islands of the East China Sea. There, China faces off against a U.S. “proxy,” Japan. In 1914, it was Austria-Hungary facing off against Serbia, a Russian proxy.

All this historical speculation, not to mention the growing potential for another global conflagration, got me thinking. The jury is still out on whether wiser heads will prevail this time — whether the superpowers will move toward a meaningful partnership, as Germany and Britain should have done — or whether the U.S. and China repeat the catastrophic folly of 1914.

I don’t claim to know the answer. But it does make me wonder: What did the “smart money” do in anticipation of the Great War? What can we learn from it?

As it turns out, the lessons are profound …

Based on my extensive reading over the years, one thing is clear: Very few people anticipated the extent or outcome of World War I.

Even wealthy, well-connected families assumed there was little or no need to take precautions against the coming “time of troubles.”

No matter which country they lived in, most assumed they would be protected by the geopolitical arrangements that had made the previous century more or less stable. After all, the era since the end of the Napoleonic wars a century earlier had been the most peaceful Europe had known since the fall of the Roman Empire.

In the first years of the 20th century, Europe believed it was marching to a golden, happy and prosperous future. Things had been good for a long time for the residents of Berlin, Vienna, Budapest, Istanbul and St. Petersburg.

How wrong they were. The Great War disrupted or destroyed tens of thousands of families, as well as fortunes, across Europe. This process of wealth destruction was especially devastating in Eastern Europe, where the Romanov Dynasty collapsed and was replaced by Bolshevism. If you’ve ever seen or read Boris Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago, you’ll have an image of what that was like.

So, what of the 1914 to 2014 parallel? The truth is that nobody knows what the future holds.

And that’s precisely the point.
The Key Lesson

The key lesson I take from my studies of World War I is this: Never underestimate the power of the unexpected.

Assuming the future will be just like the past is as grave a mistake as assuming nothing will happen. Events can move more quickly than anyone expects. The great tower of prosperity can easily tumble. And the truth is that wiser heads rarely prevail.

But the wisest heads of all always have a Plan B — something much easier to accomplish today than in 1914.

Back then, only a few families were able to escape with their wealth intact, but most had no place to go and no resources abroad when the storm hit. They didn’t think they needed one. And many of those who did have a stash outside the country made the mistake of choosing places that were soon at war with their Czar or Kaiser or Emperor.

And, of course, once the storm broke in 1914, it was too late. Global trade and oceanic transport shut down. Money and wealth were frozen in place, to be consumed by inflation, government theft or the material destruction of war.

Those without a Plan B were stuck. Many once-proud families of means were reduced to paupers.

But there is no reason for history to repeat itself here. There are dozens of countries where you can stash your wealth — and your family and possessions, too, if the need were to arise. Countries friendly to Americans and their money, but not beholden to the United States government — places like Panama or Uruguay — are wonderful opportunities to explore, if you haven’t done so already.

There are many others with idyllic lifestyles, secure and private banking systems, as well as numerous investment opportunities.

I’ve spent a lot of my life researching these kinds of places, getting to know their laws, learning how to obtain residence, and understanding the process of transferring money and wealth to them. It’s not difficult — if you have the right information and advice.

So by all means, in 2014, read up on the Great War — I recommend Margaret MacMillan’s The War That Ended Peace. But above all, begin putting the elements of your Plan B into place.

After all, it’s never too early to start.

Faithfully yours,

Bob Bauman JD
Editor, Offshore Confidential
http://thesovereigninvestor.com/2014/01/23/1914-happen/

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Europe was peaceful leading

Europe was peaceful leading up to the 20th century because Otto Von Bismarck helped put France in its place and reunited the Prussian Empire. He died in 1898 and not short after his successor shit on everything he did...

Southern Agrarian

Bismarck was a socialist and

Bismarck was a socialist and statist, but he got shit done....

