tv Lasting Impressions of World War I CSPAN April 21, 2018 7:00pm-8:01pm EDT
athlete. and i just continue to do it .hrough college, in the pro's it just became a part of me. >> 2018 is the final year of the centennial of world war i and american history tv is marking the anniversary with numerous programs. up next, lasting impressions of world war i. the title of a press conference about the great work. this is the former joint chiefs of staff chair. the group takes questions and discusses how the war is remembered and lessons that can be drawn from it for modern military and political leaders. the national world war i museum and memorial and the national press club hosted this hour-long event.
good morning everyone, i am john hughes. i am your moderator for this president. we will talk about world war i. i want to introduce the panel. is here.ew naylor general richard myers is the president of kansas state university. he is a retired four-star general and he served as 15th chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. bestargaret macmillan is a selling author and historian of toronto. dr. michael nyberg is best-selling author in the department of national security and strategy. that is at the u.s. army war college. so we are going to start it out and go to q&a in a little bit.
first, we will have some brief opening comments from dr. naylor. matt: good morning. thank you for being here. after world war i was over there was a flurry of activity in the united states where memorials were built in small towns and large cities across the country. we don't know the exact cap. maybe as many as 10,000. in kansas city, missouri there was a response that has shaped much of our work. in 1919, in a 10 day. , the city responded to this outpouring of expression by raising $2.5 million in 10 days. that is the equivalent of $40 million.
fundraising were that easy today, we would be very pleased. that led to the building of a memorial that was opened by resident calvin coolidge in 1926. that became the de facto national world war i memorial. in scale it would only be second to the washington monument it footprint the exceeding that of the lincoln memorial. it is one of the world's largest war memorials. sometimes people ask if there is really much interest in the united states in world war i. this is particularly a case of the -- of the european press will ask the question of us. what we know is that there is a division of interest in world war i, this is the national world war i resume and memorial and it has increased by 63% when
compared to 2013. that indicates to us that that there is a divan of interest, but i have a nine people a year come to the museum and memorial. congress in 2014 as the national memorial. we join with others across the globe in commemorating, remembering and learning. we enter this final year of the commemoration and we seek to draw attention to the enduring impact of the war. how the one was a reshaped by world war i and its lasting legacies. so we invite you to be part of that conversation. there is a great deal of interest across the country in
its -- in the impact of this work. so thank you and i would forward to the conversation. what's thank you, let me ask a general question. i do think americans think of world war i? how do they remember it? it seems we have unique memories when we talk about vietnam, world war ii, korea, i was world war i different than the others and -- and how we as americans think of it? >> i am a canadian, so. [laughter] i think american memories are shifted by the first wave of memory that came in the 1930's and early 1940's. matt mentioned all those memorials. some are quite striking. was a 1930's there begins, it isn't
going to be worthy of sacrificing. an american memory that the war was worth fighting but the piece that came out of it did not justify that sacrifice. i don't think that has ever really gone away any american memory of the first world war. contrast to the second one war in which americans believe that the piece did achieve what it what it to achieve. so i think there are two things going on. the initial memory and then this reinforcement by the second world war. i think that still has a very strong hold on america. >> i would only add that i think --is i will be generational probably general issue -- generational. to the young generations, that was so long ago that it is agent history to them. that is one of the beauties of the museum.
people learn the lessons as they can. there are a lot of bad lessons there about how you get into those kinds of conflicts. people need to know that. ofy need to know the context when they are voting, when they're electing politicians. they have to have this as backdrop to understand how things can go wrong. i think it is generational. i think the fact that we are in the commemoration of the hundreds anniversary is important. learnk there is a lot to from world war i. what about the museum sets you up to describe the experience of world war i and be a unique storyteller or interpreter of that war? especially for those of us who have not yet been there?
