Smart Talk

Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment.  Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.

Listen to Smart Talk live online from 9-10 a.m. weekdays and at 7 p.m. (Repeat of 9 a.m. program)

Host: Scott LaMar

Smart Talk: WW I started 100 years ago -- or did it?

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Jul 27, 2014 2:35 PM

What to look for on Smart Talk Monday, July 28, 2014:

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Photo by Scott LaMar/WITF

A World War I trench at the U.S. Army Heritage Center in Carlisle.

One hundred years ago today, The Great War as it was known then but now called World War I, began.  On July 28, 1914 Austria-Hungry declared war on Serbia in response to the assassination of Arch Duke Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne.. 

The United States did not enter the war until 1917, but how did a dispute between European powers lead to U.S. soldiers going overseas to fight?

European leaders and their militaries were already prepared for war.  However, Dr. Michael Neiberg writes that the people of Europe neither wanted nor expected war in 1914.  In his book, Dance of the Furies: Europe and the Outbreak of World War I Neiberg questions whether the war actually began in 1914 and ended in 1918.

Michael Neiberg is a Professor of History at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle.  He'll appear on Monday's Smart Talk to discuss a war that he describes as the "least understood and most ignored event in our history."

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Michael Neiberg, Professor of History at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle

Meanwhile American citizens contributed to the war effort back home like never before after the U.S. entered the war in 1917. 

The editors of the book Duty Calls at Home: Central Pennsylvania Responds to the Great War, 1914-1918 also appear on Monday's program.

Dr. Steven Burg, Chair of the History/Philosophy Department at Shippensburg University, along with retired Pennsylvania National Guard Public relations officer John Maietta and Shippensburg University librarian Christy Fic join us.

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Steven Burg, John Maietta, and Christy Fic

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  • Radio Smart Talk img 2014-07-28 08:21

    Frank from Lancaster emails:

    As someone who has lived in Washington many years and served in the political-military field as a US diplomat, it always struck me as strange that there is no WW I monument in the city. There is a small pillar monument near the Old Executive Office Building and not far from the White House but it is for a particular military unit and certain actions not a general WWI monument for the fallen. Isn't it about time for a monument since as the Professor indicates WWI is still reverberating in our lives today.

  • atticus321 img 2014-07-28 08:26

    Pretty awesome you guys don't even know what date Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated. It was June 28th 1914.

    • Radio Smart Talk img 2014-07-28 08:54

      We fixed the mistake. Thanks for bringing this to our attention.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2014-07-28 08:40

    Scott from Reinholds, PA emails:

    Interesting program. My grandfather served as an artillery officer in France for the AEF – he was shot in the hand.

    Interested in your thoughts that WW II is just and extenuation of WW I with a 20 year hiatus. Without the Treaty of Versailles, Hitler’s National Socialist party would have been a lunatic fringe movement. It was only due to the conditions of the Treaty that allowed Hitler to rise. The Marshall Plan, (really the Truman Plan), understood this effect.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2014-07-28 08:43

    Jennifer from York writes:

    We were in France this summer and visited several WWI battlefields, monuments, and forts. On our journey we stopped by the Pennsylvania WWI Memorial in Varennes. My 10-year-old wanted to know why the monument’s eternal flame was not lit and why the state flag was not hanging at the memorial. Would you happen to know the answer to these questions?

    • Scott LaMar img 2014-07-28 09:49

      Dr. Michael Neiberg responds...
      I can't speak to that specifically, but I know that that memorial is desperately short of funding. Neither the French, the American, or the Pennsylvania government has made an effort to help it in perpetuity.

  • Jens Thomas Praestgaard img 2014-07-28 08:45

    Great show.
    You mentioned that you considered this war "the most important one for understanding current US policies around the world". Could your guest comment on the League of Nations and Wilson's fallacy in thinking the US could remodel the world in a rational way - just as our contemporeary neocons think they can today.

    • Scott LaMar img 2014-07-28 10:25

      Dr. Michae; Neiberg responds...
      Thanks, Jens. Wilson was working from a theory that if you interlink nations into common organizations, then you can reduce the passions caused by nationalism. The League of Nations, of course, failed, but we still use instruments like these from the UN to NATO to the WTO to EU. The idea, therefore, has survived. This is part of what I meant when I said that 1914-1917 forms the basis of all American foreign policy since.

  • kirby.adams img 2014-07-28 08:46

    Fact Check: July 28th is the anniversary of Austria-Hungary's declaration of war on Serbia. Archduke Franz Ferdinand had been assassinated a month earlier on June 28.

    • Radio Smart Talk img 2014-07-28 08:58

      We fixed the mistake. Thanks for bringing this to our attention.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2014-07-28 08:50

    Frank emails (again):

    Interestingly the largest monument to WWI is in Indianapolis which is a huge structure in the center of a large grass mall in the center of the city which is a copy of one of the 7 wonders of the Ancient World - the tomb of King Mausoleus (hence the word "mausoleum")

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2014-07-28 09:00

    Jeff Harter from Mechanicsburg writes:

    I've read that the the sinking of the Lusitania, which significantly swayed opinion concerning US participation in WWI, was aided by explosives planted in her belly. Please comment on this.

    Thank you.

    • Scott LaMar img 2014-07-28 09:52

      Dr. Michael Neiberg responds...
      Jeff -- the Lusitania was indeed carrying munitions, but the passengers, of course, did not know that any more than passengers on an airplane today know what's in the cargo hold. In any case, the American people generally supported the nation's right to trade freely (that's really what neutrality meant) and saw the German sinking of the ship as an act of utter barbarity, whatever was in its holds.

  • mannusha img 2014-07-29 07:42


    As usual, a new book that rewrites history for those who benefits from
    the revisionists...........
    The rewriters, only tell us what they think we ought to know, or in their
    opinion, what they think we can understand...
    The Internet is abound with “Truthful History” , all you have to do is
    A 46 minute speech in 1961 given by Benjamin Freedman shall tell you
    the real story of WWI and WWII and the reasons for all of the ills that
    our country suffers from today....
    George Carlin's video vignettes will also fill in the rest of the blanks.'