How Avoidable was WWI?

At the beginning of the twentieth century, a major European war appeared inevitable and maybe even desirable for many figures in Europe. Several standoffs (First and Second Moroccan Crisis, Bosnian Crisis) seemed like they may have resulted in a war between major European powers before diplomacy resulted in deescalation. If Franz Ferdinand never gets assassinated, how long could "WWI" be postponed?

Alternatively, how long until a major European war no longer seems "inevitable" from the perspective of people watching foreign policy at the time? If war continues to be averted post-1914, what year do leaders in Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Austria-Hungary, and Russia figure that a war between major European powers is unlikely to happen?
 
I'd say a war was inevitable before the 1920s. Up until then you have a belligerent Austria, a russia wanting to redeem itself after losing to Japan, (less likely to matter in foreign policy after 20 years), France is mad at germany, germany is led by a hothead. And Britain just wants the status quo to live.

If despite all that, peace can survive to 1925, I'd say it would become less certain. But that's a decade of borrowed time
 
War was a powder keg issue for many decades. Yet, the metaphorical lit match had avoided hitting the gunpowder before, and it could have again. A topic we talk about many times are all the possible World Wars that never were but almost were. I wouldn't say war was inevitable. Only that there was certainly an environment where it was highly plausible.
 
I'd say a war was inevitable before the 1920s. Up until then you have a belligerent Austria, a russia wanting to redeem itself after losing to Japan, (less likely to matter in foreign policy after 20 years), France is mad at germany, germany is led by a hothead. And Britain just wants the status quo to live.

If despite all that, peace can survive to 1925, I'd say it would become less certain. But that's a decade of borrowed time
Can you clarify how Austria was belligerent? In the 40 years prior to war it could be better described as inert.

Serbia, Russia, France and Italy wanted change, while A-H, Germany, the Ottomans and Britain all wanted the status quo. Clearly one of those states had a very confused foreign policy, which would have likely remedied itself from 1915.

Further, the French general election of 1914 had elected an overall majority of socialist parties substantially on a planform of peace and reconciliation, so it was actually the French hawks on borrowed time. Fromm 1915 Serbia and Russia were probably still up for adventures, but those would have likely been abandoned by their enablers.
 
Annexation of Bosnia in 1908?
The annexation made permanent the existing A-H administration of the territory, which had been in place for 30 years. The annexation was made after seeking approval from Imperial Russia to avoid potential hostilities. Scarcely 'belligerent'.
 
Can you clarify how Austria was belligerent?
Austrias's problem was, by this time, that its Slavic population wanted the same rights as Hungarians and the Hungarians would rather Hell freeze first. So Austria and Serbia started a dance that was always going to end up with blows or a split of AH. It was as much about Serbia as Austria but as long as Austria was repressing rights on ethnic grounds, the Balkans, always a tinderbox, had sparks being dropped in it.
 
I would not say that WWI was unavoidable.

If WWI did not break out in 1914, there are two events that could have advanced the eventual start of an alt-later WWI: a Revolution in Russia (the risk of revolution in Russia was relatively high since 1905 and the WWI juts triggered it, but without WWI there could be an alt-trigger) and the decomposition of Austria-Hungary (similar case).

With a Soviet Union and no A-H in the picture, probably an eventual European war would have been looked very different (maybe like a Second Franco-Prussian War).
 
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I would not say that WWI was unavoidable.

If WWI did not break out in 1914, there are two events that could have advanced the eventual start of an alt-later WWI: a Revolution in Russia (the risk of revolution in Russia was relatively high since 1905 and the WWI juts triggered it, but without WWI there could be an alt-trigger) and the decomposition of Austria-Hungary (similar case).

