“New Light on 1914?” - war origins

Discussions on all aspects of the First World War not covered in the other sections. Hosted by Terry Duncan.
User avatar
Sheldrake
Member
Posts: 1567
Joined: 28 Apr 2013 17:14
Location: London

Re: “New Light on 1914?” - war origins

Postby Sheldrake » 06 Dec 2017 15:28

Terry Duncan wrote:The moral judgement on war pretty much started with WWI, though it is still the winners who were innocent and the losers always guilty, today nations don't even bother with declarations of war in order to be able to maintain the notion they are peaceable and only resort to use of violence against 'rogue states' or similar. Germany opted for war, she lost, therefore the decision was a poor one.


Not sure I agree with that. The moral judgement on war goes back much further: St Augustine coined the phrase the just war. Thomas Aquinas set out criteria that still have relevance. Proper authority - for a good and just purpose and with the aim of restoring peace. These criteria framed public christian responses and international opinion.

The French revolutionaries were in the wrong to depose their king. The European monarchies had a just cause to fight the revolutionaries. Napoleon was morally in the wrong to invade Russia. German stares were fighting a just cause to eject Napoleon from Germany. Not saying that I agree with the logic, but it was influential and framed thought before and during WW1.

For what its worth the Germans had as much of a cause for supporting Austria-Hungary's War on Terror in 1914 as Britain did supporting American intervention in Afghanistan, and much less for the intervention in Iraq in 2003. But justice is a compromise between morality and expediency.

ljadw
Member
Posts: 7837
Joined: 13 Jul 2009 17:50

Re: “New Light on 1914?” - war origins

Postby ljadw » 06 Dec 2017 21:03

Sheldrake wrote:I have a reservation about the debate over "war guilt" because all too often the arguments follow the "rational commander" model. This is a kind of anthropomorphism that assumes that complex organisations like governments or a whole society behaves as if it were a single human. Every time I read the words "the Germans" or the Russians it begs the questions - which Germans - which Russians.

Graham Allison pointed out this fallacy in his critique of the Cuban Missile Crisis and its relevance to deterrence. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Essence_of_Decision

There is a depressing contemporary example when looking at British policy regarding Brexit. What policy? Which Britons?



There is no such thing as war guilt ,but responsibility for war .

Japan attacked Russia : no one is talking about war guilt .

The Balkan states attacked the Ottoman Empire : idem

Italy attacked the Ottoman Empire : idem

Bulgaria attacked the other Balkan states : idem

USA attacked Spain : idem

They all had the same arguments as Germany .

ljadw
Member
Posts: 7837
Joined: 13 Jul 2009 17:50

Re: “New Light on 1914?” - war origins

Postby ljadw » 06 Dec 2017 21:05

Sheldrake wrote:
Terry Duncan wrote:The moral judgement on war pretty much started with WWI, though it is still the winners who were innocent and the losers always guilty, today nations don't even bother with declarations of war in order to be able to maintain the notion they are peaceable and only resort to use of violence against 'rogue states' or similar. Germany opted for war, she lost, therefore the decision was a poor one.


Not sure I agree with that. The moral judgement on war goes back much further: St Augustine coined the phrase the just war. Thomas Aquinas set out criteria that still have relevance. Proper authority - for a good and just purpose and with the aim of restoring peace. These criteria framed public christian responses and international opinion.

The French revolutionaries were in the wrong to depose their king. The European monarchies had a just cause to fight the revolutionaries. Napoleon was morally in the wrong to invade Russia. German stares were fighting a just cause to eject Napoleon from Germany. Not saying that I agree with the logic, but it was influential and framed thought before and during WW1.

For what its worth the Germans had as much of a cause for supporting Austria-Hungary's War on Terror in 1914 as Britain did supporting American intervention in Afghanistan, and much less for the intervention in Iraq in 2003. But justice is a compromise between morality and expediency.

Morality has no place in a discussion about the outbreak of a war .

ljadw
Member
Posts: 7837
Joined: 13 Jul 2009 17:50

Re: “New Light on 1914?” - war origins

Postby ljadw » 06 Dec 2017 21:18

[quote="Terry Duncan"

Having a poor strategic war plan is not proof of anything more than unsuitable planning.

