Contributor Perspectives

The Age of Modern Warfare

Ian Morris
Board of Contributors
Jun 14, 2017 | 08:00 GMT
The age-old method of fighting wars by massing together as many men as possible, bludgeoning the enemy and then hunting down survivors reached its culminating point a century ago.
The age-old method of fighting wars by massing together as many men as possible, bludgeoning the enemy and then hunting down survivors reached its culminating point a century ago.
(SCOTT NELSON/Getty Images)

Historians love anniversaries, and this year we're having a lot of them. In an earlier column, I looked back exactly 100 years to April 1917, when Lenin made his famous journey from Zurich to Petrograd. This laid the foundation for a distinctive kind of illiberal modern state that now seems to be making a comeback. But in this column, I want to consider a second set of events in 1917 that arguably played an even bigger role in creating today's world: the invention of a new way of fighting wars. Military leaders began exploiting the fact that modern states had effectively created a new kind of human being -- the educated, independent-minded citizen who could do much more than just follow orders -- without whom modernity would look very different indeed....

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