MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti political commentator Dmitry Kosyrev) - The First World War ended exactly 90 years ago - in peace, as all wars do. That peace was the first attempt in history to establish a truly global control system which would not allow a repetition of a global war.
The aim of that new world order's major ideologue, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, was to make the world "safe for democracy." He initiated the League of Nations (LoN), which was to "end all wars."
That attempt was a failure. Is it important to remember why it happened and how repeated errors could have been avoided? Yes, it is as important now as ever before.
Today the world's leading powers are preoccupied with exactly the same issues as after 1918: They are setting up a new global system of international relations control. It is already clear that since 1991 world powers have been wasting time. Assuming that during the Cold War the world was effectively controlled (by fear and U.S.-Soviet agreements the powers stuck to), today it looks completely chaotic, with the United Nations being of no use.
Two examples are particularly vivid: Americans prepared the Taliban so that they would exhaust the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. But the Taliban then turned their anger on their former masters, which lead to 9/11. In Georgia, Americans prepared Saakashvili's government for the same mission - but he played a dirty trick on them by attacking South Ossetia on August 7-8. In both cases great powers turned out impotent.
The global control reform's financial aspect will be discussed at the G20 meeting in Washington late this week. And then, at the G8 summit in Italy next summer, it is most likely that the G8 will be expanded: several key powers, without which it is impossible to control the world - China, India, Brazil and others - will probably join it. Then a new Politburo will be established, with the G8 regaining influence and power. But the process, of course, will not finish with that.
It is going to be a reform of the system that developed after the Second World War and proved ineffective after 1991. Why then dwell on the First World War? Usually, when the bitter lessons of the post-war world order are analyzed, it is noted that Germany should not have been treated so unfairly in 1918. The nation's humiliation leveraged the Nazi regime into power, which resulted in a catastrophe. That error has not been repeated since.
In fact, the Second World War began before 1941, and even before 1939, and not in Europe. The first "feeling out" in the Second World War took place on September 18, 1931 when Japan announced annexing Manchuria (China's northeast), and nobody could or would do anything about it. So the Munich betrayal, when Germany received its first European "acquisitions", had an Asian prelude. But if the Munich Agreement was, in effect, aimed against the Soviet Union, Manchuria was aimed against China, which had just started recovering after the chaos of the Xinhai Revolution of 1911.
Japan was the ally of England and the United States, with the English-Japanese alliance established in 1902 by London to weaken Russia. The best Japanese ships were built by the British; they also trained Japanese officers. So Russia lost the war of 1904-1905.
Having entered the First World War to acquire German colonies in the Pacific Ocean - the Marshall, Mariana and Caroline islands - Japanese became one of the principal shareholders of the "world corporation" after 1918.
What was the world's profile then? The German fleet, which surrendered to the British, was flooded at Scapa Flow, Scotland, in June 1919. It was done by German naval officers, who learnt that, according to the winners' resolution, their country would be completely deprived of its fleet.
According to the Washington Treaty of 1922, the number of the world powers amounted to three. Britain was allowed to possess five battleships, the United States - five as well, and Japan - three. And their displacement was to be less than 38,000 tons only. Neither the Soviet Union nor China, which broke up into feudal principalities, participated in that strategic balance; they were just unable to do it. Germany was ruined; other powers simply could not afford the equivalent of the present nuclear warheads. The world was smaller and simpler; it consisted of colonial empires.
And then everything went wrong. First, the Japanese decided that three battle ships were not enough for them, and that they had been treated unfairly. In 1929 Prime Minister Tanaka drafted a memorandum, which read that to conquer China, Japan must first conquer Manchuria and Mongolia; to conquer the world, Japan must first get China; having all China's resources at their disposal, Japan could launch campaigns to conquer India, the Archipelago, Asia Minor, Central Asia and even Europe.
The British joked saying that the worst will start when armored rickshaws go into battle. Meanwhile, the Japanese built aircraft carriers, which were not mentioned in any agreements at all. By 1930 they had 10 aircraft carriers (the United States had six and England had four). The idea to launch an air attack against a ship belongs to the British. Admiral Beatty first advanced the idea of Pearl Harbor (Japanese fighters' destroying the U.S. fleet in 1941) in 1912. Japan's Naval Air Force was initiated by the British too - by Tokyo's advisor, Lord Sempill.
United and strong China under General Chiang Kai-shek (approximately from 1929) amazed Washington and London, where many people had plans to set the two great Asian nations against each other.
Japan seizing Chinese towns only caused strict diplomatic notes, with references to the League of Nations. But in 1933 Japan withdrew from the League of Nations, and in 1934 - from the Washington Naval Treaty. Then England began building its only Asian naval base in Singapore, but it had no effect. So the humiliated and ruined Germany and Japan, an ally of First World War winners, combined their efforts to seek a new repartition of the world.
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.