Germany tried to threaten and bluff in order to gain a diplomatic victory,

. [/quote]

Wilhelm also was quite clear that he didnt want a general war. Austria was the first great power to sign a full mobilisation order, Germany was the last.

.[/quote]
1) The strategic plan was not poor : the plan was to defeat France,there was no other serious alternative .

2) Not correct : Germany wanted war, not a diplomatic victory

3) The preparations for the attack in the west started before the DoW to Russia and before the Russian mobilisation which was not directed against Germany.

The attack in the west started immediately after the DoW to Russia and BEFORE the DoW to France ,which proves that everything was planned and premeditated: as France refused to intervene in the war between Russia and Germany, which made the Schlieffen plan impossible to execute, Germany declared itself war on France,otherwise there would be no war with France .And war with FRance was what Germany wanted :everything else was subordinated to this .Bethman told the governor of the Alsace that he did not care about the attack of Sarajevo,Sarajevo was only useful to make a war in the east possible,and a war in the east was only useful,if it resulted in a war with France .

ljadw
Member
Posts: 7837
Joined: 13 Jul 2009 17:50

Re: “New Light on 1914?” - war origins

Postby ljadw » 07 Dec 2017 08:22

Terry Duncan wrote:
ljadw wrote:This interpretation is not correct :


In your opinion.

ljadw wrote:in 1905 and 1911, Germany tried to have war with France,


Evidence? You know, where it states they want war first and foremost rather than to break up the Entente?

ljadw wrote:in 1908, Germany hoped to have a war with Russia, as the crisis between Russia and AH was defused, Germany humiliated Russia with unacceptable demands,hoping that Russia would refuse, but Russia was backing down ,it was abandoned by France.


Again, what evidence do you have for Germany wanting war above and beyond a diplomatic solution? They didnt need to warn Russia at all, they could simply have let a war start between Austria and Russia and then cited their alliance as requiring them to aide Austria.

ljadw wrote:Bülow was wrong :


Again, in your opinion. Should we conduct a straw poll of people here? Russia clearly did object to Austrian actions, hence their own mobilisations which would never have taken place if they didn't care about Serbia.

ljadw wrote:All this proves that after the Russian defeat against Japan Germany concluded that the way was open, the only problem was to do something that would force France to declare war .


This is the power you cite as deliberately lying to get a declaration of war in 1914, but for some reason, you think they had not invented lying prior to 1912?

ljadw wrote:Germany had a motive.


So did France, Russia, Britain, and Austria, even Japan had a motive, and they all acted on these motives.

Germany had a motive for starting the war in 1914,Russia not, the regime could not afford a war, Britain had no reason to start a war : its empire was big enough, France was pacific,the nationalists had beeb crushed at the election, for Austria a war (even victorious) would be a disaster . Only Germany wanted to destroy the statu quo .

User avatar
Sheldrake
Member
Posts: 1567
Joined: 28 Apr 2013 17:14
Location: London

Re: “New Light on 1914?” - war origins

Postby Sheldrake » 07 Dec 2017 10:03

ljadw wrote:Morality has no place in a discussion about the outbreak of a war .


Really?

#1 What about when someone wants to apportion blame?
#2 Enough governments try to position themselves on the moral high ground to suggest they care something about public and neutral opinion.

ljadw
Member
Posts: 7837
Joined: 13 Jul 2009 17:50

Re: “New Light on 1914?” - war origins

Postby ljadw » 07 Dec 2017 14:29

The moral high hround is only hypocrisy .

ljadw
Member
Posts: 7837
Joined: 13 Jul 2009 17:50

Re: “New Light on 1914?” - war origins

Postby ljadw » 07 Dec 2017 14:34

Terry Duncan wrote:
ljadw wrote:What Russian influence in the Balkans ?


If you realy are claiming to be unaware of this, despite many leading figures in Austria and Germany commenting upon it, then I doubt anything I write here will be of much assistance to you.

Only ONE Balkan country joined the Allies in 1914 ,because it was attacked by AH = Serbia;the others (Greece, Romania, Bulgaria ) remained neutral ,that proves that the Russian influence in the Balkans is mostly mythical .

