How Avoidable was WWI?

An alliance is obviously more important than a guarantee. If Germany does not uphold an alliance then it loses its ally. If it breaks the guarantee then it can always be restored afterwards

As for the guarantee, it's untested. It's probably, but I am not sure, also an untested idea - great powers going to war to back up a guarantee treaty.
Only Russia had been backing Serbia for a while, plus you have the whole broader context of AH & Russia both looking to extend control in the area in general, to suggest this Russian support was some kind of surprise is to ignore all this. Leaving aside they had made their position clear before hand as well

Because Germany was surrounded bybthe Franco-Russian Alliance.
Better to be shackled to a corpse than to be all alone
and Germany out numbered France by itself, and so on.

But again why should the entente nations ignore their treaties while the CP honour theirs. As I said this point only get brought up for why the entente member honoured their treaties but never the CP. It basically amounts to 'why din't the entente just let the CP do what they want.

You can't have this both ways

That's pretty much it. Many Russians in positions of Power thought it was a grand idea, thus the Full Mobilization orders to back Serbia 100%
If many Russians in position of power agreed it to the extent they gave the orders than it's Russian foreign policy, but as above the wider context of the area means no this wasn't a surprise where AH could legitimately say we had no idea Russia would do that. And in fact we know that because otherwise why would they make sure they had German backing. why were they talking to the Russians.

This idea that Hartwig the Russian ambassador to Serbia somehow took the entire area by a surprise Russian mobilisation is a joke. Hartwig very much made his pan-slvaic credentials and opposition to AH clear

(what doesn't help here is the man died suddenly on the 10th July!)
 
Just ignoring Plan XVII then?
Only that plan* wasn't general foreign policy for the Republic of France, so no poor Germany wasn't forced to invade France before a militaristic France inevitably invade to slake it's thirst for revenge over 1871

*it was a pretty new military plan anyway, and one that wasn't really supported by the reality of the French army!
 
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Hmm, confused

I didn't mention Russia but absolutes
Sorry I thought you were comparing an official alliance vs. the relationship between Serbia and Russia, either way the treaty of London had held for 75 years (including a war between Prussia and France).

I get you point about absolutes, but still my point is why is this question only pointed at the entente and not the CP, why does the entente get the blame for the treaty system but the CP only enjoys the benefits?
 
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Sorry I thought you were comparing an official alliance vs. the relationship between Serbia and Russia, either way the treaty of London had held for 75 years (including a war between Prussia and France).

I get you point about absolutes, but still my point is what is this question only pointed at the entente and not the CP, why does the entente get the blame for the treaty system but the CP only enjoys the benefits?
Because it's not being tested

AFAIK the German General Staff had this view - that the guarantee treaty could not lead to war because it was a secondary power only being temporarily violated

I'm not saying their view was right, only how they came to this view and saw it as different from a formal treaty of alliance
 
Because it's not being tested

AFAIK the German General Staff had this view - that the guarantee treaty could not lead to war because it was a secondary power only being temporarily violated

I'm not saying their view was right, only how they came to this view and saw it as different from a formal treaty of alliance
I think their own necessity prompted them to hope that was the case.

Had Britain in the past 75 years given any indication that it wasn't a real thing? Had they done so in the run up to war in 1914?
Or is this really just wishful thinking on the part of Germany, and basically one rule for them and one rule for others.
 
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So Ok why didn't Germany break it treaty with AH then? I mean your right but this point only get brought up for why the entente member honoured their treaties but never the CP. It basically amounts to 'why din't the entente just let the CP do what they want.
You are comparing different things - not to mention the small nitpick of no existing treaty between Russia and Serbia.
But the real difference: for Germany the alliance with Austria was vital to maintain a balance of power - without it Germany would be hopelessly owershadowed by the entente. Thus giving up on the alliance with Vienna - without the breaking up of the franco-russian alliance block - would leave Germany at the mercy of that block. OTOH Serbia being taken out of the equation doesnt significantly change the balance of power. So Russia could afford to loose Serbia and could decide not to back it.
 
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
Exactly, just because the US had War Plan Red doesn't mean it thought it was actually going to be likely that it was going to have a war with GB any time soon.
 
