How Avoidable was WWI?

What would avoid WWI? Shooting the entire German Staff. The Kaiser basically outsourced and allowed the Staff to play with Germany's foreign policy. It believed the only answer to any question was, "invade France!" The Schlieffen Plan was it and nothing else would do. An Austrian Arch-Duke gets shot in the Balkans, "invade France!" There is a dispute in Morocco? "Invade France!" There is trouble with Russia? "Invade France!" Everything was devolved down to one response - "Invade France!"
 
What would avoid WWI? Shooting the entire German Staff. The Kaiser basically outsourced and allowed the Staff to play with Germany's foreign policy. It believed the only answer to any question was, "invade France!" The Schlieffen Plan was it and nothing else would do. An Austrian Arch-Duke gets shot in the Balkans, "invade France!" There is a dispute in Morocco? "Invade France!" There is trouble with Russia? "Invade France!" Everything was devolved down to one response - "Invade France!"
I think that rather discounts the aggressiveness of France's own military leaders, their desire to regain Alsace-Lorraine, and their belief that a great war had to be enacted before demographic trends placed Germany at a firm advantage over France.
 
What would avoid WWI? Shooting the entire German Staff. The Kaiser basically outsourced and allowed the Staff to play with Germany's foreign policy. It believed the only answer to any question was, "invade France!" The Schlieffen Plan was it and nothing else would do. An Austrian Arch-Duke gets shot in the Balkans, "invade France!" There is a dispute in Morocco? "Invade France!" There is trouble with Russia? "Invade France!" Everything was devolved down to one response - "Invade France!"
The planning for the war was delegated to the General staff, but the German General Staff had limited influence over the civilian decision makers who were ordinarily firmly against war - as evidenced by the previous 40 years. Notwithstanding the above, the Schlieffen Plan was extraordinarily shit, from both a military and diplomatic perspective.
 
Or Russia willing to defend Serbia to the max, when they had no Treaty, secret or public, to offer assistance or to guarantee independence.

Russia could have let the 3rd Balkan War start and run its course, that would have only exposed their boasting of the Russian Ambassador , and not support to Black Hand group of Serbian Army Officers, the same bunch that assassinated the Serbian King and Queen that had pro-Austrian views a decade before.

But no, there was a Full Mobilization of the entire Army, and that Order, meant War with both Germany and Austria-Hungary.
That lit the Fuze to WWI
 
Or Russia willing to defend Serbia to the max, when they had no Treaty, secret or public, to offer assistance or to guarantee independence.

Russia could have let the 3rd Balkan War start and run its course, that would have only exposed their boasting of the Russian Ambassador , and not support to Black Hand group of Serbian Army Officers, the same bunch that assassinated the Serbian King and Queen that had pro-Austrian views a decade before.

But no, there was a Full Mobilization of the entire Army, and that Order, meant War with both Germany and Austria-Hungary.
That lit the Fuze to WWI
This. There were a lot of conflicts in Europe but the only one that made war inevitable was russian decision to completly disregard Austrian basic safety interest in dealing with the basically terrorist state that Serbia was by 1914. IMO if the Serbian-Austrian conflict could have been solved without a major war WWI is avoidable. And after FF's asassination and seeing how many assasination attempts there were on the Romanow rulers its not impsossible for Nicholas to take a monarchical stance instead of unconditioned support of Serbia.

France would never start a war for Alsace because 1. it was not belligerent enough especially with the socialist coming to power and 2. feared that russia would not support it if the war started for french interests.

And Germany was decidedly not ready to start a great continental war and risk its own existence to gain some strip of land in Africa or even China.
 
Conrad wanted a girl.
Austria wanted a little war.
Germany wanted Austria to have that war.
France and Russia didn't want any war.
To secure Germany's Russian border she marched her armies into France.
The British said 'I say, with just a pencil, we created this country called Belgium and we all agreed that keeping out of it was for our collective security'.
Everyone got a big war

...but Conrad got the girl.

You can't make this shit up.
 
One thing I do wonder, not necessarily with avoiding the war, but diverting national interests onto a more peaceful disagreement for a time; If you can prevent the assassination of FF, would the unveiling of the Ilya Muroments airliners designed by Igor Sikorsky have let to other big powers wanting to get in on the action (akin to the Blue Riband but in the air)? Could this have diverted attention away from matter military and into some more non-combative international rivalries?
 
It baffles me that the “logic” of the collapse of A-H is absolute, yet Russia is hardly mentioned.
Indeed. The revolutionary fervour within Russia as late as 1914 seems to be grossly underestimated. And a repeat of 1905 wouldn't end with the revolutionaries being fobbed off with Tsarist promises,

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 a 'readjustment' within the Ottoman territories was probably inevitable, though it could have taken many forms.
 
