There is certainly a case for arguing that the ultimatum Austria-Hungary issued Serbia with following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand by the Serbian patriot Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo was designed not only to humiliate Serbia, but also to ensure that Serbia couldn’t comply with all ten conditions without effectively relinquishing its sovereignty. The rest is, of course, history, and we stumbled not into David Cameron’s “something captivating” war, but into that savage imperial bloodbath, into Wilfred Owen’s “gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs, Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud”, war.
John Kerry has given Damascus a week to hand over its chemical weapons and Marx’s “history repeats itself, “the first as tragedy, then as farce” might come to mind if it were not for the fact that what we have here is indeed more of a tragedy and less of a farce. Of course, this is not to say that the regime doesn’t have chemical weapons. After all,there is at least some evidence that good old ‘Blighty’ was delivering the sarin agent to Syria as late as 2010. Moreover, it doesn’t really matter that even now we are no closer to knowing as to whether the regime actually used chemical weapons or not.
No, it is the farce, which is indeed a tragedy, that matters. Here we have an ultimatum, which makes that issued by Austria-Hungary in 1914 almost “reasonable”. Quite simply how is Syria supposed to hand over these weapons within a week? Something which is extremely difficult to say the least, if not logically impossible. Oh, and has Mr Kerry a suggestion as to who they should be handed to? The hypocrites grasp at straws as their pretext finds itself under attack and the provocation ……… ? Well, already seen, déjà vu, and just as Austria-Hungary would have its pound of flesh by hook or by crook back in 1914, even if it meant the carnage that was World War 1, the mad men in Washington and elsewhere will have their war, no matter what.