i'm for many of us are going to really try to make an effort to get there but tells a little bit about how to tell the story. >> the museum began collecting in 1920. the second oldest collecting institution of world war i archives. not the deepest collection but the broadest collection. we collect encyclopedic way. encyclopedicly. unpack theing to complexity of the was understanding of world war i. it is a messy war. understands easy to why it happened. what we do there is unpack the store in a way that makes it very accessible. also, globally because of the scope of the collection which is
ours. it is a very different experience. the united states is not mentioned until halfway through the main gallery exhibitions. matt: it does a spectacular job of showing the u.s. story as well. that is not the core focus. the museum began exhibiting in 1926. some the community rallied again. they raised $10 million for a new museum to be built. >> we are observing in centennial -- the centennial. are there any special exhibitions or events that we should hear about? john: in addition to what we are doing here today to commemorate
the centennial? matt: there is a sense of some of the global response. we have a robust exhibition on public programming schedule. currently we have a number of exhibitions and special exhibitions. this is paired with a conversation about the detection and protection of chemical weapons in world war i and up through more recent times. what is striking about that exhibition is that ordinarily, art is exhibited with other art. this is the only other time that this painting will be exhibited with objects. to see the gas masks and the protective clothing which was used and then see this monumental painting of the soldiers who are so profoundly
impacted, it is very moving. in the middle of the year we will be opening an exhibition called for liberty, the american jewelers experience in world war i. exhibitions, other very robust public programming including a conversation with general myers and the ceo -- in a couple of weeks as it relates to chemical weapons. the two most writing images coming out of world war i are trenches and gas. here we are, living with the ongoing threat of the use of chemical weapons, this is a contemporary conversation for us. margaret: i think how people remember the war depends on the country they are in. the russians are not remembering it much.
the german to memorization has been very low-key. but what has been interesting has been an attempt to make it across boundaries. it was a global war and countries involved in it all suffer the effects in some way or another. the french and the germans did a lot of memorialization together. britishgerman and singers sang together at a commemorative service on the western front. i think that has been important. country of canada, the war is seen as an important step toward independence. we tend to remember in a favorable way. i think we remember the harvest. in a sense, it is true of australia. what the british done is striking. they have made it both a grassroots thing -- they have
encouraged school children. they have encouraged local projects, they have encouraged contemporary projects. this is an external re-think. i have some of the displays around england. there has been a very interesting artistic program. they have contemporary artists doing things. in the first world where they had these battleships. they got contemporary artists to paint ships in london and liverpool and elsewhere. it has been quite clever. i think they have been trying to link it to the president. i think the british have done the fullest of all the commemorations. they have done on so many different levels. did a couple compasses in portugal and spain and the netherlands. looking at the impact on the first world war on countries that were either neutral or had
a plate -- or they played a relatively small role like portugal, even of a country lifespan may have stayed out of it, it is enormously important leading to the dictatorship of franco at all these things that are easily traceable back to a war in which spain tried to remain neutral. this was true of india, africa, the middle east, they were deeply impacted by the war. sense of the war as a global phenomenon, it had massive impacts. someone: when you go to -- somewhere and look at the names, he was the indian names, australian names on the graves. one million indian soldiers bought in the middle east and the western front. it is massive movement of population around the world. what that had was an effect on the empires. people went home and said people
on superior. you really get a boost to nationalist movements. >> i took my first world war collective at the army war college. reason he wanted to take it was because his grandfather was a soldier in the french army. that was fascinating. john: i will ask one more museum question and then i will ask about the war itself and then we will turn to the room are some itself,s but the museum how do you differ from other museums and your approach? many in the surmount museums and more museums, wonderful museums down in new orleans, how does your approach to her? >> a couple of ways, the first is that we are global in our orientation. that differs significantly from the australian war memorial. aremusings in french which
primarily pro-. they tell the empire or nation's story. sometimes you wanted was was in the war. sometimes we seek to engage audiences. one of the reasons we have had such significant uptick in attendance in the galleries but also, massive increases in engagement and public programming is that we seek to explore the enduring impact of the war. whatever objective is to do is to find many points of entry for people to think about this. we, the orientation that this war reshaped the world in the extraordinary ways. the united states had a profound impact and has been referenced by my colleagues. impact, locally is extraordinary. consequently, there are many
ways that we can access the conversation whether we talk about wine or tattoos or specific military types of conversation. our intent is to find ways in which people can think about and remember through this work of memory and also understand its enduring impact for many other the general articulated. i think that is a differentiator from our colleagues that often inquire into this extraordinary uptick in attendance, more than 63% over that. and we'll have our largest margin history. so that is encouraging as well. it seems to me that is perhaps it in summary. >> was started the war and how has our thinking about what started the war changed? it seems when i was younger there was emphasis on a single
event and now that is very different. so talk about that. >> it has been estimated at arething like 30,000 works on the first world war. there is no consensus. there is absolutely none. a number of people. i written a book myself on it. what we concluded is that there would never be an answer. it depends when you're looking at, it depends on how far back you go. back, you look at the rise of russia which was developing and becoming a major power. and becoming a major power. you look at grand causes, you look at national robberies, you look at economic rivalries. you look at the decisions that were made in june and july and you still can't come up with a clear answer.
