The WW1 Thread - "The war to end all wars"

7 posts

Niccolo and Donkey

We'll kick it off with a book review in the NYT:

On the Brink - ‘The Sleepwalkers’ and ‘July 1914’


If German diplomacy and grand strategy had been even half as sound as German soldiering, the world would have been much different today. The crown "jewel" of German blundering under Wilhelm II has to be the Triple Entente. It is staggering that anyone was even capable of putting Russia, France, and Britain in the same camp -- these had all been rivals of each other in various theaters in preceding decades. This alliance should have been avoidable. Especially ominous was losing Britain -- if Britain had been kept at least neutral, there would have been no blockade and also probably no American involvement. This should have been achievable by coming to terms favorable to Britain on the naval question. Instead, Germany seems to have valued pointless colonies like Tanzania more than keeping a bitterly revanchist France isolated. Bismarck must have been turning in his grave.

Equally perplexing is the blank check given to Austria. What kind of grand strategy was this? Wasn't Austria a rival when Prussia was trying to unify Germany? What did Germany owe to the decrepit multiethnic empire? If anything, Germany should have been seeking a way to break up that entity, which would have opened the possibility of absorbing Austria and Bohemia. (The rump could have been reconstituted as a Hungarian empire or perhaps divided between Croatia and Hungary. Whatever would have worked.) Why should the German empire have not been seeking to become an empire of all the Germans in Europe?

I don't claim to thoroughly understand all the complex issues at hand, but at first blush I think a lot of blame has to be placed at Wilhelm II's feet.


Niccolo and Donkey
More importantly:

High time preference.
Niccolo and Donkey

this seems like a good place to plug this youtube channel

They follow the war week by week (started back in summer of 2014) and go over a lot of stuff that's not typically written about. They do a good job and avoid having an overtly moralistic narrative, which is most likely on the account of them being huge history nerds.