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When the driver of the car carrying Archduke Franz Ferdinand got confused about the route and had to stop and turn around, no one thought this would be the moment that changed history. No one who knew Gavrilo Princip to that point would have imagined that he would be the man who changed the world. He was the son of poor rural peasants and should have grown up to be a poor rural peasant, but instead fate led him to that cafe just as the car of the Archduke arrived.
Of course, Gavrilo Princip was not a victim of circumstances. He willingly joined Young Bosnia, a radical separatist group. He was part of the planned conspiracy to kill the Archduke, who was on tour from Austria. For its part, Austria-Hungary decided to issue a démarche to Serbia known as the July Ultimatum, which led up to the outbreak of World War I. They made the assassination look like it was planned and executed by the Serbs, rather than pan-Slavic separatists.
The Great War and the events leading to it are a useful example of how the participants in a game will not deviate from their strategy on the assumption that they know the strategy of other players and therefore think their initial strategy will result in the optimum outcome, despite the initial results. The fact that the players did not fully understand the thinking of the other players and their desired outcome was not part of the set of possible outcomes led to disaster.
This is something to keep in mind when trying to understand what is going on in the present-day great game. We now have two hot wars involving proxies of the Global America Empire, Ukraine, and Israel. There is a third war in the planning phase using Taiwan against China. American planners are sure they know the strategy of Russia and China, so it is full speed ahead with the grand plan to defeat these two adversaries and bring about the long-promised end of history.
We got a glimpse of this last summer when the imperial planners mapped out the great Ukrainian offensive that was supposed to break Russian defenses. They were sure they understood how the Russian army would react in the field. They were sure they knew how this would impact Russian domestic politics and global politics. When it was clear from the start that things were not unfolding according to plan, they stuck with the strategy, assuming it would result in the desired outcome.
We are getting another glimpse of this in the Levant. Like the group that plotted the assassination of the Archduke, this Hamas cell that plotted the attack on Israel was acting outside the game. They relied on old analog techniques to coordinate their efforts, thus avoiding detection by Israel and other players in the region. This attack is a new element to the game, but the players are all acting on the old strategy, under the assumption that they know what everyone else is doing.
For example, the United States has sent at least two carrier groups to the region as a threat to Iran, which is assumed to be backing Hamas. There is no evidence to suggest Iran had any role in this event, but the American side is undeterred in their belief that Iran is the primary instigator in the region. In fact, the entire American strategy in the region depends on this assumption. The United States has issued an ultimatum to Iran assuming they must respond in a specific way.
It is an interesting example of asymmetric thinking. Like the great powers of Europe before the Great War, you get the sense that American planners want a war with Iran, so they are acting in a way that will bait the Iranians into acting. Israel gets to indiscriminately bomb Gaza, Lebanon, and Syria, but if anyone in the region reacts to this, then the United States will consider it an act of war. Like the Serbian government in 1914, Iran is slowly being boxed in by events.
Of course, all of this is operating within the context of the greatest of great games, the challenge to the unipolar order ruled by America. Russia and China are sure they know the strategy of America, as American leaders are public about it. They seek to regime change both countries and turn them into provinces of the empire. The same holds for the lesser powers like Iran and maybe even India. For its part, the imperial schemers are sure they know the plans of their intended targets.
That is the lesson from the Great War. When all sides are sure they fully understand the strategy of the other players and they remain convinced their strategy will get the optimal result but all of them are wrong on both counts, disaster follows. The world seems to be inching toward this exact scenario. Everyone is increasingly sure of how the game must play out, so they are locking in their strategies. They are doing so despite events routinely showing them to be wrong.
There is another piece though, one that may prevent the players of this great game from blowing up the world. Great cataclysms like the Great War seem to require a bit of chance to keep the game going. Gavrilo Princip was not the cause of the Great War, but it is hard to imagine events playing out as they did that summer if he had not been in that cafe at that very moment. Throughout the war, bits of randomness worked to keep both sides locked into destruction.
Those random events worked to continue the game because all sides were locked into a myopic view of the game. In this version, the only player suffering from this is the Global American Empire. The rest of the players seem to understand that the West is acting on an internalized script. The way to avoid catastrophe is to avoid playing the designated role in that script. Russia has managed this in the Ukraine war and Iran seems to be doing this so far in the Gaza war.
That said, one should never be too optimistic about these things. The Thirty Years War happened. The Napoleonic Wars happened. The Great War happened. The Second World War happened. The theme in all of them was the players became convinced they had the optimal strategy, because they thought they knew the strategy of the other players in the game. History says that creating such conditions is easier than it should be, so this great game could end poorly.
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