Common Sense Commentary: A Black Swan is an impending event which may not be large in its own right but is like the little fuse which a small flame or spark ignites and in turn sets off a single stick of dynamite in a box full of sticks in a dynamite factory warehouse full of boxes. Another example of a Black Swan is the final snow flake which falls on a heavy laden mountain of snow build-up which sets off an avalanche down the mountain. The world's skies are now full of Black Swans too numerous to list ... as is also true of our nation. World War One is a good illustration of how a "relatively" small occurrence set off a cataclysmic series of earth shaking explosions and the deaths of 17 million people. I say "Relatively", meaning one Black Swan assassin set off 17 million deaths.
The First World War killed 17 million people, traumatised a generation, overturned old empires and changed the world's political order for ever. The question is... What Black Swan started it?
The Black Swan event was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian throne, and his wife Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, occurred on 28 June 1914 in Sarajevo when they were shot dead by Gavrilo Princip. Princip was a Serbian Nationalist with ties to the secretive military group known as the Black Hand. That was the first domino to fall or the last snow flake to float down upon the impending avalanche hanging heavy on the mountain.
There was a series of things, preceding that assassination, which had steadily built up as an accumulating weight of disagreements like an air tank filled beyond its limit of pressure higher and higher until it explodes into mass destruction.
The cause behind the cause behind the cause of WW1 was a Royal Family feud between the rulers of Britain, Germany and Russia who were First Cousins. In those days the Royal families of Europe and Russia were all tied in a knot of inner marriage and it is common knowledge how angry, jealous and competitive family members can be between themselves. Anger among enemies becomes unholy wrath among family members.
By 1914, alliances had resulted in the six major powers of Europe coalescing into two broad groups: Britain, France and Russia formed the Triple Entente, while Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy comprised the Triple Alliance.
As these countries came to each other's aid after the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, their declarations of war produced a domino effect.
CNN listed these key developments:
June 28, 1914 - Gavrilo Princip assassinates Franz Ferdinand.
July 28, 1914 - Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia.
August 2, 1914 - Ottoman Empire (Turkey) and Germany sign a secret treaty of alliance. August 3, 1914 - Germany declares war on France.
August 4, 1914 - Germany invades Belgium, leading Britain to declare war on Germany. August 10, 1914 - Austria-Hungary invades Russia. As the war progressed, further acts of aggression drew other countries, including the United States, into the conflict. Many others, including Australia, India and most African colonies, fought at the behest of their imperial rulers.
According to Military Historian Gary Sheffield, the First World War began for two fundamental reasons: "First, decision-makers in Berlin and Vienna chose to pursue a course that they hoped would bring about significant political advantages even if it brought about general war. Second, the governments in the entente states rose to the challenge."
Sheffield adds: "At best, Germany and Austria-Hungary launched a reckless gamble that went badly wrong. At worst, 1914 saw a premeditated war of aggression and conquest, a conflict that proved to be far removed from the swift and decisive venture that some had envisaged".
Was WWI caused by a family feud? Far from being remote rulers who knew nothing of their enemies, the heads of state of Britain, Germany and Russia – George V, Kaiser Wilhelm II and Tsar Nicholas II – were first cousins who knew one another very well.
A BBC documentary.... Royal Cousins at War, told the story of Wilhelm's difficult relationship with his parents and antipathy towards all things British and argues that this helped bring the world to the brink of war.
The three monarchs were like "sleepwalkers stepping towards an open elevator shaft", Richard Davenport-Hines says in his review of Miranda Carter's book on the subject, The Three Emperors. The events leading up to the conflict are "a study in the envy, insincerity, festering rancour and muddle that only families can manage".
Unlike many family feuds, however, disagreements between the royal cousins exacted a geopolitical price. "As relationships between the royal cousins waxed and waned, so did the relationships between their countries," the Daily Mail's Ruth Styles says.
Queen Victoria attempted to broker peace between the cousins, but after her death good will "between the Russian, British and German branches of the family dissipated and Europe edged closer to war: George 5th and Tsar Nicholas on one side, and their estranged cousin, Wilhelm, on the other," Styles says.
The engagement was disastrous for all three monarchs. By the end of 1918 the German kaiser was deposed and had fled into exile, the Russian tsar and his children had been executed by revolutionaries, and the British king presided over "a broken, debt-ridden empire," Davenport-Hines says.