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The Pity of War - Niall Ferguson.

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  • #16
    Originally posted by MarkV View Post

    Tosh - Germany supported both a colonial system and a nobility system - in fact more so than Britain. None of the main belligerents were opposed to these
    I'm halfway through reading Niall's book the 'Square and the Tower' and he draws the same conclusion, that both the monarch and government(the successful ones in any case) were fluid enough to remain viable.
    "In modern war... you will die like a dog for no good reason."
    Ernest Hemingway.

    In english "silence" means yelling louder than everyone else.

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    • #17
      Originally posted by Mountain Man View Post

      Does he say why he thought it was a mistake?

      I agree with him, BTW, but hindsight is always 20/20. A also believe that WWI was inevitable at some point, with or without the Sarejavo incident.
      I think that WW1 was no inevitable than(say) a conflict between NATO and WARPAC in the years following WW2.

      "I dogmatise and am contradicted, and in this conflict of opinions and sentiments I find delight".
      Samuel Johnson.

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      • #18
        Originally posted by MarkV View Post

        Major difference. In 1870 Britain stayed neutral on the understanding that Belgium was not attacked or occupied and signed treaties with Prussia and France to that effect. At the time Prussia was a negligible naval power and could pose little threat to Britain.If in 1914 Germany had conquered both Belgium and France and gained control of that long sea board - given the size and modernity of her navy and the unimportance of air power at the time the Kaiser would have been a bigger menace to the British Isles than ever Hitler was in 1940.
        Britain was not trying to save Europe she was following her traditional policy of maintaining the balance of power so there was no European bloc that could endanger her.
        By 1914 the heat had largely gone out of the Anglo-German naval rivalry and there’s little reason to support the contention that Imperial Germany posed any threat to the British Empire. I’m not sure that the “Balance of Power” theory regarding British foreign policy operated in first years of the twentieth century. Looking at it dispassionately,it might be concluded that despite the agreements concluded in 1904 and 1907.the French/Russian combination offered a more powerful potential threat to the British Empire than the German/ Austrian alliance. However,the German persistence in invading Belgium totally changed the situation.
        "I dogmatise and am contradicted, and in this conflict of opinions and sentiments I find delight".
        Samuel Johnson.

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        • #19
          Originally posted by MarkV View Post

          Major difference. In 1870 Britain stayed neutral on the understanding that Belgium was not attacked or occupied and signed treaties with Prussia and France to that effect. At the time Prussia was a negligible naval power and could pose little threat to Britain.If in 1914 Germany had conquered both Belgium and France and gained control of that long sea board - given the size and modernity of her navy and the unimportance of air power at the time the Kaiser would have been a bigger menace to the British Isles than ever Hitler was in 1940.
          Britain was not trying to save Europe she was following her traditional policy of maintaining the balance of power so there was no European bloc that could endanger her.
          I do get that, and understand that England / Great Britain has always opposed the strongest power in Europe, and it was usually a good policy, but getting involved in a major land war on the continent wasn't so much. It bled her white, emptied her pockets and undermined her social systems for what? So the whole game could be played out on a nastier level 25 years later.

          Yes hindsight is 20/20, but we are talking about a war that destroyed 3 empires, crippled a forth, and left Europe at the mercy of populist and evil movements as it's legacy. It's hard to argue that any of that was worth even a tenth of the blood and treasure to Blighty
          Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the cheesemakers

          That's right bitches. I'm blessed!

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          • #20
            Originally posted by Mountain Man View Post

            Britain was fighting to save system's that was already failing: the old colonial system and the old nobility/upper class system. Neither of those systems had long to go in the rapidly changing world of the times.

            Not usually mentioned is that WWI was fought on outmoded military principles and tactics as well, led by outmoded generals, a recipe for the murderous disaster that followed. This was the last and final test of the entire old system of doing thins, and the old system failed and then was obliterated in the process, at horrendous cost, not just in resources and money, but in the loss of entire generations of young men desperately needed to lead their nations into the future and provide the needed manpower to get there.

            War is always wasteful and short sighted, even more so today when even victory itself is no longer the objective.
            What? Alright I won't even get into the systems discussion because, to paraphrase a quote from the movie Gettysburg - we are so alike in many ways but have such different dreams. One man's meat is another man's poison and all that.

            What needs to be understood about WW1 is just how modern it was. There were tiny tastes of it in 61-65, 66, and 70/71 but nothing prepared the world and whatever systems the various belligerents had for the sheer killing power modern technology could unleash. It wasn't a system failure, it was human kind having so many new and powerful ways of killing each other in a way that 20 years earlier just wasn't possible or even dreamed of. Tanks, aircraft, gas, barbed wire, TNT, machine guns, etc. The men of 1914 had no more idea that this war was going to be like no other than we would if we got into a global war today. No general could predict just how brutal it would really be, and how ineffective their pre war ideas. Also remember that for all the sitting on the sidelines and watching (but not really learning) when the US joined in it repeated the same mistakes that the rest had learned horribly in 1915 and 1916. Not a systems failure, just events being far too destructive and modern, and developments too quick, for humans to be able to deal with in real time.

            A small case in point - in 1914 Parisians would sit out side to watch a couple of Taube aircraft drop bombs. Quite an event. Bring the family along and have a picnic, right? I wonder how many Berliners did the same thing just 30 years later.
            Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the cheesemakers

            That's right bitches. I'm blessed!

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            • #21
              Originally posted by Mountain Man View Post
              Interesting comment by Ferguson, because victors in modern wars usually come out worse, due to destroying the enemy's manufacturing which then must be rebuilt to modern standards while their own remains intact and outmoded.
              Paradoxically then the way to get ahead is to be defeated. I.e. then the only "mistake" the UK did when entering WWI was winning it.

              Less crassly put, winning the war but losing the peace seems more common than the other way around. Also winning a major war is a very dangerous thing, as it tends to lead to complacency. Nothing really prevents a victor from ripping up and replacing his infrastructure to stay competitive except the expectation of not having to "because we won the war".

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              • #22
                Originally posted by Rojik View Post
                I wonder how many Berliners did the same thing just 30 years later.
                You'd be surprised….

                Berliners in particular were shielded from the true horrors of the (air) war untill rather late in the war.

                My own grandmother was 17 and in Berlin at the time - having already seen bombings in Belgium she ran to the cellar when the sirens sounded at the first sighting of allied bombers heading for the city.

                A German women berated her, "Die Jenny hat mehr Angst als Vaterlandsliebe…....…"

                Next alarm she was first in the cellar
                Last edited by Snowygerry; 21 Aug 19, 04:30.
                High Admiral Snowy, Commander In Chief of the Naval Forces of The Phoenix Confederation.

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