German soldiers at the First Battle of the Marne during World War I / Wikimedia Commons
Nicole Hemmer warns against misleading historical analogies:
But here is the problem with such analogies: They latch onto similarities, flattening the particulars of each historical moment.
In this case, Hemmer is referring to the overreactions to the assassination of Russia’s ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov, and the urge to compare that awful event to the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand that set off the July crisis of 1914. Here there are actually not very many similarities, except that both involve the assassination of a representative of one government by the citizen of another state to make a violent statement against that government. Almost everything else is significantly different. There is no suspicion that the Turkish government had anything to do with the assassination, so there is no cause for increased tensions between Russia and Turkey, and there is no reason for Russia to make extraordinary demands of Turkey that might lead to war.
As Philip Giraldi commented yesterday, Russia and Turkey have been drawing closer to each other in the recent past:
In reality, Turkey has been shifting closer to the Russian position as the facts on the ground have changed, now stressing the need to take steps to prevent the development of any kind of Kurdish fiefdom along the border as the top priority. Russia is apparently willing to participate in shaping resettlement policies that will satisfy Turkish concerns. And the inclusion of Iran in the discussion is a sign that regime change in the near term is no longer being contemplated as a sine qua non. Iran can also be counted on to share Turkey’s concerns over regional separatism as it has its own problem with an indigenous Kurdish terrorist group called the PJAK.
Turkey has also been undergoing fundamental political shifts. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has grown more estranged from Washington and the Europeans due to the negative reaction to his crackdown on alleged supporters of the July coup.
If Russia and Turkey weren’t prepared to go to war after the Turkish downing of a Russian jet (and they weren’t), it seems hard to believe that relations between them would collapse now.
This should be another reminder that historical analogies can often obscure and mislead more than they inform, and it can be dangerous to rely on them when making decisions on policy.