WWI Without America

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by warsfan, Dec 23, 2012.

  1. Mikestone8 Well-Known Member

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    It is likely to be one extreme or the other.

    Quarrels over blacklists and other measures meant that Allied-US and especially GB-US relations were bad and getting worse by late 1916, to the point where in early September Congress gave the President extensive powers to retaliate. Had the Germans not shot themselves in the foot by declaring USW it is likely that things would have continued to deteriorate. The poor 1916 harvest would probably have curtailed food exports, while British financial problems severely reduced imports in general from outside the Sterling Area. Maybe not all the way to no trade, but certainly a lot less trade.
     
  2. usertron2020 Tolstoyan

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    :confused:The Zimmerman Telegram?:confused:
     
  3. wiking Member

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  4. usertron2020 Tolstoyan

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    Without reading the book, do I take it that the gist of it is that the Imperial Germans considered the USA an enemy state from the start and that their policies towards America constituted a de facto DoW by Germany?:confused:
     
  5. wiking Member

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    In the sense that the US pretty much said that USW would mean war, which all the military and politicians recognized, which is why Bethman-Holweg pressed so hard against it and lost his job after finally breaking down and supporting it.
     
  6. Mikestone8 Well-Known Member

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    Was essentially a side-effect of USW. The projected alliances with Mexico and Japan were a precautionary measure in the event of USW leading to a US declaration of war.
     
  7. Mikestone8 Well-Known Member

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    I think some top Germans viewed President Wilson in that light (mistakenly imho) but the real point was that they had come to believe that the war would end in 1917 - in a German victory if USW succeeded, otherwise in a German defeat - so that US intervention no longer really mattered. They calculated (rightly) that the US could not bring serious forces to Europe before 1918, and (wrongly) that it would all be over before then.

    Hence the Mexican deal. If they had only America's miniscule regular army to worry about, then a Second Mexican War could keep that tied up through 1917, after which it would no longer matter. Like some people on this and other AH websites, they considered America solely in terms of military manpower, and largely ignored the economic impact that its intervention would have.
     
  8. usertron2020 Tolstoyan

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    1) Hence, exposing the German Foreign Ministry as knowing less about Western Hemispheric politics in 1917 than the US State Department knew about Hindu-Muslim relations in Bengal!:p

    2) Exposing the German General Staff's ignorance of the US Army's size compared to it's population base. IIRC, in one of the discussions about whether to engage in USW, the US Army was casually dismissed on the grounds that it was the same size as Denmark's!:rolleyes:

    3) Not to mention the enormous morale effects it had on the Entente powers, especially France. The song "The Yanks are coming" may sound quaint to us today, but it was worth two thousand times its' weight in gold (metaphorically speaking) in terms of its' spirit. The thought of a three million man American army in France by the Summer of 1919 went a long way in helping Petain to put down the French Army Mutiny in 1917. :cool:
     
  9. wiking Member

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    Remember that the Central Powers were cut off from communication with the outside world thanks to the Brits cutting their Atlantic telegraph cable. They had a very hard time communicating with other countries, their embassies, or even getting current news as to developments in those countries. They only knew what could filter in over time even including talks with their ambassador in the US. The diplomatic cable the Wilson made available to the Germans, which IIRC was only in 1916, meant that they could only intermittently talk with Bernsdorff, rather than get regular updates from him in real time.

    Part of that was political posturing in internal debates, part a problem of communication to realize how big the US industrial potential had grown thanks to Entente purchasing (the US didn't really have a military industrial base in 1914) and the limited army size meant that they had a very limited training apparatus, so that limited the rate of expansion much more for the US than even Britain in 1914-16. It took the British about two years to build an army and field it; we remember how the first day of the Somme turned out at the end of that 2 years.
    I'm guessing Ludendorff thought the US would not be able to build enough equipment in two years to equip a necessary 2 million man army, nor train it. He was right there, because the US used French production and instructors to prepare their massive new army, which on their own they wouldn't have been able to do. As it was the US army was rushed into combat and really needed major help from its allies to become even as effective as it was in late 1918. The major contribution of the US army in 1918 was holding quiet sectors to free up French and British troops, provide a major morale boost to their allies, and a major morale hit to the German army. It was not really a combat effective force until 1919.