we can do that with the second was aware. the origins of the second world war take up that much space. the origins of the first world war go on forever. we know why the second world war happened. certain people and countries wanted it to happen. this is not a good answer. i can't point to one thing. sometimes i say was all caps is followed. it was all canada's fault. >> we have tried to make this war seem as ancient and as unknowable as possible by poking -- all -- hooking it all on the assassination of an archduke that nobody cared about. i have high school students who will say circle c because that's what your teacher wants but it is not right. the second thing that is critical, what i think happened, what i believe happened is the
european and international system had soup -- about crises before. the problem was the crisis had started in the summer of 1914 and their system wasn't the to do with it. what they got was a crisis they weren't ready to handle. when i talked to didn't at the army war college were colonels and diplomats and senior leaders in the u.s. defense establishment, that is the lesson i want them to come away with. it is entirely possible you are planning and preparing for a and the crisis you get is z. create enormous dislocations. that is what happened in the summer of 1914. that is as quickly as i can answer that question. richard: i had to go up against academics. i had to speak on this at a
university out west. this is a question that you may want to try to start with. i found an interesting quote. it will be interesting for this group and then i have an observation. is that the origins of world war i, this may not be correct but this is what he said. no tourism, nationalism, economic imperialism but here's the part i thought was interesting. aggravateder press every little question until it became a crisis. i'm notably that the press is such an import part of our democracy. i thought that was interesting. i thought that was interesting. as chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, the media as an echo chamber as we go to afghanistan and iraq, sometimes it was helpful, sometimes it was not. of thends on the quality journalist doing the work. the thing that struck me and all of this was that the system
wasn't prepared for the set of dynamics that were emerging. to me that comes down to diplomacy not having a chance to work. you can see the number of u.s. military leaders that the mold the fact that our state department today was not as strong as it was previously and i think that's as is up -- sets us up. if we don't have the strong diplomatic relations around the world, things can get. quickly out of hand. so you think about the south china sea and you think about what china is doing on those the rocks. are you just a spark away from something? do you have to have really close relationships between the united states and china? that is the hope, that you can keep it from escalating. i would say the diplomacy is extremely important today as it
was 100 years ago. it didn't meet the task. i don't know if they agree with me. margaret: of course we agree with you, we would not do not. is something in what michael said as well. if you had a series of crises and you got through them that can lead to a dangerous complacency. they had a series of crises. there was one in 1908 over bosnia that austria annexed. they attacked the ottoman empire in north africa which caused a of talk of war. the danger is that you have a very small area with lots of local rivalries with big powers interested. that is dangerous, it is it that combination. 1913 andher war in every time there was talk of war and mobilization, an attempt to
push the other, it appeared to work. in 1914,crisis haven't people said it is just another crisis in the balkans amma we have done this, the russians will probably move us on calorie to the frontiers. the germans will call up a couple of extra soldiers. the austrians will stop now supplies. this was always dug put pressure on the other side and let them know you are watching. it got out of control. it ran away. it comes down to those who had to make decisions. you had very weak leaders who were pressured by the military to take action. they knew there was a danger of a general war and they reach the point where they were gamblers. the german high command and the austrian high command, the russian high command, they were gambling. they knew they would probably get into a long war. they thought we have to go for it.
