Monday, June 30, 2014

The Tunguska Event Was Not a Sale at an Import Car Dealership

Russian scientist Leonid Kulik photographed these trees knocked over like matchsticks near the epicenter of a mysterious Siberian blast in 1927.

It was the largest impact event on or near Earth in recorded history.  An explosion three to six miles above the surface of the earth is estimated  to have been in the range of 10–15 megatons of TNT—about 1,000 times greater than that of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.  It knocked down virtually everything standing in 830 square miles, shook the earth the equivalent of a 5.0 earthquake on the Richter scale, caused fluctuation in atmospheric pressure measured in London, and caused a stratospheric cloud of ice crystals to orbit the earth for months affecting the climate of the Northern Hemisphere.
But because the explosion on June 30, 1908 occurred over one of the most remote and underpopulated regions of the earth—an almost unexplored (by Europeans) forest by the near the Podkamennaya Tunguska River deep in south-central Siberia it was barely noted at the time.  Subsequent events—World War I, the Russian Revolution, and the Civil War that followed meant that the site of the Tunguska Event was not investigated until an expedition was finally mounted in 1927, 19 years after the explosion.
On July 2 first reports were printed in a Siberian newspaper.
On the 17th of June (old calendar still in use in Russia), around 9 a.m. in the morning, we observed an unusual natural occurrence. In the north Karelinski village [200 verst north of Kirensk] the peasants saw to the north west, rather high above the horizon, some strangely bright (impossible to look at) bluish-white heavenly body, which for 10 minutes moved downwards. The body appeared as a “pipe”, i.e., a cylinder. The sky was cloudless, only a small dark cloud was observed in the general direction of the bright body. It was hot and dry. As the body neared the ground (forest), the bright body seemed to smudge, and then turned into a giant billow of black smoke, and a loud knocking (not thunder) was heard, as if large stones were falling, or artillery was fired. All buildings shook. At the same time the cloud began emitting flames of uncertain shapes. All villagers were stricken with panic and took to the streets, women cried, thinking it was the end of the world.
The author of these lines was meantime in the forest about 6 verst [6.4 km] north of Kirensk, and heard to the north east some kind of artillery barrage, that repeated in intervals of 15 minutes at least 10 times. In Kirensk in a few buildings in the walls facing north east window glass shook.
Scattered report reached Moscow within days, but received surprisingly scant interest.  No official or scientific investigations were undertaken to find out what the hell happened out there in the boonies.
Finally in 1921, as the Civil War was winding down, mineralogist Leonid Kulik was dispatched by the Soviet Academy of Sciences to the Podkamennaya Tunguska River basin not to investigate the incident 13 years early but as part of a survey to discover possible natural resources in the remote area.  He began hearing stories of the mysterious event from locals, and started informally collecting evidence as well as he could without actually traveling to the area of the impact.  He concluded a large meteor or small asteroid had either struck the earth or exploded on entry relatively close to the surface.
Kulik spent years trying to convince Soviet science authorities to fund a full scale expedition to the site.  But the practical commissars keeping a close eye on those foolish scientists had little interest in abstract science or basic research.  They insisted that some tangible and practical economic benefit must be the result of any investigation.  Finally he convinced them that he might be able to locate a very large nickel/cadmium/iron meteorite, the kind representing some of the densest and hardest stone found on earth, which could be useful in the Soviet steel industry.  He had to do this with both fingers crossed behind his back knowing that even if such a meteorite had struck the earth, it would have shattered into small fragments spread over a wide area and unlikely to be recoverable in any economically viable amounts.
None-the-less Kulik arrived in the area in 1927 at the head of a well-supplied expedition.  He contacted with local Evenks,  indigenous semi-nomadic reindeer herders and hunter to guide him form remote Russian trading outposts to the site.  Travel through dense forests cut by numerous rivers and streams was extremely difficult.  But after weeks of travel the group neared the target area.  Then, just south of the site,  the Kulik guides flatly refused to take him further, fearing possible supernatural beings called valleymen associated with the site.  Kulik had to turn back to a village and arrange for new guides.
Finally the expedition reached a ridge overlooking the impact area.  To Kulik’s surprise, he could detect no discernible impact crater.  Instead around ground zero a vast zone more than  5 miles across of trees scorched and devoid of branches, but standing upright.  Trees further from the center were more lightly singed, but all knocked over in a direction away from the center—a giant ring of flattened trees radiating from an invisible center. 
Kulik led three more expeditions to the area looking for evidence of an impact.  His best hope seemed to be numerous small pothole bogs which he thought might have been created by meteorite fragments.  But this turned out to be a blind alley.  Draining one turned up an old tree stump at its bottom, not extraterrestrial stone.
