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Sleepwalking into war

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By John Burton

Several years ago, Christopher Clark, a distinguished British historian, wrote a book called "The Sleepwalkers" about how Europe stumbled into World War I in the summer of 1914. He described how the assassination of the Austrian- Hungarian heir Archduke Franz Ferdinand, which was the trigger event for the war, was initially ignored by most of the international community. Britain was distracted by a political crisis and France was focused on a celebrity murder trial, for example.

Although the Balkans had long been known as the powder keg of Europe, there was an initial failure to realize that the looming conflict between Austria-Hungary and Serbia caused by the assassination would lead to dire consequences for the entire world.

Clark argues that no one really wanted to go to war but that a combination of hawkish statesmen and bureaucratic politics in each of the major European capitals created the conditions for a general continental war. He describes the key players as "sleepwalkers, watchful but unseeing, haunted by dreams, yet blind to the reality of the horror they were about to bring into the world."

I wonder if a similar dynamic is now taking place on the Korean Peninsula, which is a historical powder keg for East Asia, having been at the center of........

© The Korea Times

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