combination ofad the complacency was really dangerous. >> this is what i mean. oute were these long drawn -- they took months to settle. there were always settled peacefully. the big crisis is not the assassination of the archduke. michael: the big crisis is intria-hungary issuing this july. that is what scared everybody. diplomacy can't work in 48 hours. it just can't do it. when people react to crises, it is easy to do. you can go to the newspapers at this time. nobody cared. it is the way that austria reacted to this fairly minor thing that freak everybody out. your point. it is not the incident, it is the way that individuals decide to react to them. that is the lesson i try to get
to my students. it might not be something big. it could be something that seems fairly inconsequential that people just respond to poorly. might not bem built to handle it. i think that margaret's point about complacency -- 100%. you can see it in the letters, diaries, their editorials. even the armies are starting to move to the frontiers to begin combat. they are saying this is how it is going to work out. we are going to be fine. you can see that there is panic in the morning newspapers and then they say everything will be up. right until the minute where the army's stock to class. . agree with margaret 40 hours after those armies started to class, they knew they screwed up. they knew what they got themselves into. now the question is how we get ourselves out of it. that is impossible to answer. that takes four years and 8 million dead to do.
matt: even some of the parallels that we see today, the memorial is to tell the story of what happened 100 years ago. there is this ongoing impact and influence. definitive ortoo around contemporary parallels, you're given thought to this. i wonder if you reflect on some of those. >> they are all rather depressing. if you don't mind, but struck me is -- i talk about the origins of the first world war. what struck me is how often people asked that question, what is happening now that is like that? i was in danger of having another war like that? there is enough to get you worried. are seeing a fraying of an international order, a growth and suspicion.
andse in public opinion certain countries that are nationalistic and intolerant and pushes its own government. i am very worried about the rhetoric in hungary today. only the hungarians remember the treaty under which they lost their territory after the first world war. they remember it and they are asking right-wing crazies and nationalist about undoing this. that sort of talk can be dangerous. a dangere are seeing to states taking unilateral action against the disapproval of other states. there was an agreement that nobody would try to destroy the ottoman empire. but the look around and ask why? they got away with it. seems to be very worried, he seems to have gotten away with it. who is going to do it next? sample -- ie the
think that is worrying. i think it is also worrying when you get this in europe. people are saying that a war is probably going to come. once you say that it makes it more likely. you begin to expect the other side to say. war in july of 1914 they went -- were not looking at the other side. they were saying the russians were bent to do this. they stop looking at what the russians were actually doing. i think we're running into a danger now of assuming there will be a war. you have to start thinking about it. that means that everything that happens, take the united states and china, if you begin to talk in terms of -- there is bound to be a work, they will feed into that assumption. they will begin to say it is evident that this is what is coming. i find this very dangerous. it is not the same as 1914. i think there is enough to be
careful and one is a little bit. michael: i was talking to general myers about this. i was teaching a lesson on world war i and what might -- what i'm doing instead is so the rapid change in information technology is a problem in 1914, as it is today. the beliefs and actions of nonstate actors is a problem. terrorism. international finance as a coercive tool. i agree with margaret. this can get you really depressed really fast, if you let it go further. there are also ways, i hope, where if we understand what happened 100 years ago, you can at least see the warning signs coming. this is another reason why the museum is so important, why public attention to the war is so important, in the centennial. i am getting more cynical about the lessons of history as i get older, but there is a lot to learn, a life that can help shape our minds if we go back with fresh eyes and try to understand it.