Actually there were some military planners in Britain that were planning for a war in Europe.
By 1911 the British Army had drawn up detailed plans to deploy the BEF to France in case of way with Germany. It was the refusal of the Royal Navy to guarantee protection for the transports that led to Churchill being made First Lord of the Admiralty, with the goal of getting RN ready for war.
 
Only that plan* wasn't general foreign policy for the Republic of France, ...

*it was a pretty new military plan anyway, and one that wasn't really supported by the reality of the French army!
You referred to a French Military that “wasn’t interested in regaining Alsace-Lorraine” or words to that effect. Plan XVII was very much about regaining A-L. I don’t get the line about it not being “supported by the reality of the French army” either. It’s the intent that matters - after all, the (non-existant) Schlieffen Plan is used to illustrate Germany’s intent, so why not Joffre’s Plan XVII? As to “pretty new” what does that mean? It was accepted (by the government, by the way) in April 1913. The French military didn’t work in isolation from the government, they were well aware of Joffre’s intentions - look at the discussions over proposed violations of Belgian neutrality.
 
Another point I think is worth mentioning, is that Grey could have been a bit more honest in his dealings with Germany. As I understand it, I linked the German history discussion in another thread here, in 1914 the British and Russians were talking naval matters and Germany learned about them from a spy in the Russian embassy... so far so good, but when the Germans asked Grey about those talks, because they were of "exsitential importance o them", Grey outright lied about them. As of they were not happening. In the afromentiond talk it is pointed out, that this was an important point for Bethman Holweg to accept a more military leaning solution as the British were seen as "dishonest" in the diplomatic area.

So would it help, if Germany and Britian were not marred by that to lean on A-H and Russia respectively more then OTL to deescalate the situation?

Another point that is pointed out, is that the Russians also had a "carte blanche" but in this case from the French with regards to support in all matters Balkan.
 
The problem is that it easily could have been avoided, Much more so the WW2. All it would take is for a couple key nations to stay out. Germany and England, Germany and Franc, England and France. Lots more variations.
the PROBLEM is those nations WANTED to go to war. And had this nice big excuse.


Russia wanted influence (and arguably to distract its presents)
AH wanted to keep control in the area.
France wanted AL back.
Germany was worried that Russia was getting its a t together and in a couple years Russia and France would be able to defeat Germany (and obviously they were sorta right)
England was worried it was going to lose the naval race to Germany and or its influence in Europe if they did join the war.

So the issue is everyone had a reason and non of the reasons were the ones the said.
You just need to get some reasonablely sane people in charge and this CAN be avoided. But everyone had an adgenda and a huge ego. They all thought the war would be fast and easy with low casualties not that they cared about the cadusulties of the little man anyway. So why NOT go to war now before it is to late.

Before your empire falls apart (AH &Russia)
Before your enemy gets to strong (GB and Germany)
Before your unworthy heir inherited the thrown (Russia and AH)
Before the counties your wealthy influential elite citizens loaned money to goes under bankrupting them (USA)
Before you find out the deals you friends made (and told you they didn’t). (US)
While you can gang up on you enemies (all of them)
while you can gang up on your enemy to get territory back (France).
While you have an excuse you citizens will buy (US, GB, Germany, France)

The issue is that unlike in history class where they teach that the sinking of a ship started WW1 the reality is a lot more complex and muddy. Everyone had multiple reasons.
But truly all the reasons were stupid (well for the big counties. Those that were invaded, well they had no choice)

So good luck with making any one (or any small handful) of changes that will stop this from happen.
The only chance I can think of is in 1910 or so you get a very very nasty war between two counties that shows what is going to happen in WW1 and folks are apaled.
But I don’t think even that would work as 1) if it is lesser counties no one will believe it can happen to them (we had some evidence going back as far as the ACW that was ignored). And to make it a total mess you need the aircraft which is not ready before the war as you need it to allow both sides to see where the fight is going to be so they can relocate troops to that spot to get the stalemat.

No I am afraid that short of putting in new leadership in two or three counties who see the stupidity for what it is you won’t avoid this. Even skipping the obvious (avoid the assasination) probably just means a short delay while everyone looks for a different excuse.