User avatar
Sheldrake
Member
Posts: 1567
Joined: 28 Apr 2013 17:14
Location: London

Re: “New Light on 1914?” - war origins

Postby Sheldrake » 07 Dec 2017 14:55

ljadw wrote:The moral high hround is only hypocrisy .


a very cynical statement, with some justification. However hypocritical it is dangerous to dismiss its impact as the Germans did in 1914 over their internal security polciy in Belgium, unrestricted submarine warfare and first use of chemical weapons!

User avatar
The Ibis
Member
Posts: 176
Joined: 27 Dec 2015 01:06
Location: The interwebs

Re: “New Light on 1914?” - war origins

Postby The Ibis » 07 Dec 2017 16:51

ljadw wrote:
Sheldrake wrote:
Terry Duncan wrote:The moral judgement on war pretty much started with WWI, though it is still the winners who were innocent and the losers always guilty, today nations don't even bother with declarations of war in order to be able to maintain the notion they are peaceable and only resort to use of violence against 'rogue states' or similar. Germany opted for war, she lost, therefore the decision was a poor one.


Not sure I agree with that. The moral judgement on war goes back much further: St Augustine coined the phrase the just war. Thomas Aquinas set out criteria that still have relevance. Proper authority - for a good and just purpose and with the aim of restoring peace. These criteria framed public christian responses and international opinion.

The French revolutionaries were in the wrong to depose their king. The European monarchies had a just cause to fight the revolutionaries. Napoleon was morally in the wrong to invade Russia. German stares were fighting a just cause to eject Napoleon from Germany. Not saying that I agree with the logic, but it was influential and framed thought before and during WW1.

For what its worth the Germans had as much of a cause for supporting Austria-Hungary's War on Terror in 1914 as Britain did supporting American intervention in Afghanistan, and much less for the intervention in Iraq in 2003. But justice is a compromise between morality and expediency.

Morality has no place in a discussion about the outbreak of a war .


Of course it does, especially in total war contexts when popular support is so vital. While this is especially so in democratic or democratic-leaning countries, it is also true in other countries.
"The secret of managing is to keep the guys who hate you away from the guys who are undecided." - Casey Stengel

User avatar
Terry Duncan
Host - WW1 section
Posts: 4388
Joined: 13 Jun 2008 22:54
Location: Kent

Re: “New Light on 1914?” - war origins

Postby Terry Duncan » 07 Dec 2017 20:34

To play devil's advocate here if morality has a place how do we decide what is moral when both sides claim moral justification for their actions? In the end, the victors are always the ones to judge the vanquished, and in the present when it comes to war crimes at least one nation publically states it will not submit to the UN at The Hague but will try its own personal if it deems it necessary. If the Nazis had won WWII I am sure they would have claimed to eliminate enemies of the state as justified and moral. Morality tends to take a back seat in wartime to one degree or another. Even Schlieffen's invasion of Belgium has a perfectly moral justification in that by moving through Belgium the German army will suffer far fewer losses than if it tried to cross the common frontier, and of course, it is far from moral to expose your own men to greater losses than absolutely necessary. The Allies in WWII used a similar justification for their strategic bombing campaigns, they lessened the enemy's ability to fight as effectively as they would have done without such bombing, and as such reduced Allied casualties to some degree.

User avatar
The Ibis
Member
Posts: 176
Joined: 27 Dec 2015 01:06
Location: The interwebs

Re: “New Light on 1914?” - war origins

Postby The Ibis » 07 Dec 2017 21:18

Terry Duncan wrote:To play devil's advocate here if morality has a place how do we decide what is moral when both sides claim moral justification for their actions?


Both sides might have moral justification for their actions. Or believe they do. Or attempt to convince others (at home or abroad) that they do.

In the end, the victors are always the ones to judge the vanquished,


I wouldn't say always. Sometimes the victors didn't bother. When victors do judge, that judgment doesn't last. In the long term, history is the judge.

and in the present when it comes to war crimes at least one nation publically states it will not submit to the UN at The Hague but will try its own personal if it deems it necessary.