if i could get a military perspective on that, general, in terms of 1914 versus today, from a military perspective, and how likely it is we could get drawn into a military conflict, when you think about the south china iran, are, crimea, these things potential boiling points for military action, or is there something different today in the way we use the military and think about the military that maybe the comparison doesn't work as well? richard: i think the military today thinks about all these things. they are reasonably well-educated, a lot of them at the army war college, and other places around the world. i think they understand this. are there potential hotspots? absolutely. to pick up on margaret's part a
little bit, when i retired as the chairman in 2005, president bush put a lot of emphasis on good relations with both china exquisite, and we had relationships with the russian, i would call them exquisite. their nco's were coming to our nco school in germany. that was a big deal for them, to come to that school. you start building relationships thehe nco level, through general officer level, through secretaries of defense. that has progressed from when the wall came down to the time i left office, and it seemed pretty good for a long while. now the relations are really cold. they have cooled off. i think it has been pretty much russia's choice in most respects, but those
relations are important. those conversations are important. when i host my russian counterpart here, the conversations we have, the dinner we have, the music that we share, those are important things that enable the conversation to continue and perhaps avoid misperceptions, or at least overcome some of the mistrust. same thing in china. i made several trips to china when i was chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. i think that still happens, but there has been a cooling of that relationship. we were thinking of all sorts of ways we could collaborate, coordinate, do things in asia-pacific. i think we still do some of that, but it has cool ed a little bit. i think that is important. i think our military understands that.
the military is certainly thoughtful. it is up to the politicians to make these decisions, so the advice they get in the u.s., from the joint chiefs of staff, from the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, is highly important, and i have a great deal of faith in our current chairman. never, but ir say don't think the foundational relationships we have had over time, they are not as good as they once were, i will just say that. have nosia-pacific, we overall security arrangement. we have individual arrangements and treaties, but we don't have anything like nato out there, which inhibits the ability to resolve some of these thorny issues. john: i want to turn to the audience for questions. i don't know if we have a microphone. we do have a microphone.
if you could before you ask your thetion state your name and organization we are with, and we will go from there. right in the front -- >> i am a freelance journalist and writer. i was hoping the panel could reflect on the significance of the novichok assassination attempt in london, and what that means relative to the centennial we are in, the unraveling of the treaty that is indirectly the result of world war i. a classic case of what i said earlier. not so much the incident has how states respond to it. i was in d.c. two years ago when the security guard in turkey shot a turkish politician. i don't remember all the details. my phone started buzzing. do you think this will trigger a war? i was getting phone calls from journalists, from everybody.
i said, nothing matters except how the states decide to respond, and my sense was the russians would not respond at all. i was right. , what happens next time i don't know. tensions are up, expelling diplomats. i read this morning russia may be retaliating by expelling journalists. what will matter is how states respond, not the event itself. margaret: i think the real response that would make a difference to russia is a financial one. there's a huge amount of russian money in real estate and elsewhere in the u.k., and the government has not forced any disclosure of anonymous owners, which a lot of people are calling for. that would sting. what strikes me, this may well be in a curious way a sign of putin's weakness. we see him as enormously powerful, but he basically depends on a group of thugs, rich thugs around him, and i am
not sure he always controls his own fsb or other security services. he can't go anywhere except russia. he has put a lot of money outside the country, but will he ever get to enjoy it? i think it's highly unlikely. s get may wealtho -- so it may well be that someone did this, like with becket, to please the king. maybe the king is not pleased, but he cannot disavow it now. that is even more worrying. it is perhaps a more brittle system then we sometimes think. i don't know what the others think. i am a freelance journalist. can you talk about the role of the united states in germany during and immediately after world war i? >> can you repeat the question? >> can you talk about the role of the united states in germany, american troops in germany
during and immediately after. because they did stay on for a while. michael: there were three semicircular bridgehead's over the rhine river to ensure germany would comply. american relations with german civilians were incredible good. that is true with both world wars. it worried the british and french a lot. american soldiers liked germans. the german civilians like the americans who were coming. they brought money. they smiled. all the things that americans do. the united states was the first of the great powers to say, we do not need this occupation bridgehead. we can shut it down. the united states, at least two major crises in those occupation areas with german civilians not doing what the french and british that they should do by the terms of the deal. this involved mining coal. it's complicated. rather than mine coal destined
for france, the german miners said, if it is going to france, we will not mine it, and the u.s. refused to force the germans to do anything. in both world wars, american occupation is very light, far too light for french and british tastes, especially after the first world war, but relations were generally extremely good. this is especially true for african-american soldiers, in france and germany, where they found the attitudes of the europeans to be far more enlightened than those of their own american officers and nco's. i will circle back to the previous question and margaret's point about the power putin may or may not have. at one comment i would make, least when i was still serving in government, in the military, there was always this perception of the united states, whatever