The Soviets continued to send teams of investigators to the region for decades but the mystery of just what had happened only deepened.  Eventually microscopic beads of  silicate and magnetite were found in the soil, and still later similar beads were found in the resin of some trees.  The beads or spheres, also contained significant traces of nickel iron similar in composition to that found in meteorites.  All of this bolstered the opinion that an object from space was involved, but that it had likely been virtually destroyed by an explosion in the atmosphere.  That became the most widely accepted theoretic explanation of the event.
Atmospheric nuclear tests it the ‘50’s and ‘60’s seemed to confirm the hypothesis that an asteroid exploded.  Air bursts over forests showed that trees directly under the blast were stripped as the blast wave moved vertically downward, while trees farther away were knocked over because the blast wave was traveling closer to horizontal when it reaches them. 
By then aerial surveys showed the blast area was actually in the “shape of a butterfly with wings outstretched” occupying an area of 830 square miles, with a wingspan of 43 miles and a body length of 34 miles.  Soviet experiments performed in the mid-‘60s, with model forests and small explosive charges slid downward on wires, produced strikingly similar butterfly-shaped blast patterns  suggested that an extraterrestrial  object had approached at an angle of roughly 30 degrees from the ground and 115 degrees from north and had exploded in mid-air. 
Making up for the lack of interest in the first few years, the Tunguska Event continues to interest and challenge science with new techniques and technologies applied almost yearly to discovering just what happened.  The exploding asteroid theory remains the top contender, but the continuing absence of any fragment of the object has opened the door to other conjectures. 
Among the several theories advanced, the one which picked up the most steam was that instead of an asteroid, the object was a small comet or a fragment of a larger comet that had disintegrated in orbit earlier.   Advanced by some Soviet scientists in the 1930’s, the fact that the head of a  comet—made up of ice particles and space dust exploding in the atmosphere would explain why no physical debris has been found on earth.  Dissipation of the ice crystals into the upper atmosphere could also explain the “glow” that was reported for some days after the event and the orbiting particles that reduced sunlight hitting the earth over the next year.
In the ‘70’s there Soviets even advanced a candidate, fragment of the short-period Comet Encke, which is responsible for the Beta Taurid meteor shower which coincided with the event.  Later Western research has cast doubt on the comet theory pointing out that a comet reaching the atmosphere at the low angle expected would have exploded or vaporized far earlier and not nearly reached the surface, if a handful of miles can be said to be near the surface.  Other research showed that the object came in a direction from the asteroid belt.
If the comet idea was doubtful, scientist were still troubled by the absence of physical evidence that a hard stony object like an asteroid should have left behind.  Then in 2007 a candidate for the long sought impact crater was brought forwards—Lake Cheko, a small, bowl-shaped lake approximately a little more than 4 miles north-northwest of the epicenter.  Magnetic readings indicated a possible meter-sized chunk of rock below the lake’s deepest point that may be a fragment of the colliding body and chemical analysis of the lake silt has supported a creation about the time of the impact.  Scientists from scientists from the University of Bologna led by professor Giuseppe Longo have pressed the case that the long missing impact crater and a fragment may have been found.  Other experts are skeptical.
In 2005 a near earth object identified as 2005 NB56 was observed for a 17 day period as it neared the earth.  Its exact orbit could not be calculated, but some scientists believe that a large fragment of it in may have brushed the atmosphere in 1908 causing the explosion and then skipping or bouncing back into orbit around the sun.  They believe that the object will again near the earth in 2048 and hope that better calculation of its orbit would be able to confirm it as a candidate.
A couple of proposals have been put forward involving a “natural H-bomb.”  In these scenarios unusually large concentrations of deuterium—heavy hydrogen—in the head of a small comet underwent a nuclear fusion reaction when it entered the atmosphere.  Two or three explanations of how this could have been triggered have been advanced.  Most scientists believe that that the concentration of radioactive isotopes in the blast region to be inconsistent with those expected following a nuclear explosion.
Probably the oddest of all theories seriously advanced was that the earth was actually struck by a small black hole which passed through the planet exiting on the other side.  This one has most scientists shaking their heads in disbelief.  If this were the case there should have been and exit explosion of similar magnitude.  Even though at the expected trajectory, the exit would have occurred somewhere North Atlantic, closer than the impact event to the seismic recording stations that collected much of the evidence of the event and would likely have been observed by ships in the region.
A similar proposal suggested a collision with an anti-mater object.  Neither of those explanations takes into account the orbiting dust trails in the atmosphere or the distribution of high-nickel magnetic micro-beads around the impact area.
One scientist has even suggested that there was no collision or impact of any sort, but rather huge eruption and explosion of 10 million tons of natural gas from within Earth’s crust.  Few are taking a bite out of that apple, especially since just as an impact crater has been hard to find, there is no geologic evidence of an outward explosion from the crust.
Despite all of the conjecture most scientists keep coming back to that wayward asteroid.
But I am sure as I type that the History Chanel is preparing a “documentary” on the Tunguska Event on aliens.  Or maybe they already have….

Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Day Chicago Blew Up

June 29, 1889 was indeed the day Chicago blew up.  No, you didn’t miss reading about some disaster to rival the Great Fire of 1871.  That was the day the city blew up from a compact two square miles or so stretching from the Lake Front west to Kedzie Avenue and north from what is now Pershing Road to Fullerton Avenue to the form the largest city in the United States by area and second largest in population.  On that day four large Townships and a portion of a fifth one, voted to be annexed into the City.  It was the largest single day of growth ever, but would not be the last as the Windy City continued its phenomenal growth by gobbling up neighbors well into the mid-20th Century.
If you are a 21st Century Chicagoan your are required-by-law wise guy cynicism would probably lead you to suspect the City muscled its way over its neighbors or that the separate elections held in each township were fraudulent.  But apparently not.  The city offered superior municipal services—especially clean Lake Michigan water and—thanks to the lessons of the Great Fire—a modern, well equipped Fire Department.  And that was nothing to be sneezed at in the townships where most of the housing was built of wood.  In addition, city taxes on residential property were, in most cases, actually lower than those assessed by the townships due to the large base of commercial and industrial property.  And when it came to corruption and cronyism some of the townships had even worse reputations than the city.
The City of Chicago had been incorporated in 1837.  In 1850 under a new Illinois Constitution the rest of Cook County was divided into Townships for administrative services.  These townships could petition to be organized with certain municipal powers by petition of as few as 300 voters.  The legislature could, and did, sometimes enact special legislation granting authority to specific townships. 
As the rural areas surrounding the city gained in populations, one by one they became organized as functioning units of government.
Here is a short survey of the Townships that joined the city in 1889 from north to south.
Lake View was a largely rural area directly north of the city.  It was settled largely by farmers from Germany, Sweden, and Luxembourg in the 1840’s and ‘50s.  Their largest cash crop, by the way, was celery of all things.  In 1854 a resort hotel—Lakeview House—was built near current Lake Shore Drive and Byron Streets giving its name to the area.  The area along the lakefront prospered as a resort and eventually as a suburban haven for the upper middle class.  The coming of the railroad increased rapid development of more modest and working class subdivisions to the west. 
In 1857, the area now bounded by Fullerton, Western, Devon, and the lake was organized into Lake View Township.  A town hall was built in 1872 at Halsted and Addison, the location of which was commemorated in the old Chicago Police Department Town Hall District Station at the same location. The Township exploded in population growing from 2,000 in 1870 to 45,000 in 1887 when much of the Township was incorporated as the City of Lake View.  Despite this development voters passed the annexation referendum just two years later in what was one of the more hotly contested contests.
Jefferson Township to the west of Lake View was still more rural as  the railroads were slower in coming. It was bounded by Devon Avenue on the north, Harlem Avenue on the west, Western Avenue to the east, and North Avenue to the south. Small settlements sprang up along the old Indian trails and military roads known as the North West Plank Road (later Milwaukee Avenue) and the Lower Road (Elston Avenue) which allowed crops and produce to be laboriously hauled to market in Chicago by wagon.  Later the Chicago, St. Paul & Fond du Lac Railroad which became the Chicago & Northwest Railroad spurred development of several villages.  The Village of Jefferson dates to 1855 and Irving Park to 1867.  Jefferson Township lost its northwest corner to newly created Portage Park Township in 1872.  The Township covered almost all of what is now called the Northwest Side.
