I’ve been reading The Sleepwalkers by Christopher Clark, a very good history of the origins of WWI. And I’ve been joking to myself that if I were Chris Trotter I’d be gleefully stuffing every event in New Zealand politics into some tortured parallel of fin de siecle Balkan history. (Just as Dragutin Dimitrijević outmaneuvered Serbian Prime Minister Nikola Pašić, David Cunliffe must outwit John Key and assassinate the arch-duke of west-Auckland voter turnout.)
Only, this thing with Australian and New Zealand supermarkets does have a pre-July crisis vibe to it. You have an international system in which politicians and other players make short-term rational decisions based on business needs or domestic politics, possibly leading to an escalation as individuals in the other country also respond with their own domestic politics or short-term interests at heart. Hopefully this won’t all lead to a trade war. (Or an actual war.)
Also of note about The Sleepwalkers. Clark notes in the introduction that the various statesmen involved in the outbreak of war all published post-war memoirs giving their eye-witness to history account of things. And when their private diaries, meeting notes etc were declassified decades later the memoirs all turned out to be steaming piles of self-serving lies. Worth bearing in mind. (I’ve noticed that politicians tend to read political memoirs rather than actual history.) Also of note. None of the key political players involved in the outbreak of a war that led to approximately twenty million deaths ever showed the slightest flicker of remorse or self-doubt about their actions.