we did was intentional, well thought out, that we were in total control of what was happening out there, because we are a rich and powerful nation. in fact, a lot of things that happened were either mistakes made lower down, or other motivations that had nothing to do with the president or secretary of defense or the national security apparatus. i suspect that is true of all countries. we ascribe, generally because of our ignorance to russia, that putin is in charge, everybody salutes him, and whatever happens, it looks like it's a russian thing, putin must have been behind it. i am reminded when we worked basesakistan to establish for operations in afghanistan. in a trip over there, they started beating on me, you owe us $600 million. we moved military forces around
to meg ryan for your logistics operations. you promised us this money and you owe it. trying to explain what the richest country in the world could not pay their bill was difficult. they said, you can do that. you are the united states, after all. sometimes we ascribe these attributes to individuals when things are happening they may not want to happen. that's as likely as anything. i would just add that. sorry to go back. a member of the women's national democratic club. i was wondering, margaret, could you explain, from your book on the signing of the treaty of versailles, could to explain the asversations of the germans
they were signing this. did they say, this is just a break until the next war? can you explain the sentiments of the germans as they were signing this, and to make a lot of people who were there, intelligence personnel, think that this is a break until the next one? margaret: well, a lot of the french that it was a break as well before the next one, because germany came out of the first world war. is lost. lost on the battlefield. if you look at the terms of the armistice, a complete surrender. they surrender all heavy equipment, fleets, everything. but if french were concerned. they looked to germany, and germany thanks to the disappearance of the russian empire in the east, germany's actually in a stronger strategic position. it no longer has russia on its
borders, which used to give the high command nightmares. a big, powerful country with a lot of smaller, less powerful countries to its east. an infrastructure that has barely been touched in the war, because very little fighting was on german soil. a higher birth rate than the french, so more german soldiers coming along in the future. the french are very concerned this is a temporary thing, that they will fight germany again, and they are concerned they aren't going to be to do it. france took the highest losses proportionate to its population for any country but serbia in the first world war, so the french are very concerned. a lot of the germans accepted defeat. it varied across the political spectrum, but on the left they were prepared to except the defeat. a lot of the right, partly because they tended to be associated with the military, did not really accept that defeat. the person the germans sent to head their delegation to paris was a hardliner, and made a very defiant speech, but the
government he represented was prepared to sign the treaty. the men who came to paris to sign the treaty, one was later assassinated by right-wing nationalists for having signed what was seen as a deeply shameful treaty. opinion varied in treaty. -- in germany. there were hard-liners who said we will fight again, but also germany.weariness in the war came to an end with massive demonstrations in germany and the overthrow of rule.mian if you look at what happened in the 1920's, which we now tend to see as a short jump into the 1930's, and the second world war, germany was governed by a fairly moderate coalition. it joined the league of nations. you can see a different outcome than the one that happened.
the 20's were so short, cut short by the great depression. in my view, that's the most important factor leading to the second world war. michael: there were a lot of americans who thought this was an interregnum. a lot of historians are teaching this as a second 30 years war, 1914 to 1945. william bullitt, who later became the first ambassador to the soviet union, quit the peace conference. he said, i will go to the south of france, lie on the sand and watch the world burn down. the american military advisor wrote a powerful letter to his wife. i don't know whether we will get peace or revolution over here. he that the best thing the u.s. can do is get ready for the second round that was inevitably coming. when i teach this, i try to teach folks. talk about the appeasement policies of the 1930's, but the initial attempt of those was to right what
people thought was wrong in the treaties, british, french and americans as much as germans. john: anybody else? >> i work for the army historical foundation. i was wondering for anyone on the panel, what impact do you think the writers of the lost generation had on the perception of the first world war, then and now? michael: first thing, tell your boss matt salinger to quit picking on my pittsburgh penguins. [laughter] when my daughter had to read "the great gatsby," i reread it with her. i was struck. every male character is defined by what they did in the first world war. nick and jay fought. jay famously pulls out the metal from montenegrin. tom buchanan, nick says something like, o of course tom went to franc, but for no particular reason, meaning he went as a tourist. fitzgerald fought, joint the
army but did not go to europe. the for -- war ended before he could go. he actually bought a trench hammer from somebody, hit it with a hammer to dent it, and kept it in his house. then the great depression comes. william faulkner does it in a couple stories. hemingway, famously. they are antiwar writers, but there's also a period in the 1920's that is not quite in that vein. the great gatsby, that is the thing that struck me. a complex relationship. margaret: i would add. we think of the great british war riders. sooned owen, secretes as assoon --ied sassoon, they are a small portion of those who wrote about the war. a a lot of writers wrote about it as something we needed to do.
