When do wars actually end?

World War One started in July 1914, but when did it end? Conventionally, people assume it ended in November 1918, with the surrender of Germany.

But people were still dying many years later. My own grandfather suffered for decades with lungs rotted out by mustard gas at the Somme, and didn’t die for many years, gasping and coughing nightly.

The most recent victims, astonishingly, were as recently as March 2014, almost exactly a century after the conflict started. How is that possible? They were construction workers, who accidentally triggered an unexploded bomb buried beneath where they were working.

During WW1, a ton of explosives was fired for every square metre of territory along the front.

As a result, the French Département du Déminage (Department of Mine Clearance) recovers about 900 tons of unexploded munitions every year. They call it the Iron Harvest.

Unexploded ordinance is left behind after all conflicts. Children are maimed and killed every year as a result of uncleared mines and bombs in Asia and Africa.

The wars we fight today will kill not only us but our grandchildren and great-grandchildren too. It’s time to make war history.

The déjà vu election and its ramifications for France

In France, Emmanuel Macron has been re-elected. A nearly 15% swing was not in the end enough to bring Marine Le Pen to power.

In 2017, when the same two candidates faced off, the result was 66.1% to 33.9%. The preliminary results this time make it 58.5% to 41.5%. Macron’s vote is down around 2 million on last time and Le Pen’s up 2.5 million. This marks a slight swing towards Macron in the second round, as opinion polling had the two candidates on around 57.6% to 42.4% just after the first round.

Macron-Le Pen affilano le armi in vista del duello tv - Mondo - ANSA
The presidential election, same as the last one.

If we want to consider the trend here, in 2002, when her father Jean-Marie made it to the second round of voting, he received a mere 5.5 million votes, 17.8% of the turnout.

It’s the lowest turnout since 1969, indicating what some call voter apathy but is more probably a distaste for both candidates, especially among the nearly 8 million people who supported the far left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon in the first round.

Macron cannot serve three consecutive terms, and his party came into being in part to find a centrist candidate who could defeat Le Pen in 2017. The traditional parties of left and right were decimated at this election, with the Republican candidate coming behind even Zemmour, and the Socialist candidate barely scraping into the top ten.

The one-time heir apparent to Marine, her niece Marion Marechal, left politics in 2017 after a series of disputes with her aunt. Since then she has worked in education, but recently she offered her support to the even more far right candidate Eric Zemmour, who obtained 7% of the vote in the first round of the presidential election.

Macron’s victory tonight therefore belies a further ratcheting of the hypernationalist vote in France, and forebodes some degree of future uncertainty. The election in 2027 is already likely to be extremely interesting. The challenge for the traditional parties is almost existential at this point, but one presumes with their funds and electoral machines they will bounce back. The question is how far how quickly.

En Marche must now find and promote an heir to Macron in a similar timeframe. And the National Rally will have to decide whether two-time loser Marine Le Pen should be backed again, or whether her niece can be lured back into the fold.