War cannot do anything useful that peace cannot do better. The best good that war can produce is an understanding of why the war occurred, so that it can be avoided in the future. In the case of World War I, even this small silver lining has been lost to history. Through middle and high school, the causes of World War I are usually taught to be a combination of militarism, nationalism, imperialism, and entangling alliances – yet, these conditions aren’t unique to early 20th century Europe, they are basically a constant throughout history, with war being only sporadic. A fifth cause, the “spark” that allowed those conditions to explode into war, is said to be the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand by a Serbian radical. In the month between the assassination and the start of the war, Austria-Hungary made a number of ultimatums to Serbia, and Serbia accepted all of the terms except for one demanding that Austria-Hungarian investigators join the investigation (History.com, 2014). In fact, the Austria-Hungarian foreign ministry had already admitted to conducting such an investigation. Despite this, the countries of Europe went to war. This narrative makes enough sense a hundred years later, but at the time, the people of the Austria-Hungarian Empire must have been baffled. The Emperor was no more than a figurehead, having granted a constitutional government fifty years earlier, establishing a congress and prime minister, and overseeing a collection of mostly self-governed territories that constantly strove for full independence (Rothenburg, 1976). Even foreign policy matters, such as peace negotiations, were carried out by diplomats, including the negotiations ending World War I. Emperors were not significant figures in this case; those who didn’t cheer at the news of the death of Franz Ferdinand otherwise likely asked, “Who cares?” Furthermore, assassinations were plentiful in the dynasty in decades prior, including the assassination of Empress Elisabeth in 1898, and those higher-profile cases did not lead to war. Why, then, did Austria-Hungary go to war with an entire alliance of countries over what should have been treated as a criminal case? As with nearly all wars following the Renaissance, World War I can be described as a “banker war.” The wealthiest forces in Europe and the United States during this time were not monarchies or national governments, but banks – usually banking families. They had built their wealth by lending credit to governments on both sides of any war, and collecting unheard of profits from both. For the sake of comparison, the U.S. national budget in 1913 was $714 million, while the Rockefeller “empire” alone was worth $950 million (Engdahl, 2004). Over the course of the relatively short war, the national debts of the involved countries rose 475%, and banking interests made approximately $10,000 per soldier killed. Banks never generate more profits than during wartime, and the balance of power between banking interests and national interests never shifts more greatly in the favor of banks than during these times. After a hundred years of on-and-off war, it can be seen that nearly every country on Earth is at the mercy of banking cartels, which can merely stop financing debt interest payments and deficit spending in order to bring about the fall of a government.
Obviously, banks had great motive to cultivate the war; in fact, they were responsible for prolonging it. Germany had offered a peace treaty to England in 1916, and England seemed sure to accept it. According to Rear Admiral Consett of the British Navy (1923), Germany and the Central Powers only had the resources to fight war for a year, but was propped up by $45 million in British loans and British goods that were traded first through neutral states like Switzerland, and then to Germany. German bombs were built with British money, and their