it was difficult. i was reading one author who had a great war, found it absolutely fascinating. ourichael rightly says, perceptions have changed, and now the perception is that of a small number of writers. we always need to remember, things do change over time. not everybody hated it. far from it. michael: they could be anti-military without being antiwar. the great french writers tended to believe war was necessary. after all, germany invaded french soil. what they were critical of was the way the war was fought. john: a question over here? >> with national public radio. any message you think should be when the, or event, hundredth anniversary of the end of the war comes in november? or will it all be consumed with debate about the president's parade? [laughter] any particular message you would
like to see that is not widely enough known, on the 100th anniversary? michael: the 100th anniversary that will coincide with the parade is only the end of the shooting. 1914 tont out, that 1918 period, for a lot of parts in the world, the war did not stop on november 11, 1918. it did not stop for the great powers, either. one reason germany is so angry, great britain kept its naval blockade up until they signed the treaty of for site, which meant no food or medicine in the middle of a flu epidemic are getting to the german people. herbert hoover, to his great credit, tried to do something about that. this will sound like an academic having had too much coffee, but i will focus on, november 11,
1918 doesn't anything -- end anything. i am reminded of the famous line, wars are never over, conflicts are just managed thereafter. a historian in ireland wrote about these wars after the first world war that persist into the 1920's. it is my hope that we do not say, we talked about world war i, now we don't have to do it anymore. whats museum, my hope is we say, we have been able to demonstrate the fundamental importance of this event over the last four years. now we have to continue understanding and exploring it. matt: people sometimes ask me, what do you do to end the commemoration? we say, we never end the commemoration. we see this as an opportunity to tap into people's interest in anniversaries. there's a populist interest in moments.
this is one of those moments where we can draw attention to a number of things. the sacrifice of the united states, for example, to a u.s. audience. the fact the biggest battles in american military history occurred during world war i. we are able to draw attention to the enormous complexity of keeping the peac and failure at doing thate,, and then continue that conversation. we see this as an opportunity to heighten people's awareness to the environment in which we live today, the complexities of life. richard: from a military perspective, i would hope that people would reflect on the importance of international organizations that help with international order. butu.n. is imperfect,
probably one of the things preconflict,s post-conflict. they are not very good during conflict, in my opinion, but they can be very useful pre-conflict and post-conflict. people reflect on that. when i say international organizations, that would encompass in my mind all the diplomatic functions different countries have, and that ability to continue to have dialogue, even though the system might be stressed in some way or another. i think, i think the other thing is, and i will probably be the only one on the panel to say it, but if it is said weakness is provocative, you have to have a strong military as well. i with think strength -- would think strength might be just the thing that keeps you from having to have conflict. i think that's not just true for the united states but for all
countries in the world. they have to reflect on that. if they are weak, people will take advantage of their position. one that is a little more tactical, but important as well. a a lot of politicians will be thinking about this year, one of the big lessons we learned out of world war i, military lessens, is that you pretty much have to have unity of command or you will put a lot of people's lives at risk, and kill them, frankly. so, at least unity of effort. somewhere there. think about, how if we go to war, god forbid, that we think about that. international organizations would be way up there. all the ones that can promote peace. baltimore hayes, post-examiner. general, you were talking about
organizations, also nato, and the fact we don't have a nato dealing with china right now, that that may be a problem. i was wondering if the panel could discuss briefly the impact of the treaties that existed in the first world war, and if that did or did not basically put everyone in the bus going off the cliff at the same time? margaret: i can say something about the treaties in the first world war. h thing about international treaties is always enforcement. there is nobody you can appeal to to say, this person did not live up to the treaty. if you have a mutual defensive alliance with germany, austria, hungary, it found reason not to accept the terms with that treaty, decide of the war was not genuinely a defensive one, which could be argued. i think the treaties are sometimes blamed too much. britain had no defensive alliances, but it had
