Road Less Traveled: WW1 negotiated peace in 1916/17

If the Russians are giving up Poland, I imagine they're going to want gains elsewhere to make up for it. At this point they occupied most of Western Armenia didn't they? The Russians also occupied East Galicia and Bukovina. Hapsburg independent Poland for Russian Galicia-Bukovina perhaps? Bukovina could be split between Romania and Russia.

Serbia by this point was fully occupied. My guess is that country would get tossed to the CP wolves in a peace deal. Romania potentially also loses southern Dobruja; but I don't think Austria-Hungary loses Transylvania here (or perhaps only some small slices along the Carpathians in Southern Transylvania which Romania at the time was occupying).

Could there have been a referendum in Alsace-Lorraine? Germany withdrawing from Belgium in exchange for a return of African colonies seems like a somewhat fair trade, though the French will likely insist on retaining Neukamerun. Perhaps the Germans can extract a very large colonial price for merely having a referendum in Alsace-Lorraine?

The Ottomans likely will lose Hijaz and Mesopotamia.
 
I am not sure if TR would take the same path as Wilson when it came to trying to force the Entente to the table. If he was trying to reach a negotiated end of the war it seems like he would work more by personal and presidential appeal to the warring powers and offers to mediate. Its also possible he simply commits the US to making as much money off the conflict as it can while trying to stay out of it and improving their own forces as insurance should he fail.

I think that is a fair reading. It also doesn’t preclude him using a financial big stick to back up his personal and presidential soft spoken words.
 
I'm interested in British railway history, so naturally I'm wondering what will happen here with a shortened war. It was clear that there couldn't be a return to the pre-war setup, but the question was just what the new one would look like, as this article explains.

@NOMISYRRUC, do you have any ideas?
No I haven't. I enjoyed reading the article and learned more about the grouping process from it FWIW.
 
The British angle reminds me that this also probably means Ireland has an easier road ahead. Maybe home rule?

Also, regarding future prospects, assuming that a long drawn out peace conference ends with some better international institutions in Europe, and a general compromise peace (read: nobody is happy with it, but they all can take solace in the fact that they can say they didn’t lose and their enemies are just as unhappy), even if there is discontent and instability in the 30s, it is almost certain to be nowhere near as bad as to trigger WW2. I think they’ll be scarred just enough by modern war to avoid it for several generations, but not scarred by the peace as to want revenge.
 
I think they’ll be scarred just enough by modern war to avoid it for several generations, but not scarred by the peace as to want revenge.
I watched a lecture on the general outlook and tone of the various populations of the Western front powers prior to the outbreak of war recently. (EDIT: I found it
). One thing that he said is that on the whole none of the general populations wanted a war. And that, paradoxically, this actually made the war much more bitter, as everyone was blaming the other side for bringing them to this point. I thought it was an interesting bit of insight. And it makes me skeptical of the idea that a brush with War would be enough to deter a repeat performance in the immediate future.

No one really stumbles into a war of the scale of WW1 or WW2 out of ignorance of the nature of warfare. They either believe that the war will be smaller, and worth the risk for their nation, or they enter feeling they have no choice in the matter. And I don't really see the possibility of such a situation being eliminated by this POD.
 
I watched a lecture on the general outlook and tone of the various populations of the Western front powers prior to the outbreak of war recently. (EDIT: I found it
). One thing that he said is that on the whole none of the general populations wanted a war. And that, paradoxically, this actually made the war much more bitter, as everyone was blaming the other side for bringing them to this point. I thought it was an interesting bit of insight. And it makes me skeptical of the idea that a brush with War would be enough to deter a repeat performance in the immediate future.

No one really stumbles into a war of the scale of WW1 or WW2 out of ignorance of the nature of warfare. They either believe that the war will be smaller, and worth the risk for their nation, or they enter feeling they have no choice in the matter. And I don't really see the possibility of such a situation being eliminated by this POD.
Eliminated? No, war will never be eliminated so long as there are people. I think an analogue to WW2 is far far less likely with a negotiated peace to a much shorter WW1.
 
Something needs to give in Russia.

Like Singemeister said ending the war is not the only thing that started the revolution. Starvation, famines, lack of political rights etc, in a deeply conservative leadership opposed to change. That very same Tsar had rolled back Finnish autonomy and enforced Russification, opposed change, and only left at gunpoint more or less.

A war that ends so inconclusively and even midly poorly for russia if they lose Poland, can easily be seen by the populace as another foolish and pointless endeavor fought for by the Russian leadership.
How countries would get judged, 1 being completely pointless, 10 being justified.

