From Agadir to Armageddon: Anatomy of a Crisis

From Agadir to Armageddon: Anatomy of a Crisis

From Agadir to Armageddon: Anatomy of a Crisis

From Agadir to Armageddon: Anatomy of a Crisis

Excerpt

Back in 1979, when the throne of the Shah of Iran was toppling and the United States' Seventh Fleet was on its way halfway around the globe from the Philippines to the Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf, I had a visit from a charming, intelligent German journalist. 'Is this July 1914 again?' he asked. 'No, no,' I replied, '1911.' And when he looked surprised and a little disconcerted, I added by way of explanation: 'Agadir, Kiderlen-Wächter, the Panthersprung — don't you remember?' Evidently he did not remember. 'Kiderlen-Wächter,' he said, 'who was Kiderlen-Wächter?'

This book is an attempt to answer his question. Its subject, narrowly defined, is what soon became known as the 'Agadir crisis', the last of the confrontations between the great powers before the July crisis of 1914 and the outbreak of the First World War. But it does not follow the conventional pattern of diplomatic history. The crisis in 1911 was the crisis of a whole society, and it is that crisis, not merely its international ramifications, that I have tried to depict. I shall say something about Kiderlen-Wächter and his opposite numbers in Paris, Rome and London — 'the new Machiavellians' in the seats of power, as I have called them — but my concern is not with individuals but with the social and economic tensions with which they failed to cope. They seem to me to have many similarities, most of them disconcerting, with the tensions and turmoil confronting the world today.

It is in that spirit, and with no particular claim to originality, that I have written this book. It was completed in 1981, on the seventieth anniversary of Agadir, and though I have subsequently revised the text, I have not changed it in any substantive way. Events in 1982 — the Anglo-Argentinian war in the Falkland Islands, the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, continuing instability in the Persian Gulf, and a sharp . . .

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