    Very true. Without that I think the French would have called it quits in 1917 even disregarding the US material support.
     
  10. Grimm Reaper Desperate But Not Serious

    The Zimmerman telegram, the classic event which saw the German Foreign Minister insisting that he could not deny the legitimacy of the telegram on the grounds that it was true.
     
  11. usertron2020 Tolstoyan

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    Honesty =/= Diplomacy:p
     
  12. usertron2020 Tolstoyan

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    I wasn't referring to keeping up with day-to-day activities going on in each and every country. I meant just the kind of basic knowledge you could get from libraries, or reading the bloody front pages of newspapers! At the very least, they should have known that Mexico was in a civil war/revolution, and that the north of Mexico, where any presumed "invasion" of the USA would take place, has always been essentially lawless, not to mention Mexico being indefensible from the USA just geographically alone, while the reverse is not the case for an invading army coming into the USA from the south.

    I mean, were the Germans so ignorant of North American history and geography that they actually thought such an impoverished and outnumbered country could accomplish anything? Offering them the American southwest!?:rolleyes::rolleyes: This would give even Skippy the Alien Space Bat a hernia!

    1) If you mean strictly for the US Army and Marine Corps, I would agree. Not so for the US Navy.

    2) Not quite. In 1918 the US Army had a very effective role early on. They were being used on a division-by-division basis, as fire brigades to blunt the worst effects of the German 1918 Spring Offensive, which was really the last bolt in their quiver.

    The AEF by Armistice Day were not "in quiet sectors" but rather in the central part of the front running up against the hardest held points in the German lines. They were in full retreat almost everywhere else and needed to hold the center to allow the rest of the army to escape.

    3) Good point that, and one I failed to address.:eek::eek: That fact was immortalized in "All Quiet on the Western Front", showing the open defeatism of the German veterans who, though they never faced any troops but the French, were just waiting for the armistice, fighting for months on end with no hope of victory.:(

    4) Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't the AEF have no tanks, and the French and British did? Tanks on a WWI battlefield are a great way to make you an "effective combat force.":p

    Don't tell them that.:p
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2013
  13. Mikestone8 Well-Known Member

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    They knew perfectly well that the Mexicans couldn't win but of course that wasn't the idea.

    Mexico's function would be to distract the US, forcing it to keep its army tied up on the Rio Grande for the few months which (supposedly) it would take the u-boats to win the war. It was of course a propaganda gift to the Allies, but had the submarine campaign lived up to the Navy's hype, that might not have mattered. It was a crude ploy, but not quite as insane as it now appears in hindsight.
     
  14. usertron2020 Tolstoyan

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    1) Talk about the gift that kept on giving...

    2) It did, until the Royal and US Navy adopted convoying. The technology of the time did not allow for wolfpacking.

    3) Not as crude or insane as Pearl Harbor.
     
  15. BlondieBC Kaiser of Ozarks

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    Actually, individual commanders did work together to "wolfpack". It was not used as a doctrine. They U-boats had radios. What is the missing technology you believe would be needed?
     
  16. wiking Member

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    I think he thought that because it wasn't centrally directed from bases in Germany with high powered radios like in WW2 that it wasn't possible, but like you said commander coordinated by themselves at sea with their lower powered radios just fine.
    Dönitz gained experience in WW1 doing just that and made it doctrine in WW2.
     
  17. usertron2020 Tolstoyan

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    Wasn't submarine range and speed also an issue in WWI?
     
  18. wiking Member

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    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U-boat#Classes
    Doesn't seem to be for later models. Especially when they didn't have SONAR or effective depth charges.
     
  19. Mikestone8 Well-Known Member

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    Main limit on submarine range was the supply of torpedoes. Once these ran out the sub had to return to base, which could be a longish journey from the waters off southern Ireland up around the north of Scotland.

    As a result, iirc, only a comparatively small minority of u-boats were on station at any given moment.
     
  20. usertron2020 Tolstoyan

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    Did I forget to mention the Germans in WWI didn't have sub bases in Norway, Denmark, Holland, and France to operate from?