Russia: 2, lots of dead, much treasure spent over Serbia. Second failed war this century. Proved to be not in the same league as the Germans militarily.
Germany: 8, although many lives were lost, Germany gains a bit of colonial territory, and defeated the encirclement and backed up her flailing confederate Austria, The army having such a high place in German society and the fact they suffered less casualties vs. their enemies, means less judgement. The biggest judgment will be from militarists that thought Germany just threw away her big victory for a near white peace (but actual civilians who suffered through the recent Turnip Winter would know better).
Austria: 6, Austria proved pretty inept by 1917, and most of her neighbors jumped in to pick on her during her weakness, obviously a German dependency now, but survived and got to punish Serbia with a year of occupation, and the Germans and Hungarians are still in charge, could be worse.
France: 7, Didn't have much choice but to get involved, lots of casualties per capita especially, but survived and defended the country.
England: 5, Had more choice than France to enter, but Navy proved competent, If they can pick up a bit of colonial territory, wont be too many complaints.
Italy: 1, lots of casualties, nothing gained, couldn't even beat the Austrians
 
How countries would get judged, 1 being completely pointless, 10 being justified.

Russia: 2, lots of dead, much treasure spent over Serbia. Second failed war this century. Proved to be not in the same league as the Germans militarily.
Germany: 8, although many lives were lost, Germany gains a bit of colonial territory, and defeated the encirclement and backed up her flailing confederate Austria, The army having such a high place in German society and the fact they suffered less casualties vs. their enemies, means less judgement. The biggest judgment will be from militarists that thought Germany just threw away her big victory for a near white peace (but actual civilians who suffered through the recent Turnip Winter would know better).
Austria: 6, Austria proved pretty inept by 1917, and most of her neighbors jumped in to pick on her during her weakness, obviously a German dependency now, but survived and got to punish Serbia with a year of occupation, and the Germans and Hungarians are still in charge, could be worse.
France: 7, Didn't have much choice but to get involved, lots of casualties per capita especially, but survived and defended the country.
England: 5, Had more choice than France to enter, but Navy proved competent, If they can pick up a bit of colonial territory, wont be too many complaints.
Italy: 1, lots of casualties, nothing gained, couldn't even beat the Austrians
Rating Italy 1 on this scale would be almost too kind.
 
The reality is the US is already financially committed to the entente, if the entente loses or even doesn't win it likely defaults or force a restructure and that hurts the US as well.
But that issue arises only if people expect the Entente to lose, whih in Spring 1917 hardly anyone did. Even the Germans thought the war was going against them, which was why they gamled onn USW and the ZT.

Also, unsecured loans were quite liely to be defaulted on even if the Entente won, so rescuing it (even had it appeared to need rescuing) wouldn't necesssarily do the US any good.

If Wilson feared anything, it was probably an *Entente* victory with America still neutral, leaving him excluded from the peace conference.
 
They're screwed just as badly as otl plus the probably lose Armenia. None of the other powers (including the US) gives a damn about them other than to ensure the Russians don't control the straits.
Plus? Its not like they kept Armenia before. The Ottoman situation in 1916 is not exactly that bad, and unless the Germans and Austrians want to throw them severely under the bus, I think they'll do alright.

If I had to spitball, I'd say they lose territory in the Caucasus to Russia (this would be super crucial to keep the Russians happy cuz they're almost certainly losing Poland), and the Dardanelles are treaty-bound to be open to shipping. I could see them holding onto Syria (including Lebanon) and Iraq, at a minimum. The POD precedes the Balfour declaration by a year, but maybe the Brits still push for a Jewish homeland. What Arabia and Jordan look like, I have no idea.
 
I haven't yet read Zelikow's book so I speak partly out of ignorance about it, but I thought the main problem with a negotiated peace was that Germany, already looking towards the next war, refused to evacuate Belgium in any negotiation (for example in the 1916 peace talks they offered)?

If a negotiated peace does happen as you say, I see it as being something equivalent to the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, where nobody got what they wanted and everybody's bitter about it (indeed the parallels between France and Germany both having to give up Belgium are clear). Most of the commanders (and many of the soldiers) felt like they were still going to win in 1917, and so post-war probably sees a strong resentment towards the ruling elites in each nation for not letting them 'finish the job' so to speak.

Whether another war breaks out is a different matter. Austria-Hungary will have Karl on the throne by 1917 and as long as he maintains some independence of action, I can't see him joining another one of Germany's wars of expansion particularly quickly. Russia wont start one and will need many years to recover its strength anyway. France is probably the most interesting variable, as its bled immensely to gain absolutely nothing, so it perhaps turns either very insular and defeatist or aggressively revanchist.

France would be insane to take a look at its losses, take a look at Germany still pulling ahead, and then go "Yeah we really need a round three in 15 years time."
 
Plus? Its not like they kept Armenia before. The Ottoman situation in 1916 is not exactly that bad, and unless the Germans and Austrians want to throw them severely under the bus, I think they'll do alright.

If I had to spitball, I'd say they lose territory in the Caucasus to Russia (this would be super crucial to keep the Russians happy cuz they're almost certainly losing Poland), and the Dardanelles are treaty-bound to be open to shipping. I could see them holding onto Syria (including Lebanon) and Iraq, at a minimum. The POD precedes the Balfour declaration by a year, but maybe the Brits still push for a Jewish homeland. What Arabia and Jordan look like, I have no idea.
If we really wanted to pick on Italy, the Ottomans could be compensated with the Dodencase islands for their losses elsewhere or Libya.
 