Southern Agrarian

Indeed

As I noted in my comment below, it was the idiotic decision of Bismarck's successors to abandon the Reinsurance Treaty with Russia that allowed France to emerge from its isolation. I don't love Bismarck's domestic policies, but you have to admire his foreign policy: it was fundamentally a policy of peace (after 1871 anyway).

P.S. I might add, Bismarck wasn't a socialist. He loathed the socialists. He personally was a Junker aristocrat, an anti-capitalist in the old pre-socialist sense (money is vulgar etc), and a monarchist -- but I don't think he really had any principles in his domestic policy. He manipulated the German socialists (and everyone else) for political purposes. He liked whatever domestic policies got him the support he needed to pursue his foreign policy objectives. Unfortunately, those turned out to be socialistic policies.

"Alas! I believe in the virtue of birds. And it only takes a feather for me to die laughing."

Good read.....bump!

I was 14 in '64. Never in my wildest dreams (nightmares) could I have imagined the world would be as it is today.

(I enjoyed the interaction between you two fellas below.)

The country is broke and in

debt.

It will become desperate.

"There's a Reason People Do Things"...

...said Mr. Campbell, as I sat in my chair in the Social Studies class,Walt Whitman JHS.
He tied together the factors of Kings, Popes, Economics,Fiat Currency, and introduced us all to the real reasons historic events occurred.
"People Do Things for a REASON"! ...he'd shout, and nobody ever fell asleep in his class(LOL).
I can still hear him.
I am forever in his debt.....Years later(many) I discovered the real reasons for WW1...it wasn't due to Archduke Ferdinand's death, a fallacy perpetuated by the public school textbooks...no.
Not any more than the "War Between the States" was fought to free slaves (yes, Mr. Campbell's bold statement, circa 1964).
WW1 was a war instigated by Great Britain, seems the British shipping empire, now run by "globalists", who also controlled The Crown, were upset about something....
The "Something"?
Germany had a dream....to build a transcontinental railroad.
The only country to do ever this was "America"...first ever!
This German railway was to traverse from one end of Europe to the other, and reaching countries not traveled to since Marco Polo.
This would have "cut out" the trade routes dominated by the British "corporations"....sound familiar?
Another thing Mr. Campbell always said:
"History always repeats itself"....I guess we've been warned.
Thanks for a necessary "reminder"....... you're right up there with Mister Campbell.

"Beyond the blackened skyline, beyond the smoky rain, dreams never turned to ashes up until.........
...Everything CHANGED !!

"the real reasons for WW1"

What you describe is part of it, but Britain didn't cause the war all by itself. Let's look at the other belligerents.

Austria
The assassination was the casus belli Austria needed to destroy Serbia, but Austria wasn't driven by any expansionist motives. Austria was a multi-ethnic empire, in which Germans, Magyars, Slavs, and other smaller ethnic groups were fighting for control of the central state. This had been a growing problem ever since the revolutions of 1848 had unleashed modern nationalism upon Europe. The Serbian government was an independent Slave state on Austria's southern border, and its government was intentionally inflaming pan-Slavist sentiments in Austria, with the hope of breaking up the empire and absorbing the Slavic parts (they got their wish after the war and called it Yugoslavia). All Austria wanted to do in 1914 following the assassination was to humble Serbia and force it to stop interfering in its internal affairs: this may or may not have meant annexation. Certainly the Austrians did not want a general European war.

Germany
It is ironic, in light of the traditional narrative of the war that's taught in American schools, that Germany, of all the major belligerents, was the least expansionist. In 1914 Germany had no serious territorial ambitions in Europe, no desire to conquer and annex any of its neighbors. Germany recognized Austria's pan-Slav problem, and was fearful that Austria would disintegrate under internal pressure, leaving Germany without a reliable ally in Europe. Hence Germany supported the Austrian move against Serbia. People in Berlin expected a limited war in the Balkans, no one wanted or expected a general European war.

