How Avoidable was WWI?

Just skimmed through Clark's Sleepwalkers. Some parts read like the Entente needling the Central Powers until they snapped and fired the 'first shot', and even then there were episodes of Wilhelm and Nicholas trying to call it off at the last minute. And don't even mention the serbs, ambassador Hartwig, and others who actively schemed to somehow engineer a war.
 
there were more causes than just the Balkans being Balkanized:

1. Japan was getting aggressive in the Far East. It has already beaten Russia and China. It was looking for a war to expand. It did so in IRL, but then Versailles proceeded to take away all their gains and give it to someone else. China was "the sick man of Asia" it was loosing colonial concessions too easily - a 2nd Boxer Rebellion or some European power saying "Me, too" could start a war in the Far East spiraling it out of control

2. Afghanistan / Pakistan. The Great Game was an on and off affair - running between the Russians, British (Indians), Persians, Chinese (briefly), and natives. This could be a setting for a war between any of these powers.

3. Africa. The map of Africa was drawn up and divided, but it was not worth the paper it was printed on. One little change - such as oil being found in a province could spiral out into Boer-Wars Mark 2 -> World War One.

4. The Middle East. Put together three of the world's great religions who hate each other... nothing good will come of it.

5. Europe. European rivalries and entangling treaties. Lots and lots of this

6. New technology - see #5 above, there were several planners in the military offices of many governments that wanted to use their new weapons on the world stage instead of killing some 3rd world nation in a colony grab.
 
Dear Kaze,

Your third point illustrates the Balkans.
Turkey had converted some south Slavs to Islam (Bosniacs and Kosovars) and used them to guard the western border of the Ottoman Empire.
The Austrian-Hungarian Empire converted some south Slavs to Roman Catholicism (Croats) and used them to guard the eastern border.
Russia had converted some south Slavs to Eastern Orthodox Catholicism (Serbs) and used to guard the southern border.
Throw in a few un-related tribes like Hungarians (unique language), Bulgars, Romanians (dialect of old Latin), etc. and you get many small groups willing to fight each other over small pieces of land. Both tribes may have retained historical claims on various pieces of land, but those lines blurred over centuries of migrations, politics, royal marriages and wars.

Meanwhile, large, wealthy countries are becoming more stable, more urbanized and less violent. Certainly the last thing Britain wanted was a European War.

Sadly, small Balkan tribes dragged large empires down to their level and ground them into dust!
 
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.
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.
LOL, reminds me of the first lecture I attended at uni where the lecturer stood there and said Austria-Hungary was always doomed to collapse. I asked how could he say that considering they had spent so long not collapsing. He said he didn't take questions during his lecture so I walked out. At the end of my third year, the bar steward [sic] marked my departmental score as a C- despite me getting A's and B++s in almost every subject, and prevented me getting a first. But I'm not bitter...
 
Are you saying they were not unhappy at being second class citizens?
They knew what they had under the Austrians. What makes you think that they desired to be second class citizens under the Serbs, as things worked out OTL?
 
The Austrian-Hungarian Empire converted some south Slavs to Roman Catholicism (Croats) and used them to guard the eastern border.
Russia had converted some south Slavs to Eastern Orthodox Catholicism (Serbs) and used to guard the southern border.
far earlier than that, here is why you had the Eastern and RC religious split

as that was where the Pope or Patriarch had sway.

That was well baked in, before there was even a Russia
 
Wars in Europe may or may not have been inevitable, but that doesn't mean any of them HAVE to turn into a general European war and later a World War.
 
yes the first world war was avoidable but you would need European powers to focus on foreign Nations such as the Ottoman Empire and China European Focus needs to be off of its Rivals and on something else if Kaiser Wilhelm II had decided to keep his alliance with his cousin Nicholas over keeping an alliance with Austria-Hungary or forcing Austria-Hungary to make nice with Russia there would be no way in hell the French would get involved in the war with Germany if Russia and Austria-Hungary were on its side it really could be as simple as someone swallowing a bit of their pride and going yeah we need to work together also if you are able to get Germany and Russia to agree that Albania has no right to exist after the first Balkan war Serbian Greece will get land and they might relinquish their claims over the land promised to Bulgaria preventing the second Balkan War Italian should have had no say over what happened in the Balkans
 
They knew what they had under the Austrians. What makes you think that they desired to be second class citizens under the Serbs, as things worked out OTL?
Where did I say they would be part of Serbia? Croatia is an independent country these days, it was the preferance given after WW1 but overruled ( may have also included Slovenia as they had worries about being viable on their own )
 
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?
Well to be fair I have seen more then one historian (norman stone and prit buttar for example) argue that the war, at least briefly, reinforced the country. Same whith Russia, the nationalist explosion for the ruler plus the now foreign enemy to act as a us vs. Them mechanic all helped reinforce the country's more then the war tore it down, at least initially. So saying that Austria lasted 3 years of total war means that it would last a dozen in peace is really missing the, ironically, good the war did when it comes to internal cohesion.
 
