It is almost 100 years since the first shots of the First World War rang out. How the great European powers seemingly stumbled into a disastrous war through a maelstrom of ambition, revenge, fear, misjudgements and alliance obligations has been a matter of keen debate ever since. While the events of July and August 1914 have appeared puzzling, they have echoed through the following century as a cautionary tale of how things can go wrong, and do so with alarming rapidity.
Many scholars and policy makers worry that today East Asia risks a similar tragedy. The region sees growing and possibly waning great powers, the introduction of new technologies of warfare, strident nationalism, tense diplomatic relationships and a complex economic interdependence. So does Europe in 1914 portend a possible future for Asia a hundred years later?
This public lecture brought together some leading scholars of Australia and Asia to explore both what set off the guns in 1914, and how they can be forestalled in 2014.