Europe’s French President Emmanuel Macron said that the proliferation of populism is dividing European unity, stability and peace. He and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier are on a six-day tour of World War I battlegrounds. “Europe faces a risk — that of being broken up by nationalist leprosy and of being pushed around by foreign powers,” Macron said, the foreign powers being Russia and China. That means “having security depend on U.S. choices, having China play an ever-greater role when it comes to essential infrastructures, and Russia sometimes tempted to try its hand at manipulation, and have financial interests and markets sometimes play greater roles than those of states.”
On 11 November, more than 60 world leaders, including USA President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, will commemorate the end of World War I in Paris. Known as the Armistice Day, it was on this day in 1918 that the agreement was signed between the Allies and Germany to end the war. Drawing parallels, President Macron has forewarned people of submitting themselves to the deadly forces of disunity and hatred. “I am struck by similarities between the times we live in and those of between the two world wars,” he told the Ouest-France newspaper. “In a Europe divided by fears, the return of nationalism, the consequences of economic crisis, one sees almost systematically everything that marked Europe between the end of World War I and the 1929 crisis,” he said. Europe must “know how to fight back,” he added.
The total number of civilian and military deaths due to World War I amount to approximately 20 million, with 21 million wounded (figures include the Armenian genocide from 1915-17, which killed 1.5 million Armenians). Most military deaths are related to famine and disease. The Allied powers lost 5.7 million soldiers, and the Axis powers lost about 4 million. Of the British Indian Empire (then including present-day India, Pakistan and Bangladesh), around 27000 were killed or reported missing in action. From the Commonwealth nations, 1.7 million men and women died due to the two World Wars.