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.
the serbs should have extended it to saying russians, poles, czechs, ukranians and slovaks were also serbs too
 
So saying that Austria lasted 3 years of total war means that it would last a dozen in peace is really missing the, ironically, good the war did when it comes to internal cohesion.
Russia's glamour for the War as a unifier was gone in 1915.

Say what you will, A-H didn't have a 1905 event until 1918. Many of the sub-parts of the Empire were not happy, but not so unhappy to try and tear everything down, like in Russia. There were no Trotskys or Lenins waiting in the wings, waiting for the chance to move the vast mobs of the discontented.
The vast threat to the Empire was in what the Hungarians were doing, not a bottom up rising of the oppressed peoples on that half of the Empire.

The big issue for A-H was between the Parliaments, not uprisings. The Royal Family remained popular.
No War?
that would continue, even with F-J passing in 1916
 
Meanwhile, large, wealthy countries are becoming more stable, more urbanized and less violent. Certainly the last thing Britain wanted was a European War.
Actually there were some military planners in Britain that were planning for a war in Europe. There were plans drawn up against Belgium (over Africa), Germany, Russia, and France (nothing says Britain like punching the French - like we did against Napoleon just a hundred years ago). It is one of the reasons why the Boy Scouts were invented - a group of gentlemen after the horrors of the Boer Wars came together to create a fraternal organization of young boys to teach them camping and all the life skills needed for a future war which they projected to start in 1920.
 
To me, the Seminal Catastrophe was similar to the breakup of Yugoslavia: there was far too much gunpowder and far too much simmering tension.

Here's what you had working against peace:

1. A deeply belligerent Kaiser.

2. A Balkans region that was volatile and fragile.

3. Imperial rivalries.

4. A population that had not experience the terror of industrial scale warfare.

For WWI to not have happened on such a scale, you would need several of things.

Perhaps WWI was a necessary evil: in that in instructed the world on why warfare in a globalized world was no longer practical.
 
To me, the Seminal Catastrophe was similar to the breakup of Yugoslavia: there was far too much gunpowder and far too much simmering tension.

Here's what you had working against peace:

1. A deeply belligerent Kaiser.
As evidenced by the 40 years of peace prior to WW1, over half of that under the reign of Wilhelm II

2. A Balkans region that was volatile and fragile.
As evidenced by two open wars and various insurgencies prior to 1914, without escalation to a wider war.

3. Imperial rivalries.
A period that coincided with a period of unparralled peace in europe - at least among 'civilised' colonial powers

4. A population that had not experience the terror of industrial scale warfare.
Military planners prior to the war frequently refered to total war between civilisations and anticipated the collapse thereof

For WWI to not have happened on such a scale, you would need several of things.

Perhaps WWI was a necessary evil: in that in instructed the world on why warfare in a globalized world was no longer practical.
I guess that was why it was the war to end all wars...
 

NoMommsen

Donor
Well, let me allow to quesion some of your propositions
...
1. A deeply belligerent Kaiser.
...
A deeply, often belligerently blustering Kaiser ... and only blustering.
He let all the numerous chances for war (Manila-incident [spanish-american war], Samoa-crisis, Moroco-crisis 1 & 2, Bosnia-crisis, the Balkan wars 1 & 2) he had ... pass.
Even on the eve of the Great War he was grabbing a straw of an assumption of a possible offer of british and french neutrality to avoid war ("There must have been a misunderstanding").
...
4. A population that had not experience the terror of industrial scale warfare.
- American Civil war ... (at least the population of the confederates wer dearly suffering)
- Balkan wars

There were proper examples of what industrialized warfare would mean. ... only that they was ignored/set aside for the thirst for heroism.


Eeh ... ninjad by @BooNZ :biggrin:
 
The way I saw it, the best scenario was all the conflicts in the war being split up into several separate ones, like an Austro-Serbian War, a Second Franco-Prussian War, etc.
 

CalBear

Moderator
Donor
Monthly Donor
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.
Take it down a couple notches. That isn't what was said.
 
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