In the present, that country can act in accordance with its interest, and if others in the world thinks that stance is immoral and that a response is necessary, those other countries can act in accordance with their interests in response. Again, history will be the ultimate judge.

If the Nazis had won WWII I am sure they would have claimed to eliminate enemies of the state as justified and moral.


Claiming something was moral doesn't make it moral. In a situation like the one your describe, history would have had to come to the rescue.

Morality tends to take a back seat in wartime to one degree or another.


To one degree or another ... I'd agree with that.

Even Schlieffen's invasion of Belgium has a perfectly moral justification in that by moving through Belgium the German army will suffer far fewer losses than if it tried to cross the common frontier, and of course, it is far from moral to expose your own men to greater losses than absolutely necessary.


Again, both sides can find facially valid moral justifications for action. You can go further with this if you want. In a short war, Entente casualties would have been lower, so the Germans were doing everyone (outside of Belgium) a favor.

The Allies in WWII used a similar justification for their strategic bombing campaigns, they lessened the enemy's ability to fight as effectively as they would have done without such bombing, and as such reduced Allied casualties to some degree


Further to the previous comment, I'm sure you've also read that the atomic bomb saved millions of Japanese lives that would have been lost in the event of continued blockade and/or a ground invasion.

And we haven't even touched the law yet. Did you read Hull's book?
"The secret of managing is to keep the guys who hate you away from the guys who are undecided." - Casey Stengel

User avatar
Terry Duncan
Host - WW1 section
Posts: 4388
Joined: 13 Jun 2008 22:54
Location: Kent

Re: “New Light on 1914?” - war origins

Postby Terry Duncan » 08 Dec 2017 04:28

The Ibis wrote:In the long term, history is the judge.


This is where it seems concrete after a few years, but can look very different after a long time as morality changes. The Romans would have never found selling enemy combatants into slavery anything to view as wrong, indeed it would have been rather merciful compared to how captives were sometimes treated. Today it is seen as barbaric.

The Ibis wrote:And we haven't even touched the law yet. Did you read Hull's book?


No, though I presume you mean Cordell Hull and his work on establishing the UN here? I have read passages where quoted and an overview, but not the actual work itself, though as I now have finally got myself some glasses, reading is somewhat more practical again!

User avatar
The Ibis
Member
Posts: 176
Joined: 27 Dec 2015 01:06
Location: The interwebs

Re: “New Light on 1914?” - war origins

Postby The Ibis » 08 Dec 2017 04:46

Terry Duncan wrote:
The Ibis wrote:In the long term, history is the judge.


This is where it seems concrete after a few years, but can look very different after a long time as morality changes. The Romans would have never found selling enemy combatants into slavery anything to view as wrong, indeed it would have been rather merciful compared to how captives were sometimes treated. Today it is seen as barbaric.

The Ibis wrote:And we haven't even touched the law yet. Did you read Hull's book?


No, though I presume you mean Cordell Hull and his work on establishing the UN here? I have read passages where quoted and an overview, but not the actual work itself, though as I now have finally got myself some glasses, reading is somewhat more practical again!



Sorry, not Cordell. I was referring to Isabel Hull. https://academic.oup.com/ejil/article/25/4/1200/385560. She has a presentation on Youtube talking about it, but i wont be able to look til tomorrow. And your point about changing morality is valid... Which complicates the issue.
"The secret of managing is to keep the guys who hate you away from the guys who are undecided." - Casey Stengel

User avatar
Terry Duncan
Host - WW1 section
Posts: 4388
Joined: 13 Jun 2008 22:54
Location: Kent

Re: “New Light on 1914?” - war origins

Postby Terry Duncan » 08 Dec 2017 06:28

The Ibis wrote:Sorry, not Cordell. I was referring to Isabel Hull. https://academic.oup.com/ejil/article/25/4/1200/385560. She has a presentation on Youtube talking about it, but i wont be able to look til tomorrow. And your point about changing morality is valid... Which complicates the issue.


I had not even seen this book, but it looks interesting. Of course we have had more than out fair share of 'it was only a scrap of paper' advocates here and on other forums in the past, sadly none seem to be viewing at present so we will have to look to past posts for their points of view.


Return to “First World War”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: CommonCrawl [Bot]