I was under the impression this was always more a ploy than him actually being prepared to evacuate Belgium

AJP Taylor in The Struggle for Mastery in Europe says 'Bethmann understood by compromise the status quo of 1916: Germany would retain at least the iron-fields of Lorraine and military control of Belgium; she would receive additional colonies and perhaps part of Poland'. P. 552

Stevenson in The History of the First World War also backs this up saying 'The consensus among Germany's leaders was more or less as the September Programme envisaged: that Belgium should not be annexed, but its sovereignty should be restored in name only'. P. 131

For the sake of the argument I'm willing to accept that Germany withdraws for a negotiated peace, its just that nothing I've read on the topic indicates they were willing to do so, though I'm happy to be corrected.
Bethmann could have very well been sincere in pulling out of Belgium, but the problem is that Germany had no clear war aims. The civilian government wanted a much more lenient peace that would minimize gains (if any were to be made) while the military had no idea what they wanted, just that they wanted something. Finding a way to bring those two together is essential for any peace that isn’t a decisive victory for one side or the other, and frankly I don’t see a realistic scenario where it happens. If the Germans think they’re winning, the army insists on continuing the fight and if they’re losing the Entente will probably want to finish them off.
 
Bethmann could have very well been sincere in pulling out of Belgium, but the problem is that Germany had no clear war aims. The civilian government wanted a much more lenient peace that would minimize gains (if any were to be made) while the military had no idea what they wanted, just that they wanted something. Finding a way to bring those two together is essential for any peace that isn’t a decisive victory for one side or the other, and frankly I don’t see a realistic scenario where it happens. If the Germans think they’re winning, the army insists on continuing the fight and if they’re losing the Entente will probably want to finish them off.
The military may be less of a problem if Falkenhayn can hang on to his position, as he was trying to bring Russia to a separate peace deal. I think he'd be much more amenable to a negotiated settlement than Ludendorff.
 
But that issue arises only if people expect the Entente to lose, whih in Spring 1917 hardly anyone did. Even the Germans thought the war was going against them, which was why they gamled onn USW and the ZT.

Also, unsecured loans were quite liely to be defaulted on even if the Entente won, so rescuing it (even had it appeared to need rescuing) wouldn't necesssarily do the US any good.

If Wilson feared anything, it was probably an *Entente* victory with America still neutral, leaving him excluded from the peace conference.

Right which kind of goes to the point about Wilson trying to force the entente to a "reset the 1914 borders" peace, it's not a victory and all you really have is a pissed of Entente and CP

Also the unsecured loans are less likely to be defaulted on in the event of an Entente victory because standard procedure would be to get the losers to de-facto pay them (even if indirectly by reparations). But you have to have the victory to make that happen.

And that's kind of the point here, In theory the US has leverage over the Entente because the Entente owes them money (lots of) and that is kind of true, but the reality is that leverage is very dependent on the outcome of the war and by lending them money the US becomes very much invested in an Entente victory. This is what the political groups in the US who were anti helping initially were worried about (same happened again WW2). Now look at the other side of the coin the CP have not burrowed money from the US so the US have no leverage over them to bring them to the peace table. Of course the Germans aren't stupid they know that the Entente would like nothing better then to foist their war debt onto the CP, and the CP have their own loses and economic damage to offset anyway.


Basically the financial reality of these loans and thus the pressure they can exert is very much dependent on how the wars end for all parties, US, Entente & CP.

As and aside I also think that the financial pressure on the Entente and their ability to continue the war under it gets overly focussed on especially when it ignores the pressures on the CP.

You often get this received wisdom of well the Brits and French were literally going to have to throw in the towel in 1917 after 3 years of bloody conflict and accept defeat because of US fiscal policy*. But somehow Germany who was literally suffering famine and huge economic shortages and shrinkage at home was still able and whiling to fight.

(I find it similar to the various underlying assumptions found in some WW2 threads that are based on the Germans being fully committed to the war but the Allies for some reason are only really playing about and will bow out and seek peace at the slightest pressure).




*leaving aside that Britain had other moves to make it just they didn't really want to make them as they would have potentially long term repercussions for their global position and self image (but not as great a downsides as losing and letting Germany have reign in Europe)
 
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Zelikow presents Wilson as somewhat amateurish in his efforts, his agent House as almost bipolar in his obfuscations, Lansing as a complete rogue, and Llyod George as practically tyrannical in his efforts to sabotage the peace efforts
All of this might be true, but irrelevant. In order to make the case that a real chance for peace was missed, Zelikow would have to prove that a) the German civilian leadership wanted a white peace, and b) they could over-ride the wishes off the military high command. Since the German high command believed they could win as late as spring 1918, that seems unlikely.
 
Germany can’t afford a peace where it doesn’t receive a massive reparations bucket of cash from the Entente. Border shifts, buffer states, colonies etc. is just window dressing.
 
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