Conrad wanted a girl.
Austria wanted a little war.
Germany wanted Austria to have that war.
France and Russia didn't want any war.
To secure Germany's Russian border she marched her armies into France.
The British said 'I say, with just a pencil, we created this country called Belgium and we all agreed that keeping out of it was for our collective security'.
Everyone got a big war

...but Conrad got the girl.

You can't make this shit up.
I beg to differ
 

Stenz

Monthly Donor
Well a 'readjustment' within the Ottoman territories was probably inevitable, though it could have taken many forms.
The Ottoman Empire was near-on a century (or more) of readjustments to European powers and managed to survive just fine in it's core provinces. One could argue that the Sultans' survival policy was to shed outer provinces in the aftermath of an unsuccessful war and keep going.

OTL, the Sublime Porte seemed just fine with pretty much everything the WAllies demanded of it, provided they were allowed to retain power and keep Constantinople along with the Caliphate.
 
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.
Yep +1

Similarly the AH empire wasn't doomed to collapse, although it was facing mounting internal pressures that would need to be tackled without resorting to more of the same, and officially adding Bosnia to the fold in 1908 was always going to have consequences both for them internally and internationally in Eastern Europe.

The problem was the alliance system was designed to prevent general war between two or more great powers. But not necessarily smaller wars between one great power and lesser ones. And it had worked pretty well at that for 45ish years.

Thing is while no one was truly dumb, or relentlessly belligerent there were some really dumb moves and stupidly belligerent moves in July/Aug1914 that kind of boxed everyone else into a corner making the alliance system a trap not a precaution.

what compounds this was there were a couple of factions who felt they needed to put their head down and charge or lose their opportunity. namely:

1). the AH who didn't want to go to intentional mediation over FF and Serbia (or at least if it had to they wanted to do so with the AH Flag firmly planted on Serbian soil nad the world a fait accompli).

2). Germany gives AH a Blank cheque, (and some in Germany seizing what they thought was their political opportune chance for war)



and the thing is the alliance system gets the blame , but IMO the two big reasons why we get a general European and then World war are actually because the alliance system was ignored in favour of short term policy in two main ways.


1). AH for some reason thought the Russians wouldn't honour their treaty with Serbia if they just went in quick enough to catch the Russians on the hop* (although because AH was pretty fractious at this point they're not quick** meaning every was watching and sympathy for AH had dissipated).

2). Germany thought that either Belgium would let*** German troops through or that Britain wouldn't honour**** it treaty with Belgium


The irony is both moves involved assuming other great powers would ignore their treaties, while both AH & Germany were invoking and meeting their own treaty obligations!


And the thing is I've never come across of good reason for why either of these two made those decisions beyond the necessity of those choices being driven by the course they had already taken. In that AH can't back down once it's thumped it chest so hard with demands, and Germany's Schlieffen 'Plan'.




*only they mobilised faster than they had in the 1st half of the C19th because despite European sneering Russia has modernised somewhat

**Including not telling the army command until the last minute oh you'll need to mobilise

***neutrality having a different meaning in turn od the century German.

****Not wanting to get into land wars in Europe not being the same as being unwilling if it comes to it
 
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Stenz

Monthly Donor
Similarly the AH empire wasn't doomed to collapse, although it was facing mounting internal pressures that would need to be tackled without resorting to more of the same,
Would you expand on this?

and officially adding Bosnia to the fold in 1908 was always going to have consequences both for them internally and internationally in Eastern Europe.
Also, why was adding Bosnia an internal problem for A-H when it was Serbian expansionism and nationalism that stirred up trouble in the province? Absent Serbian irredentism, it would be 'normal' internal Austrian politics.
 
Would you expand on this?
Internal nationalism, the AH empire is multi ethnic and multi polar (which is why the Austrians had to get the initially lukewarm Hungarians on board before putting the screws to Serbia in 1914). Not insurmountable, but getting worse. And not going to be solved by visiting princes waving flags of empire


Also, why was adding Bosnia an internal problem for A-H when it was Serbian expansionism and nationalism that stirred up trouble in the province? Absent Serbian irredentism, it would be 'normal' internal Austrian politics.
Because you just took a big heaping helping of Slavic nationalism in Bosnia / Herzegovina and made it (more) internal. The last thing AH needs is more factionalism. Yes I agree Serbia were no angels, and certainly had their own agenda but what do you think the Serbian/ Slavic (and Russian) reaction was going to be when AH starts grabbing chunks of former Ottoman Eastern Europe and formally annexing it? The Serbs were definitely making their own moves and trying to create their own thing but they were responding to AH moves as well.

I.e. "absent Serbian irredentism" doesn't mean very much when Serbian irredentism was very much present!