France
The provinces of Alsace and Lorraine were ceded to Germany by the treaty that ended the Franco-Prussian war in 1871 (which, by the way, the French had started). Ever since then, French foreign policy in Europe was completely obsessed with retaking those provinces, and I'm sure the French would have welcomed a general European war at any time thereafter if they thought they could win and regain the lost provinces. But from 1871 to 1895 France was diplomatically isolated, a result of brilliant maneuvering by German Chancellor Otto von Bismark. But when Bismarck's idiotic successors abandoned Germany's alliance with Russia, the French approached the Russians and the Franco-Russian alliance was signed in 1895. The Anglo-French entente cordiale followed in 1904. From this point forward, in my opinion, France was willing to fight a general European war. It just had to wait for its opportunity, which finally came in 1914.

Russia
Russian foreign policy preceeding 1914 was perhaps the most aggressive and expansionist of all. As the largest Slavic state in the world by far, Russia was the champion of the Pan-slavs in Serbia, whom they supported morally and materially in their insidious efforts to break up Austria. Moreover, Russia had definite and enormous territorial ambitions. For centuries the Russians had wanted to conquer Constantinople and the straights, both for sentimental and practical reasons. On the one hand, the Russians felt that they were the heirs of the Byzantine Empire (Moscow was often referred to as the third Rome), and so they wanted to recapture the ancient Byzantine capital. Practically, they needed control of the straights so that their Black Sea fleet could access the Mediterranean. Beyond the straights question, they wanted to generally dismember the Ottoman empire and absorb the choicest parts for themselves. In 1914, the Russians decided to back Serbia in rejecting the Austrian ultimatum, knowing full well that this would mean a general European war: they needed such a war to achieve their objectives.

Where does Britain fit into all this? Truth be told, Britain was almost a quantite negligeable on the continent. Everyone assumed that the outcome of any general European war would be decided by a few massive Napoleonic-style battles. The British Army was too small to make a difference on land, and the war would be over before the economic effects of a blockade by the British Navy would be felt. In my opinion, the war was really between an aggressive Franco-Russian alliance, and a defensive Austro-German alliance. The British played their usual role: sitting on the sidelines until the two sides wore themselves out, then arriving to pick the bones clean at the end. Whether the British merely reacted to the opportunities presented by the war, or actually tried to bring the war about so that those opportunities would arise, is open to debate. But if Britain did bring about the war, it did so by lightly tapping a cart that was already teetering on the brink of a cliff. The French and Russians brought the cart to the cliff all by themselves.

P.S. To clarify my position vis a vis Britain.. I think there would have been a war between the Franco-Russian alliance and the Austro-German alliance with or without Britain -- whether Britain had been on the other side, or Britain had been neutral, or Britain had never existed in the first place. So in that sense Britain did not cause the war. That said, British involvement changed the course of the war and determined the result. Without Britain involvement, there also would have been no American involvement, and the war probably would have ended as most other wars had ended: by negotiated settlement, rather than "absolute victory" and the destruction of four European powers, the rise of socialism, the League of Nations, and the seeds of the next war. So, whether Britain intentionally
"pushed the cart" or not, it certainly exploited the opportunities that the war presented to achieve its own objectives, and bears plenty of responsibility for the consequences of the war.

"Alas! I believe in the virtue of birds. And it only takes a feather for me to die laughing."

Nice Synopsis

One statement seems to stand out in my mind:
Your statement re:
"The British played their usual role: sitting on the sidelines until the two sides wore themselves out, then arriving to pick the bones clean at the end...."

Evidently this was a behavior that was "historically characteristic" of Great Britain.
Instigating wars and swooping in for the booty later on.