Cicero Township, directly west of the City of Chicago, was organized in 1857.  It experienced a population explosion following the Civil War, as usual spurred by convenient rail access to the city.  In 1867 the state legislature incorporated the Town of Cicero as a municipality with a special charter, which was revised in 1869. Township and municipal functions were discharged by a single board of elected officials. In that reorganization Chicago annexed almost half of the Township which became known as West Town.  The City was able to lure residents of a strip comprising most of the eastern quarter of the remaining Township running  from North Avenue south to Pershing to vote to de-annex from that body in join the city in the 1889 referendum, due in no small part to dissatisfaction with corruption in the Town government—something that will probably surprise no Chicagoan. 
Lake Township, which despite its name was nowhere near the lake.  Bounded on the east by State Street it stretched west to Crawford Avenue and ran from 37th Street to 87th Street.  Settlement in the area was boosted by the construction of the Illinois and Michigan Canal that linked the head of navigation at La Salle on the Illinois River—and from there the Mississippi—and the Chicago River and Lake Michigan which was completed in 1844.  Irish canal diggers established the settlement of Hardscrabble, later Bridgeport at the conjunction of the Canal and the South Branch of the Chicago River.  The Canal encouraged the establishment of   and use of the truck farms in region to supply the Chicago marked with fresh produce.  The opening of the Union Stock Yards in 1865 led to overnight growth.  More than 10,000 residents poured into the area in the first ten years, most of them employed by the stock yards or meat packers and crammed into ramshackle housing.  Those workers overwhelmingly supported joining the city.
Hyde Park Township was at the time regarded as the prestigious crown jewel of the 1889 annexations.  It was bounded by 39th Street, today’s Pershing Road on the north and 138th Street and the Calumet River on the south and by State Street on the west and Lake Michigan and the Indiana state line on the east.  Shortly after the 1850 creation of the township, Paul Cornell, acting on an insider’s tip from Senator Stephen Douglas that the Illinois Central Railway was coming, personally paid for a topographical survey of the township two years later.  In 1853 he bought 300 acres between 51st and 55th Streets and set about developing the first Chicago railroad suburb.  Douglas also invested speculatively in the area and—surprise, surprise—did quite well.  Cornell named the village he was creating Hyde Park after the affluent New York City suburb hoping to attract wealthy citizens willing to commute to work in the city by train.  It worked.  Hyde Park was soon a very toney and affluent community.  Because it was completely disconnected from Chicago’s grid system except for State Street, the village’s north-south streets never fit will, creating  isolation and transportation nightmares familiar to city residents to this day.  The Township was re-organized with expanded municipal authority in 1861.  Most of the land north of the village to the city limits remained rural until the completion of the Stock Yards spurred spill-over development from Lake Township.  Population swelled  from 15,750 in 1889 to 85,000, much of that from the development of George Pullman’s model town and railway car construction shops.  Unlike other Townships, Hyde Park had invested in a built its own water system  using Lake Michigan.  Despite this and the fervent desire of the wealthy folks in the village of Hyde Park to remain independent, working class voters overwhelmingly approved annexation in 1889.
The townships still exist but have no current governmental structure or functions except for being used by the Cook County Assessor’s office for taxation valuation and record keeping purposes.
There you have it, in one great gobble the City of Chicago expanded nearly to its current boarders swallowing almost all of the current North, Northwest, West, South, and East sides.  I wonder if it burped.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

100 Years Ago Today—The Birth of Bloody Modernity

Note the woman at the bottom left hand corner with the white hat. To her right, standing just a few feet away is Gavrilo Princip. He cannot be seen because he is just out of range of the photo. The Archduke's car is starting to turn right into the street where the assassination is about to take place.—Tip-o’-the-hat to Jason Smedley for sharing the picture in a comment to an earlier blog post and for this info about it.

Note—Versions of this post ran in 2010 and 2012.  Seems apt again in the Centennial year of the act that started World War I.  The news this week from Iraq, which was created by the victorious Allies drawing lines in the sand that meant nothing to the peoples those lines boxed in.  We still live with the fallout of that day in Sarajevo every day.