All in all the AH attitude of "well we AH empire we have defeated/outlasted our historic enemies the Ottomans in eastern Europe so this is all naturally our sphere of influence" is kind of emblematic of them not getting the new ethnic/nationalism reality of the turn of the C20th, but instead thinking people will follow the crown like it's C18th. i.e the AH is still basing it's foreign policy on "your either in our big empire or someone else's". And well there's a reason why WW1 sees the death of 4 monarchies and their empires.
 
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1). AH for some reason thought the Russians wouldn't honour their treaty with Serbia if they just went in quick enough to catch the Russians on the hop* (although because AH was pretty fractious at this point they're not quick** meaning every was watching and sympathy for AH had dissipated).
What treaty?

Also high ranking serbian officials have been party to the organization of fermenting separatism and various acts of terror by secret organizations on austrian territory. The assasination of FF has only been the tip of an iceberg - and even Pasic new about the attempt beforehand. What was Austria supposed to do? Especially when Russia concluded beforehand that Serbia cant be held accountable for the assassination.
 
What treaty?
Actually fair enough no official treaty but pretty damn clear mutual agreement and support, (the Russians had just basically put Pasic back in government). the Russian had not been shy about their backing either, and the AH were well aware of it. Russia had been in with Serbia since 1807, and had basically been making moves in this area since then. AH knew they were countering Russian influence in the area (and vice versa of course).

Also high ranking serbian officials have been party to the organization of fermenting separatism and various acts of terror by secret organizations on austrian territory.
Well yes, but high ranking Serbian officials cover a lot of ground especially as Serbia had it's own factionalism going (which is why Pasic had needed Russian support). Also when you are multi ethnic empire guess what you will be susceptible to people looking at separatism, how you deal with depends on you


The assassination of FF has only been the tip of an iceberg - and even Pasic new about the attempt beforehand.

Did he? More importantly did he condone it? Pasic wanted peace (not because he was a lovely peaceful chap who loved AH, but because they were still skint from the last Balkan war), dont get me wrong I've no doubt there was a line between some Serbian factions - Black hand - Young Bosnians. But this idea that the assassination of FF was some official foreign policy move by the Serbian Gov while it might make AH look better, isn't necessarily true

What was Austria supposed to do? Especially when Russia concluded beforehand that Serbia cant be held accountable for the assassination.
It could have acted faster and handed the world a fait accompli that no one was going to go to war over (but fucked that option up)

It could have framed it's ultimatum demands in such a way that they could have be met and satisfaction given/extracted, and not be about the most transparent looking for rejection excuse for war ever (the Serbs actually agreed all but one demand, but no that's not good enough no choice but war!)

it could have agreed to international arbitration (but didn't like that idea thinking it wouldn't get a free hand). This was the big one for me there were international attempts to do this right up until the eleventh hour but both AH and Germany said no, why say no when general war is looming?

It had options, it's not like it was forced to do what it did, especially as since it was relying on the German blank cheque and what that could mean for escalation.
 
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Stenz

Monthly Donor
Internal nationalism, the AH empire is multi ethnic and multi polar (which is why the Austrians had to get the initially lukewarm Hungarians on board before putting the screws to Serbia in 1914). Not insurmountable, but getting worse. And not going to be solved by visiting princes waving flags of empire
Getting worse how?


Because you just took a big heaping helping of Slavic nationalism in Bosnia / Herzegovina and made it (more) internal. The last thing AH needs is more factionalism. Yes I agree Serbia were no angels, and certainly had their own agenda but what do you think the Serbian/ Slavic (and Russian) reaction was going to be when AH starts grabbing chunks of former Ottoman Eastern Europe and formally annexing it?
Bearing in mind they had been “grabbing” it since 1878 and the world didn’t implode, it’s maybe not so bad. As for reactions, maybe a fair bit of sabre rattling and not much else?

I.e. "absent Serbian irredentism" doesn't mean very much when Serbian irredentism was very much present!
I meant as a weakness of the A-H Empire.
 
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 be fair, that is what military planners are FOR - to draw up plans. It doesn't mean there is any expectation or hope of these plans coming to fruition, only that having A PLAN is better than having no plan, given the uncertain nature of human existence, politics, and international diplomacy
 
What would avoid WWI? Shooting the entire German Staff. The Kaiser basically outsourced and allowed the Staff to play with Germany's foreign policy. It believed the only answer to any question was, "invade France!" The Schlieffen Plan was it and nothing else would do. An Austrian Arch-Duke gets shot in the Balkans, "invade France!" There is a dispute in Morocco? "Invade France!" There is trouble with Russia? "Invade France!" Everything was devolved down to one response - "Invade France!"
Now thats just nonsense.
 
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