That being said if you can hold off for 5 years or so I think you don’t get WW2 as Germany will be less likely to want to fight as Russia will be able to mobilize faster and such. GB will be less likely to join in as the Arms Race with Germany will have ended. And without Germany in the war and the Backing of GB France can not expect to get AL back and punish Germany so it may stay out as we. So you may get “The Great European War” or the “Great Baltic War” Between some counties but not as many. And AH May stay out without Germany backing it or AH may have collapsed by then.
The problem is getting that 5+ year delay
 
In a way.

But Germany was in a very precarious position sandwiched between France and Russia. If only one of them mobilised then they could just about afford to react to the mobilisation rather than preempt it. But when both of them mobilise then the only alternative to avoid a terrible strategic position is to attack (at least in the pre-WW1 mindset - now we know different). The Franco Prussian war was won by the faster mobilisation of German reserves and every General Staff works to refight the last war.

The French and the Russians were as guilty as the Germans as they fully understood the consequences of mobilisation. But the Germans di have to mobilise faster, did have to attack and their plan did say attack France.
Not really. The Franco-Russian challenge was something the German military planners had contemplated for decades - the required outcome to overcome this scenario was inflicting a series of decisive victories. German military thinkers (including Schlieffen) believed those victories were to be achieved using the German superior internal lines of supply, to bring superior forces/firepower to the key engagements. Such thinking was sympathetic to the German doctrine of counterattack, where the defenders ordinarily enjoy advantages of supply resulting from proximity of rail heads and similar.

The single plan chosen by Moltke tY was the antithesis of the above.
 
I believe we are violently agreeing - Germany had to attack in the minds of the General Staff as defence was not a strategic option. Of course with hindsight we know better. Whether you call it a counter attack or preemptive attack is semantics
 
I believe we are violently agreeing - Germany had to attack in the minds of the General Staff as defence was not a strategic option. Of course with hindsight we know better. Whether you call it a counter attack or preemptive attack is semantics
That's like saying returning serve is the same as serving in tennis, because there are some similarities. OTL French doctrine and the Schlieffen Plan were about seizing the initiative, whilst a counterattack doctrine is about surrendering the initiative and defending until an opportunity to strike arises.
 
Germany had to attack in the minds of the General Staff as defence was not a strategic option.
It wasn't really. Germany going on defense, they thought they would be a mere chestnut betwixt the levers of the Franco-Russian nutcracker.
It was known that fighting Russia would be a slow, drawn out affair, from both 1854 and 1812.
France however, held the chance of another 1870, a Fast War in that France could be knocked out, allowing Germany to turn full effort against the Russians
 
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.
In my opinion the A-H annexation of Bosnia in 1908 was a solid move. It was during a time of Russian weakness, so matters were unlikely to escalate beyond A-H control. To ensure no bad blood, A-H sought and obtained prior Russian approval for the annexation. It entrenched the status quo and removed Bosnia from the table - essentially making it less assessable to the increasingly aspirational goals of Serbia and even the Ottomans. It protected the vast investment A-H had made into the infrastructure of the territory and the rights of the majority of the population, which had no desire for Serbian rule. What's not to like?
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).
The Treaty of Berlin 1878 explicitly divided the Balkans into spheres of influence between A-H and Russia - Serbia was attached politically and economically to A-H. It is my understanding the Russians in 1904 sponsored secret military convections between Serbia and Bulgaria - a breach of its undertakings in the aforementioned Treaty. What you are saying is the Russians were openly flouting those breaches.
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)
True that.
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!)
The mischief being, without that one demand, the balance of the undertakings could not be enforced. Both Serbia and Russia had form in saying one thing and doing another. Even Wilhelm who is cited as approving the Serbian response, suggested territory would need to be taken because Serbia could not be trusted.
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?
The Russians and French made it perfectly clear Serbia would not be held accountable in any circumstances and went so far as to mock the A-H representative in Moscow.
France's "military leaders" or rather leader in the military were busy trying to persuade it's political leader to allow it extend the draft from 1 year to 2 years. France political leaders were more worried about a militarily coup and trying to curtail the size and power of the standing army. All that meant that the France military plan was basically get hit by a invasion take the blow and then mobilise the invader out the country. No one if seriously thinking in terms of taking back A-L.
My understanding is the French draft was increased to 3 years around 1912. Joffre was appointed around the same time by the French Political leaders, explicitly on the basis of his offensive doctrines, which were swiftly implemented. Joffre was given broader powers and influences than his predecessors, aside from the discretion to breech Belgium neutrality. The Franco-Russian defence agreement evolved into co-ordinated offensives against Germany within +15 days.
I agree once mobilisation starts it would take a miracle to stop conflict but Russia are mobilising in response to AH's actions in Serbia. The French mobilise at the same time as Germany, it's just their mobilisation plans dont involve going hell for leather into Germany (nor that Germany can sit back for the reasons you say)
I believe the Russian 'premobilisation' started before A-H - don't ask me the difference.
What really doesn't help is Germany describing the treaty of London as "just a piece of paper" and hoping Britain can't get there quickly enough to make a difference
My understanding is the Treaty of London was non-prescriptive on either the timing or how the signatories were expected to protect Belgium territory, but don't expect me to defend the German invasion of Belgium.
So Ok why didn't Germany break it treaty with AH then? I mean your right but this point only get brought up for why the entente member honoured their treaties but never the CP. It basically amounts to 'why din't the entente just let the CP do what they want.
...
Only as above why does Germany think this treaty is so weak, but somehow it's own treaty with AH must be upheld at all costs?
One of the reasons A-H felt compelled to act was German support in recent times had become somewhat fickle. Russian blank cheques had been raining on the Balkans for some time, but a German blank cheque was something rare and had to be spent. As an aside, the Germans expected the cheque to be used for groceries, not a farm.
 
