Remembering World War I: Professors revisit historical time period

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At Pacific University on Sept. 29, visiting Professor Michael Neiberg gave a lecture about the general theories of how World War I had happened on the historical timeline. This was a timely topic, as 2014 is the 100-year anniversary of the start of WWI. He gave out three general theories, the structural explanation, the bad leadership explanation and the continuation theory.

Neiberg agreed with the continuation theory, which is not a theory of how the First World War was caused, but rather a theory of how the this war has effected the balance of the

world afterwards.
History Professor Richard Jobs

agreed with many of the facts presented by Neiberg. He added that the first World War acted as an accelerator in the process of modernization of gender roles, suffrage, civil society, propaganda and the expansion of state power. Troops of different classes within society interacted with each other in the trenches of the western front, while women were in charge of the financial support of the household. Governments in return needed to provide the propaganda to obtain support for their cause and provide the fiscal support for entire families whom because of the war lacked an income.

We must also remember that the first World War happened beyond the

western front.
Tim Yang, a professor in modern

Japanese History, stated that “almost all geopolitical issues of the 20th century come from World War I.”

Many colonies and countries beyond Europe were hoping that European powers would give some sense of autonomy or home rule to the colonies by fighting.

The mandate system effectively drew new lines in the Middle East and many other places around the world into conflicting borders meant to provide home rule after being under the supervision of a developed nation, creating in the future unpredicted geopolitical problems.

Being equally powerful to many imperial European countries after the

war, Japan pushed for a racial equality clause, but received only mandates of territory in former German colonies around the Pacific Ocean; providing the Japanese Empire with an almost unique presence in the Pacific Ocean and Northern China.

Tim Yang also agreed that the reduction of international trade forced Japan and many European colonies around the globe to start an effective process of industrialization that would have never been allowed before the war.

In effect, the “war to end all wars” broke European dominance around the world and its effective system within Europe, began an age of social and industrial change, and was in effect the beginning of the modern age.


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