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WWI at 100: What It Meant for the Future of Cities

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Kim Davis
Kim Davis  
8/28/2014 3:02:16 PM
User Rank Staff
Re: World War I at 100
...urban warfare -- was a fair practice.

To point out something fairly obvious, the targeting of cities wasn't just intended to terrorize and intimidate, although it certainly had that effect.  Theindustrial revolution of the previous century had concentrated important industries in urban areas: factories and docks were in areas with highly concentrated populations.  The East End of London was relentlessly bombed, partly to break the will of the population (didn't work, so there), but also partly to destroy the docks.

Davedgreat2000
Davedgreat2000  
8/18/2014 11:02:15 AM
User Rank Urban Legend
Re: World War I at 100
In Traditional warfare soldiers wouldnt occupy cities, most fighting was uaually centered in forests, jungles and deserts. Today these fighters know they cant win out in the open, so they hide behind civillian buildings, people, schools and Hospitals. The rules of war no longer apply. The Geneva Convention doesnt apply to these fighters as they were never a party to it, nor do they really care. To them the Ends Justify the means.

kq4ym
kq4ym  
8/18/2014 8:20:14 AM
User Rank Urban Legend
Re: World War I at 100
Even though technology seems to allow less destruction of civilians and their property, I wonder if it's not really going to work out to their benefit as soldiers place their weapons and personnel in the middle of populated areas. We're seeing that today around the world, and one wonders if part of tactical warfare is to create fear by the use of guieded missles and drones to destroy cities blocks or groups of homes within civilian areas.

Resurgent phoenix
Resurgent phoenix  
8/17/2014 8:54:26 PM
User Rank City Slicker
Re: World War I at 100
Scott, The picture of Liege made me think of the walls of Jericho falling down as that City was destroyed n ancient times. The article "it could happen again" made me think of a saying, peace, peace and then the beginning of the end will come. I have a friend who saw WWI and WWII she said it is worse now because people are so mean. Reading the comments in this blog we are going to have larger concentrations of people in a smaller area, with better weapons and less morals. My Ukrainian friend said...it might be better to be the one executed rather than suffer and go mad like some people in Liege.

Resurgent phoenix
Resurgent phoenix  
8/17/2014 8:23:37 PM
User Rank City Slicker
Re: World War I at 100
Thanks, I hope your words will be heard and complied with.

jtpeterson
jtpeterson  
8/14/2014 4:44:19 PM
User Rank Village Voice
Re: World War I at 100
The article your referenced was very good. In one of my former lives as a professional intelligence officer I spent a fair amount of time with one of the scientists who was witness to several atomic and nuclear explosions, starting with the Gadget at Trinity Site in New Mexico. His words of advice were that he believed that that every five years or so every world leader should be compelled to witness a 1 kiloton device explode. He was firmly convinced that by witnessing the terror of an actual aerial detonation, no one would ever consider using such a weapon and that many would immediately stop their plans to acquire the technology. Surprisingly, his sentiments were echoed by nearly every living witness I ever talked with, no matter their nationality. Their only hesitation was concerning those leaders who were not rational. Unfortunately, there are far too many of those leaders in the world.

Until irrational leaders are eliminated (illuminated?), we need to wake up and stop sleepwalking.

Scott Ferguson
Scott Ferguson  
8/14/2014 4:24:54 PM
User Rank Urban Legend
Re: World War I at 100
@jtpeteron: Thanks for the comment on the story. I would suggest, in this case, you check out Roger Cohen's article in the Atlantic on whether the scenario of WWI could happen again. You can find it here:

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/08/yes-it-could-happen-again/373465/

On the issue of diplomacy, MacMillian, in her book, writes a great deal about how many of the European powers believed that diplomacy could overcome issues. They had examples to fall back on, including the various Balkan conflicts in the years just before the start of WWI. However, the European continent had been at peace for at least 50 years as a whole, and a rising middle class seemed to want to support it.

One creeping issue was the building, and eventual deployment, or much greater weapons and the desire to conduct a quick, offensive war. When WWI actually started, it quickly turned into a defensive struggle where we saw cities pulled into the fight and eventually the string of trenches, most notably along the Western Front.

jtpeterson
jtpeterson  
8/14/2014 2:40:44 PM
User Rank Village Voice
Re: World War I at 100
Not only could it happen again, but I believe it will happen again. In my opinion, the real lesson comes from the title of Clark's book – we are sleepwalkers. I believe the greatest failing of modern diplomacy is the attempt to ignore the passions and beliefs of the parties involved in favor of pure rationalization. The failure to consider the role of the deep religious and secular beliefs involved allows the perception that diplomacy is actually being accomplished, just as a sleepwalker performs activities normally associated with full consciousness. The danger lies in the complexity of the activity; attempting diplomacy while ignoring belief systems is like driving a car on the freeway while sleepwalking. Beliefs are what put civilians at risk, whether driven by the economics of war, the passions of religion, or the bigotry of societies, war between dissimilar societies has always included the targeting of civilians. There are four strikingly different civilizations vying for their role in the world order. Western society with its rational secular beliefs, Russia with its expansionist dreams of its former Soviet glory, China with its new found economic and military might, and the rising Islamist Caliphate with its deep-rooted faith (surprisingly mainstream to the unfamiliar, it is not as extremist as the West is led to believe) are all capable of using nuclear weapons either offensively or defensively today. I believe we are sleepwalking through a very dangerous world.

ashepard
ashepard  
8/14/2014 1:13:47 PM
User Rank Urban Legend
Lesson's lost makes me cry
Diplomacy has taught us much. @Scott - yes manipulation is just as pervasive.  Human condition and evils have not changed. 
  We are not living underground like morlocks as WW I seemed to suggest. 

  I morn lessons lost. Yes London still has the tube as bomb shelter but many cities have lost civil defense. With glass comes danger. 

  Bigger cities depend on remote power generation. Modern cities are not green enough. Higher densities bring higher densities. Translation - more people create more sewage and trash. Cut off the power, the water, the cable, the internet and even destroy the government and war machines. People will still flush the toilet, err leu (sp?)  They will still create trash and leave behind refuse that rats and vermin thrive upon. 

  Future cities should be safer - bomb shelters. On site power generation is more efficient and adds resilience. Trained emergency response citizens add strength. These folks are called CERT – citizen emergency response teams. (FEMA effort in the U.S.A. http://www.fema.gov/community-emergency-response-teams) FirstNet are trained IT (Information technology) expert.  Guess what – the U.S. Department of defense will build roads, give water and cure a sick horse but they will not provide internet access.

   Plan what your future city will be like. By the way – the same plan for a bomb blast also works for  a flood, fire, tornado or hurricane. Planning is cost effective. Just ask those who did not. Seriously. 

Scott Ferguson
Scott Ferguson  
8/14/2014 11:28:33 AM
User Rank Urban Legend
Re: Northern Ireland and Britain
@CitySolver: Several really good points here, and I hope a couple of other people will join in to debate them. I can't speak much for Gaza, but in relation to the blog post, the so-called "Irish Problem" was very much on the minds of Britain's leaders when WWI started. Actually, there were more concerns about that in 1914 then what was happening on the Continent. You can then see how long it took them to get to the 1990s and the peace accords. Having traveled to Northern Ireland myself, it's a wonderful place and much different from the early 1900s, as well as the years of the Troubles there. However, many of the scars of that time remain. 

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