What really doesn't help is Germany describing the treaty of London as "just a piece of paper" and hoping Britain can't get there quickly enough to make a difference
The German 20th century in a nutshell: What really doesn't help is Germany ___________________ and hoping _______ can't get there quickly enough to make a difference.

Besides avoiding war altogether, the other interesting what-if scenario to me is how the alliances could have shifted given a few more years of peace.
 
You are comparing different things - not to mention the small nitpick of no existing treaty between Russia and Serbia.
But the real difference: for Germany the alliance with Austria was vital to maintain a balance of power - without it Germany would be hopelessly owershadowed by the entente. Thus giving up on the alliance with Vienna - without the breaking up of the franco-russian alliance block - would leave Germany at the mercy of that block. OTOH Serbia being taken out of the equation doesnt significantly change the balance of power. So Russia could afford to loose Serbia and could decide not to back it.
That's a good reason for why Germany and AH were allied but not a good reason for why we should assume that everyone else should ignore their treaties. or working relationships with their allies. So no not every alliance is as strategically important (they often not as equally strategically important for each partner) but they are usually made for mutual benefit. So once again why do we expect the entente powers to ignore their treaties and relationship in ways that allow the CP to do what they what without repercussions. I.e. my question is rhetorical, of course Germany was going to back AH (although they could have maybe been a bit more prescriptive and more awake at the time (Kaiser going on holiday), but by the same token yes Russia was going to support Serbia (and France, Russia and Britian, Belgium)

You referred to a French Military that “wasn’t interested in regaining Alsace-Lorraine” or words to that effect. Plan XVII was very much about regaining A-L. I don’t get the line about it not being “supported by the reality of the French army” either. It’s the intent that matters - after all, the (non-existant) Schlieffen Plan is used to illustrate Germany’s intent, so why not Joffre’s Plan XVII? As to “pretty new” what does that mean? It was accepted (by the government, by the way) in April 1913. The French military didn’t work in isolation from the government, they were well aware of Joffre’s intentions - look at the discussions over proposed violations of Belgian neutrality.
I was referring to a militarily led France in response to the point that AL was a driving goal of France. Yes the France military likely saw AL as a prize but they weren't driving French foreign policy. My point about Joffres plan as new was that it might have been accepted but the French military was in no place to successfully do it. I actually think you comparison to the Schlieffen Plan is right in the money here (as you say not really a plan). In that they were both borne of out wishful thinking and not practical reality. Of course the difference is the Schlieffen Plan involved breaking Belgium neutrality and bringing Britain in.


The problem is that it easily could have been avoided, Much more so the WW2. All it would take is for a couple key nations to stay out. Germany and England, Germany and Franc, England and France. Lots more variations.
the PROBLEM is those nations WANTED to go to war. And had this nice big excuse.
..
So why was it there was moves to try and broker peace talks and arbitration in the last few days of July, that AH and Germany rebuffed?
 
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