understandings, and you can argue understandings are often as important as alliances, but if a nation doesn't want to live up to the terms of its treaty, particularly in war and peace, it can usually find an excuse not to do it. what was much more important in the outbreak of the first world war was the whole issue of national pride. if we back down, we will look weak. wanting not to appear weak. credibility, we call it today. they talked about honor in those days. st. petersburg said, if we don't baxter via -- back serbia, we will not be a great power. austria-hungary or was saying, if we let serbia get away with this, we will not be a great power. that is probably more important than the actual treaty arrangement. i don't know if michael would possibly disagree. michael: i would just add, treaties and alliances and structures like this work when interests are all moving in the same direction. britain and france have a shared
interest in keeping germany from the southern end of the inlet channel. france has the most obvious interest, repelling an invasion. there is no special relationship between the u.s. and britain in world war ii, except where interests overlap. italy took one look at this and said, there's nothing in the agreements we sign that says we have to do this. it is much more complicated than people sometimes want. the line that i use, there's a five-minute way to explain the origins of the first world war, and a one semester way, and there's not much between that holds water. the alliances are one way to put the five-minute way in, but it doesn't actually work. john: go ahead. >> thank you very much. comments earlier
made me feel good about the military's role in playing a diplomatic role in the world. it makes me wonder. at the time of 1912, were the militaries talking to each other, or did they rely entirely upon their diplomatic corps? margaret: the british and french were talking to each other, for sure. they also knew each other's plans. there is a wonderful spy thriller sort of movie, and the german spy who met a french spy on a french railway train, wrapped in bandages to disguise his appearance, and handed over the german plans. they could tell. moving hundreds of millions of men is not something you can hide. the germans were building frontiers, small villages on the frontiers, and they had railway platforms much longer than anything the village needed. the bridges over the rhine were being reinforced. the french had a good idea of where the german invasion would come. i think they knew a good deal
about what each side was planning. colonelre spies, the selling the austrian war plans to russians for years, and nobody noticed he was living at a standard way above his army pay. i think most of the stuff was known. you cannot really hide it, moving such a vast numbers. michael: part of why the war becomes what it becomes. they are what historians would call perfectly symmetrical militaries. same doctrine, same equipment, so just two forces hitting each other. i will give a talk about the desert war in the middle east in world war i, which is asymmetr ic. but there's no surprises. everybody knows everybody else. they are perfectly symmetrical, which is why they end up in this situation. one of the reasons. michael: we have reached the one the mark, and i 20 say,
national press club was founded generaland in 1919 blackjack pershing, an associate member of the national press club, started an american legion post, post 20 here at the club, which currently continues -- proudly continues operating to this day. over the past 100 years, particularly 90 years ago, 80 years ago, there was a great deal of discussion about world war i at the national press club, and i know many of my colleagues who have since gone on to eternity would be very happy to know that here in 2018, the national press club is still having a great discussion on world war i. so i want to thank these panelists for making that happen today here at the club. let's give them a round of applause. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2018] [captioning performed by the
national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> you are watching american history tv, all weekend every weekend on c-span3. to join the conversation, like us on facebook at c-span history. >> next on lectures in history, colorado college professor amy kohout teaches a class on nuclear weapons testing in the u.s. in the 1950's and 60's and how it impacted the environment. tests, protests against nuclear testing, and current debates over where to store nuclear waste. her class is about one hour. morninghout: good