Lecture 10: 1914, World War 1 Flashcards Preview

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Flashcards in Lecture 10: 1914, World War 1 Deck (12):

War as a fusion of 2 conflicts

Major Question

2 conflicts:
- Balkan conflict between Austria-Hungary and Serbia
- Triple Alliance (A-H, Germany, Italy) vs Entente (France, Russia, Britain)
- Italy and Britain weren't that committed to their camps

Question --> why would local Balkan conflict escalate into world war with major powers?


Sequence of Events

June 28 --> Archduke Franz Ferdinand murdered; Austrian anger

June 23: stiff note to from Austria to Serbia (backed by Germans)

June 25: Serbs conciliatory reply; Austrians reject

July 28: Austria declares war on Serbia

July 30: Russia mobilization on German/Austrian borders

Aug 4: Germany invasion into Fr/Belg

Aug 6: Br. joins war

Aug 8: Italy joins entente (moves away from Triple Alliance)


Who was responsible?

Germany and Austria were the main aggressors

Russian response to protecting Serbia, acting offensively to Austria?

Br responsibility - less? less directly combattant
- German claim of encirclement (later invalidated)

France standing by Russia in allyship


Great Power Lineup
- geopolitics changed since 1815's end

2 powers: Russia/GB
- general stability of continent among them
- concert of great powers
- balance among all 6 powers

Other details
-1910, German industry overtaking Br
- Russian regime unstable


Transformation in 2 phases

If A-H didn't punish Serbia...
German risk + plan

1. Austria/Germany/Italy --> from Triple Alliance VERSUS France, Russia of Entente
- main conflicts between Br/Fr/Russia in Asian colonies plus some regional conflicts in Rhine /Balkans

2. Britain half joins entente, promising nothing

needed to punish Serbs b/c it was multinational state

Germans made calculated risk to take on Fr/Russia; thought French could be quickly defeated and pacify Br. with colonies; they were wrong.


Was war inevitable?
No, for 2 reasons

1) was war fought for material/ideological reasons (Weber)?
- material --> colonies not profitable, European territories alr. eaten up
- ideological --> no imposition of ideology on conquered peoples; powers claim defence

2) Br. vs Germany
- Britain matched by 2 powers; doesn't make sense that 1 would cause conflict whereas one doesn't
- war doesn't inevitably accompany geopolitical reordering
- German interests better secured with status quo; why would they risk war when they were already overtaking Br economically?


Sociological Explanations
- statesmen (plurality explanation + statesmen in monarchies)


was it a prob. of irrational actors?
- plurality of actors with plural identities favoured diverse strategies

statesmen in monarchies -->
- foreign policy insulated; right of monarch to control (ex. Nicholas II vs Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany)


Insulated High Commands
- 2 threats

changes in military -->
- conscription + increased army size. infiltration of middle classes

2 threats:
1) military now had divided society's political tensions of bourgeoisie vs aristocracy

2) military action insulated from public due to industrialization, removal from its presence in aristocratic/everyday life


Party Democracies
- diff. from monarchies
- less control

Br, Fr, US, Italy --> military decisions vetted by government
- by constitution, govt has final say; not always the best outcome
- Br/Fr military problems hidden from the statesmen tho

less control than monarchies had (monarch controlled by those close to him) lack of diplomatic competence/interest


- general info
- Russia & Germany

monarchies = aggressive; causes of war on their pt.
- more easily deployed military; insulation led to aggressive practices
- war exacerbated by monarchy strategy, segmental factions influencing them

RUSSIA --> partial and general mobilization didn't matter as much as they thought
- general concern with military efficiency > diplomatic repercussions of aggression
- Russian escalation due to incoherence of state + inability to calculate

Schlieffen Plan of 1905, offensive military tactics + violation of Belgian neutrality; not revealed to Chancellor until July 31st
- instability of monarch Kaiser Willhelm II (known for volatility) goaded on by Chief of Staff Von Moltke for erratic behaviour


Party Democracies
- general info
- France & Britain

less aggressive than authoritarian regimes; in peace time, classes/parties indifferent to foreign affairs; in crisis, had to act with consent of suddenly interested majority
- why Br/Fr justified self-defence in war

- debates about conscription but general indifference publicly
- pm gained 1 man control on foreign policy
- urged Russia to stand by Serbia; Russian aggression not reported to the French public
- appearance of firm self-defence from PM

- ruled by 3 pacifists, 6 liberal cabinet members
- voted 15 vs 5 against backing Entente
- Lord Grey (Foreign secretary) --> kept self non-committal.
- waited until he knew public opinion would back up when Germans capture France and compromise English Channel --> then "self defence" narrative would be invoked

- also internal conflict with Ireland, Grey wanted to avoid so he did nothing


Heterogeneity and Misunderstanding

- lack of shared norms
- monarchical statesmen misunderstood inaction of party democracy
- Germany --> didn't get that Br. was waiting for public opinion; thought it indifference.
- lack of shared norms between democratic + authoritarian regimes mattered.