World War One made a difference around here. Look:
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And now to tie it all together.
Why did World War Two happen? And why did France do so poorly? The information you need to figure it out is mostly here in this post, although there is one more detail that you may not be aware of. It is a very, very important detail:
After the war, after all the fine speeches were done, after the Treaty of Versailles had been signed, the Allies blockaded food shipments to Germany. FOOD.
Now, as we all know*, when a population is under stress, that population expands. Prosperity brings a birth rate down. Adversity causes it to rise.
*if you do not know this, please do us all a favor and disqualify yourself from any future participation in politics until you, ya know, read a book or something.
Consider this situation. On the left (using of course the north-centric mapping system) you have a victorious but utterly devastated population, on the right you have a differently devastated population that is suffering under grinding poverty, punitive embargoes, and a freaking food blockade.
The different devastations are important. The population on the left lost men, women, children, and animals, in the single greatest dealing of death that the world had yet seen. The population on the right, since it was never invaded, basically only lost men of fighting age.
The population on the left is of course going to get richer, because there are fewer ways to divide the pie. But they are going to grow very slowly.
The population on the right is of course going to grow quickly, and stay poor, because they have to split the nothing they have several zillion ways.
Very, very quickly....let's say twenty years...you are going to have a giant population on the right. And twenty years of course is the prime age for war. On the left you will have a huge, empty, incredibly rich area...that points directly at Paris like the barrel of a gun.
In a situation like that wars can't help but happen. World War One caused World War Two. Discussing WWII without discussing WWI is like discussing murder without discussing motive, or a suicide without reading the suicide note.
Obvious parallels between this and the current situation in the middle east should only be drawn by people who are capable of adding two and two and getting...