With a Soviet Union and no A-H in the picture, probably an eventual European war would have been looked very different (maybe like a Second Franco-Prussian War).
Discontent in Russia was high, this is true, but what made the Russian Revolution of 1917 successful was the army radicalising against the war that they had been conscripted to fight. Without such a war, sure there was high possibility of strike action and other social turmoil but ultimately the army that existed at the time wouldn't have been the exhausted, demoralised, politically radical army of 1917 but a more coherent and traditional force willing to suppress any dissent at the order of the Tsar and his generals. Even in the unlikely event that social turmoil boils over to become a revolutionary moment and such a movement is successful, it is very unlikely that the resultant political landscape will resemble a "Soviet Union".
 
Austrias's problem was, by this time, that its Slavic population wanted the same rights as Hungarians and the Hungarians would rather Hell freeze first. So Austria and Serbia started a dance that was always going to end up with blows or a split of AH. It was as much about Serbia as Austria but as long as Austria was repressing rights on ethnic grounds, the Balkans, always a tinderbox, had sparks being dropped in it.
What Slavic populations are you referring to? In Bosnia and Herzegovina the Serbs made up only 40% of the population. Neither the Bosniaks, nor the Croats were much interested in becoming honorary Serbs. Neither the Czech nor the Polish minorities could expect the same level of autonomy under German or Russian rule. In the vast majority of cases, minority existence under A-H rule was far better than the alternative (if any). Things were not perfect, but they could certainly be far worse.
Post-war tropes and propaganda?
Yeah, I was about to mock the routine trope about imminent A-H collapse, when...
If WWI did not break out in 1914, there are two events that could have advanced the eventual start of an alt-later WWI: a Revolution in Russia (the risk of revolution in Russia was relatively high since 1905 and the WWI juts triggered it, but without WWI there could be an alt-trigger) and the decomposition of Austria-Hungary (similar case).
As outlined above, there were scarce viable alternatives for minorities without the disruption of war. In context, the Serbs represented the least influential third (maybe little more) of the least influential state in the empire. OTL A-H was still intact after three years of total war, which scarcely went well, on three separate fronts. Similarly with Imperial Russia, it took 3 years of a disastrous mismanaged war, before the revolution.
 

Stenz

Monthly Donor
Yeah, I was about to mock the routine trope about imminent A-H collapse, when...
As outlined above, there were scarce viable alternatives for minorities without the disruption of war. In context, the Serbs represented the least influential third (maybe little more) of the least influential state in the empire. OTL A-H was still intact after three years of total war, which scarcely went well, on three separate fronts. Similarly with Imperial Russia, it took 3 years of a disastrous mismanaged war, before the revolution.
It baffles me that the “logic” of the collapse of A-H is absolute, yet Russia is hardly mentioned.

Also, by this “logic” (collapse after years of war and treaties imposed by enemies) the German and Ottoman Empires were due to collapse sometime soon as well?
 
It reminds me of a French short story where Franz Ferdinand finishes his day in Sarajevo without any problem and goes back to Vienna.
In the twenties Europe is on fire and blood. The French returned to the Rhineland with unstoppable tanks and the Germans retaliated with large-scale chemical and bacteriological weapons. The situation is no better in Central and Eastern Europe where the conflict is escalating into ethnic genocide with Russia falling into an even bloodier revolution. Moreover, Franco-British and German scientists are about to create the nuclear bomb with Joliot Curie and Albert Einstein. The number has exceeded tens and tens of millions of deaths. In the shadow of pacifist scientists decide to travel in time to provoke an earlier but less devastating conflict in Europe. They decide to leave in 1914 to arm a Serbian nationalist to kill Archduke Franz Ferdinand and thus spare the world a nuclear holocaust.
According to this book we live in the best of all possible worlds. :p
 
What Slavic populations are you referring to? In Bosnia and Herzegovina the Serbs made up only 40% of the population. Neither the Bosniaks, nor the Croats were much interested in becoming honorary Serbs. Neither the Czech nor the Polish minorities could expect the same level of autonomy under German or Russian rule. In the vast majority of cases, minority existence under A-H rule was far better than the alternative (if any). Things were not perfect, but they could certainly be far worse.
I'm a bit disturbed by this. Are you saying Croats and Bosniaks are not Slavs? Are you saying they were not unhappy at being second class citizens? Are you saying Serbia was not aiding those wanting more rights ( for its own benefit/reasons of course )? I never said all the Slav's wanted to Serbs , just that they wanted equal rights and would prefer say, an independent Croatia, to staying in AH. Your assesrtion that AH rule was seen as better than independence is frankly patronizing.
 