A good case can be made for abandoning the current B.C./A.D.—or B.C.E/C.E.—division of historic time in favor of B.S./A.S.Before Sarajevo/After Sarajevo.  Certainly the world changed utterly on June 28, 1914 when the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and his wife, Duchess Sophie of Hohenberg were assassinated in the capital of provincial Bosnia-Herzegovina. 

The whole brutal avalanche of modern history turns on the death of a comic-opera princeling at the hands of a fanatic teenage nationalist.  Franz Ferdinand was the nephew of the elderly Austro Hungarian Emperor Franz Joseph and was his designated heir.  He had assumed more and more public ceremonial duties from his uncle. 

The Dual Monarchy of Austria and Hungary ruled a multi-ethnic empire in central Europe.  In the late 19th Century it had expanded southward, absorbing some of the former Slavic provinces of the fading Ottoman Empire.  Bosnia and Herzegovina first came under Austrian sway by treaty in 1878 when it occupied and undertook administration of the provinces which remained officially under Ottoman sovereignty. 

In 1903 pretense was dropped and the Austro-Hungarian Empire annexed the lands, which were peopled by a volatile mix of ethnic groups and divided by religion—Catholic Croatians, Orthodox Serbs, and Muslim Bosnians among others.  All resented rule from Vienna almost as much as they feared and distrusted each other. 

Meanwhile modern Serbia had arisen as an independent kingdom in 1882 and quickly became aggressive and expansionist seeking to unite Orthodox ethnic Serbs in several surrounding states into a Greater Serbia.  It had claims on Bosnia and nearly came to war when the Empire annexed it. 

In the 1912-1913 Balkan Wars with its neighbors, Serbia seized Macedonia from the Ottomans and Kosovo from Bulgaria.  Its reckless aggressiveness was made possible by a close alliance with the Orthodox Russian Empire which saw an opportunity to advance its sphere of influence deep into Europe. 

The Serbs sought to destabilize the Slavic provinces with secret terrorist societies like the Black Hand and by subsidizing local nationalists groups, like the Young Bosnia movement made up of teenage romantics.

For his part, Franz Ferdinand supported a break from the unyielding rule of his uncle when he would come to power.  He proposed making the Slavic south as a Third Crown in the Empire theoretically brining them into equality with Germanic Austria, and Magyar Hungary.  Under the scheme the provinces would be granted significant self rule and a policy of reconciliation with Serbia would be pursued. 

This equally alarmed the Serbs, who felt that such reforms would derail their plans for eventual annexation, the local nationalists, and the Russians whose ambitions would have been checked by their traditional rival empire. 

There had been sporadic assassination attempts against various officials, including Emperor Franz Joseph himself in 1910.  Tensions in the region were running high.  The provision of arms and explosives to local groups was managed by the Serbian intelligence services, but may have been carried out either without the knowledge and consent of the King and Prime Minister, or with veneer of separation allowing for “plausible deniability.” 

When the Emperor announced he was sending Franz Ferdinand to observe military maneuvers in Bosnia on a date fraught with historical significance to Serb nationalists, Serb diplomats in Vienna evidently did warn officials of the possibility of an attack, but this was written off by the Austrians as a bluff. 

Serbian intelligence agents meanwhile smuggled hand guns, grenades, money, and suicide pills to a small group of young nationalists in Sarajevo Gavrilo Princip, Trifun Grabež, and Nedeljko Čabrinović and sent others recruited from Belgrade, including Bosnian Muslim Mehmed Mehmedbašić, Vaso Čubrilović, and Cvjetko Popović, to undertake the assassination attempt. 

On June 28 the assassins were posted at various points along the announced route of a motorcade carrying the Archduke and his wife.  Two conspirators lost nerve as the motorcade passed but the third, Čabrinović, lobbed a bomb at the Archduke’s car which scratched Sophie’s cheek and landed on the pavement on the far side of the car.  Its timed detonator went off under the following car injuring 20 people. 

The Archduke dismissed the attempt as the work of a “lunatic” and ordered that the day’s activities be continued, although the caravan sped its way to the next scheduled stop, the Town Hall.  On its way the car passed three other conspirators too quickly for them to act.  It looked like the mission was a failure. 

Discouraged one of the men 19 year old, Prinicp, went to a delicatessen for something to eat.  When he emerged he saw Franz Ferdinand’s open car reversing after having taken a wrong turn as it drove past. 

The Archduke had decided to visit the wounded from the earlier attack after making a speech at the Town Hall instead of immediately driving out of the city.  He was guarded only by Lieutenant Colonel Count Franz von Harrach standing on the running board of the car. 

