La guerre n'est jamais inéluctable !

CAMBRIDGE – Cette année marque le centième anniversaire d'un événement qui a transformé l'Histoire moderne, la Première Guerre mondiale qui a fait une vingtaine de millions de morts et affecté toute une génération de la jeunesse européenne. Ce conflit a aussi changé fondamentalement l'ordre international en Europe et au-delà.

La Grande guerre a détruit non seulement des vies, mais aussi trois empires (allemand, austro-hongrois et russe) et un quatrième à ses frontières avec l'écroulement de l'ordre ottoman. Jusqu'à la Première Guerre mondiale, le centre de gravité de l'équilibre mondial se trouvait en Europe. Après elle, les USA et le Japon ont émergé comme grandes puissances. Elle a aussi marqué le début de la révolution bolchevique de 1917, ouvert la voie au fascisme et intensifié et élargi les batailles idéologiques qui ont entraîné des drames au 20° siècle.

Comment une telle catastrophe a-t-elle pu se produire ? Peu après le début du conflit, interrogé sur son explication de ce qui s'était produit, le chancelier allemand Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg a répondu : "Si seulement je le savais !". Peut-être pour dégager sa responsabilité, a-t-il fini par considérer la guerre comme inévitable. De même, le ministre britannique des Affaires étrangères, Sir Edward Grey, a déclaré qu'il "en est venu à penser qu'aucun homme à lui tout seul n'aurait pu l'empêcher".

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