NoMommsen

Donor
However I consent with you, dear @BooNZ , that A-H was far from 'collapsing' as so many try to convince the lesser ediúcated on A-Hs history, you might have forgotten the Slowenes, Slovaks and Ruthenes as well as - if we count them as slavs with dako-roman heritage later superseeded by Bulgars - the Romaninas. ;)

And, well, as possible 'powder kegs' for some other multinational war IMHO there were :
-the greco-turkish antithesis​
-the greek claims on 'northern Epiruns' or southern Albania​
-the 'albanian question' at all well capable of triggering another Balkan-War that might 'serve' to clear some other differences as well leading to an international aka Great War​
-another 3rd Balkan-War starting around whatever theme ever some of the former participants still unsatisfied with 'just claims' on someone elses territories​
-the ottoman-russian antithesis in the Caucasus​
-the ottoman-russian antithesis in Persia​
(both above themes propagated at the time by - for the moment only< - proxies as the armenians, aseri, kurds, ...)​
-the russian-british antithesis in Persia​
(only superficially 'solved' with the 1907 treaty since esp. the russians were keen on ignoring esp. the neutral zone of the treats. The diplomatic correspondence from 1910 is rather filled with samples of british ... 'uneasiness' about the persian situations)​
-the 'chines question' ... always good for something running awfully bad, causing bad blood followed by flowing blood​
 

NoMommsen

Donor
what if France and Russia ceased to be allied
Ever heard of The Treaty of Björkö ? Rather likely me might see a russian-german kinda alliance.
... with whatever consequences of a then likely dwindling german-austrian alliance
... with whatever consequences for russian ambitions on the Balkan

very likely another Great War only started by a franco-austrian alliance against a german-russian alliance 😳
 

Stenz

Monthly Donor
It reminds me of a French short story where Franz Ferdinand finishes his day in Sarajevo without any problem and goes back to Vienna.
...snip...
Ben Elton did one as well with a time traveller coming back to 1914 and trying to prevent WWI. As the story continues, it’s apparent he’s from a world where his WWI lasted thirty odd years and killed millions more than ours.
 
I also question the reasoning that if the A-H Empire or the Russian Empire collapse in civil war it necessarily ends in world war. Civil wars happen all the time in history without them becoming world wars.
 
I'm a bit disturbed by this. Are you saying Croats and Bosniaks are not Slavs? Are you saying they were not unhappy at being second class citizens? Are you saying Serbia was not aiding those wanting more rights ( for its own benefit/reasons of course )? I never said all the Slav's wanted to Serbs , just that they wanted equal rights and would prefer say, an independent Croatia, to staying in AH. Your assesrtion that AH rule was seen as better than independence is frankly patronizing.
You may be less disturbed if you actually read what I wrote. (but no guarantees).

A mainstream (if not dominant) Serbian doctrine of the day was to assume or assert all Slavs (including Croats, Bulgars and Macedonians) were Serbs - and they and their lands should form part of greater Serbia. This interpretation was often not well received by the Croats, Bulgars and Macedonians. Minorities within the A/h empire continued to strive for more autonomy and rights, but few expected full independence. In context, following the break up of the empire, many thought Austria was too small to be a viable independent state - hence the rationale for a merger with Germany. So, most minorities would see the alternative to empire as being ruled by Imperial Germany, Imperial Russia or some imagined greater Serbia. And yes, A-H rule would be superior to those alternatives.
 
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