The car stalled as the driver tried to reverse.  Prinicp was able to get within feet of the car and squeezed off two rounds from his automatic pistol.  The first round passed through the car and caromed into Sophie’s abdomen.  The second struck the Archduke in the neck severing his jugular vein.  Sophie spoke then pitched forward between her husband’s legs.  Franz Ferdinand reportedly said, “Sophie, Sophie! Don't die! Live for our children.”  As the car sped to a hospital he repeated weekly several times, “It is nothing,” before blood filled his throat.  Sophie was dead in the car.  The Archduke died upon reaching the hospital. 

Passersby and police quickly seized Prinicp.  Čabrinović had been captured earlier after a failed suicide attempt.  The other conspirators were quickly rounded up as anti-Serb rioting swept the capital.  Eventually all but Mehmedbašić, who managed to escape to Montenegro and then to Serbia, were caught and tried along with others who aided them.  Those over twenty were condemned to death and were either hanged or died in prison.

Princip and others under the age of 20 received the maximum term of 20 years.  Held under harsh conditions, he developed tuberculosis, lost an arm to an infection, and was malnourished.  He died in prison at the age of 23 in April 1918. 

In 1917, as a result of negotiations to reach a separate peace between Austria-Hungary and Serbia, the leaders of the Intelligence services that had authorized the assassination were tried and three of them including the chief, Colonel Dragutin Dimitrijević, known by the cover name Apis were convicted of various crimes and executed by firing squad. 

But the assassination itself, was soon overshadowed the enormous consequences which seemed to fall mechanically into place.  Within weeks Austria-Hungary issued an ultimatum to Serbia.  Serbia agreed to most of the terms but refused to arrest plotters on the territory or allow the Empire to participate in an investigation.  They began mobilizing their forces with full assurance from Russia that it would honor their treaty of mutual defense. 

After a skirmish between boats carrying Serb troops and the Austrians on the Danube, the border between the powers, Austria Hungary mobilized on July 28.  Under the Secret Treaty of 1892 Russia and France were obliged to mobilize their armies if any of the Triple Alliance (Austria-Hungary, Germany, and Italy) mobilized.  By the first of August all major powers except the Italians were mobilized. 

On August 1, Germany declared war on Russia and France.  The British declared war on the Germans after they refused to refrain from attacking France through neutral Belgium.  By September much of the world was at war. 

The Ottoman Empire entered the war on the side of the Central Powers.  Italy eventually turned its back on its former partners and joined the Allies in 1915.  The United States entered the war in 1917. 

The conflict saw carnage on an industrial scale never before imagined.  The introduction of the machine gun, modern high explosives, long range artillery, poison gas, and aerial warfare made the battle field a lethal killing zone in which the maneuvers, charges and counter charges of the 19th Century became impossible.  Massive offensives failed at anything but piling up the dead. 

The British alone suffered 57,470 casualties including 19,240 dead on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. Stalemated trench warfare became the norm.  At the end of the war the Allies had total casualties (killed, wounded, and missing) of 22,477,500 of which 5,525,000 were dead.  The losing Central Powers had casualties of 16,403,000 of which 4,386,000 were dead.  These figures do not include millions of civilians on both sides who died of starvation, disease, or military action or the millions more made homeless and displaced. 

At war’s end the empires of Austria Hungary, Russia, the Ottomans, and Germany were destroyed.  Russia had withdrawn from the war in 1917 following the ouster of the Tsar, but was soon mired in bloody civil war from which the Bolsheviks would emerge as the masters of a new nation, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). 

With old Europe bled dry and financially ruined by the long war, the late arriving upstart the United States emerged as the dominant power in the world. 

The League of Nations was founded to avoid future conflicts, but the U.S. despite the pleas of Woodrow Wilson, who conceived the organization, refused to join and it proved itself incapable of managing real international conflict.  Disarmament was tried and failed. 

Resentments and humiliations arising from the war would fester, particularly in Germany, leading to another conflagration within a generation. 

The Balkans, the powder keg of the war, remains divided by ethnic and religious hostilities and is perpetually on the verge of erupting into more senseless conflict.

Lines drawn on maps dividing the spoils of colonies would have continuing consequences reaching down to the Arab-Israeli conflict and the war in the cobbled together state of Iraq.