History Echoes as Trump Heads to Armistice Day Centennial
The turbulent aftermath of World War I informs our current woes and reminds us of the potency of nationalism, the attraction of authoritarianism, the risks of economic fragmentation, the temptations.. cfr.org
On Sunday French President Emmanuel Macron will host President Donald J. Trump and eighty other leaders in Paris to commemorate the centennial of Armistice Day. They will gather at the Arc de Triomphe at the moment the guns fell silent on the Western front—at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. It will be an occasion for both mourning and reflection. Statesmen and women will honor the millions slaughtered in the “war to end all wars,” from the muddy trenches of the Somme to the bloody beaches of Gallipoli. They will also hear history reverberate, from 1918 to our own troubled times.
World War I has never enjoyed the hallowed reputation of World War II. It lacked a clear good-versus-evil narrative. It ended in stalemate and recrimination. Rather than enduring peace, it birthed political and economic instability. By contrast, “the good war” brought the unconditional surrender of fascism, launched an era of freedom and prosperity, and birthed a slew of global institutions.
And yet it is 1918 and its turbulent aftermath—rather than 1945—that informs our current woes. The last combatant of the Great War was interred years ago, but the legacy of the conflict endures. It reminds us of the potency of nationalism, the attraction of authoritarianism, the risks of economic fragmentation, the temptations of American isolationism, and the fragility of multilateralism.
Lessons in forgiveness, a century after World War One
Analysis | Trump’s nationalism looms over Europe’s WWI commemoration -Europe’s divisions, cheered on by Trump, hang over a ceremony about remembrance and unity. washingtonpost.com