If one were to consider the timing also:
*Federal Reserve Bank plotted, planned, executed via agents of the Bank of London (spelled Rothschild).
*French resentment over territorial loss by a war they initiated, not to mention reparations paid by France to Germany.
*Russian Imperialism; on the rise, and growing.(War for profit)
The timing of the Russian and French "situations" were ripe for exploitation by the Bank of London.
Not only could Rothschild profit by this war taking place, but, they'd have the vehicle to dismantle the proposed and planned rail system that threatened their monopoly in the global shipping industry.
Said rail system being proposed and planned by a Germany that was more focused on its own economic growth.
In fact, Germany, being non-imperialist as it has been noted, would stand to lose by going to war. They needed the cooperation of the "other" nations to make this Railway possible.
Germany was clearly getting "too big" for the banker's tastes, and needed to get taken down.
It would be all to easy to "supply" the Serbian "hit-man" to be the catalyst...in fact weren't there others? I believe so.
Since J.P.Morgan has been described as an "agent" for the Bank of London, it was only natural that his ship, the Lusitania(?) was torpedoed.....another "exploitation" accomplished, since the ship was not only carrying passengers...it was loaded with munitions for the Allies.
Hence, Britain succeeded in drawing the USA into the war.
The "banksters" were already reaping profit from munitions sales,and obviously had no qualms regarding the collateral damage of passengers.
Their deaths could be used to further the pounding of the war drums, and get the US into the war.
One question:
Have you ever read about the proposed German rail system?
I don't think many have.
Thanks for your thoughts on this.

"Beyond the blackened skyline, beyond the smoky rain, dreams never turned to ashes up until.........
...Everything CHANGED !!

Couple Thoughts

I know a little about the planned Berlin to Baghdad railway from reading F. William Engdahl's "A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order." I can certainly see why the British mercantile elite would have wanted to quash it. The transcontinental railroads in general were seen as a threat to British economic and military power. This was the age of Halford Mackinder's "world island" theory of geopolitics (nutshell: railroads meant that inland powers now had the mobility advantage formerly enjoyed by maritime powers). It's interesting to note that the same circle (or should I say round table...) of Anglo-American elites that you're talking about re WWI played a major role in the Bolshevik revolution - and Russia was the paradigm case of an inland power benefiting from the construction of railroads, wasn't it? ;-)

I too have always found the timing of the Federal Reserve Act and income tax suspicious: just in time to finance American involvement in the war. If you believe Norman Dodd (I do), it was no coincidence. According to him, the tax exempt foundations were plotting to instigate a major war for years before 1914 in order to bring about the desired changes in American society (i.e. ---> socialism). And it's a matter of historical record that the same people sponsored the creation of the Fed and income tax and, once the war started, played the pivotal role in getting the US into the war on the side of England. And, of course, the war had exactly the effect they hoped it would: a huge leap forward toward socialism across the Western world and the first serious attempt at world government (not to mention expansion of the British empire and the forging of a much closer relationship between Britain and the US).

"Alas! I believe in the virtue of birds. And it only takes a feather for me to die laughing."

Wow!

1964 -- Fifty years ago!

It's About Time...

...you showed up.
I try to bump yer "article"......
...you try to make me feel old. (LOL!)
Funny, but I get the feeling you ain't no spring chicken either!
(Hope ya enjoyed the long walk down memory lane...I did.)

"Beyond the blackened skyline, beyond the smoky rain, dreams never turned to ashes up until.........
...Everything CHANGED !!

I was 13

in 1964

Now You're Trying To...

...make me feel sorry for ya??!
You wuz 13 in '64 ?.......WOW!
............................................I was.............12.

"In '65 I was seventeen and running up 101
I don't know where I'm running now, I'm just running on...."
"Running on - running on empty...." (Jackson Browne)

He's older than both of us!
Some of the scenarios he waxed poetically about in song, are apparently becoming a reality these days.
Truly, we are: "RUNNING on EMPTY"

http://youtu.be/Vq25ZJwZJzU

"Beyond the blackened skyline, beyond the smoky rain, dreams never turned to ashes up until.........
...Everything CHANGED !!